U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, who has led the United States in global climate talks since 2009, will address domestic and international efforts to mitigate the threat of global climate change during a public speech at Yale on Tuesday, Oct. 14.
The event, which will be held at 4:30 p.m. in Levinson Auditorium at the Yale Law School, 127 Wall St., is open to the public. It is hosted by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and Yale Law School. The speech comes just weeks before the 20th meeting of the annual UN climate conference in Lima, Peru — a meeting that many leaders hope will help set a constructive course toward a successful international climate agreement to be reached at the 2015 climate conference in Paris.
The event will be broadcast via live web stream.
Stern comes to New Haven just weeks after the United Nations Climate Summit, held in New York on Sept. 23, where more than 100 heads of state plus business and civil society leaders came together to call for ambitious action on climate change. At the Summit, President Obama touted U.S. progress on the Climate Action Plan, reaffirmed a U.S. commitment to reach a global climate agreement, and announced several new climate change initiatives. Stern played an active role at the summit, which he called an opportunity for international leaders to build momentum toward a new global climate treaty before the 2015 meeting in Paris.
The U.S. Senate race in Kentucky, between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky’s Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, has been marked by competing acts of fealty to the coal industry.
“Mr. President, Kentucky has lost one-third of our coal jobs in just the last three years,” one Grimes radio spot runs. “Now, your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations that are impossible to achieve.”
“We know what Obama needs to wage his war on coal,” McConnell retorted. “Obama needs Grimes.”
However, there is now a point of contention between the two candidates: Grimes, unlike McConnell, recognizes, at least in rhetoric, the reality of climate change.
In an interview on September 25 with Matt Jones on Louisville talk radio station WKJK, Grimes said she believes in the science of climate change.
JONES: “Do you believe in climate change?”
GRIMES: “I do. You know, Mitch McConnell and I differ on this. He still wants to argue with the scientists. I do believe that it exists, but I think that we have to address, especially leaving this world in a better place, in a balanced manner. We’ve got to keep the jobs that we have here in the state, especially our good coal jobs.”
This question came in the context of a longer discussion about Grimes’ disagreement with President Barack Obama on the coal industry. “I think we have to rein in the EPA,” Grimes said. “I think the regulations as they exist now are overburdensome.”
The McConnell campaign extracted a clip of the conversation, ending Grimes’ remarks at “it exists.”
The Carbon Risk Forum will bring together city and state government leaders, financial professionals, and leaders of organizations concerned about carbon risk in their investments. We are faced with growing evidence of the risk inherent in fossil fuel investments – it’s time to responsibly move to more sustainable, safer, investments. In the last year, over 30 local governments have moved to divest from fossil fuels, and we hope you will join us for an in-depth examination of the issues and a discussion of what institutions can do to lower their carbon risk. Addressing carbon risk by divesting is financially, morally, and politically prudent. This is a growing movement and we must now map out the path forward for responsibly moving our assets into more sustainable investments. The Forum will provide a unique opportunity for local governments and the institutional financial sector to interface on the components and implications of fossil fuel divestment. The Forum will build off of the successful Seattle Divestment Forum.Agenda
8:00am Breakfast and Registration8:30am Welcome and Introduction
- The Reverend Doctor Robert Massie
- Moderator: Councilor Leland Cheung
- Mark Campanale, Carbon Tracker Initiative
- Mark Lewis, Kepler Cheuvreux
- Moderator: District Attorney Sam Sutter
10:00 – 10:15am Break10:15 – 12:00pm Divestment as a Response
- Stuart Braman, Fossil Free Indexes
- John Fisher, Bloomberg LP
- Bevis Longstreth, Corporate Finance Lawyer and Professor
- Leslie Samuelrich, Green Century Funds
- Moderator: Councilor Seth Yurdin
- Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Somerville MA
- Moderator: Representative Marjorie Decker
- Thomas Kuh, MSCI
- Liz Michaels, Aperio Group
- Moderator: Councilor Michelle Wu
2:30 – 2:45pm Break2:45 – 3:45pm Divestment Case Study
- Donald P. Gould, Pitzer College Board of Trustees
- Eric Becker, Sterling College Board of Trustees
- Dan Curran, President, University of Dayton
- Moderator: Stu Dalheim, Calvert Investments
- Getting Pension Boards to Yes – Stephanie Leighton, Trillium Asset Management
- Divestment or Engagement – Leslie Samuelrich, Green Century Fund
- Maximizing the Political Benefit of Divesting – Mike McGinn, Former Seattle Mayor
- Reinvestment Possibilities – Ken Locklin, IMPAX, Karina Funk, Brown Advisory
- State-level Divestment – Rep. Marjorie Decker, Rep. Aaron Michlewitz
- City-level Divestment – Councilor Seth Yurdin
4:45 – 5:00pm Closing
5:00 – 6:00pm Reception
- Shelley Alpern, Director, Social Research & Shareholder Advocacy, Clean Yield
- Craig Altemose, Executive Director, Better Future Project
- Jim Antal, Conference Minister and President, Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
- Rebecca Bar, Coordinator, Investor Program, Ceres
- Edward Bean, Finance Director, City of Somerville, MA
- Eric Becker, Chief Investment Officer, Clean Yield Asset Management
- James Bennet, Deputy Chief Investment Officer, MainePERS
- Shoshana Blank, Senior Research Fellow, The Sustainable Endowments Institute
- Stuart Braman, Founder and CEO, Fossil Free Indexes
- Dylan Brix, ESG Analyst, Sustainability Group at Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge
- Will Brownsberger, State Senator, MA Senate
- Nick Buonvicino, Student, Merrimack College
- Chris Burns, Deputy Executive Director, Cambridge Retirement System
- Ben Caldecott, Programme Director, Smith School, University of Oxford
- Mark Campanale, Director & Founder, Carbon Tracker, London
- Jay Carmona, Community Divestment Campaign Manager, 350.org
- Michael Carter, Chief Administrative Officer, City of New Haven, CT
- Leland Cheung, Councilor, Cambridge
- Jim Coburn, Senior Manager, Ceres
- Gary Cohen, President, Health Care Without Harm
- Anthony Cortese, Principal, Intentional Endowments Network
- Daniel Curran, President, University of Dayton, Ohio
- Joseph A. Curtatone, Mayor, City of Somerville, MA
- Mark Dailey, Deputy Chief of Staff for Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg, Massachusett Senate
- Stu Dalheim, VP, Shareholder Advocacy, Calvert Investments
- Chris Davis, Director of Investor Programs, Ceres
- Marjorie Decker, State Representative, Cambridge, MA
- Rosamond Delori, Board Chair, World Learning
- Sheila Dormody, Acting Policy Director/Sustainability Director, City of Providence
- Van Du, Special Assistant/Sustainability Adviser, City of Boston – Environment, Energy, and Open Space
- Darcy DuMont, Advocate, 350MA
- Jameson Dunn, Student, Merrimack College Financial Group
- Paul Ellis, Sustainable Investment Consultant, Beacon, NY/Paul Ellis Consulting
- Austin Faison, Director of Operations/Parking Clerk, City of Somerville, MA
- Topher Fearey, Business Development, Brown Advisory
- John Fisher, Bloomberg LP
- Michael Flaherty, Mayor, At-Large Counciler, City of Boston, MA
- Brett Fleishman, Senior Analyst, 350.org
- Emily Flynn, Associate Director, Sustainable Endowments Institute
- Jean Foster, Environmental Action Team Chair, Cambridge
- Tom Francis, Director, Oil & Gas Research, Fossil Free Indexes, LLC
- Sidni Frederick, Co-Coordinator, Divest Harvard
- Karina Funk, Co-Portfolio Manager, Brown Advisory
- Thomas Gainey, Vice President, Pax World
- Eli Gerzon, State Divestment Organizer, Better Future Project
- Donald Gould, President, Gould Asset Management LLC
- Bradford Goz, Director, Fossil Free Indexes
- Vanessa Green, Campaign Director, Divest-Invest Individual
- Shannon Gurek, Vice President, Finance and Administration, South Hadley
- Gilda Gussin, Consultant, Change Producers
- Bob Helmuth, Senior VP – Stakeholder Relations, Pax World Investments LLC
- Spencer Hendersen, Client Service Representative & Research Associate, Aequitas Investment Advisors LLC
- Kathryn Hoffman, Director, Berkeley/ California Student Sustainability Coalition
- Wendy Holding, Trustee, The Sustainability Group
- Robert Hooper, Trustee, State of Vermont VPIC
- James Irwin, Senior Associate, Mayors Innovation Project
- Jenny Isler, Director of Sustainability, Clark University
- Christine Jantz, President & Portfolio Manager, Boston
- Brad Johnson, Reporter, New Republic
- Brett Juliano, ESG Research, MSCI
- Emily Kirkland, Communications Coordinator, Better Future Project
- Emily Koo, Deputy Director of Policy, City of Providence
- Thomas Kuh, PhD, Executive Director, MSCI ESG Indexes
- Laura Kunkemueller, Investment Consultant, Mercer
- Natasha Lamb, Director, Equity Research & Shareholder Engagement, Arjuna Capital
- Alex Lamb, Senior Consultant, EY
- Stephanie Leighton, Partner & Portfolio Manager, Trillium Asset Management
- Mark Lewis, Senior Analyst, Kepler-Cheuvreux
- Jason Lewis, State Senate, Middlesex, MA
- Kenneth Locklin, Senior Portfolio Advisor, Impax
- Bevis Longstreth, Former Commissioner, SEC, New York City
- Tim MacDonald, Senior Fellow, Capital Institute
- James Maguire, Director, Grants Management & Accounting, Merck Family Fund
- Robert Massie, Advisor, 350.org
- Jessica Matthews, Managing Director, Cambridge Associates
- Chloe Maxmin, Student, Divest Harvard
- Michael McDonald, Reporter, Bloomberg News
- Michael McGinn, Former Mayor, Seattle WA
- Robert Melton, Vice President, MSCI
- Liz Michaels, Director, ESG/SRI; Chief of Staff, Aperio Group
- James Michel, Trustee, First Church in Jamaica Plain
- Aaron Michlewitz, State Representative, House of Representatives
- Amy Miller, City and State Divestment Campaigner, 350.org
- Andy Mims, Trustee, Boston/The Sustainability Group
- James Monagle, City Auditor, City of Cambridge, MA
- Richard Mott, Environment Director, Wallace Global Fund
- Nelson Murphy, Director, Investor Development, United Church Funds
- Jaclyn Olsen, Assistant Director, Harvard University Office for Sustainability
- Mark Orlowski, Executive Director, Sustainable Endowments Institute
- Mark Peters, Principal, Federal Street Advisors
- Mark Quercio, Investment Professional, NorthPointe Wealth Management
- Susan Redlich, Divestment Team Member, 350MA.org
- Kelly Regan, Investment Consultant, NEPC
- Satya Rhodes-Conway, Managing Director, Mayors Innovation Project
- Dave Rogers, State Representative, Massachusetts House of Representatives
- Leslie Samuelrich, President, Green Century Capital Management
- Charles Sandmel, Portfolio Manager, First Affirmative Financial Network
- Sam Sutter, District Attorney, Bristol County
- Andrew Thompson, Client Relationship Manager, Boston Common Asset Management
- Leah Turino, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Associate, Boston Common Asset Management
- David Unger, Journalist, The Christian Science Monitor
- Austin Williams, Environmental Caucus Chair, College Democrats of Massachusetts
- Emily Williams, Communications Intern, Better Future Project
- Candace Williams, Legislative Aide to Senator Michael Barrett, MA State Senate
- Canyon Woodward, Student Coordinator, Divest Harvard
- Michelle Wu, City Councilor At-Large, City of Boston, MA
- Seth Yurdin, Majority Leader, Providence City Council
- Giovanni Zinn, Project Manager, City of New Haven, CT
- Andrew Zucker, Senior Research Scientist, Concord MA / The Concord Consortium
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the People's Climate March: "We Have to Stop CO2 From Hurtling Into the Atmosphere"
Taking part in the largest climate march in history, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Wall Street bankers will only act on climate change if people organize to make them do so. He also expressed succinctly the climate-policy challenge: “We have to stop CO2 from hurtling into the atmosphere.”
During the PeoplesClimate.tv livestream of the People’s Climate March, Hill Heat’s Brad Johnson caught up with Schumer as he chatted with billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer. The senator said that action from pension funds is needed to get Wall Street to stop financing fossil fuels, because the bankers will not lead.
“The leadership has to come from the people,” Schumer told me. “Pension funds could do a lot.”
Wall Street plays a tremendous role making New York one of the richest cities in the world. It drives the global economy, which is powered on fossil fuels. Even as Mayor DeBlasio is working to decarbonize the city’s energy supply, carbon financier David Koch is the richest man in the city. Meaningful global action on climate change, the type Schumer called for, will require Wall Street to fully divest from financing the fossil-fuel industry. Although pension-fund and other private action is helpful, what is truly needed is legislative action from Congress.
PeoplesClimate.tv is a project of Act.tv, the web video activism site.
SCHUMER: We need to stop CO2 from hurtling into the atmosphere. We need do it, we need to work for climate change both globally and locally. Globally, the whole UN is here. Globally, all the leaders of the the world should get together and maybe begin raising consciousness and doing so. Locally, we have to act on our own. We can’t wait for the leaders of the world. Today Mayor DeBlasio did a very good thing by saying he’s going to greatly increase the efficiency of buildings. That’s important.
Q: A lot of people are saying that leaders need to be the first ones to step up. What are you planning to do?
SCHUMER: I’ve been a leader of these things in Congress for a long time. But anybody in New York who doubted the effects of climate change changed their minds after Sandy.
. . .
BRAD JOHNSON: This is the richest city, perhaps in the world. Wall Street plays a tremendous role. It drives the global economy. Right now the global economy is powered on fossil fuels. How can finance, how can Wall Street change the tide?
SCHUMER: Well, one of the ways there’s leverage on Wall Street are pension funds, from the states, from the unions, and others. And if they say some things, sometimes Wall Street listens.
JOHNSON: Do you think there’s going to be leadership from the world of the banks, the bankers?
SCHUMER: No. The leadership has to come from the people, but as I said, pension funds could do a lot. He [Tom Steyer] knows a lot more about this than me.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) stumblingly rejected the science of climate change in a debate for his re-election to Colorado’s sixth district on Tuesday. His challenger, Democrat Andrew Romanoff, expressed his confidence that climate change is caused by humans and can be reversed. Visibly uncomfortable, Coffman paused and mumbled his answers to the two questions from the moderators, Denver Post reporters Jon Murray and Chuck Plunkett. Watch the video, courtesy of ColoradoPols.com:
Rep. Coffman does not believe that humans are contributing significantly to climate change, which is already damaging Colorado with increased drought, wildfire, and floods.
In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. The world’s national scientific societies and the world’s practicing climate scientists are in overwhelming agreement about this fact.
MODERATOR #1 (Denver Post reporter Jon Murray): Mr. Coffman, do you believe humans are contributing significantly to climate change?
MODERATOR #1: Mr. Romanoff?
MODERATOR #2 (Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett): Mr. Romanoff, do you think we can reverse climate change?
MODERATOR #2: Mr. Coffman?
COFFMAN: Don’t know.
MODERATOR #2: Um, what? Sir?
COFFMAN: Um . . . [long pause] No.
Facebook green czar Bill Weihl discusses his company at a Greenpeace event
We re-evaluate our memberships on an annual basis and are in that process now. While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015.
The representative seems to have been referring a key incident at ALEC’s annual meeting in Dallas this July. Michael Terrell, Google’s senior policy counsel for energy and sustainability, made a presentation on behalf of then-members Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and eBay promoting clean energy development. The tech companies are major electricity consumers, because of their need for massive data farms, and have worked to power their installations with renewable energy. Chris Taylor, a state lawmaker attending the presentation, wrote that the lobbyists for Peabody Energy, Edison Electric, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity in attendance were unswayed.
Google and Facebook are both participants in Greenpeace’s Cool IT effort to decarbonize the data farms. When I pressed the companies’ green energy executives at a Greenpeace event in November of last year as the manager of the #DontFundEvil campaign why they had ALEC membership, they were unable to provide an answer.
The experience of the tech giants is a replay of what happened when renewable trade associations were part of the fossil-driven lobby group in 2012. The American Wind Energy Association and Solar Energy Industries Association were outvoted in a series of decisions that led to ALEC pushing anti-renewable legislation. Chastened by the result, AWEA and SEIA left ALEC when their one-year membership came up for renewal.
It seems that none of these companies bothered to look who is on ALEC’s corporate board — lobbyists for fossil-fuel companies Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, Peabody Energy, and Future Energy Holdings. One would think they could have Googled it.
The National Young Farmers Coalition, La Sombrilla, the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and NRDC Present
Climate and Food Justice Forum: Building Connections between New York and Puerto Rico
New York and Puerto Rico are home to some of the most climate vulnerable communities in the United States. Advocates and residents in both regions increasingly see food justice as critical to bolstering their communities’ resiliency in the face of climate change. The forum will explore that connection, highlighting how farmers and activists in both regions are developing climate smart alternatives to conventional agriculture.
Cindy Madeleiny Camacho Bernard Estudiantes Dispuestos a la Restauración Ambiental
Annie Courtens Roxbury Farm
Keisha Morale Rodríguez Estudiantes Dispuestos a la Restauración Ambiental
Ana Elisa Pérez Quintero Proyecto Enlace
Colibrí Sanfiorenzo-Barnhard La Sombrilla
Columbia Law School 435 W 116th St Jerome Greene Hall, Room 107 New York, NY 10027
Kochs Respond: President Obama's 'Radical International Energy Agenda' Is 'Harmful,' 'Destructive', 'Needless'
David Koch at the Met’s Koch Plaza
The worst part is, President Obama knows that his energy agenda is harmful and will not help our country get back on the path to prosperity. In fact the President’s proposal is so unpopular and destructive, even Harry Reid’s Senate wouldn’t dream of passing it, which is why he has bypassed Congress and taken his short-sighted, destructive energy policies to an international body.
In an accompanying video entitled “Obama’s UN Speech Promises to Kill Jobs and Raise Energy Prices,” Phillips rejects the science of man-made climate change, and falsely claims that reductions in carbon pollution would be economically harmful and environmentally meaningless.
“If all the numbers, facts, and figures that the left claims are true, their own numbers say this will make really no difference in saving the planet. We think they’re wrong on the merits, but even if you accept their numbers, this will be nothing but a lose-lose situation for the American public.”
The email links to a letter campaign in opposition to “the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations calling for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030,” calling on U.S. Senators to “stop the EPA from forcing more burdensome regulations on our families.”
Text of supporter email:
Subject: Our response to Pres. Obama:Text of suggested email to senators:
From: Tim Phillips
The President really wants you to believe that his environmental agenda will help the country’s, and the world’s, most vulnerable. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Today President Obama delivered a speech at the United Nations in New York City to promote his ideologically-driven, destructive energy agenda to combat what used to be called global warming, then climate change, then extreme weather, and now finally climate disruption. The President insists that an international climate agreement is in the best interests of the American people. He claims that the United States must act on climate change now to protect future generations and the future of our country from changes in the weather.
What President Obama DIDN’T you (sic) during his speech is the truth about his radical international energy agenda—that it will severely damage the US economy, and that America’s poorest and most vulnerable will end up paying the price. More needless regulations on the energy industry mean costlier electric bills and a higher overall cost of living for everyone.
If President Obama is truly committed to helping those in need, he should seriously rethink his energy agenda. Affordable energy is essential to human well-being and prosperity not just in the United States, but around the world. But if President Obama has his way, the cost of electricity will only continue to rise.
With every policy decision, it becomes more and more clear that President Obama is only concerned with his own legacy—not about the quality of life of the American people and future generations.
The worst part is, President Obama knows that his energy agenda is harmful and will not help our country get back on the path to prosperity. In fact the President’s proposal is so unpopular and destructive, even Harry Reid’s Senate wouldn’t dream of passing it, which is why he has bypassed Congress and taken his short-sighted, destructive energy policies to an international body.
Subject: Please oppose the EPA’s new proposed regulations
I urge you to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations calling for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
If these regulations pass, hardworking Americans and their families will end up paying the price. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that the proposed regulations will increase electricity costs by $289 billion and lower families’ disposable incomes by $586 billion through 2030, based its assumptions on a similar proposal by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Household budgets are already stretched thin – now is not the time to raise energy bills on American energy consumers.
A new report from the US Chamber of Commerce found that the proposed regulations will cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs, based on its assumptions on a similar proposal by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report found that carbon regulations will lower US gross domestic product by $1 billion and lead to a loss of 224,000 US jobs on average every year through 2030.
Please stand with American taxpayers and stop the EPA from forcing more burdensome regulations on our families. Thank you.
Addressing the United Nations climate summit in New York City, President Barack Obama called climate change a ‘global threat’ that has ‘moved firmly into the present.’ Hobbled by a deadlocked Congress, the president offered no new major policy initiatives.
“Our citizens keep marching,” Obama said in reference to Sunday’s historic People’s Climate March. “We cannot pretend we do not hear them. We have to answer the call.”
He also commented on the rise of extreme weather disasters around the globe, including flooding in Miami, drought and floods in the heartland, the West’s year-long wildfire season, and the catastrophic damage of Superstorm Sandy. “No nation is immune,” he said, recognizing that “some nations already live with far worse.”
Obama did not directly mention fossil fuel production or his “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy, unlike recent speeches on climate change to domestic audiences, in which he has celebrated the rise in domestic production of oil and natural gas. In fact, the speech did not include the words “coal,” “oil,” “fossil fuels,” or “natural gas.”
Hobbled by a legislative branch stymied by Republican opposition to climate action or international climate funding, Obama made no new grand pledges on behalf of the United States, instead highlighting the coming EPA regulation of carbon pollution from power plants, voluntary actions by corporate America, and a reduction in HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
“I believe, in the words of Dr. King, that there is such a thing as being too late,” Obama said near the end of his speech. As the United States is not currently leading the way in rapidly decarbonizing the global economy, that statement may serve to summarize his presidential legacy.
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow leaders: For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.
Five years have passed since many of us met in Copenhagen. And since then, our understanding of climate change has advanced — both in the deepening science that says this once-distant threat has moved “firmly into the present,” and into the sting of more frequent extreme weather events that show us exactly what these changes may mean for future generations.
No nation is immune. In America, the past decade has been our hottest on record. Along our eastern coast, the city of Miami now floods at high tide. In our west, wildfire season now stretches most of the year. In our heartland, farms have been parched by the worst drought in generations, and drenched by the wettest spring in our history. A hurricane left parts of this great city dark and underwater. And some nations already live with far worse. Worldwide, this summer was the hottest ever recorded — with global carbon emissions still on the rise.
So the climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it. The alarm bells keep ringing. Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them. We have to answer the call. We know what we have to do to avoid irreparable harm. We have to cut carbon pollution in our own countries to prevent the worst effects of climate change. We have to adapt to the impacts that, unfortunately, we can no longer avoid. And we have to work together as a global community to tackle this global threat before it is too late.
We cannot condemn our children, and their children, to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair. Not when we have the means — the technological innovation and the scientific imagination — to begin the work of repairing it right now.
As one of America’s governors has said, “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.” So today, I’m here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second largest emitter, to say that we have begun to do something about it.
The United States has made ambitious investments in clean energy, and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions. We now harness three times as much electricity from the wind and 10 times as much from the sun as we did when I came into office. Within a decade, our cars will go twice as far on a gallon of gas, and already, every major automaker offers electric vehicles. We’ve made unprecedented investments to cut energy waste in our homes and our buildings and our appliances, all of which will save consumers billions of dollars. And we are committed to helping communities build climate-resilient infrastructure.
So, all told, these advances have helped create jobs, grow our economy, and drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades — proving that there does not have to be a conflict between a sound environment and strong economic growth.
Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution by more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to do more. Last year, I issued America’s first Climate Action Plan to double down on our efforts. Under that plan, my administration is working with states and utilities to set first-ever standards to cut the amount of carbon pollution our power plants can dump into the air. And when completed, this will mark the single most important and significant step the United States has ever taken to reduce our carbon emissions.
Last week alone, we announced an array of new actions in renewable energy and energy efficiency that will save consumers more than $10 billion on their energy bills and cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons through 2030. That’s the equivalent of taking more than 60 million cars off the road for one year.
I also convened a group of private sector leaders who’ve agreed to do their part to slash consumption of dangerous greenhouse gases known as HFCs — slash them 80 percent by 2050.
And already, more than 100 nations have agreed to launch talks to phase down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol — the same agreement the world used successfully to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals.
This is something that President Xi of China and I have worked on together. Just a few minutes ago, I met with Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, and reiterated my belief that as the two largest economies and emitters in the world, we have a special responsibility to lead. That’s what big nations have to do.
And today, I call on all countries to join us — not next year, or the year after, but right now, because no nation can meet this global threat alone. The United States has also engaged more allies and partners to cut carbon pollution and prepare for the impacts we cannot avoid. All told, American climate assistance now reaches more than 120 nations around the world. We’re helping more nations skip past the dirty phase of development, using current technologies, not duplicating the same mistakes and environmental degradation that took place previously.
We’re partnering with African entrepreneurs to launch clean energy projects. We’re helping farmers practice climate-smart agriculture and plant more durable crops. We’re building international coalitions to drive action, from reducing methane emissions from pipelines to launching a free trade agreement for environmental goods. And we have been working shoulder-to-shoulder with many of you to make the Green Climate Fund a reality.
But let me be honest. None of this is without controversy. In each of our countries, there are interests that will be resistant to action. And in each country, there is a suspicion that if we act and other countries don’t that we will be at an economic disadvantage. But we have to lead. That is what the United Nations and this General Assembly is about.
Now, the truth is, is that no matter what we do, some populations will still be at risk. The nations that contribute the least to climate change often stand to lose the most. And that’s why, since I took office, the United States has expanded our direct adaptation assistance eightfold, and we’re going to do more.
Today, I’m directing our federal agencies to begin factoring climate resilience into our international development programs and investments. And I’m announcing a new effort to deploy the unique scientific and technological capabilities of the United States, from climate data to early-warning systems. So this effort includes a new partnership that will draw on the resources and expertise of our leading private sector companies and philanthropies to help vulnerable nations better prepare for weather-related disasters, and better plan for long-term threats like steadily rising seas.
Yes, this is hard. But there should be no question that the United States of America is stepping up to the plate. We recognize our role in creating this problem; we embrace our responsibility to combat it. We will do our part, and we will help developing nations do theirs. But we can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in this effort by every nation — developed and developing alike. Nobody gets a pass.
The emerging economies that have experienced some of the most dynamic growth in recent years have also emitted rising levels of carbon pollution. It is those emerging economies that are likely to produce more and more carbon emissions in the years to come. So nobody can stand on the sidelines on this issues. We have to set aside the old divides. We have to raise our collective ambition, each of us doing what we can to confront this global challenge.
This time, we need an agreement that reflects economic realities in the next decade and beyond. It must be ambitious — because that’s what the scale of this challenge demands. It must be inclusive — because every country must play its part. And, yes, it must be flexible — because different nations have different circumstances.
Five years ago, I pledged America would reduce our carbon emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020. America will meet that target. And by early next year, we will put forward our next emission target, reflecting our confidence in the ability of our technological entrepreneurs and scientific innovators to lead the way.
So today, I call on all major economies to do the same. For I believe, in the words of Dr. King, that there is such a thing as being too late. And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate while we still can.
This challenge demands our ambition. Our children deserve such ambition. And if we act now, if we can look beyond the swarm of current events and some of the economic challenges and political challenges involved, if we place the air that our children will breathe and the food that they will eat and the hopes and dreams of all posterity above our own short-term interests, we may not be too late for them.
While you and I may not live to see all the fruits of our labor, we can act to see that the century ahead is marked not by conflict, but by cooperation; not by human suffering, but by human progress; and that the world we leave to our children, and our children’s children, will be cleaner and healthier, and more prosperous and secure.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
The Climate Justice Alliance, together with our friends and allies, is hosting the People’s Climate Justice Summit, featuring the voices, strategies, and solutions of climate-affected communities around the world.
On September 23, political and corporate leaders will meet at the United Nations in New York City for Climate Summit 2014. This summit represents yet another step towards the corporate takeover of the UN climate negotiations and the privatization of land, water, and air resources under the guise of a global climate compact. The climate crisis is a symptom of a deeper problem: an economy based on extraction and exploitation of resources and people. This economy benefits a few at the expense of communities and the planet.
While heads of state meet at the UN, communities across the country are united for a just transition away from an economy based on fossil fuel extraction and other dirty industries, and towards clean community energy, zero waste, public transit, local food systems and housing for all.
Church Center for the United Nations, 777 1st Ave at E. 44th St
10:00 AM – 5:00 PMPEOPLES TRIBUNAL
- Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University
- Lisa Garcia, Friends of the Earth
- Jeremy Brecher, Labor Network for Sustainability
- Rex Varona, Global Coalition on Migration
- Rosa Guillen, World March of Women
- Julia Olson, Our Children’s Trust
Hear hard-hitting testimonies from affected peoples around the globe as we indict political leaders and corporate polluters for their failure to protect our health, communities and planet. We will hear from those living with the real and immediate impacts of climate change and people living on the frontlines of extractive industries that are contributing to climate change.Opening
- Julia Beatty, Center for Social Inclusion
10:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Climate Change: Place-based Experiences, Impacts/Adaptation/Migration
- Laquan Thomas/Andres Felipe Hernandez, Ironbound Community Corporation (United States)
- Cynthia Moices, UPROSE (United States)
- Beryl Thurman, North Shore Waterfront Conservancy – Staten Island (United States)
- Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Earth Guardians (United States)
- Mamadou Goita, Institute for Research and the Promotion of Alternatives in Development, (Mali)
- Antolin Huáscar Flores, Confederación Nacional Agraria (Peru)
- Representative, Black Urban Growers (United States)
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Corporate Root Causes to Climate Change
- Patricia Gualinga Montalvo, Kichwa leader, Sarayaku, Ecuadorian Amazon (Ecuador)
- Jihan Gearon, Black Mesa Water Coalition (United States)
- Kelsey Julian, Our Children’s Trust (United States)
- Katherine Eglund, NAACP Gulf Port Chapter (United States)
- Venancia Cruz Jimenez, Movimiento Indígena Santiago de Anaya (México)
- Alex Cardoso, Movement of Recyclers/Catadores – MNCR (Brazil)
3:00 PM – 5:00 PMThe People Face the Tribunal- Statements and Decision by Judges
- Damaris Reyes, Good Old Lower East Side (United States)
- Miriam Miranda, Organizacion Fraternal Negra Hondurena – OFRANEH (Honduras)
- Stanley Sturgill, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (United States)
- Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Cree, Greenpeace (Canada)
- Mithika Mwende, Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, Kenya (Nigeria)
New School, Alvin Johnson / J.M. Kaplan Hall Auditorium, 66 West 12th St
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
TOWARDS LIVING ECONOMIES 1: SYSTEMS ALTERNATIVESSpeakers:
- Casey Camp, Ponca Tribe (United States)
- Michael Leon Guerrero, Climate Justice Alliance Our Power Campaign (United States)
- Lidy Nacpil, Jubilee South Asia Pacific on Debt and Development (Philippines)
- Sandra Van Niekerk, Public Services International (South Africa)
Juliet Rousseau, Bizi, Alternatibas Process (France).
In the face of climate change, communities everywhere are experimenting with new and time-tested approaches to energy, waste, transit, and the provision of peoples’ needs that protect people and the planet. But to counter the systemic causes of the climate crisis and meet the scale of the problem, movement forces are also developing bold proposals for systemic alternatives. Join us for an exploration of new economic, organizing and worker-centered models that could help us all weather the storm as we build the next economy together.
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
TOWARDS LIVING ECONOMIES 2: JUST TRANSITION STRATEGIESSpeakers:
- Al Weinrub, Local Clean Energy Alliance (United States)
- Monica Wilson, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (United States)
- Juan Camilo Osorio, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (United States),
- Beth Grimsberg (Brazil)
- Rosa Miranda, Bus Riders Union (United States)
Confronting the climate crisis effectively – and building a climate movement strong enough to do so – will require us to take on the social, economic, and political inequities that have allowed the dirty energy economy to persist. And we must address these issues with a particular lens focused on how these systems have led to communities of color and low-income communities bearing the brunt of climate impacts. While we fight against the old energy economy rooted in inequity, we must continue to build a better and stronger vision that can both can work for all of us and is led by communities most marginalized and impacted by climate change. This requires a just transition from the old to the new. A transition into a new economy rooted in the foundation of racial and social justice, invested in people and the planet, and on that is regenerative and life giving. To do so, we must begin to think intersectionally and build cross-sectoral alliances for making change.
From transit to energy, in this panel and conversation, participants will learn from people who are envisioning a just transition and building towards a more sustainable and just future.