Monthly Archives: December 2009

Dueling Op-Eds on Copenhagen Talks

Let’s start with the good news first: Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp wrote an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal outlining the need for the Copenhagen talks to make progress toward an effective verification and compliance system in a final agreement.

Fred says:

The road to a serious global agreement goes through the U.S. Congress… The task, then, for U.S. negotiators and their counterparts, is to focus on establishing the fundamental building blocks for an effective treaty that can be finalized in 2010.

He then lists those building blocks as:

  • Inclusiveness
  • Financing
  • Verifiability and compliance

Read the whole piece for insight into each point.

Now the bad news: Sarah Palin wrote an op-ed in today’s Washington Post that purports to be about Copenhagen, but really just rehashes “climate-gate.” The piece tries to paint global warming as purely political issue and dismisses the underlying science. Read at your own risk. Media Matters has posted a thorough fact-check of the piece.

Posted in International, What Others are Saying / Read 7 Responses

The Jobs Bill: Transit Operations Funding Will Save Green Jobs

Yesterday, President Obama became the latest among a growing number of D.C. policy leaders to promise a jobs bill that includes transportation funding. While the day-to-day details of when a bill will emerge, how it will be funded, and what it will include are all still developing, a jobs bill seems more certain than ever.

This brings us to one place where we think jobs funding should be targeted: transit operations. A jobs bill that directs a one-time slug of cash to fund transit drivers and mechanics could save some important jobs.

Service cuts affect riders and drivers.

Service cuts affect riders and transit operators.

These are jobs that ultimately help protect air quality and reduce greenhouse gases by providing people real choices in transportation.

Transit agencies across the U.S. are hurting. This past Saturday,dozens of San Francisco Muni riders were stranded at the station. In response to a $129 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2009-2010, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) cut more than half of Muni’s bus routes and one rail line. And while San Francisco has been hit the worst of any American city in terms of fare increases, and is second behind Atlanta’s MARTA in terms of projected deficit as a percentage of operating budget, transit cuts and lay offs are widespread and not confined to urban areas.

These transit service cuts and fare increases also impact transit employees. Transit operators and maintenance crews have lost their jobs. AC Transit, which serves California’s Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, has cut almost 190 bus driver and maintenance positions. In Colorado Springs, CO., state and local budget cuts have eliminated an entire bus service–and more jobs.

Over the years, the federal government has helped pay for buses and rail, but not the drivers and mechanics to keep those services operating. That funding responsibility is left to states and local governments. With the economic crisis, state and local budget cuts have hit transit operations hard. Federal help for operations in a jobs bill is sorely needed.

Transit operating jobs are exactly the kinds of jobs that a stimulus ought to fund—good jobs that provide hardworking men and women with a living wage while providing a needed public service.  In San Francisco, Muni bus drivers earn between $36,000 and $58,000 per year, depending on seniority, and these drivers and their families rely on this income. A federal jobs bill that includes transit operations funding would immediately put drivers and maintenance staff back to work.

It’s not just driver jobs that are at stake. Transit is critical for riders who use it to get to work. The number of employed workers who need it is growing as gas prices and general cost of living increases. Since 1995, public transportation trends have done nothing but increase. In 2008, Americans took 10.7 billion public transportation trips, the highest number since 1956. In the same year, as transit ridership increased nationally by 4 percent, vehicle miles traveled actually reduced by 3.6 percent.

A jobs bill with Federal funding for transit operations would help staunch the bleeding away of good transit jobs. It would buy time while states, counties and cities figure out other ways to close their budget gaps and develop sustainable funding for transit drivers and mechanics. It would keep the buses and trains rolling at a time when America needs them the most.

Posted in News / Comments are closed

2000’s Were Warmest Decade on Record

The past decade was the warmest on record, according to a new analysis unveiled today at the international climate change summit in Copenhagen.

The World Meteorological Association held a news conference in Copenhagen to announce a provisional summary of their study.

They found that the overall global warming trend is continuing and shows no signs of stopping. The data shows our current decade is likely to be the warmest in the past 150 years, and:

  • The decade of the 2000s (2000–2009) was warmer than the decade spanning the 1990s (1990–1999), which in turn was warmer than the 1980s (1980–1989)

Among their other findings:

  • 2009 is likely to rank as the fifth warmest year worldwide since we started keeping records in 1850.
  • Large parts of southern Asia and central Africa are likely to have the warmest year on record.
  • Above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the continents this year.
  • Only North America (United States and Canada) experienced conditions that were cooler than average.
  • This year, Arctic sea ice extent during the melt season ranked the third lowest, after the lowest and second-lowest records set in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

The final figures will be published in March 2010.

The New York Times has a good article on the subject if you want to read more.

Posted in Science / Read 5 Responses

EPA Declares Greenhouse Gas Pollution a Health Hazard

The Environmental Protection Agency officially announced today that greenhouse gases are a danger to human health.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson made the announcement at a news conference this afternoon. The statement finalizes an initial “endangerment finding” made last April, and sets the stage for U.S. action at home as officials from across the world gather in Copenhagen to forge an international solution to global warming.

The EPA news release and video from the news conference are now up on agency’s web site.

Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp praised the decision, saying:

The danger of global warming pollution is clear and present, the solutions are at hand, and the time for action is now. It’s time for Congress to finish its work on U.S. legislation to cap and reduce the 19 million tons of heat-trapping pollution we emit every day. American leadership on climate change will strengthen our security, wean us off of foreign oil, and ensure that America wins the race to clean energy innovation in the global market place.

You can read more about the issue in EDF’s full statement.

Posted in News / Read 2 Responses

Recommended Reading: Good Op-Ed About Copenhagen

If you’re following the Copenhagen climate talks and you’re looking for some interesting reading, we recommend Paul Krugman’s latest op-ed in the New York Times, “An Affordable Truth“. In Krugman’s words:

If things go well in Copenhagen, the usual suspects will go wild. We’ll hear cries … that climate-change policies will destroy jobs and growth.  The truth, however, is that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is affordable as well as essential.

Posted in What Others are Saying / Read 5 Responses

New Date for Obama’s Copenhagen Trip

The White House just announced an updated schedule for President Obama’s trip to the international climate change talks in Copenhagen.

The President will now go to Copenhagen on December 18th. That means he’ll be there for the final day of negotiations — and will have a chance to ensure the talks make progress toward an effective treaty that can be negotiated and adopted after Senate action on a bill to cap U.S. carbon pollution.

AP says the President is:

.. hoping to capitalize on steps by India and China and build a more meaningful political accord.

The Chicago Tribune‘s The Swamp, meanwhile, says the White House decision:

… immediately raises expectations anew for some type of climate agreement to result from the talks.

Here’s the official White House statement in full.

Posted in International, What Others are Saying / Comments are closed