The UNSG Climate Action Summit in New York finally took the temperature on the global politics of climate action.
Spoiler alert – it wasn’t hot enough.
The summit also triggered the diplomatic starting gun for the next set of critical climate decisions coming in 2020 at COP26 in Glasgow. With so much climate pollution in the atmosphere, without a big increase in action at Glasgow it will be practically impossible to keep climate change within safe limits.
Since the landmark Paris accord in 2015 we have developed better clean technology, but global greenhouse gas emissions keep rising. The impacts of climate change are hitting harder and earlier than expected. Catastrophic damage from the Caribbean to Africa to Europe capture regular headlines. Scientific warnings on the risks of climate change are dramatised by unprecedented glacial melting in Greenland and wildfires in the Amazon.
People are fired up for action from those with power and authority. Unfortunately, the lukewarm outcomes from the UN Climate Action Summit give little faith that the mercury is rising in the halls of power.
Despite the UN secretary general going far beyond the usual diplomatic niceties – only allowing leaders announcing real commitments a platform – the response from major polluters was virtually non-existent. If solutions are cheaper, public opinion is mobilised and impacts much clearer, why is political action not following?
The battle to define and shape climate politics will rest on the answer to this question. It is vital to get this answer right. There is no time to fight the wrong political battles.
Some of the popular answers are just incorrect. Ten companies may be responsible for most of the world’s carbon pollution, but the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuels are owned by countries not capitalists. Climate change requires agreement by states.
The problem is also not with the deniers of climate science anymore. Outside the US and Australia, climate deniers have very little influence. The systematic sowing of scientific doubt has delayed global climate action but cannot be blamed for failure to act in the future.
The world is full of big problems with readily available solutions, from poverty to malaria. Change fails for multiple reasons, from bureaucratic inertia to ideological resistance. Politicians delay when they fear the risks of action outweigh the risks of inaction.
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But unlike climate change, failure on most issues now doesn’t stop success in the future. Climate change is unprecedented because failure now is failure forever. Climate action delayers need to be convinced that going slowly is no longer economically safe. Companies resisting change must face pressure to show they are fit for a low carbon world or investors will take their money elsewhere. Shareholders and savers need to use the courts to challenge bad decisions by managers of their money. Proposals like the “Green New Deal” can address the legitimate fears of workers that they will be left behind.
What goes for companies also holds true for countries. International investors need to tell countries with no credible plans to stop building dirty infrastructure or they will face higher costs of borrowing. Governments must make sure taxpayers’ money is not being wasted to prop up polluting industries.
Unfortunately, the UNSG summit showed leaders currently distracted by other economic, social and security problems. Some of these are of their own making – like Brexit – others are geopolitical, like the US-China trade war. The fragmented geopolitics blocking climate action was dramatised when Trump unexpectedly swept into the UN summit but only for ten minutes so he could watch the speech of his new best friend Modi. A sustainable planet cannot be built on the shifting personal whims of global leaders.
Distracted leaders will require more voices than only school children’s to raise the barometer on climate action. Leaders in finance, agriculture, tourism, cities and real estate know their major economic interests are being damaged by climate change. It’s time they make action on climate change their number one demand when meeting politicians. Diplomats should understand that unless climate change is tackled effectively there will be no other geopolitics to manage.
There is no silver bullet for changing the politics of climate change. Action is needed in negotiating halls, legislatures, boardrooms, courts and on the streets if we are to successfully respond at the unprecedented pace needed.
In most countries more people want climate action than not. Anti-climate action forces are societally weak but focused; pro-climate action forces are potentially powerful but poorly organised. The problem is not how to raise awareness, but how to align these forces to make an impact on the thousands of decisions needed to reshape our economies and societies.
As co-hosts of the Glasgow climate summit, the UK and Italy will need to mobilise and channel all these forces into a “whole of society” summit in 2020. This will require creativity, leadership and a willingness to take political and diplomatic risks. But these are nothing compared to the risks we are taking with our security and prosperity by doing nothing.
Nick Mabey is chief executive and a founder director of E3G.
Doctored video shows Trump violently attacking media figures
Issued on: 14/10/2019 – 13:20Modified: 14/10/2019 – 13:31
A video showing a doctored image of US President Donald Trump shooting and assaulting members of the media and political opponents was shown at an event for his supporters last week at Mar-a-Lago, The New York Times reported.
In the internet meme entitled “The Trumpsman”, the US president‘s head is superimposed on an image of a man attacking people whose faces have been replaced with the logos of media outlets including CNN, The Washington Post, NBC and the BBC. The video has been taken from a scene in the film “Kingsman: The Secret Service”.
As the rampage continues inside the “Church of Fake News”, the Trump character strikes late senator John McCain on the back of the neck and torches the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential rival.
He throws former Republican senator Mitt Romney to the ground and strikes former president Barack Obama in the back before slamming him against a wall.
The video also depicts Trump attacking people including his 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton; former president Bill Clinton; Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee who is leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump; actor Rosie O’Donnell; and financier George Soros, who is often a target of alt-right conspiracy theories. Trump is also shown attacking someone whose head has been superimposed with the Black Lives Matter logo.
The organiser of last week’s “American Priority” event – which was held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Miami – said the clip was part of a “meme exhibit”. Speakers at the conference included the president’s son Donald Trump Jr and former White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech,” Alex Phillips told The New York Times.
‘Enemies of the people’
The White House Correspondents Association said in a statement that it was “horrified” by the video and that “all Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed towards journalists and [Trump’s] political opponents”.
CNN wrote on Twitter: “This is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining, but it is by far and away the worst.”
Trump, the White House and his campaign must denounce the clip, the channel said, adding that “anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence”.
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s 2020 election campaign, told the Times the “video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence”.
Media organisations have come under regular verbal attack from Trump and his supporters.
At rallies, the US president repeatedly encourages the crowd to boo and heckle journalists covering the event, calling them “fake news” and “enemies of the people”.
Trump has previously tweeted a roughly edited video clip of him attacking a wrestler whose head had been superimposed with a CNN logo.
Everything you Need to know About Maxime Bernier
Maxime Bernier PC MP (born January 18, 1963) is a Canadian businessman, lawyer and politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Beauce since 2006. He is the founder and current leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).
Prior to entering politics, Bernier held positions in the fields of law, finance and banking. First elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative, Bernier served as Minister of Industry, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, which later became the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism and Agriculture in the cabinet of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Following the Conservatives’ defeat in the 2015 election, he served as opposition critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development in the shadow cabinets of Rona Ambrose and Andrew Scheer, until June 12, 2018.
Bernier ran for the Conservative Party leadership in the 2017 leadership election, and came in a close second with over 49% of the vote in the 13th round, after leading the eventual winner, Andrew Scheer, in the first 12 rounds. Fifteen months later, in August 2018, Bernier resigned from the Conservative Party to create his own party, citing disagreements with Scheer’s leadership. His new party was named the People’s Party of Canada in September 2018.
He has been a separatist, a Conservative cabinet minister, even ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party. So how did Maxime Bernier wind up leading a brand new party in this election campaign?
And when did some of his more controversial positions take hold?
In the sixth and final Canadian leadership profile, Jayme Poisson speaks to the CBC’s Jonathan Montpetit about Maxime Bernier, the controversial head of the People’s Party of Canada. 28:05
Everything you Need to Know About Yves-François Blanchet
Yves-François Blanchet (born April 16, 1965) is a Canadian politician serving as Leader of the Bloc Québécois since 2019.
He is a graduate from the Université de Montréal where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology in 1987. He later worked as a teacher and was a founder of an artist, disc and concert management firm, YFB Inc. while being the president of the ADISQ from 2003 to 2006. He was named the local business personality of the year by the Drummondville Chamber of Commerce, while he and associated artists received 10 Félix Awards.
Blanchet was elected to represent the riding of Drummond in the National Assembly of Quebec in the 2008 provincial election. In the 2012 election, he was reelected, this time in Johnson electoral district. He was defeated by CAQ candidate André Lamontagne in the 2014 Quebec election. A member of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Blanchet was Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks from 2012 until 2014. He was also a member of the Youth National Committee of the Parti Québécois in 1988 as well as a regional director of the PQ.
On November 26, 2018, Blanchet announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Bloc Québécois (BQ). As no other candidate had entered the race by the time nominations closed on January 15, 2019, Blanchet was officially acclaimed leader on January 17, 2019.
He’s definitely not as familiar outside of Quebec as he is in his home province. But the Bloc Québécois has been the official opposition in the past and so it’s important to know what Yves-François Blanchet stands for and what he would fight for on behalf of Quebec.
If nothing else, listen to learn Blanchet’s nickname — and how he earned it.
The Bloc Québécois was once a powerful federal political party, forming the official opposition in 1993 and holding around fifty seats in the House in the mid to late 2000’s. But the last two elections have nearly wiped the Bloc from existence, and the party has had a revolving door of leaders. This year, Yves-François Blanchet took over the reins. Today on Front Burner, as part of our series on the federal party leaders, we take a look at who Blanchet is and what he stands for with Martin Patriquin, a freelance political journalist based in Montreal. 21:28
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