A Tax By Any Other Name…

There has been an ongoing discussion about carbon tax and fee & dividend on the OB CASEJ discussion list. The acronym stands for Climate Action, Sustainability & Environmental Justice, so it comes as no surprise that most comments are in support. While many have brought up the national impact, the argument below addresses potential international consequences. It comes from Milton Takei an activist and scholar living in Eugene, Oregon:

I would like to make some comments on the need for the U.S. Congress to

put a price on carbon.  Under the Kyoto Accord, not all countries had the

same targets, with the poorer countries exempt.  In December 2011, the

poorer countries agreed to have their greenhouse gas emissions limited

under a new treaty, but the question still remains: what should be the

legally binding goals for each country?  For example, China is not as poor

as India, so the two countries should have different targets.

The international global warming negotiations seem to be deadlocked

because of the attitude of the United States, which is unwilling to make

enough concessions to India, China, and other poorer countries.  The

question is: what legally binding target would the U.S. be willing to

accept for itself?  If the U.S. Congress were to pass a carbon tax,

President Obama might have an indication that the U.S. Senate would ratify

a treaty that the poorer countries could accept, breaking the deadlock in

the negotiations.  Hence the need in the U.S. for action in the U.S.

Congress.  National regulation or action below the national level will not

provide the signal to President Obama that his hand are no longer tied.

                                          –Milton Takei

For more information on the international global warming negotiations:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/11/global-climate-change-treaty-durban

In related news, the Boston Globe recently published Sage Radachowsky’s reasons for supporting carbon tax. It  was the product of persistent submissions, a good lesson for advocates. An excerpt:

 Phil Flynn suggests that renewable energy technologies are obsolete, and that “If they can’t compete, maybe they shouldn’t” (interview with Erin Ailworth, 30 December). A carbon tax would correct the price of fossil energy to account for the social and ecological costs, and would enable renewable energy and conservation to flourish, creating millions of jobs. The reason we don’t pass a carbon tax is because it would hurt the oil and gas companies who exert far too much control over our government. Fracking is toxic to the environment, and all fossil fuels accelerate global warming. We can let the market lead innovation, and avert the fiscal cliff, with a simple carbon tax, an idea favored by economists both left and right.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/editorial/2013/01/06/carbon-tax-would-level-playing-field-for-renewable-energy/irpMZcc8urAZT5YLRp5ZcK/story.html

If you are looking for a local group working on these issues, check out the local chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby , check out 350MA‘s local campaign or bring up it up at the GA. You can also give a quick call to your congress people to find out where they stand on the issue.

To contact Boston CCL chapter email: ccl.boston@citizensclimatelobby.org

Click here to join the OB CASEJ mailing list:

https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/listinfo/climate-action

~ Nuevaspora

8 Youth Activists Oppose Keystone XL; Lock Down In TransCanada Office

Youth Activists Locked Down

8 Youth Activists Locked Down in TransCanada’s Westborough, MA Office

UPDATES:

Check tweets (to the right) and Pheonix for more updates. Also see Protester’s Bios.

Follow #NoKXL on twitter to follow protests across the nation opposing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (trending as of 7:10 PM).

~ 6:30 PM Just and Stable reports that chains have been removed and protesters are in jail being processed.

4: 30 PM This just in from youth activist Devyn Powell:

            As you read this email, I am locked down in a TransCanada office with seven other youth activists.  We are engaged in a protest against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, because building this pipeline to develop the tar sands will lock us irrevocably into the climate crisis.  The Keystone XL, which runs from Canada to Texas, threatens a stable future by perpetuating our oil addiction. Chaining myself to my seven friends is a last resort after our government, heavily influenced by corporate fossil fuel interests, has proved unable to take action against this deadly project.  
 
The fossil fuel industry is knowingly sacrificing our future for its profits. I have decided that I need to fight the injustice, irresponsibility, and immorality of their actions by using all the nonviolent means of protest available to me. TransCanada’s intent to build the pipeline will contribute to drought, flooding and starvation through future Hurricane Sandys, crop failures, and more climate disasters. We are not going to passively let this happen.
 
I’m sending this email to ask for your help. First, please share the image below on any and all social media channels you use in order to raise awareness about TransCanada’s threat to our future. Second, if you are able, we would greatly appreciate any financial assistance you can contribute to cover our jail fees, gear costs, and future actions.  Go to THIS WEBSITE to donate.
 
The next few months will be crucial in halting this toxic pipeline. As Obama considers approving Keystone XL, we all need to put our voices and bodies in TransCanada’s path in whatever ways we are able.  Today’s action marks the beginning of what we hope will be the next chapter in the fight against the fossil fuel industry. If you would like to learn more and get involved, go to:http://www.january7th.wordpress.com.
 
Thank you so much for your support. I appreciate your help very much, and I hope we can continue working together to stop the climate crisis.

Reports of High Greenhouse Gas Emissions In Natural Gas Production

“Alarmingly high methane emissions” from oil and gas fields reported online by the journal Nature on January 2nd, raise questions about industry and legislative promotion of “clean” natural gas as a low greenhouse gas emitting alternative to other fossil fuels.

Reported in Nature News:

The researchers, who hold joint appointments with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado in Boulder, first sparked concern in February 2012 with a study1 suggesting that up to 4% of the methane produced at a field near Denver was escaping into the atmosphere. If methane — a potent gas — is leaking from fields across the country at similar rates, it could be offsetting much of the climate benefit of the ongoing shift from coal- to gas-fired plants for electricity generation.

Industry officials and some scientists contested the claim, but at an American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, California, last month, the research team reported new Colorado data that support the earlier work, as well as preliminary results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah suggesting even higher rates of methane leakage — an eye-popping 9% of the total production. That figure is nearly double the cumulative loss rates estimated from industry data — which are already higher in Utah than in Colorado.

For more check out:

http://www.nature.com/news/methane-leaks-erode-green-credentials-of-natural-gas-1.12123

Check out Occupy Boston and 350MA for civic organizing opposing the expansion of the Algonquin Pipeline.

~ Nuevaspora

Local Climate Activist Arrested In Texas KXL Protest

We have just received word that Murtaza Nek, MIT graduate and active participant in 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future was arrested in a protest against the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Readers may recognize him as the young man who has voiced the importance of climate justice at several Occupy Boston events.

The southern leg of the Keystone XL is presently under construction with the intent to bring tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada to Huston ports. Last year, Dr. James Hansen, prominent climate scientist, head of NASSA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and adjunct professor at Columbia University explained the risk in a New York Times Op Ed:

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

The update on Murtaza comes from climate and social justice advocate Dorian Williams, who writes:

Dear fellow proponents of climate justice,

Many of you may know Murtaza Nek as he has been an active participant of 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future. Recently he took a trip down to Texas to contribute to the Tar Sands Blockade’s fight against the construction of the southern leg of Keystone XL Pipeline.
 
As of 11:50am on January 3rd, Murtaza was arrested in Texas while trying to provide direct support to his friends partaking in a particularly vulnerable tree sit for the Tar Sands Blockade. 
 
You can learn more and see the footage of the arrest here: http://tarsandsblockade.org/15th-action/
 
For those of who have not had a chance to meet Murtaza, he has been an amazingly strong and dedicated ally in this movement. Having accomplished Climate Summer this past year, where he biked from town-to-town across Massachusetts supporting climate action and discussion, Murtaza brought back his organizing and bike power here. Every week, Murtaza would bike from Worcester to Cambridge and back to participate in SJSF and 350MA meetings, helping organize and participate in actions targeting fossil fuels like tar sands and natural gas.
 
Now he needs our commitment and support in return. Please spread the word and consider donating to the legal fund that would enable his release: https://www.wepay.com/donations/tsbdonate.
 
In Peace and Solidarity,
Dorian

Murtaza Nek is one of several protesters who have recently been arrested in protests against Keystone XL’s southern leg. For more information on the tar sands, check out the following links:

Hansen’s TED talk

Photographer Garth Lenz on Alberta Tar Sands: The True Cost Of Oil

~ Nuevaspora

Vigil to End Climate Silence ~ Finale

I will not go down under the ground, 
Cause somebody tells me that deaths comin’ round

I have read all their statements and I’ve not said a word
But now Lawd God let my poor voice be heard
Let me die in my footsteps 
Before I go down under the ground

Let me Die in My Footsteps
~Bob Dylan

I would like to sum up the end of the Vigil to End Climate Silence. In the end the silence was broken but it had little to do with the vigil and more to do with the images of destruction all along the east coast. These images mirrored the warnings of the prominent climate scientists and those familiar with their work. Until recently, much of this had been dismissed as alarmist and it was even the fodder of jokes.

However, as the storm barreled towards the east coast the levity stopped and all along the eastern seaboard people bunkered down. By the time it hit land, having maintained much of it’s massive reach, there was little anyone could do but watch, helpless, as electricity went out all along the eastern seaboard and portions of the most populous city in the country were submerged in sea water. The storm has thus far been reported to have killed over 180 people (with at least 113 killed in the US), and has left many others displaced, in some cases indefinitely.

It is important to note that in the midst of the historic failure of our national leaders to minimize the likelihood of such events by effectively curbing green house gas emissions, and despite their present failure to address the situation head on, many citizens have been vigilant.

Vigil to End Climate Silence ~ Wednesday, Oct. 24th, 2012

For nearly the entire week prior, a steady stream of volunteers had been maintaining a Vigil to End Climate Silence in Boston’s Government Center. Over 200 volunteers took on shifts, calling attention to the failure of our national leaders to address the changing climate and take necessary measures for keeping us safe. The vigil was organized by 350MA and other local groups. Volunteers from all over the area came out, and they included several organizers from Occupy Boston. It is important to mention that though the vigil was nominally called off this Monday in the wake of Sandy, it continued none the less.

Two of the volunteers insisted on staying and one, Sage Radachowsky, insisted on staying through the entire night. He was sheltered only by a self made “occupod” tied to a flag pole. (The occupod is a carbon neutral, mobile shelter attached to a bike, designed by Radachowsky and Brian Brown). Another Occupy organizer offered to stay out with him protected by just a rain coat, but was discouraged by Radachowsky from sitting out in the storm without any shelter at all. On one side of the occupod a giant sign read “Denial is Not an Energy Policy”, on the other side was a sign that read, “What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on”.

Vigil to End Climate Silence, as storm approached on Monday Oct. 29th 2012

“I read Thoreau and Peter Gelderloos, and listened to the radio through the night.  Finally, around 9pm, the storm broke and all became silent. There was a quiet peace for half an hour, before all the whirring blowers and fans of the city came back on. I walked to the wharf and looked at the sea” explained Radachowsky.

“I stayed out because I wanted our statement to be fierce, and to make a stand that would be noticed by many people. I didn’t want to throw in the towel just because a hurricane was on the way. The worst that would have happened, most likely, is that the trike shelter would have gotten smashed to bits and my camera and phone gotten wet.  I would have ducked for cover, if that had happened. As it went, I spent many tense hours wondering when the bug gust would come and blow it apart, but the vehicle was resilient, and it bent instead of breaking! Like a birch tree, the walls bent over sideways and then sprung right back up. This made me happy, because I love the quality of resilience, and I think that our energy systems need to have that quality, so to find it in something i built made me happy.”

Despite the battering of the storm, the vigil persisted and was able to meet its target goal, continuing nonstop in Boston’s Government Center from Tuesday Oct. 23 to Tuesday Oct. 30th.

While national leaders continue to refrain from discussing a truly comprehensive energy policy, one that takes our safety into account, ordinary citizens are entering the public discussion and demanding that we end our support of fossil fuels and reduce our emissions now. These are people who are willing to risk their own comfort and safety to protect others. That too is a force to be reckoned with.

~ Nuevaspora

Fact Check: Time to End Climate Silence

The Vigil to End Climate Silence kicked off this evening in Boston’s Government Center. People from all walks of life will be calling for an end to the political silence over climate change. This election year, it was put on the back burner while politicians focused on more pressing matters of the economy and foreign policy. This seems reasonable, so long as one ignores three, apparently inconvenient, things:

1) There is general scientific consensus that the climate is changing right now, that it is affecting us right now, and it will be much easier to deal with now than later.

“However, even with an 80 per cent emissions cut, damages will be large: any impact that occurs below a temperature rise of 1 °C (Figs. 1 and 2) is likely to be unavoidable, even under the most stringent mitigative action. Residual damage will be great unless we invest in adaptation now. Much of the damage could be avoided by adaptation, but again, this would require a much larger effort than is currently planned.”

M Parry, J Palutikof, C Hanson, J Lowe

Nature Reports Climate Change 2008

http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0806/full/climate.2008.50.html

“ …we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.”

– J Hansen, M Sato, R Ruedy

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 2012

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/07/30/1205276109.abstract

“The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has reaffirmed the position of its Board of Directors and the leaders of 18 respected organizations, who concluded based on multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change caused by human activities is now underway, and it is a growing threat to society.”

–  American Association For the Advancement of Science 2009

http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/1204climate_statement.shtml

2) A neat separation between climate change issues and economic issues is vanishing. [Check out the sources above]

3) The partition between climate change issues and foreign policy issues is predicted to crumble.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/10/19/1047081/hillary-clinton-on-energy-and-foreign-policy-we-need-to-address-the-very-real-threat-of-climate-change/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-parsons/climate-change-national-security_b_1929398.html

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=116192

Gus Speth (who’s many hats have included Vermont Law School Professor of Law, Chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality, and Keystone XL protester/arrestee) gave a rousing speech, followed by another fantastic one by Craig Altemose of Better Future Project to a small but dedicated crowd of 40 or so people. The vigil was organized by 350MA,  Students for a Just and Stable Future and several other local organizations. The gathering included organizers from Occupy Boston and Veterans for Peace. There are stalwart folks out there as I write this tonight, keeping vigil and stubbornly working to break the silence. They will be there throughout the week and I am sure they would love company.

Link: 350ma.org/vigil 

Tweet: #climatesilence

More $$ for Fossil Fuels?

Last week a local climate organizer lamented that Occupy Boston had little concern for climate change. I told most people associated with the movement were very concerned. “Well then,” he said, “People should be out in the the streets!”

That’s exactly where Occupiers were on August 4th, holding a bake sale for fossil fuel companies with 350 MA. Yes, it was satirical. We were calling attention to the fossil fuel subsidies that already exist. No, it wasn’t covered by mainstream press. It was, however, covered by Steve R. on the Occupy Boston website. Thank you Steve.

A Little Bake Sale for Big Oil

“Can you spare $11 billion for big oil?
Sorry, I didn’t bring my wallet …

On Saturday August 4th, activists from 350ma and Occupy Boston met in Dewey Square, to hold a little fundraiser for big oil. Why a fundraiser? Washington gives big oil, coal, and gas roughly $11 billion in subsidies and tax cuts each year, and there’s talk of trimming some of that back. Cutting these subsidies would be a (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) job killing travesty; so, we went out and canvassed the sidewalks, chatted up people on corners, and panhandled in the street.

But wait … oil is modern day miracle. It’s in everything
I own, right down to my shoelaces.

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve got nothing against people tying their shoes. In fact, we think that tying your shoes is a darn good idea. But we do take issue with petroleum spilling onto our coastline, pollution spreading across out atmosphere, and CO2 warming our planet. Yes, oil is cheap (and heavily subsidized), but it’s also a finite, non-renewable resource. Eventually we will have to find something else to help us get our shoes tied.”

 

Near the Museum of Science, other activists asked people for spare change for the corporations, eliciting more interesting responses:

Later in the day, other protesters protesters preformed a short public performance in Harvard Square, designed to illustrate the true costs of fracking and cheap natural gas. This was specifically in response to the proposed expansion of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Pipeline. The overall turnout was fantastic with people spread all over the city. However, the question of how to foster deeper dialogue regarding these issues, as well as how to bring them to a larger audience remains. Will we continue to subsidize the wealthiest corporations on the planet at our own expense?

Dear readers, that one is on you.

~ Nuevaspora

[Sorry for the two week gap in posts. Again this is 100% grass roots organizing and volunteering. There is no one to fill in when we are busy. Expect things old and new to come trickling in over the next few days. There have been more actions since then, and maybe some summaries of these will trickle in along with them.]