Foreign Policy Blogs

Bits and Bobs , Autumn Edition

Yesterday was the first day of fall.  It's been gorgeous weather where we live, in NYC.  I haven't been out as much as I'd like because I've been hugely busy with a new teaching gig.  This is hard work it turns out.  For all you teachers out there:  Salute!  So, let me try to get caught up a little on a few things. 

"Price Signals" , I wrote last week about the carbon tax.  I also wrote back in May about a presentation by Dr. John Llewellyn at a planning conference.  (See Urban Planning as a (Powerful) Tool Against Climate Change.)  Llewellyn is a senior economic advisor to Lehman Brothers and a very compelling voice on business and government's need to address global warming.  He had an op-ed in the "Financial Times" last week:  It is time to get a grip on the cost of carbon.  He calls on governments, internationally, to come together to create "a global policy approach."  He reminds us that "Technology, regulation and cost have to be considered as a package."  In a newly released report for Lehman Bros., The Business of Climate Change II, he and his colleague, Camille Chaix, tell us that "The price mechanism will be at the core of climate change policies."  This is an important and cogent document.   

Adjustment to the Ozone Treaty , About a month ago, I mentioned another "FT" op-ed, from Dr. Mario Molina, one of the scientists who alerted the world to the dangers of stratospheric ozone depletion.  (See Meetings and Treaties, also "The importance of the Montreal Protocol in protecting climate" from March.)  Thankfully, the phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting chemicals (ODCs) via the mechanism of the 1987 Montreal Protocol has also greatly mitigated global warming.  Now the 191 parties to the Montreal Protocol have reached agreement to strengthen the ozone treaty by speeding up the phase-out of HCFCs.  The agreement will both advance the recovery of the ozone layer by several years and will reduce GHG emissions by up to 25 billion tons of CO2 equivalent.  Here's a release from the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development and another from the UN's Ozone Secretariat.  Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, said:  "I believe the agreement and the spirit of Montreal can build confidence in the United Nations as a platform for negotiating effective agreements for addressing the environmental challenges of our time."

UN Climate Summit , I really wish I could be at the UN today.  The Secretary General has convened a one-day meeting on climate change:  The Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change.  The programs are being webcast , go here today for access.  (The programs will be archived for later viewing too.)  This is an important event, taking place when world leaders are in New York for the General Assembly meetings.  It is also a prelude to the commencement of serious talks in Bali in December about how to proceed after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. 

As a sidelight to the meetings today, here's an article from last week from "The Prague Post" on how the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, a climate change "skeptic," is being highlighted in ads from the "Heartland Institute," a "think tank" financed by the oil and tobacco industries.  It's a message, the paper notes, that " many see as anti-environmentalist and some Czechs say reflects badly on their country."  See this comprehensive article from SourceWatch on the Heartland folks.  For more on Klaus and the Heartland Institute, see this blog post at "Truth & Progress."

In any event, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon certainly has embraced this issue and will be bringing a lot of further pressure to bear to help the international community reach some useful agreement, in "the spirit of Montreal" as the UNEP director says. 



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