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Perfect Distractions and Fantastical Mitigation Plans

Perfect Distractions and Fantastical Mitigation Plans

October 19, 2019

By Michael Swifte

 

 

 

The recent UN Climate Action Summit in New York delivered both spectacle and much ignored signifiers of political will. I would say it was a failure in terms of any meaningful or effective action to deliver anything like a fossil fuel phase out. At the centre of the spectacle was Greta Thunberg, the perfect distraction, urging us to honour Paris targets, recognise ‘the science’ and act on climate. Greta laments inaction from world leaders like most of us do – this is a continuing theme. And like most of us, Greta sees inaction as a result of the political will failing to deliver on decades of rhetoric. Sadly though, the mitigation plans of the powerful, the key signifiers of political will for continued relentless extractivism never enter the public conversation.

Perfect distractions come with talking points and bring framing to the issue they come to embody. Like the Extinction Rebellion leaders, and Green New Deal proponents, Greta, under advice from a range of experts, leaves the fantastical assumptions in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) mitigation plans well alone. Kevin Anderson, who has given Greta advice in the past, despairs at the “technical utopias”, unfathomable quantities of biomass burning, and as-yet-not-invented air capture machines that fill three of the four IPCC mitigation ‘pathways’. I’m astonished that even the one pathway commissioned by the IPCC that could be called a ‘degrowth’ pathway is also rarely discussed.

While the IPCC present fantastical mitigation plans supposedly representing the global consensus but with little basis in reality; the statements, networking activities, and research & development investments of fossil fuel giants tell another story. Events held, messages provided, and statements released during the UN Climate Action Summit show that the oil and gas industry are getting exactly what they want. Relentless extractivism in service of the consumer economy was the big winner around which climate action plans will be built.

Political will and the UN Climate Action Summit

On September 22, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) met for a dinner at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Emily Atkin reported on this event in her ‘Heated’ newsletter providing a transcript of a message presented by the Special Adviser to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The transcript of Guterres’ message is the primary source for a significant moment. It wasn’t till the next day, the same day Greta was giving her “how dare you” speech that the substance of the OGCI mitigation plans was revealed.

Chris Lang from Redd-Monitor laid out how the summit failed saying “Obviously, none of the “action plans” involved leaving any fossil fuel in the ground.”, and noting that the OGCI also support the #NaturalClimateSolutions (NCS) campaign promoted by George Monbiot and Greta Thunberg.

The International Energy Agency’s Clean Energy Ministerial made public an embargoed media release from the OGCI at 12.01am on September 23 announcing their “Kickstarter” initiative in partnership with the OGCI to “unlock large scale investment” in CCUS with an emphasis on “low carbon industrial hubs” for CO2 export. [SOURCE]

Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

 

On September 19, just in time for the summit George Monbiot and Greta Thunberg became spokesfaces for #NaturalClimateSolutions on the Guardian News, YouTube channel.

Stephen Corry from Survival International responded to the new video in worthy style pointing to the corporate relationships and big philanthropy behind the hashtag. In a September 20 Twitter thread, Corry takes Monbiot to task pointing to corporations that partner with the Big Conservation NGOs behind the NCS campaign.

On September 21, International Day of Struggle Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, Gary Graham Hughes from Biofuelwatch and Souparna Lahiri from Global Forest Coalition sounded a warning to Greta and those who would meet under the banner of #NatureBasedSolutions at the summit. They made their position, a challenge to Greta and summit attendees very clear saying “Acres of monoculture plantations, bioenergy, and offsets are false solutions – bad for climate, undermining real solutions and bad for humanity.”

On September 26, Cory Morningstar published her detailed write up of the the extensive networks behind #NaturalClimateSolutions. The networks explicated demonstrate the deep connections between the corporate world, big conservation, environmental NGOs, media, governments and the global consensus apparatus of the United Nations.

Any well resourced emissions wonk at the summit would have known what the fossil fools want to do. Our global corporate energy leaders reveal certain details of their plans and they have to spruik their plans to particular people in particular ways. I suspect they’re grateful for the lack of scrutiny from the mainstream media and the NGO aligned press who routinely fail to report or unpack the political will.

When the Atlantic Council hosted the 2019 Global Energy Forum in January, it was made very plain that CCS was necessary for any future energy plans. A panel discussion included representatives of the International Energy Agency, OGCI, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, The Institute of Energy Economics-Japan, and Saudi Aramco. Saudi Aramco’s Chief Technology Officer, Ahmad Al Khowaiter, made a statement at this panel discussion that really stuck out for me. “CO2 is a valuable feedstock, we should not forget that”. It’s a statement that acknowledges a barely understood reality: the oil industry has retained latent demand for liquefied CO2 for decades. [SOURCE]

It stands to reason that the oil industry would fight to access liquefied CO2 as the best means to do enhanced oil recovery to get the last remaining drops of oil from depleted oil fields and get paid a subsidy to sequester CO2 in the process. The global consumer market demands throughput of oil for the full range of products derived from oil, not merely the transport fuel products.

National Defense Authorization Act

On April 10, I watched the C-SPAN live stream of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) as it met to discuss and vote on the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act (USE IT Act). The USE IT Act is crucial to the expansion of the 45Q tax credit which is an effective subsidy for CO2 enhanced oil recovery and the full gamut of carbon capture and storage projects including ‘clean coal’ and ‘clean hydrogen’.

The meeting began with chair John Barrasso outlining the purpose of the meeting before offering an opportunity for members to comment on the bills before the committee. Ranking member Tom Carper spoke to the bills before John Barrasso called a recess so that Democrat members could make quorum at which point Tom Carper said “I’ve asked my staff to reach out far and wide to get as many  Democrats here as quickly as we can so thank you for your patience.”

While C-SPAN may provide livestreamed content, the archive of video, audio and transcripts available on the their website is subject to the discretion of the individual committee chairs. The EPW committee did not provide video to the C-SPAN archive preferring to post an edited video to their YouTube channel and archived webcast on their website. They did however provide audio of the complete proceedings of the April 10 meeting. [C-SPAN audio] [Archived webcast]

In April, a WKOG member called the EPW Committee office to check the attendance records for both the February 27 and April 10 meetings. They discovered that on February 27, three of the Green New Deal cosponsors were in attendance, but Bernie Sanders was absent. None of the three Green New Deal cosponsors spoke to the USE IT Act on February 27. On April 10, all four Green New Deal cosponsors were absent. This means that Bernie Sanders was absent for both meetings. Was the absence of the four Green New Deal cosponsors the cause of the recess called by John Barrasso at the April 10 meeting? Were the four Green New Deal Resolution cosponsors absent to manufacture the eventual unanimous vote for the USE IT Act?

On June 27, the USE IT Act passed the Senate 86 votes to 8 as part of S. 1790 National Defense Authorization Act 2020. The four Green New Deal cosponsors, Ed Markey, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders voted against the bill.

In an amendment to S. 1790 before it was voted up in the House of Representatives on September 17, Sec. 6001 which contained the USE IT Act provisions was removed.

[SOURCE]

On August 30, the Carbon Capture Coalition sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services asking that USE IT Act provisions be included as an amendment to HR. 2500. National Defense Authorization Act 2020.

It is time to pass this important and widely-supported climate and energy legislation, and the NDAA provides an appropriate opportunity to do so.

[SOURCE][SOURCE]

The vote on the House of Representatives NDAA will likely take place on November 20 or 21.

If the USE IT Act provisions pass then it will unleash an unstoppable wave of CCUS projects including fossil hydrogen projects and CO2 enhanced oil recovery projects. The success of the USE IT Act provisions will ensure the success of the 9+ bipartisan bills designed to deliver R&D, new pipelines and a raft of bureaucratic measures to support the implementation of 45Q tax credits. Cory Morningstar outlines most of these bills in her detailed investigation into the ‘Design to Win’ philanthropies.

Mitigation plans and technology

The truth about the mitigation plans of the powerful is masked in the public discourse by language, conflated logics and expansive silence. The political will that has been demonstrated for carbon capture and storage for fossil fuel extraction and refining should be held in contrast to the ‘pathways’ developed through the global consensus building processes of the IPCC.

Three of the four IPCC pathways rely heavily on what are called ‘negative emissions technologies’ (NETs). The ‘technology’ on which the IPCC rely most heavily is called BECCS, or biomass with CCS applied. Biomass is currently being used in Europe in place of coal, and is regarded by some as a ‘renewable energy’. Biomass is used as an offset against emissions created when it is burned in place of coal as it is regarded to have sequestered carbon when it was part of a plant. When you read articles about renewable energy beating out fossil fuel energy in the UK or Germany, you can be sure biomass offsets helped. The implementation of BECCS will require access to geological storage of CO2, the preserve of fossil fuel extraction companies like Equinor, Chevron, Woodside and Shell.

A ‘negative emissions technology’ is not a technology as such, but rather it is a collection of processes that upon the application of certain accounting can be said to have produced zero emissions. Geological storage of CO2 is a crucial process in transforming biomass burning into a negative emissions technology. If any implementation of the IPCC pathways were to take place any time soon then access to geological storage of CO2 would be absolutely necessary for BECCS to be effective.

On September 5, the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Kjell-Borge Freiburgh called for “international support” to amend the London Protocol to allow for under sea geological storage and export infrastructure to support the implementation of CCS. The full title of the London Protocol is the ‘London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter’. It is an international agreement to assist in making regional agreements. Amendments to the London Protocol have long been seen as the last regulatory hurdle to large scale under sea storage of CO2. [SOURCE]

The IPCC has three working groups covering three key areas: science and carbon budgets, social and ecological impacts, and mitigation. As observed by Kevin Anderson on Twitter, Greta Thunberg does not speak about the mitigation pathways presented by Working Group 3 on mitigation, rather she focusses on Working Group 1 on “physical science”. Having followed the discourse on mitigation pathways following Thelma Krug’s unheralded presentation at last year’s GHGT-14 conference in Melbourne, I can say with certainty that none of the four pathways have ever been discussed by XR leaders, Greta Thunberg or Green New Deal proponents. Indeed, the climate justice friendly media mouthpieces have rarely if ever examined the IPCC pathways.

[SOURCE: Thelma Krug]

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change, holding a joint chair in the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester and in Centre for Sustainability and the Environment at Uppsala University

Kevin Anderson is Professor of Energy and Climate Change, holding a joint chair in the School of Engineering at the University of Manchester and in the Centre for Sustainability and the Environment at Uppsala University

 

One of the unexamined pathways presented by the IPCC Working Group 3 is called P.1. or Grubler et al ‘Low Energy Demand’ scenario, which is the only degrowth scenario they provide. Grubler LED is also the only scenario/pathway not reliant on BECCS. Jason Hickel writing in Real-World Economics Review outlines degrowth as a radical and positive strategy for tackling climate targets. It is highly significant that so very little has been said about the Grubler LED pathway as it is the only pathway that provides any opportunity to deliver a fossil fuel phase out, which is, at least through suggestion, a principle objective of all climate justice groups including XR leaders and Green New Deal proponents.

People should study what Kevin Anderson has to say about IPCC scenarios. He is very concerned about the abundance of negative emissions technologies. He can’t see how the three BECCS and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) ‘technologies’ can deliver enough mitigation in time. In a video entitled ‘Delivering on 2 degrees,’ he notes that the IPCC scenario data base is loaded with NETs reliant scenarios.

In his response to the UK government’s “net zero” proposal following its declaration of a ‘climate emergency,’ makes it very clear that the fantastical quantities of BECCS and reliance on undeveloped air capture machines were already damaging the possibility of decisive action.   

Already the tentative potential of NETs is being used to undermine the requirement for immediate and widespread decarbonisation, passing further unacceptable burdens and risks onto the next generation.

[SOURCE]

Shortly after announcing a ‘climate emergency’ the UK’s Committee on Climate Change indicated that they would much prefer to produce ‘clean’ hydrogen from steam reforming LNG than through renewable energy and electrolysis with water. Steam reforming is a process where fossil gas is coverted into hydrogen and other gases producing a stream of pure liquefied CO2 for enhanced oil and gas recovery, geological storage or other commercial applications. Clearly the renewable option was being discarded by the Committee on Climate Change, but this was not a concern for the XR leaders who don’t appear to be doing what it takes to keep fossil fuels in the ground.  

Our scenarios assume that hydrogen production at scale is done via gas-reforming with CCS rather than electrolysis

[SOURCE]

Here is a remarkable interview with the Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 4 (on mitigation) of the IPCC AR6 Special Report, Heleen de Coninck. It is remarkable because it reveals how the language and framing of technologies and extractive processes has shifted around carbon capture and storage over several IPCC reports. The interviewer was compelled to ask a rather absurd sounding question that highlights how IPCC reports have framed and reframed technologies and extractive processes in producing mitigation scenarios.

Ah, so you’re saying in AR3, CCS was still weird?

[SOURCE]

Rob Urie is one of the few writers to take an honest look at the technologies that the IPCC modelling requires. I think this is one of the most important pieces of writing that any informed person can read to understand where we are right now and where we are likely to be heading in the near future.

Three of the four scenarios to keep the rise in global temperatures at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius presented by the IPCC in their 2018 paper require ‘negative emissions’ technologies—methods of actively removing carbon from the atmosphere. Some of these, like reforestation, are superficially attractive to the environmentally inclined. The problems come both through the fine print and the focus on climate rather than the environment.

 

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

 

 

 

 

 

US Senators Want America to “Prevent Genocide and Mass Atrocities” through the Use of Military Force

Senators Cory Booker, Al Franken, and Elizabeth Warren

www.globalresearch.ca

September 04, 2017

by Ann Garrison

 

How goddamn dumb do Senators Cory Booker, D-NJ, Al Franken, D-MI, and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, think we are?

All three Democratic presidential hopefuls are “initial co-sponsors” of an Orwellian bill to “enhance” our government’s ability to “prevent genocide and mass atrocities” with military force: Senate Bill 1158, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017.

Remember the US war to prevent genocide and mass atrocities in Libya? Where the Obama Administration toppled the secular Libyan state, and destroyed its national oil company to make way for US oil corporations? Where Hillary Clinton ordered the assassination of an African president, and left a failed state of warring militias, including ISIS, plus a modern-day slave trade and streams of desperate refugees risking their lives to get to Europe from Libyan shores.

The US war to “prevent genocide and mass atrocities” in Syria is of course ongoing, even though President Trump shut down Obama’s billion-dollar operation to train Islamist militias who were fighting each other when they weren’t fighting President Bashar al-Assad. The casualties in Syria are well into the hundreds of thousands, the refugees and internally displaced persons equal to half the pre-war population of 22 million. Nevertheless, Syria’s secular state, its national oil company, and its national bank still stand, thanks to Russia’s decision to draw the line and lend military support.

Let’s not forget Bush’s preemptive war. He gave us an absolutely ridiculous excuse: that he had to prevent Saddam Hussein from attacking the US with “weapons of mass destruction.” So the US invaded Iraq, destroying much of its infrastructure and archaeological heritage, killing a million or more Iraqis, and discharging so much toxic ordnance that the people of Basra and Fallujah now suffer high rates of cancer and unprecedented rates of birth defects. The US destroyed Iraq’s national oil company, opened its oil fields to Bush’s oil tycoon cronies, toppled a secular government, let the Shia majority seize power, and made way for the current battles raging between Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish militias. Most recently, the US destroyed the City of Mosul to save it from ISIL.

Saddam Hussein was not a nice guy, but if anyone—including Cory Booker, Al Franken, and Elizabeth Warren—believes that’s why the US did all that to Iraq, I’d like to sell them 500 tons of yellowcake uranium ore from Niger, along with the Washington Post and the New York Times—all at a one-time bargain basement price.

But they don’t believe that, and they don’t believe any outlandish claims that the US prevents genocide and mass atrocities or wants to. They don’t believe that WAR IS PEACE and FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, because whatever else we may think about Senators Booker, Franken, and Warren, they’re not that stupid. They’re just hoping that we are, or that we’re so mortified by Donald Trump that we’ll line up behind one of them or another militarist Democrat in 2020. Or they’re hoping that most of us are too damaged, distracted, disaffected, or disengaged to care.

Origins of S.1158 – the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the Democrats’ top dog on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act. He is an avowed Zionist, frequently lauded by AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, and the Zionist press. He has supported US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, opposed the Iran nuclear deal, called for the removal of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and said that the US cannot accept North Korea’s status as a minor nuclear power.

Cardin also joined Ohio Republican Ron Portman to introduce Senate Bill 7.20 – the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would make it a felony for Americans to support the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement that was created to protest Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestine. If S.720 becomes law, avoiding the purchase of Israeli goods for political reasons will become a federal crime punishable by a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Neither Cory Booker, nor Al Franken, nor Elizabeth Warren have joined the 43 Senators, mostly Republicans, co-sponsoring S.720. Such an outright assault on our civil rights might go down less well with their liberal base than preventing genocide and mass atrocities. Doesn’t every liberal Democrat, and indeed every American of good will, want to prevent genocide and mass atrocities? Only a psychopath wouldn’t.

Hillary Clinton with the Libyan rebels

As the US and NATO’s war on Libya began, Pakistani scholar Tariq Ali wrote in the Monthly Review,

“The sheer cynicism is breathtaking. We’re expected to believe that the leaders with bloody hands in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are defending the people in Libya. The fact that decent liberals still fall for this rubbish is depressing.”

On the fifth anniversary of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Ali wrote that,

“The human cost of this war would, if some other country were doing it, be labeled genocide.”

Democrats for Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Twenty Democrats, including Booker, Franken, and Warren, but only five Republicans, have signed on as co-sponsors of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Mass Atrocities Prevention Act. Indeed, much of this Orwellian movement is coordinated within the elite, richly resourced, corporate funded, ideological bastions of the Democratic Party. One of these is the “ENOUGH Project to counter genocide and crimes against humanity,” founded by career militarists John Prendergast and Gayle Smith. Enough is an NGO subsidiary of a larger NGO, the Center for American Progress (CAP). CAP is a think tank, aka propaganda vehicle, founded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. Podesta played key roles in both the Clinton and Obama Administrations prior to his Wikileaks notoriety.

Another key pillar of genocide prevention propaganda is Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, founded by Samantha Power. After Power became its first Executive Director. she worked with “the US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute” to produce Mass Atrocity Response Operations, a Military Planning Handbook. As President Obama’s Ambassador, she went on to crusade for US/NATO wars in Libya and Syria, then to rant, rave, and fulminate about Russia.

March 14, 2012: “The Honorable Princeton Lyman, Mr. John Prendergast, Co-founder, Satellite Sentinel Project, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), George Clooney and Dick Lugar pose for a photo at the Senate Foreign Relations.” | Source: Getty

One of ENOUGH’s greatest propagandistic achievements is STAND, “the student-led movement to end mass atrocities,” which declares that it’s on a mission “to empower individuals and communities with the tools to prevent and end genocide.” STAND has chapters on high school, college ,and university campuses all over the US with regional coordinators in the West, Midwest, Southeast, Eastern, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. John KerryBen Affleck, George Clooney, and John Prendergast have all appeared to speak at its campus events.

STAND shows a list of films and promotes a list of books about Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur, the Holocaust, and Rwanda, all of which support the justifying narratives that prevail in the US foreign policy establishment. STAND’s R2P—[Responsibility to Protect]—Student Journal is now accepting submissions from both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

2007: “In Darfur”  panel  from left to right: John Prendergast, Samantha Power, Nicholas Kristof, Dauod Hari, Omer Ismail, Mia Farrow, Winter Miller and Mark Hanis. Photo: Ben Strothmann

I’m sure that a few veterans of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the movement to end the Vietnam War are reading this and shaking their heads, as are a few of the millions who surged into streets all over the world desperate to stop the Iraq War in 2003. Who imagined that one year later, a national, networked student lobby for war would be growing out of the Save Darfur movement with so much institutional support in Washington D.C.?

STAND, the Aegis Trust, and their matching concerns

In 2015, STAND became the official youth chapter of the Aegis Trust, an offshoot of the UK National Holocaust Center. Aegis claims responsibility for the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, which exists to enshrine the official lies equating the Holocaust and the Rwandan massacres of 1994. These lies are at the heart of the Western interventionist canon and the Rwanda/Israel Pact. A page of the Aegis website reads:

“We failed in Rwanda. We failed in Srebrenica. But you are writing a different future. Today I am moved, and I am inspired.” – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

That reminded me of Norman Finkelstein calling Ban Ki-moon “a comatose puppet of the United States.”

STAND’s “conflict areas” of concern match those of the Aegis Trust: Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Burma, and Syria. Palestine has never been on their lists. STAND’s “policy statements” read like those of the Aegis Trust, the Enough Project, and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and STAND chapters lobby their House Reps and Senators accordingly. How deep into the deep state is that?

Whatever the answer, passage of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act is now among STAND’s top priorities, so they’re no doubt on the phone requesting meetings and urging Senators Booker, Franken, Warren and others to move their bill out of committee to the Senate Floor.

Will anyone call to tell these Senators that WAR IS NOT PEACE, THE US DOES NOT PREVENT GENOCIDE, and there’s no way they could honestly believe the bs in this bill?

 

[Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, the Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace.  She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.]