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Copenhagen

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 11, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: What the Los Angeles Times described as a "flurry" of draft proposals flooded the conference today, bringing fresh impetus. Meanwhile, The Times of London portends that two agreements will come out of the conference because the major countries can't agree on key issues.

<Update>: The official draft climate plan has just been released in Copenhagen - and it's a doozy. The goals it sets for getting major countries to limit carbon emissions and to pay off developing countries are much more than what President Obama is pledging. This should generate a lot of developments during the day. <Update>: The chief U.S. negotiator ispooh-poohing the official draft plan because it is too lenient on China and India.

China verbally attacked the U.S. chief climate negotiator today in Copenhagen for being "irresponsible" in saying that China should not get climate financing from the U.S. It's all about his assertion that the U.S. owes nothing to the world for past greenhouse gas emissions.

The latest version of a Senate climate change bill calls for 17 percent cuts in carbon emissions by 2020 - matching what President Obama is proposing at Copenhagen. It also includes nuclear power plants and increased offshore oil and gas drilling.

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorney Martin Wagner is blogging from the Copenhagen climate change conference. Here is his report for Dec. 10).

Happy Human Rights Day.

Sixty-one years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born. The Declaration and subsequent human rights agreements represent humanity's best expression of the minimum conditions for a life of dignity, and of the need to hold governments accountable for guaranteeing them.

Climate change threatens those rights.

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

The Copenhagen conference started off with a bang of optimism when the EPA announced that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health. The cooperative spirit quickly fizzled after a draft agreement surfaced that apparently favors the interests of the U.S. and other wealthy nations. There’s more news by the hour: Be sure to check out our daily reports from Copenhagen, and analysis by two attending Earthjustice attorneys, Erika Rosenthal and Martin Wagner.

All the buzz from the conference nearly drowned out a disturbing, and related, piece of news: Shell Oil was granted conditional approval to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea. Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe warned that the approvals outpace the science of what we know about Arctic waters.

On the same day that the EPA released its endangerment finding, Earthjustice challenged the agency on a toxin polluting the air in Appalachia, to the point where kids can’t play outside. It’s coal dust, and we think the coal plants that produce it should do something about it. 

Farm workers and their families will get some long-awaited help to deal with toxic pesticides poisoning the air around their homes and schools, thanks to a new EPA policy. Going forward, the EPA will assess the health risks posed by pesticide drift with the same standards by which pesticides in food are assessed. 

And finally, this week Earthjustice saved taxpayers $1.5 million!—and 4.3 million board-feet of old-growth forest in the Tongass to boot. This also means we kept a little C02 out of the atmosphere. Indeed, one of the least controversial ideas out of Copenhagen is also one of the simplest: don’t cut down trees.

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 10, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: At Copenhagen, the simplest idea for corraling climate change is this: don't cut the trees. Logging in tropical forests releases 1.6 billion tons of C02 each year. When it's in the ground, it's not in the atmosphere. Same principle for old growth forests in the northwest United States and in the Tongass National Forest.

<Update>: Here's an interesting take by the Washington Post on the EPA's announcement that greenhouse gases can be regulated. Says the Post: "The threat of the EPA regulating in Congress's stead should persuade lawmakers to look at climate-change afresh." The announcement was made as the Copenhagen conference opened Monday.

<Update>: The world's two biggest greenhouse gas emitters - China and the U.S. - squabbled in Copenhagen today over who is responsible and who should pay. Here's the latest on this story.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Interior Sec. Ken Salazar is leading a "charm offensive" in Copenhagen to sell world government and business leaders on the United States' increased commitment to renewable energy and combating climate change. Not charmed are Alaskan Natives who protested in Copenhagen over Salazar's approval of drilling by Shell Oil in the Chukchi Sea.

In Copenhagen it's all about the money—and there's not enough of it being proposed by rich nations to help poor nations deal with impacts of climate change, says American billionaire George Soros. He's got an idea.

 

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 9, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: Developing countries are in deep disagreement over how best to help those countries most affected by climate change. Tuvalu, a Pacific island nation, is expressing particular concerns.

<Update: The U.S. chief negotiator in Copenhagen today publicly challenged China and the other major developing countries to do their part in attacking climate change by seriously curtailing their own emissions. "Virtually all of the growth in emissions going forward (...) will be coming from developing countries," said negotiator Todd Stern.

Two days after announcing that greenhouse gases should be regulated as a health threat, the EPA's chief came to the conference to explain that President Obama is trying to make up for lost time. The president will do his own explaining in person on the last day of the conference.

Sarah Palin surfaced in a Washington Post editorial, urging President Obama to boycott the conference. Her reasoning is a regurgitation of climate change-deniers' arguments, retorted Al Gore. "The entire North Polar ice cap is disappearing before our eyes," he said. Deny that.

Native Americans, Alaska Natives and First Nations Peoples will convene tomorrow in Copenhagen before the U.S. embassy to "speak out about the U.S. energy industry's war on indigenous lands and livelihoods." They are part of a burgeoning human rights movement at the conference.

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Erika Rosenthal and Martin Wagner are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate conference. Here is today's post by Erika.)

In the opening days of the Copenhagen climate negotiations, France and South Africa are looking like rock stars for the commitments they've made to reduce carbon emissions.

(Editor's Note:  This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 8, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: Poorer countries are outraged and threatening a walkout from the conference because of a draft climate agreement that apparently favors the interests of the United States.

<Update>: Here's an angry, if novel, request from the Bolivian president -- industrialized nations should pay "reparations" for the unprecedented flooding his country is experiencing. He links the flooding to global warming and blames the rich countries for the greenhouse gas emissions that caused it. Today, at the conference, Bolivia called for those countries to set a carbon emissions cap of less than 350 ppm.

The New York Times put together this easy-glimpse look at what the major and poorer countries of the world promise—and want—at the conference. The Times also released a new scientific analysis, confirming that global warming is not slowing down. <Update>: Indeed, says The Washington Post, we are on track to have the warmest decade on record.

"Hopenhagen" is a coined term for a planet-wide eco-petition, but it's fast become a description for the positive mood sweeping the city of Copenhagen, and it's been picked up as an angle for various news treatments: "What Is Hope?", and The Los Angeles Times.

Lots of buzz came out of the Obama administration's announcement yesterday that greenhouse gases present a threat to the public health and therefore can be regulated. Here's one reflection by the Huffington Post.

 

 

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorney Martin Wagner is blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference, Dec. 7-18. This is his first post)

The Copenhagen climate negotiations kicked off today. This gathering of the world's governments is a crucial step in efforts to seal a deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming. Unfortunately, opponents of a serious agreement have dusted off long-debunked arguments about the scientific basis for global warming in a desperate effort to derail the negotiations.

(Update: As expected, today, EPA chief Lisa Jackson announced that greenhouse gases, including from vehicles, are a danger to public health that should be regulated. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen immediately welcomed the announcement, commenting in part that "our nation must move quickly and efficiently to achieve the cuts in carbon dioxide and other global warming pollution needed to stave off catastrophic climate change." Read his full statement here.)

As the climate change conference convenes in Copenhagen, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is set to declare today that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are a danger to public health.

In April, the EPA released an endangerment finding, acknowledging that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. Jackson's latest announcement finalizes that initial action toward addressing global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act. At the time, we said:

The Obama administration has removed a road block in curbing pollution responsible for climate change and signaled a turn toward a clean energy future. We applaud this action, and welcome the President's leadership to overcome the greatest environmental challenge of our time.

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