Posts tagged: Copenhagen

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Copenhagen


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
18 December 2009, 8:00 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 18

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 18, distilled from news outlet reports. We will be updating developments during the day.)

<Update>: What is described as a 'meaningful agreement' was announced by the U.S., but is far from the powerful end result that most had hoped for.

<Update>: An agreement has been reached in Copenhagen on a plan to combat climate change, The Los Angeles Times is reporting. President Obama has scheduled a press conference.

<Update>: The BBC says President Obama and other national leaders are meeting deep into the Copenhagen night to create some kind of agreement as this final day of the conference -- wrapped in confusion and consternation - nears its end. Reuters reports that the Chinese premier accepted Obama's offer to continue meeting today to achieve some kind of bilateral agreement. The New York Times'  headline is, "Heading Into Overtime."

<Update>: This news alert from AP: A third draft climate agreement being considered by world leaders at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen has introduced greenhouse gas emissions targets for both industrialized and developing countries. The document, titled the Copenhagen Accord, says rich countries should reduce their greenhouse emissions by at least 80 percent by the year 2050.

<Update>: Here's how the Philippine Daily Inquirer summed up President Obama's speech this morning to the conference: "He came, he saw, he didn’t conquer. The most anticipated event of the entire two-week-long climate change conference in this icy Danish capital was U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech, which many negotiators hoped would drive the newly re-started talks to a successful conclusion. Instead, it may have had the opposite effect." The China Daily had its own news analysis of the speech.

"Transparency" may be a synonym for failure at Copenhagen if China continues to refuse to allow verification of its emissions control efforts, reports AP. Despite last minute meetings with President Obama at Copenhagen, China apparently isn't giving in. Any hopes for a meaningful political agreement from the conference are pegged to an agreement between the U.S. and China. Meanwhile, leaders of more than 100 countries are in Copenhagen, many expressing frustration at the stalled progress.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
17 December 2009, 3:19 PM
Coal-fired power plants, oil and gas drilling, sea turtles in peril

Some top stories from the last week at Earthjustice...

On this final day of the Copenhagen conference, our daily report and attending attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal will keep you apprised of the latest. Check for updates during the day at unEarthed.

The EPA's endangerment finding (now under assault by a GOP senator) was one of the biggest pieces of news from the conference. But Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen warned that existing coal-fired power plants (responsible for a third of U.S. global warming pollution) could escape regulation.

This week, Earthjustice also responded to the second Arctic drilling permit granted to Shell Oil over the span of the Copenhagen conference, this time to drill in the Beaufort sea.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
17 December 2009, 7:54 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 16

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 17, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: A leaked draft document at Copenhagen suggests that the political agreement being forged will allow the planet's temperature to rise so high that disastrous consequences will result.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 December 2009, 4:06 PM
U.S. leadership on global warming threatened by compromise in Congress
A coal-fired power plant.

Becoming a grandfather is cause for celebration, unless you're a coal-fired power plant.

Coal plants that predate the Clean Air Act have become the mules of air pollution—set in their ways and not liable to change. Exploiting their "grandfathered" status, these coal plants have refused to implement technologies that are currently available to reduce pollution.

Now, Congress seems determined to let these dinosaurs off the hook all over again.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency's recent Clean Air Act endangerment finding prescribes a strong antidote to global warming pollution—a fact President Obama will surely highlight tomorrow on the final day of climate negotiations in Copenhagen—a political compromise over coal plants threatens to bind EPA's hands just as it begins to act.

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View Erika Rosenthal's blog posts
16 December 2009, 3:27 PM
Two years' effort comes down to two words: "shall" or "should"

(Earthjustice attorney Erika Rosenthal is blogging from the Copenhagen climate conference)

4 a.m… Bella Center…December 15

I'm in a huge plenary room, waiting for the final session of the "Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention" to reconvene. (The AWG-LCA is responsible for one of the two negotiating tracks negotiations that are going on here to accommodate the fact that the US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.)

The hall has been in a state of suspended animation since midnight.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
16 December 2009, 7:45 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 16

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 16, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: The next 24 hours will make or break the Copenhagen climate conference, said the U.N.'s chief climate negotiator. More than 100 world leaders will soon be on their way to the conference, but whether they have anything significant to agree on has yet to be negotiated.

<Update>: The fate of climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate hinges on what happens in Copenhagen, Sen. John Kerry said today. What has to happen, he warned, is an agreement that wrings concessions from China and India. Absent that, he predicted, U.S. legislation will founder on domestic economic fears.

<Update>: "I'm stuck between a rock and hard place," said the frustrated chief of the U.N. climate conference, as he stood before thousands of protesting people. Most were protesting the lack of action in Copenhagen. Hundreds were arrested.

In what could be the most significant achievement in Copenhagen, climate negotiators are close to agreement on the idea of paying to keep the world's forests from being cut down. Trees store vast amounts of CO2, the single biggest contributor to climate change.

It's "deal or no deal" time in Copenhagen, and the poorest, fastest-growing countries have the upper hand, says The Los Angeles Times.

In an emotional speech, Al Gore told the conference that the world should meet again next July in Mexico to try and create the binding climate change agreement that probably won't be reached in Copenhagen.

For perspectives, news and information from environmental groups at the conference, check out the The Copenhagen News Collaborative.

View John McManus's blog posts
15 December 2009, 4:40 PM
What wasn't said in Copenhagen: native people fear consequences

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the world from the Copenhagen Climate Conference how U.S. public lands, which include the continental shelves off our coastlines, are being managed by the government to reduce climate pollution. What he didn't say was that he had recently approved oil drilling permits allowing Shell Oil to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean, including one site 20 miles offshore of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

He didn't tell the world about the fear of some like Robert Thompson, who lives in the Arctic Ocean village of Kaktovik. Thompson worries that an oil spill in Arctic water in front of his village would be impossible to clean up, and many experts agree. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen noted in a recent hearing in Alaska that this lack of capacity to clean up a spill in the Arctic could spell disaster for its pristine waters.

Thompson worries because native people living along Alaska's Arctic Ocean coastline rely on the ocean for their food. They hunt whale, duck and other marine wildlife to feed their families and pass their culture from one generation to the next. An oil spill could destroy their way of life.

On behalf of Robert Thompson and others like him, as well as conservationists across the country, Earthjustice filed a legal challenge to the drilling permit.

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View Martin Wagner's blog posts
15 December 2009, 4:00 PM
Nobel winner Desmond Tutu speaks in Copenhagen

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference.)

I took a moment out of the negotiation madness this morning to sit in on an event sponsored by Oxfam International in which Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu participated. I had been in the same room as Archbishop Tutu once before, and wanted another opportunity to experience his incredible energy.

The event presented the testimony of a number of people, from all over the world, who are already being harmed by the effects of climate change. People who faced death and hunger after an unprecedented drought and flood; cyclone and hurricane survivors; a farmer suffering water shortages and hunger due to glacier melting.

Archbishop Tutu spoke passionately about these tragedies, and brought a special message to the people in the room working to solve climate change. I believe his message applies just as much to everyone working anywhere to stop climate change, or for peace, justice, human health or environmental protection. Some of his words follow, but if you have 15 minutes, you can experience his spirit as well by watching here.

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View Lisa Renstrom's blog posts
15 December 2009, 1:33 PM
People's message to world nations: We want a real deal

(Editor's note: Earthjustice trustee Lisa Renstrom is blogging from the Copenhagen climate change conference)

We have the technology. We have the resources. Addressing climate change is doable and desirable. It could establish energy independence, jump start a green based economy, make our cities more livable, improve our health and reestablish our moral compass. All good things.

The Message: We Want a Real Deal
The Timeframe: The next 48 hours
Atmosphere: Palatable tension
Missing: Leadership and political will.

In times of great need, one needs to speak truth to power. It is time for our president to again speak truth on climate, to power, to the American people, as he has on race and war. Keep your fingers crossed, say prayers, send offerings, send grace, do what ever you do to increase the likelihood of a real deal here in Copenhagen.

View Lisa Renstrom's blog posts
15 December 2009, 10:01 AM
Could this be the most important gathering in history?

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice board member Lisa Renstrom is at the Copenhagen climate change conference and will be blogging from it. Here is her first report.)

What a privilege it is to be here.

My friend Steve English described COP 15 as, "The most important conference/gathering in the history of the planet. We must ALL pray, dance, laugh, love, open, cry, cajole, think, and inspire our deepest, most-connected souls into the depths of possibility and into grief, anxiety, fear, anger, and vulnerability, and, then to emerge with our fullest heart-centered life-nourishing centers, throw caution to the winds, be bold, courageous, and unbelievably articulate, as well as 'just short of crazy' with our collective awakening, blessed unrest, and life-supporting intention!"

That sums it up. Chaos and urgency mingling with the long view.

This is my 3rd COP. Last year at COP 14 in Poznan, Poland everyone hoped that Copenhagen would engage finance ministers and heads of state. We got our wish. So many of both are expected to arrive Thursday and Friday that the traditional role of the environmental ministers and negotiators will be rewritten.

Thursday, the big guns begin arriving. Stay tuned.