Climate Change Kills 315,00 a Year; Obama’s Climate Plan Undermined by Conservative Demmocrats

May 30th, 2009 - by admin

egan Rowling / Reuters & Kristen Sheeran & Mindy Lubber / Great Falls Tribune – 2009-05-30 10:30:16

Climate Change Causes 315,000 Deaths a Year
Megan Rowling / Reuters

LONDON (May 29, 2009) — Climate change kills about 315,000 people a year through hunger, sickness and weather disasters, and the annual death toll is expected to rise to half a million by 2030, a report said on Friday.

The study, commissioned by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF), estimates that climate change seriously affects 325 million people every year, a number that will more than double in 20 years to 10 percent of the world’s population (now about 6.7 billion).

Economic losses due to global warming amount to over $125 billion annually — more than the flow of aid from rich to poor nations — and are expected to rise to $340 billion each year by 2030, according to the report.

“Climate change is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time, causing suffering to hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” Kofi Annan, former U.N. secretary-general and GHF president, said in a statement.

“The first hit and worst affected are the world’s poorest groups, and yet they have done least to cause the problem.”

The report says developing countries bear more than nine-tenths of the human and economic burden of climate change, while the 50 poorest countries contribute less than 1 percent of the carbon emissions that are heating up the planet.

Annan urged governments due to meet at U.N. talks in Copenhagen in December to agree on an effective, fair and binding global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s main mechanism for tackling global warming.

“Copenhagen needs to be the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated,” he wrote in an introduction to the report. “The alternative is mass starvation, mass migration and mass sickness.”

The study warns that the true human impact of global warming is likely to be far more severe than it predicts, because it uses conservative U.N. scenarios. New scientific evidence points to greater and more rapid climate change.

The report calls for a particular focus on the 500 million people it identifies as extremely vulnerable because they live in poor countries most prone to droughts, floods, storms, sea-level rise and creeping deserts.

Africa is the region most at risk from climate change, home to 15 of the 20 most vulnerable countries, the report says. Other areas also facing the highest level of threat include South Asia and small island developing states.

To avoid the worst outcomes, the report says efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change must be scaled up 100 times in developing countries. International funds pledged for this purpose amount to only $400 million, compared with an average estimated cost of $32 billion annually, it notes.

“Funding from rich countries to help the poor and vulnerable adapt to climate change is not even 1 percent of what is needed,” said Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam in Britain and a GHF board member.

“This glaring injustice must be addressed at Copenhagen in December.” (Reporting by Megan Rowling, editing by Tim Pearce)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2009. Click For Restrictions.

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Do the Right Thing on Proposed Climate and Energy BillKristen Sheeran & Mindy Lubber / Great Falls Tribune

(May 29, 2009) — Nothing should have quieted critics of the proposed climate and energy bill in Congress more than the recent news that Ford Motor Co. is spending half a billion dollars to convert a Michigan factory that made SUVs to one that will produce electric cars far into the future.

The announcement demonstrates how moving to a new, low-carbon society will be good for business, create more jobs, spur the kind of innovation that made American industry great, and — if we do it right — put this country back in world leadership for clean technology and commerce.

Congress is now at a critical juncture in its consideration of landmark legislation proposed by Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Edward Markey, D-Mass. The bill would accelerate our nation’s essential shift to greater energy efficiency and new renewable energy sources, and start phasing out our dependence on foreign oil and dirty coal.

Congress has wavered at this juncture before. It has succumbed to the false arguments that this transition would cost too much and burden business. Our present economic morass and the growing consequences of global warming should convince us that decisions made for short-term profit eventually are ruinous.

Instead, we need foresight and a willingness to prepare for the future.

American business has the ingenuity and drive to lead the way. Many members of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, a coalition of national and global companies including Nike, Starbucks, Symantec, eBay, Sun Microsystems and Levi Strauss, already have recognized the opportunities at hand.

Their pollution-reducing initiatives confirm what economic research has long demonstrated — smart policy can prevent climate change and improve economic performance. demonstrates the weight of economic analyses that support this conclusion.

These companies now deal with a hodgepodge of state and international laws. Innovative companies that embrace clean technologies need a level playing field to compete. And they need to imbed their strategies in a broad national agenda to remake our economy for a livable 21st century.

We need to put our labor force to work by accelerating that makeover. We need to stop sending $2 billion a day to foreign oil producers, and we need to slow the assault on our climate by embracing energy efficiency and proven alternatives to fossil fuels.

We can send the right signal by putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions — polluting shouldn’t be free. With the right regulations and incentives we can reward industries that embrace a cleaner environment. We can stop subsidizing dirtier fuels and start promoting new technologies and energy savings.

The Waxman/Markey bill has many of these goals in its sights. It promotes clean energy and energy efficiency with a combination of incentives and gradual but mandatory targets. In the transition, it would create millions of good-paying jobs. It finances research and will put the dream of “clean coal” to the test. It will strengthen fuel standards and bring on the age of electric cars, revamp our aging power grid, and ramp down our greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 20 percent in the next decade.

The bill should not be watered down with giveaways. Already, special interests are pushing for free “allowances” for carbon emissions, a risky course that in Europe resulted in unearned windfalls and few pollution reductions.

The Obama administration is right to push for carbon emission permits to be auctioned; the proceeds can finance programs to cut energy waste and reduce costs for consumers.

Legislators also must be careful not to set off a trade war by trying to shield American industries from international competitors that do not yet count global pollution costs. American leadership will set the stage for other countries to adopt climate solutions. The world has been waiting for the us — the world’s largest carbon producer — to act.

Other countries are already out ahead of us on the curve. Germany makes nearly half the world’s solar panels, and its second largest export is wind turbines. Automakers here and elsewhere are looking to Korea and China for the next generation of hybrid batteries. If we fail to act now, we risk falling further behind in the new green age.

We can no longer listen to those who grasp the buggy whip to flail against change. In 1995 opponents of bills aimed at eliminating ozone-depleting substances cried that industries would collapse under the weight of $135 billion in costs. The actual costs were barely one percent of what critics feared, the health benefits were enormous, and chemical companies made millions producing less dangerous chemicals. And, we halted the depletion of our ozone layer.

The climate and energy act before Congress can have a similar outcome, one that is good for the environment, the economy, households, and businesses. Congress should not lose its focus on this historic opportunity to do the right thing.

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Democrats Undermining Obama’s Energy Bill

Remember when Dick Cheney let oil and coal lobbyists craft our nation’s energy policy behind closed doors? Barack Obama may have thrown them out of the WHite House, but they;ve relocated to Capitol Hill, with the help of some powerful conservative Democrats in Congress.

In weeks of often secret negotiations over this year’s energy bill, these Democrats managed to not just weaken the legislation, but even to slip in language that would prevent the Obama administration from cleaning up coal plants and oil refineries.

Last wee, the House Energy and Commerice Committee, let by progressive Demmocrats Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, passe d a huge energy bniill aimed at creating clean energy jobs. But, unfortunately, t=a few conservatives on the committee e=were determined to weaken the bill — and weworkming behind closed doors, they did some real damage. And, what’s worse, they didn;t just work with Reb=publicans to weaknen the bill, they’are also trying to tie Obama’s hands so he can’t take actio on this own. The latest version of the legislation would take away the Environmental Protection Agen cy;s existing authority to curb glob al warminig polllutiion from powe plants, oil refineries and other industrial sources.

Why does this matter? Because the Obama administration is already taking its own steps toward s building a clean energy economy. The White House recently announced a bold plan to make cars use less gas — and the EPA is considering whether to propose new rules that would clean up coal plants and oil refineries.

These steps could move us toward cleaner, cheaper sources of energy and create millions of clean energy jobs — but not if Congress pulls the rug out from under President Obama before he can act.

We can’t let a few conservative Democrats get away with undermining Obama;’s clean energy jobs plan. So we;re fighting back with a massive campaign to fix the bill and expose members of Congress who are underminig Obama— but we need to have the resources to pull it off.