Clean Power

Published on November 24th, 2011 | by Andrew


Greenpeace Report Lays Out Who’s Holding Back Climate Change Treaty, Green Global Economy

November 24th, 2011 by  

Image courtesy of The Text this Week

Steel industry giant Arcellor-Mittal, chemicals industry leader BASF, mining giant BHP Billiton, the US energy industry’s Koch, South Africa’s electric utility Eskom – the leaders of these giant multinational companies, along with others, literally spend “the equivalent of the GDP of entire nations to block progress on climate legislation and ensure that fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies continue to give unfair advantage to dirty energy, above the safe, clean renewable energy future the public demands.”

So states Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo in the foreword to the environmental rights organization’s “Who’s holding us back? How carbon-intensive industry is preventing effective climate change legislation?”

In the report, Greenpeace lays out how “a handful of carbon-intensive companies who stand to benefit from inaction have been holding us back, and the politicians who choose to act on their behalf,” documenting the means and methods they’re using to do so.

With climate change treaty negotiators from 194 nations around the world about to meet in Durban, South Africa for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17), the report’s release is timely to say the least.

It comes at the tail end of a year in which record-breaking damages have been suffered by communities and countries around the world due to extreme weather events and a ‘business as usual’ approach to energy and economic development.

A Conspiracy of Dunces

Adding insult to injury, a second release of stolen emails from climate researchers by parties unknown and still at large – the so-called ‘Climategate 2’ – comes just as COP 17 is about to begin, an eerie, somewhat disturbing coincidence, as the first batch was released in 2009 to coincide with COP 15 in Copenhagen. The smear campaign continues.

The leaders of some large US corporations and multinationals, particularly in the energy, mining and power industries, adamantly oppose governmental efforts to cap greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and implement consistent, proactive and long-term climate change and renewable energy action plans. They’ve displayed a great amount of creativity and have been more than willing to dig into their deep pockets to disparage, denigrate and derail any such thing from happening.

It’s become increasingly clear just how shrewd and devious these organizations and their media minions can be when it comes to influencing and manipulating public opinion, not to mention co-opt political leaders in the US and around the world. That’s not surprising; they’re the best money can buy.

These are ‘investments’ that have generated returns far, far higher than investing in their businesses. Down through the years, their spending on lobbying, financing campaigns of political candidates and influencing local elections has been returned many, many times over.

Nonetheless, the broad public refuses to be swayed. The results of public opinion polls in the US have consistently shown broad public support for renewable energy and clean technology, yet our political leadership at the federal level is unable to act.

It’s in this area that the issues of energy, the economy, the environment, and the overall health and sustainability of democratic societies overlap with trends in US politics and government. The Occupy Wall Street and associated movements that have sprung up and persist around the country are clear testimony to the increasingly strong disconnect many, particularly the younger generation, feel when it comes to politics, government and economic opportunity.

A Glimmer of Hope

Nonetheless, there is “a glimmer of hope on the horizon,” Naidoo writes. The best scientists around the world continue work individually and in collaboration to further our understanding of the human effects on climate change and how we may best mitigate and adapt to it. The renewable energy and clean technology industries continue to develop and grow. “Despite the massive odds against it, renewable energy has doubled each year over the past decade,” he notes.

More than 2 million people worldwide are employed in renewable energy jobs. In the US, more people are employed in the sector than in the coal industry. Renewable energy investment reached a record $243 billion in 2010 despite all the economic and financial system turmoil that’s occurred. That’s expected to exceed $3 trillion in the next decade, Greenpeace points out.

As Naidoo states, it’s not a question of lacking the technology, or the money. It’s certainly not a lack of pressing need and urgency. It’s a question of political will. And broad swathes of people in countries around the world are increasingly being spurred to action, to participate and have their voices heard at the highest levels of government, industry and commerce. That certainly is cause for hope, not only economically, not only for life in all its profusion on this planet, but in terms of keeping broad-based democratic systems of government alive and well

“We have the technology today to ensure a transition to a greener, safer and more equitable economy. However, we won’t be able to ensure we make the global transition soon enough to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts and much human suffering unless national governments take strong measures at home and we are able to reach a fair, ambitious and legally binding international agreement.

“Our governments must work with and learn from the business sector but we will not avoid irreversible climate change impacts unless they listen to and act on the behalf of their citizens. In Durban, it’s time for governments to listen to the people, not the polluting corporations.”

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

  • So Cal Doc

    Global warming aside–because the cause is still debatable, if you want to get serious about the environment… END THE FED!

    If you want to see the environmental damage that Central Banks, fiat currency, and MBAs are causing, come to Asia! Every city in Asia is feeling the effects of the US model.

    If you are concerned about the environment, concerned about our resources, concerned about our oceans, concerned about your children and grandchildren… END THE FED!

    The gold standard was not perfect, but it was an imperfect regulator of sorts for an imperfect world which is much better than we have today. Washington DC is not interested in regulators unless they carry a badge and a gun and beat citizens down… It’s time we changed their attitude about all this….

    If you don’t understand what I mean, find some charts that measure “economic” growth in the world, and the introduction of fiat currency. The hyperbolic growth of our world is directly correlated to the devaluation of our currency.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not waiting any more for governments to figure out their only decent and moral course of action, which is to immediately create and begin enforcing socially and economically just climate treaties. I’m spending what little resources I may have to inspire artists to DO SOMETHING about climate change, by changing consciousness. I’ve started a contest, that I will be paying the winner out from my own salary, to inspire artists to generate emblems using the words, Climate Treaty Now, that can be shared and viewed by millions of people. Creating public pressure seems to be our only hope:

    • Anonymous


  • Robert Searle

    I should have added to the above that this responsible creation of new money would ofcourse be used for environmental (and high ethical/ social) projects. At present, I am very busy, and I was unable to finish off the above intro properly. Apologies to readers.

    ….And incidently Thumbs Up for the work of Cleantechnica..

  • Tom G.

    We can promote clean air and water. We can reduce the use of coal, oil and natural gas. We can continue to fund further battery research and make our transportation system less carbon intensive. We can change the way we farm to be more efficient and less carbon intensive. We can continue to promote high speed rail. We can build more wind, solar, hydro, wave and geothermal systems. We can continue to develop bio-fuels based on non-food crops. All of these things we can do without ever using the term ‘Global Warming’.

    We can do all of these things because most are [or soon will be] the most cost effective approach. You don’t get companies like Google, GE, Exxon-Mobile and others to invest in ‘global warming’. They invest in things they can CONTROL As a retired engineer, I really don’t think it makes one bit of difference HOW we achieve our goals just as long as we do and that to me is one of the problems with the term ‘global warming’. It is not a GOAL, A PLAN or STRATEGIC objective, it professes to be a statement of fact or at best a statement of a static condition [the globe is warming]. The term global warming doesn’t DO anything – it only states a condition and doesn’t do that very well either.

    When people write goal statements they usually contain action statements like:
    # I intend on reducing my carbon footprint by 25% this year or
    # I plan on buying an electric car next year because they require less maintenance or
    # Next year I am going to try the train between L.A. and Las Vegas instead of driving, or
    # I am going to write a letter to my city council to encourage the use of solar on public buildings.

    While every one of the above statements has something to do with global warming the term is never used or even needed. I believe that a large majority of the American people would be responsive to those types of actions. I can SELL goals, plans, strategic objectives and visions to an American Company or the American people – I can not sell ‘global warming’ since it is not a product or service.

    I sure hope this makes sense to someone. We can do hundreds of things to make our lives better without ever using the term ‘global warming’. I can’t sell a homeowner ‘global warming’ but I can sell them a 5 kW PV system for their home because in 7-10 years they can be enjoying free electricity.
    In the end aren’t they the same thing?

  • Akbweb2

    A good place to start is reading how climate science originated and developed over the past century or so…

    “Fixing Climate” is an excellent example…

    Yes, there are numerous factors involved, not all of them completely understood, but reading this shows that the greenhouse effect is the key, and that CO2 is the prime agent…

  • Tom G.

    And because 1. some are concealing data and 2. it is a political cause and 3. the science is weak and deliberately manipulated we should:

    Quite trying to clean up our air and water by promoting renewable energy. Why does it always have to come down to what a bunch of research scientists have to said. As an individual don’t you want clean air and water? Can’t we as individuals decide that these should be universal goals. I can’t understand how someone can be against a cleaner environment which is better for all of us including our planet.

    Tom G.

    • Anonymous

      Fully agree, Tom, clean and and water are the basics of life and are important in themselves.

      However, the first three points mentioned by larry which you quote are completely UNTRUE.

      This has been determined in 9 (count them, 9!) investigations.

      And this is why every overarching scientific organization in the world supports the climate scientists.

  • Anonymous

    A new batch of 5,000 emails among scientists central to the assertion that humans are causing a global warming crisis were anonymously released to the public yesterday, igniting a new firestorm of controversy nearly two years to the day after similar emails ignited the Climategate scandal.

    Three themes are emerging from the newly released emails: (1) prominent scientists central to the global warming debate are taking measures to conceal rather than disseminate underlying data and discussions; (2) these scientists view global warming as a political “cause” rather than a balanced scientific inquiry and (3) many of these scientists frankly admit to each other that much of the science is weak and dependent on deliberate manipulation of facts and data.

  • Anonymous

    Please place me in the negative column. I dont know if we are having global warming or global cooling right now, and you dont know either, but I do know that Anthropogenic Global Warming is a hoax and a fraud.

    So party on you alarmists, perhaps one day you will see the foolishness of your naivety.

    • Anonymous

      No larry, you BELIEVE that global climate change is a hoax.

      You have zero data on which to base any knowledge. In fact, a belief that global climate change is a hoax requires that one dismiss an incredibly large body of knowledge which makes global climate change settled science.

      You’re free to believe whatever you want. If you want to believe that wearing a tin foil hat keeps the government from making you impotent, wear away.

      You are not free to make up facts.

    • Akbweb2

      Try reading “Fixing Climate”…

  • Anonymous

    Tom, you’re right about CO2 not being the only factor causing climate change. Other factors are atmospheric black carbon/soot (from humans burning fuels), methane (being released by humans via oil/gas drilling and cow burps), aerosols (human produced) and changes in albedo via removed forests (again – humans).

    When it comes down to it, humans are causing almost/all of the warming. Even the large number of cows burping methane we have to lay at the feet of humans. We are artificially creating massive herds. CO2 is the largest factor, contributing something over 40% of the total. Even our farming methods contribute to CO2 release and apparently have since humans began farming.

    Contributions from ‘natural’ sources? I’m unaware of any. The Sun has not been increasing its output, has actually decreased a bit. We were likely in a long term slide into another ice age prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution. There are some ‘natural’ forces beginning to speed warming, things like increased CO2 and methane from the thawing Arctic and loss of albedo from areas no longer covered with ice and snow, but that’s only because humans kicked the process into gear.

    I don’t hear complaining. What I hear is warnings.

    But I’m with you at the ripe old age of 67. Let’s lean harder on our elected officials, especially those who are throwing up roadblocks in order to help their fossil fuel industry friends. Let’s speed the transition away from fossil fuels and install renewables so that we leave a habitable Earth to those who follow us.

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