November 9, 2021

UN Climate Summit

Editor’s Note: With Thanksgiving approaching, we expect that many of you will be seeing family or friends who may not share your politics. We know how contentious political disagreements can be - and how hard it can be to speak up and ask a question - so we’ve put together a brief form where you can ask questions directly of our bipartisan team! During Thanksgiving week, we’ll do our best to come up with thoughtful answers.

“[Last] Tuesday, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden launched a plan to reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming. The announcement was part of a broader effort with the European Union and other nations to reduce overall methane emissions worldwide by 30% by 2030.” AP News

“Banks, insurers and investors with $130 trillion at their disposal pledged [last] Wednesday to put combating climate change at the centre of their work, and gained support in the form of efforts to put green investing on a firmer footing.” Reuters

Former U.S. President Barack Obama called on Monday for rich nations to end years of deadlock with developing countries over cash for climate change, and criticised China and Russia for their ‘lack of urgency’ in curbing emissions.” Reuters

Here’s a summary of the major climate pledges made at COP26 so far. Axios

Here’s our recent coverage of the climate summit. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left points to climate-related disasters and calls for additional actions by world leaders to combat climate change.

“The increase in extreme weather events has already cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars in weather-related damages and the frequency and severity of these types of events will only increase unless swift and sweeping actions are taken…

“Climate-related disasters have killed more Americans from flooding and wildfires than the 2,996 people who died in the 9/11 attacks. Wildfires have resulted in over 3,200 deaths in the U.S. since 2000, according to recent research in The Lancet. Hurricane Katrina alone killed over 1,800 people in 2005. The Atlas of Mortality from the World Meteorological Organization finds that the US accounts for 38% of global economic losses from caused by weather, climate, and water hazards. It’s time for the US to shift toward the biggest threat to our security, and to direct federal resources accordingly.”
Heidi Peltier, The Guardian

The public cares very much about climate change, especially the younger voters who are the future of the [Democratic] party… One survey found that at least a third of American adults under age 45 expected to either not have kids or to have fewer due to climate change. And a poll last year showed that 1 in 4 childless adults cited climate change as one reason they hadn’t reproduced…

“At this point, 60 percent of American adults say climate change is very or extremely important for the federal government to address, according to recent polling by Monmouth University; the same percentage told the Pew Research Center that they were worried about the personal impacts of climate change. In another Pew survey, 67 percent of Gen Z respondents and 71 percent of millennial respondents said climate should be a top priority.”
Christine Emba, Washington Post

Delegates meeting at a world climate conference in Glasgow have more to do… For starters, more nations must join the methane pact, including China, Russia and India, the top three methane emitters in the world, and Iran, the ninth largest… For those that have joined the methane pact, their commitment must be met with real action, not talk, if we are to slow warming before the consequences become catastrophic. This is part of an essential mitigation strategy, together with the fast phaseout of coal and the protection of forests, for slowing climate change.”
Paul Bledsoe, Durwood Zaelke and Gabrielle Dreyfus, New York Times

“Mozambique and Zimbabwe are still struggling to recover from Cyclone Idai, the deadly storm that hit in 2019, and Madagascar is on the brink of famine. As weather patterns become more volatile, irregular rain is common, badly affecting crop and livestock yields. For a continent dependent on agriculture — it accounts for around one-fifth of sub-Saharan Africa’s economic output — the effects of climate change are especially ruinous…

“Over a decade ago, the world’s wealthy countries made a promise to deliver $100 billion a year in climate financing to developing economies. It still hasn’t been met in full. Yet even if the pledge were honored, the figure — though symbolically important — is insufficient. Many African nations are already spending much more than they receive from the international community to mitigate a crisis they did little to create. Leaders must go much further and agree on a target that accurately reflects developing countries’ needs.”
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, New York Times

From the Right

The right is skeptical of unenforceable pledges by world leaders and questions whether they have sufficient domestic support for their commitments.

The right is skeptical of unenforceable pledges by world leaders and questions whether they have sufficient domestic support for their commitments.

“Like almost everyone else here in Glasgow, Obama spoke about ‘ambition’ and an ‘ambitious’ climate program. Ambition is taken as a good in and of itself here at the commanding heights of global do-goodery, and it is easy to appreciate the attraction for the politician — ambition isn’t subject to hard-and-fast measurement, it doesn’t actually impose any actual obligations, and it doesn’t come with any meaningful deliverables

“There is no better example of the hollowness of such ‘ambition’ than Barack Obama himself. He signed on to the Paris agreement but did not have the ambition — or, in spite of his considerable political skill, the juice — to actually commit the United States to it by means of a Senate-ratified treaty…

“Of course, in order to be ratified by the Senate, any climate treaty would have had to have been a good deal less ambitious than the Paris agreement — and so we got an unratified commitment to the more ambitious deal instead of a ratified commitment to a less ambitious deal, which, of course, went right out the window as soon as there was a change in administration.”
Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

“Glasgow is destined to fail because national interests invariably triumph over globalism. The demands of the people who keep regimes in power will be heard and heeded before the claims of the transnationals. Biden, faced with a threat by Sen. Joe Manchin to sink his Build Back Better bill, summarily dropped a measure that would have imposed rising carbon taxes on fossil fuel plants and provided monetary rewards for clean energy facilities. Biden dropped it because his own and his party's fortunes depend on enacting the legislation…

“The protests in Scotland this weekend were far more colorful than the yearlong ‘yellow vest’ protests in France. Yet, the French protests proved more effective and successful. That movement originated with French motorists from rural areas who had long commutes and were protesting an increase in fuel taxes that was real and immediate. The French protests had a specific goal, and they succeeded in bringing about a reduction in the fuel taxes.”
Patrick Buchanan, Creators

“The democratic deficit among the governments that participate in these summits offers a big clue to why the meetings invariably frustrate the ambitions of activists like Greta Thunberg or Greenpeace or Prince Charles. The problem isn’t, as is so commonly claimed, a lack of ‘political will’ on the part of world leaders. They demonstrate extraordinary willfulness by daring to show up at all when no one elected them to do so. The problem is a lack of political mandate

“Trying to bow to this reality while scrupulously avoiding a direct acknowledgment of it, COP26 delegates claimed to have found a workaround this week. They’ve ditched aspirations for bold political commitments from world leaders to curb carbon-dioxide emissions. Instead, they will foist major new green burdens onto private-sector investors, first and foremost banks and asset managers…

“This ploy merely shifts the argument from whether politicians have the legitimacy to offer up taxpayer money for the sake of climate mitigation to whether they have the legitimacy to monkey around with households’ pensions. Good luck with that.”
Joseph C. Sternberg, Wall Street Journal

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