11/30/2009 - 4:28pm
The climate talks in Copenhagen received a positive push this week, but we need to push further still. The governments of U.S. and China have announced that their heads of state will be representing their countries in Copenhagen, and that they will bring reduction commitments to the table. These are encouraging steps, but much more needs to be achieved in Copenhagen. For one, China’s goals to mitigate climate change have been expressed in terms of reducing carbon intensity, rather than in terms of reducing the amount of emissions released. China has announced a goal to reduce its carbon intensity to 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2020, but this method of measurement entails much uncertainty. Carbon intensity measures the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy consumed, and reductions in it do not necessarily result in emissions reductions. What matters to reduce global warming is that the total amount of emissions reduces, not the efficiency with which carbon is used. Carbon intensity could fall with more efficient use of carbon, but the total amount of carbon emissions actually released could increase at the same time. This is the danger of using such measures for reductions in climate change- they could be misleading and counterproductive.
The Copenhagen summit should standardize measures for climate change mitigation action. This standard metrics can be measuring the amount of carbon emissions reduced in metric tons. This way, commitments of various countries can be easily compared, and the global community can estimate how close the combined reductions commitments of all countries are to reaching the goal that the scientific community has said we need to achieve in order to avert the worst effects of climate change: reducing total emissions to 13-16 billion metric tons by 2020. This is a much more concrete measure than China’s carbon intensity standards in terms of its comparability and indication of the absolute amount of carbon emissions released. If this is not established soon, other countries may follow China’s lead in using potentially misleading measures for climate change mitigation action.
11/30/2009 - 2:28pm
Posted by Anu Joshi
On Saturday November 14th, 2009 the Mansfield, Connecticut Chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions hosted a symposium regarding the conversion to a peace economy. The speakers included: Chris Hellman, Director of Research, National Priorities Project, Northampton, MA; Heidi Garrett-Peltier, Research Fellow, Political Economy Research Institute, UMass, Amherst; Marie Lausch, President, Local 222, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America; National Executive Board Member, UE; and Bill Stillinger, President and General Manager, PV Squared (Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics Cooperative, Inc.), New Britain. The event was a huge success and had over 60 people in attendance.
Below are some pictures from the event:
Left to right: Christopher Hellman from the National Priorities Project in Northampton, MA; State Representative and House Majority Leader, Denise Merrill; , and Henry Lowendorf, who served as Moderator and is the Chair, Greater New Haven Peace Council
Speakers and Panelists responding to audience questions: left to right: Heidi Garrett-Peltier,Political Economy Research Institute, UMass, Amherst; Christopher Hellman; Representative Susan Johnson; Jean deSmet; Marie Lausch, President, Local #222, United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America; William Shortell, Representative, International Association of Machinists, Local #700; William Stillinger, President and General Manager, PVSquared, New Britain.
11/25/2009 - 12:54pm
Giving a boost to the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks, the White House has announced that President Obama himself will be attending the negotiations that aim to develop an international climate change agreement. An administration official has also revealed that Obama will commit to cutting U.S. emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, the target of the House bill (Waxman-Markey bill) that was passed this June. This is a bold and important step, necessary to counter the pessimism of many about the speculated productivity of the talks, the delay in passing climate legislation in the U.S. Senate, the statements by Senator Inhofe (R-OK) about bringing a “truth squad” to Copenhagen to show the world what is “really” happening in the U.S. in terms of willingness and capacity to enact climate legislation, and the stalemate between developing and developed countries about financial assistance and binding emissions reduction commitments.
The President’s presence has given renewed momentum to the upcoming summit. It is crucial that the negotiations continue with everyone at the table, including countries at all levels of development. To do this, the demands of developed countries for developing countries to commit to binding emissions reduction targets on one hand, and the demands of developing countries for developed countries to provide financial aid for such measures on the other, will have to be addressed in some way. As of now, the European Union seems more inclined to give such aid than the U.S. is. Countries like China have demanded 1% of the GDP from developed countries for these purposes. Even if such commitments cannot be made this year, the process of finding a deal could continue with Obama’s presence signaling U.S. commitment to act on this front, and with the U.S. providing incentives such as subsidized clean energy technology transfers to developing countries that have taken demonstrated efforts to adopt a clean development path.
It is a welcome sign that our President will be joining the roughly 65 other heads of state in Copenhagen, but the road ahead is still long. The emissions reduction that the U.S. is agreeing to is roughly 4-7% below 1990 levels by 2020, whereas developing countries and the scientific community have said that developed countries need to cut emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. Though this gap is large, the process must continue, so that the next climate summit scheduled for 2010 in Mexico City will be more fruitful. At this point, developed countries can set emissions reductions commitments, developing countries can agree to lower their emissions increases, and developed countries can work together to help fund such changes in developing countries. This is a strong place to start, and at the very least, this much must be agreed to now.
After Copenhagen, Obama’s next stop will be Norway, to formally accept his Nobel Peace Prize- where he will now have one more contribution to speak of.
Read more here
11/24/2009 - 3:38pm
Posted by Anu Joshi
Citizens for Global Solutions is excited to announce our partnership with Global Family Day this holiday season. At a time in history when we have never had more need for human unity, we can all recognize a practical new tool for peace and sharing that the US Congress and the UN General Assembly have both adopted. What binds us together as true citizens for global solutions is our strong belief that we are all, everywhere in the world, connected as members of the Global Family.
In this vein, on January 1st, 2010, we will recognize and celebrate Globalfamily Day, One Day of Peace and Sharing for all faiths, cultures, races, nationalities and economic classes. During the 48 hours of January 1st, 2010, we will break bread together, ring bells, and pledge to find non-violent solutions to all our problems in the year ahead. Celebrate with your friends, your families, your neighbors, your co-workers, and ask them to do the same. Holidays are society's most powerful tool to inspire and unify individual groups and we will use Global Family day to remember that we are all part of the global family and to remind our leaders that we need global solutions for the world's most pressing challenges.
On January 1st, at the start of the United Nations Year of the Planet, let's all gather at our electronic hearth and celebrate life on earth together. Let’s replace hate and hunger with peace and sharing, and begin to unite our global family. Please sign the petition to ask President Obama to celebrate Global Family Day this January 1st and remind us that we are all part of the Global Family.
A little more about Global Family Day Founder, Linda Grover:
Linda has devoted many years of her life to making real her children’s idea of creating a unifying holiday for all people each January 1. Born in New England, daughter of an inventor and an poet, and raised in the military family during WW2, Linda developed a keen early interest in politics and human rights. Completing high school with honors in Las Vegas at 15, (the same year she won the city’s highest beauty award) she worked as a secretary, migrating to Washington, DC at age 19, where she became California congressman Sam Yorty’s DC legislative aide. At 21, she became Clerk of the House Indian Affairs Subcommittee. Grover also worked for the National Committee for an Effective Congress and as a caseworker for the International Rescue Committee following the Hungarian revolution.
Citizens for Global Solutions is so excited to be working with Linda on this project and hopes to continue her amazing years of work on creating a global day of peace and harmony.
11/23/2009 - 5:32pm
Posted by Samantha Taylor
Many thought that the upcoming Copenhagen conference next month would lead to a global agreement on climate change. However, it seems as though we will have to wait a little longer.
Last week, the major world leaders met in Singapore to discuss the purpose of Copenhagen. Deciding to delay the establishment of a comprehensive and binding treaty, they instead agreed that the mission of the conference would be a less specific “politically binding” agreement. According to a New York Times article, this agreement “punts the most difficult issues into the future.”
According to the leaders involved with this decision, this is for the sake of Copenhagen. Michael Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, stated, “It is unrealistic to expect a fully internationally, legally binding agreement could be negotiated between now and Copenhagen, which starts in 22 days.” According to Froman, forcing an agreement upon the world now would be counterproductive to global climate change cooperation.
However, others can see through this argument. An article in the Washington Post referred to it as a “pathetic spin.” Copenhagen has been on the calendar for years and shouldn’t have surprised anyone. We all knew it was coming, and we all should have been prepared.
Regardless of the validity of this argument, the delay is disappointing to all who were expecting great accomplishments from Copenhagen. Now the comprehensive treaty discussion has to wait, at least until the second summit meeting in Mexico City. Let us hope that a delay isn’t issued right before that meeting as well.
11/13/2009 - 6:05pm
Pre-trial hearings have begun in the International Criminal Court case investigating alleged crimes committed by Sudanese rebel leader, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda. He is accused of leading about 1,000 men in an attack in 2007 in which 12 peacekeepers were killed. Abu Garda is the leader of the United Resistance Front, a rebel group fighting in Darfur against the Sudanese government. At the end of these hearings, the ICC judges will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to begin a full trial against him.
Abu Garda voluntarily appeared before the ICC and maintains his innocence. Despite his alleged crimes, his example of trying to use the court to prove his innocence is noteworthy. The ICC is the only permanent international body capable of trying heinous crimes such as genocide, and so its systems are indispensable when investigating those who are responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity across the world. Since 2003, the conflict in Sudan has left hundreds of thousands dead (estimates vary), and in taking on cases such as that of Abu Garda, the ICC has demonstrated the it has the mechanisms to research and determine the accountability of leaders behind the violence, on both sides of the conflict.
It is encouraging to see how this relatively young court is proceeding systematically in its investigations against the alleged leaders of some of the worst atrocities of our time. If we believe that crimes such as genocide should not go unpunished, we need an international court with the jurisdiction to hold people accountable. The ICC is the answer to this call.
For more information in Abu Garda, click here
11/12/2009 - 5:18pm
Posted by Courtney Smith
On November 5, 2009 ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that crimes against humanity had been committed during the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya and that the ICC would begin a formal investigation. The crimes being investigated occurred when Mwai Kibaki was reelected as President, defeating Raila Odinga. The people loyal to Odinga rebelled; believing that the elections were rigged. This period of violence resulted in 1,500 deaths and 500,000 displacements. Most of this violence occurred in the Rift Valley, where accounts lead to the belief that much of the violence was planned. One example of such violence was the burning to death of 30 people in a church.
Furthermore, the actual arrests of any individuals indicted would be entirely up to Kenyan officials. The ICC has to be careful however, because, according to Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Kenya’s transportation minister in a NY Times article,” gangs loyal to powerful politicians within the same ethnic group could explode if their leaders were hauled off to a court in Europe”. It was also reported that, after the government agreed with Ocampo to arrest any indicted individuals, leaders seemed evasive or to have changed their minds regarding any potential arrests. If Kenyan government officials refused to arrest indicted individuals, the ICC would essentially be powerless in initiating any trials against the criminals.
There are of course, complications with the investigation because, in some parts of Africa, the ICC is known as the “white man’s court”. Almost all of the cases and investigations that the ICC has pursued have been in Africa (Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo), and Kenya just seems to be another one of those cases. While this trend is hard to overlook, it is also important to realize that some of the most recent and grievous atrocities that have occurred have been in Africa. Considering that many African governments are plagued with corruption, it is no surprise that it has been difficult for African leaders to investigate crimes in their own countries. However, the ICC has initiated preliminary investigations in Colombia, Georgia, Afghanistan, and Gaza.
11/11/2009 - 5:52pm
Posted by Laura Meditz
Citizens for Global Solutions is proud to announce the release of Faithful Against Torture, a collection of essays by people of faith considering torture in the light of the principles, precepts and traditions of their religions. The book includes an introduction by Rev. Richard Killmer, the Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
Reverend Killmer gives a compelling explanation as to why people of faith are working to end U.S. sponsored torture and why people of diverse faiths, which are not always in agreement can agree that torture is wrong. Whether you consider yourself a person of faith or not, common sense teaches us that torture is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
If torture is a matter of right or wrong, it is safe to say most of us believe it is wrong. The belief that torture is wrong is a matter of the innate right to life and dignity that all human beings posses. These innate rights are built into many faiths in various forms. As Reverend Killmer points out, most faiths have some form of “The Golden Rule”. People of faith are also cited with having compassion, a pursuit of justice so that all are treated equal, hospitality to those different then themselves, and a goal of creating peace. If these things are the basis of faith, it is easy to see why those of different faiths can come together in an agreement that torture is wrong. This preface does an excellent job at making people come to the realization that preventing torture is something we all can agree upon as human beings.
CGS hopes that the timeless answer in this book will guide us as we establish rules to govern ourselves in the future.
We cordially invite you to the launch of Faithful Against Torture on November 17, 2009 from 5:00 - 7:00 PM at our offices, 420 7th Street SE, Washington, DC 20003. (1/2 block South of the Eastern Market Metro Station) Some of the authors will be present and will do short readings from the book. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. Light refreshments will be served. Please call 202.546.3950 x102 for more information.
11/11/2009 - 2:03pm
Posted by Laura Meditz
In the International Criminal Court’s short lifespan, its legitimacy has grown in leaps and bounds. The United States might not yet be a ratified member of the ICC, but our European friends and other allies around the world are members that are ready and willing to express their support of it to other countries.
11/09/2009 - 5:44pm
Posted by Samantha Taylor
Next Tuesday, November 17th, marks the 8th annual meeting of the Assembly of States Parties for the ICC. Agenda items include planning for the 2010 Review Conference, electing judges and preparing the budget. It would be great if the United States would be able to attend as an observer the Assembly of States Parties and the 2010 Review Conference.
As a signatory of the Rome Statue, the United States had the right to send a representative to the Assembly of States Parties and it's important that we do so. Our attendance wouldn't imply that we plan on ratifying the Rome Statute, instead it would just indicate our willingness to be a good neighbor to the Court. Attendance at the Assembly will be the first step towards a cooperative future.
Furthermore, a United States representative at the Assembly would have the ability to propose items to the agenda for the 2010 Review Conference. This is a great opportunity to have our concerns addressed. A cooperative future will be even more difficult to achieve if we do not attend.
Yet, the administration is not required to notify the States Parties or the American public of its decision. That means that we will not know if we have representation, and are thus encouraging future cooperation with the ICC, until the Assembly of States Parties meeting begins and there is someone sitting behind the United States placard. Until then, it is just a waiting game.
For more information about the ICC and the approaching Review Conference, click here.
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