Foreign Policy Blogs

Bits and Bobs – Post Labor Day Edition

I’ve been in the throes of several big changes the past couple of weeks, one of which, moving our household, has been a bear. I’ve not been lolling around on the beach as I hope many of you have, or hiking, or touristifying in some wonderful, pleasant place. There certainly have been boatloads of tourists in sunny Manhattan this summer. Good for them and good for the local economy. In any event, I’ve not been able to blog as thoroughly or as frequently as I would have liked. I’ll be picking up the pace again soon.

In the meantime, here are some bits and bobs. First, an editorial, Testing time on energy, from the “International Herald Tribune.” This is a concise summary of the state of the Congressional energy legislation and what, in a perfect world, we should see, among other things, as a final product from the conference committee: a strong MPG mandate, a renewable energy portfolio, a rescission of some generous tax breaks presently enjoyed by the oil and gas industry, and a sane approach to biofuels. As the editorial says on this score: “The conferees’ main task here is to make sure that intensive cultivation for biofuels of any kind does not result in water pollution, habitat destruction or loss of forestland.” I might add that Congress needs to moderate the impact on food prices of biofuel production, not to mention the bite on the federal treasury of some eyepopping subsidies. I’ve written on this recently, Biofuels , Boon or Bane?, and I wrote on the energy legislation extensively during the Spring and early Summer. (You can look in the Governments and Politics category.)

Speaking of the oil and gas industry, see this headline from the “FT”: Flaring burns off gas worth $40bn, US study reveals. See also this from IPS via “Energy & Climate News” from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. (For your own free subscription, go here: [email protected].)

Between flaring and forest burning, the impact on global warming of all this unnecessary combustion is devastating. The World Bank has been leading an initiative on Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR). Reducing flaring not only has implications for reducing GHG, but also for local poverty reduction. So much of that gas could be put to productive use. There’s a lot of great information at the GGFR website, including this video from “Earth Report.”

I wrote last week about various climate talks, including the meetings in Vienna. See this from the AFP, also courtesy of the WBCSD: UN climate talks in Vienna end with broad pledges, wobbly language. The article tells of “broad pledges but weak language”

Finally, the UN’s 60th Annual DPI/NGO Conference is convening in New York this week and the theme is “Climate Change: How It Impacts Us All.” Hopefully, I’ll be able to cover some of this for the blog at the end of the week. In the meantime, you might check out the program and tune in to some of the webcasts.


See also the Great Decisions Fall Update on Climate Change at the FPA website.



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change