Global Events, the United Nations, and Disease
TeleSUR: President Maduro Participates in Food Crisis Debate at COP27
On Monday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is taking part in the working table on Food Security and Climate Change, during the high-level segment of the 27th Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) that takes place in Egypt.
“Venezuela, here we are! At COP27 to protect nature and life in the world as well as preserve our Pachamama. We are obliged to achieve it, we cannot fail the future,” he tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Maduro was received at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Egyptian President Abdelfatah El-Sisi.
During the opening ceremony of COP27, the Bolivarian leader emphasized that the Summit seeks to find mechanisms that contribute to facing the climate emergency on the planet.
“We are in an irreversible stage of the climate change damage, which has been caused by the destructive and highly polluting capitalist model. All nations must commit to the execution of concrete actions that seek life on the planet ,” the Venezuelan president said.
“The task of preserving life on planet earth is everyone’s responsibility. Reaching agreements and committing ourselves for the well-being of humanity is the right path. Let’s work for it!”
TeleSUR: Macron Meets With Venezuelan President Maduro at COP27
On Monday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro held a brief meeting with France’s President Emmanuel Macron at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center in Egypt, where the 27th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP27) is taking place.
Both leaders shook hands and developed a dialogue that denoted friendship and respect between them. After greeting each other, President Macron asked the Bolivarian leader about “how things in the South American country were going.
“Excellent. Better every time,” Maduro replied, asking President Frances when he would visit Venezuela.
Macron said that the way to carry out this visit must be achieved and confirmed that France “has to play a positive role.”
My guy is desperate for that Venezuelan oil.
Reuters: Ukraine seizes stakes in strategic companies under wartime laws
Ukraine said on Monday it had invoked wartime laws to take control of stakes in a top engine-maker and four other strategic companies from some of the country’s richest men.
It was the first time the government had used martial law for such a move since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the move was needed to help meet the defence sector’s urgent needs during the war.
Reuters: Vast majority of Ukrainians expect prosperous future in EU - poll
At least 88% of Ukrainians believe their country will be a prosperous member of the European Union in 10 years, according to a poll published by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology on Monday.
Jakarta Post: ‘Strong impression’ Putin will skip G20 summit: Jokowi
Russian President Vladimir Putin may miss next week’s G20 leaders summit, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and host of the bloc of major economies told media on Monday.
Jokowi said a conversation with Putin last week left him with a “strong impression” the Russian leader would not attend the meeting in Bali, which is expected to be dominated by tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
RT: Putin to personally address mobilization issues with Russians
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he plans to personally address people’s concerns linked to the partial mobilization, by holding a public meeting. The gathering is expected to take place during his upcoming visit to the central Tverskaya Oblast.
“I will also certainly meet with people, talk to them,” Putin told the regional governor, Igor Rudenya, on Monday, during a discussion about various issues linked to the recent mobilization. The people need “to be heard,” the president maintained, adding that he wants to “have feedback” on the mobilization efforts.
The president also called on the governor to promptly collect all data on issues that may have arisen during the mobilization and to inform him “in advance.” He is expected to arrive in Tverskaya Oblast for a working trip later this week.
RT: Russian oil exports surging – Bloomberg
Shipments of Russian seaborne crude surged to 3.6 million barrels per day last week, reaching the highest since early June, while the less volatile four-week average is the highest since August, Bloomberg reported on Monday.
A total of 34 tankers were loaded with some 25.2 million barrels of Russian crude oil in the week to November 4, according to vessel-tracking data and port agent reports, as quoted by the media. That’s up by 3.2 million barrels.
The exports were ramped up more than a month before the EU sanctions, supported by the G7 nations and Australia, kick in on December 5. The penalties will see Western companies banned from providing insurance and other services to vessels loaded with Russian crude, unless the cargo is purchased below a yet-to-be-agreed price cap.
RT: French beauty retailer returning to Russia – official
Cosmetics and perfume brands Lancome, Redken, Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, and Kerastase will return to the Russian market and therefore will be excluded from the list of so-called parallel imports, Russia’s Trade Ministry reported on Monday.
“This became possible due to the readiness of these companies to resume deliveries of their products to Russia,” a ministry spokesperson said.
A host of international beauty brands, including giants like L’Oreal and Unilever halted business in Russia following the start of the conflict with Ukraine in late February.
WSWS: UK dockers at port of Liverpool hold further two-week strike
On Friday, around 600 UK dockers at the Mersey Docks and Harbour company (MDHC) in Liverpool ended a two-week strike, the third round of stoppages since September.
In their struggle over pay and conditions, they have defied intimidation from the company, which issued 132 redundancy notices, and face the isolation of their strike by the Unite union.
Such is the determination of the workers that further action seems imminent, from November 14-21, after they voted down the latest pay offer at a mass meeting. According to supply chain publication Loadstar, the director of Liverpool Container T1 and T2, Richard Mitchell broke the news, though this has yet to be confirmed by Unite.
Unite regional coordinator, Franny Joyce, contested the figure of 11 percent the company said was on offer, as an average and misleading. Workers in six categories would receive 9.5 percent—well below RPI inflation at 12.6 percent—excluding a one-off sweetener.
The Guardian: Germany keen to discuss natural gas pact with UK amid supply risk
Germany is keen to talk to Britain about a solidarity pact that would allow Europe’s largest consumers of natural gas to bail each other out if an extreme cold snap were to create shortages this winter, German officials have said.
Such an agreement could be mutually beneficial for both London and Berlin, the German civil servant in charge of rationing in the case of a supply crisis told the Guardian in an interview.
“With its long coastline, the UK has a geographic advantage when it comes to infrastructure for importing liquid natural gas [LNG],”, said Klaus Müller, the head of the federal network agency for utilities, Bundesnetzagentur. “But the experience of the last few weeks has also shown us that the size of the gas network also matters. The larger the network, the easier to adjust temporary deficits.”
TeleSUR: Swedes Brace for Dark, Cold Winter as Energy Crisis Ravages
Between November and early March, most Swedes leave for work and return home in darkness, as the sun rarely seen above the horizon or remains hidden behind thick clouds. In the depth of winter, the Stockholm area has only around 5.5 daylight hours, while in the north of the country almost 20 hours per day are in complete darkness.
In wintertime, “light is life” – and the ongoing energy crisis threatens to have a devastating impact here both materially and psychologically.
A recent poll shows that more than half of the Swedes are becoming increasingly pessimistic about the future. Two out of three are worried about their increasing household expenses, and confidence in the Swedish households' economic future is at an all-time low.
The energy crisis resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the western sanctions against Russia, a major energy exporter, have hit Europe hard, affecting also Sweden, a country traditionally electricity self-sufficient.
According to Statistics Sweden, the price of electricity increased by 54.2 percent in September year-on-year. Consumers have been particularly hard hit in the south of the country, where spot electricity prices recently surged to five times more expensive than a year ago, according to statistics provided by electricity producer Vattenfall.
EU Reporter: Czech lawmakers approve windfall tax on energy firms and banks
A steep 60% windfall tax has been approved by the Czech lower house. The aim is to raise €3.4 billion next year from profits deemed excessive in order to help people and businesses affected by rising electricity and gas prices.
East Asia and Oceania
Fortune: How many iPhones will Apple lose from a COVID lockdown at the biggest factory in the world? How about 6 million, Bank of America says
Apple will be unable to ship large volumes of its higher-end flagship product during the holidays after the largest factory producing it shut down amid the latest wave of COVID-19 lockdowns in China.
An industrial park in China’s Henan province that is home to a critical assembly plant for Apple iPhones closed last week for seven days after several COVID-19 cases were reported. The plant is owned and managed by Foxconn, Apple’s biggest iPhone supplier, which announced a “small” COVID outbreak at the plant.
The Foxconn factory produces as many as half of the world’s iPhones, and employs up to 350,000 people, many of whom live nearby, leading to it being dubbed “iPhone City.”
But the recent closure could lead to a supply disruption of up to 6 million iPhones, mainly the higher-priced Pro and 14 Pro Max models of the new iPhone 14, Bank of America analysts, led by senior equity research analyst Wamsi Mohan, wrote in a note on Sunday.
Reuters: China’s super-rich see fortunes plunge as economy slows
China’s super-rich saw their wealth tumble by the most in over two decades this year, as the Russia-Ukraine war, Beijing’s zero-COVID measures and falling mainland and Hong Kong stock markets pummelled fortunes, an annual rich list said on Tuesday.
The Hurun Rich list, which ranks China’s wealthiest people with a minimum net worth of 5 billion yuan ($692 million), said only 1,305 people made the mark this year, down 11% from last year. Their total wealth was $3.5 trillion, down 18%.
Meanwhile, the number of individuals with $10 billion fell by 29 to 56, and the number of dollar billionaires dropped by 239 to 946 this year, it added.
Reuters: China cancelled EU leader’s video address at opening of major trade expo
Chinese authorities behind a major trade expo in Shanghai pulled an opening ceremony address by the European Council president that was set to criticise Russia’s “illegal war” in Ukraine and call for reduced trade dependency on China, diplomats said.
The pre-recorded video by Charles Michel was meant to be one of several from world leaders and heads of international organisations including Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) on Friday, three European diplomats told Reuters.
WSWS: Union sends Australian plasterboard workers back to work after 40-day lockout
On October 26, 70 plasterboard manufacturing workers at Knauf in Port Melbourne were sent back to work by union organisers after a 40-day company lockout. While the Construction Forestry, Mining Maritime and Energy Union (CFMMEU) declared this a “victory,” the union had in fact agreed to a management offer that will cut workers’ pay in real terms.
The proposed agreement, which is still to be finalised or voted on, would provide nominal pay rises of 5 percent in the first year, followed by 4 percent for each of the following three years. This is the same pay offer workers rejected in September, leading to their limited industrial action and Knauf’s retaliatory lockout. Throughout the lockout, the CFMMEU told workers it was seeking a 6 percent per annum increase, itself a meagre sum, well short of the soaring cost of living.
Central Asia and the Middle East
ANN: Pakistan’s current political troubles are pushing the country to the edge of economic precipice
THE assassination attempt on PTI leader Imran Khan has plunged the country into chaos at a time when tensions between the opposition and government were already spiralling out of control. Such violence is condemnable and unacceptable. It should have no place in the country whose tortuous history has seen assassinations of political leaders in the past.
The tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto is still painfully fresh in the nation’s collective memory. But the attack on Khan last week also confirmed the worst fears of those who had been sounding an alarm about the increasingly explosive political situation descending into violence. Khan had frequently spoken about a threat to his life but carried on with his long march to press the demand for immediate elections.
After last week’s shooting tempers of angry PTI supporters have been rising to a fever pitch. Protests broke out in many cities. In his first press conference since being shot, Imran Khan called for the resignation of the prime minister, federal interior minister and a senior intelligence official, accusing them of plotting to murder him.
He offered no evidence but called for public protests until this demand was accepted. He also said the long march would resume once he recovered. Khan’s allegations prompted a strong response from ISPR, which emphatically rejected his “baseless and irresponsible” accusations against the army.
Meanwhile, speculation continues to run rife about who was behind the attack on Khan’s convoy and who would benefit from it. Few believe the attack was carried out by a lone assailant. PTI leaders insist there was more than one gunman.
Compounding the mystery was the prompt confessional video of the assailant released by Wazirabad’s local police. In a polarised environment, partisanship has been dictating the response to the murderous attempt with conspiracy theories running rampant. The Punjab government has made matters worse by its inept handling of the incident.
Unless there is political calm it would be difficult to get to the bottom of what happened in an impartial way. Accusations before an investigation has taken place will only hinder and muddy the waters in the search for the truth. Both the government and opposition need to bring down the political temperature so that a credible and transparent investigation can get underway.
The initial outpouring of nationwide sympathy for the former prime minister including from his political foes held out the hope, albeit fleetingly, that the atmosphere would become less charged. But it didn’t take long for both sides to engage in fierce verbal clashes that quickly vitiated the atmosphere.
Remarks by the federal interior minister further added fuel to the fire. Both sides accused each other of crossing ‘red lines’ and ‘politicising’ the assassination attempt. The political discourse lurched between those blaming the victim for ignoring security requirements and others holding coalition government leaders responsible.
The tragic incident has left the country even more divided. It has compounded the seven-month-old political crisis, making its resolution even more problematic. With PTI calling for countrywide protests and ‘revenge’ political turbulence is expected to continue. This at a time when even before the attempt on Khan’s life, the country was reeling from multiple, overlapping crises — political, economic, institutional — as well as the challenge of recovering from the worst climate-induced floods the country has seen. Never before has Pakistan needed to navigate these serious challenges in such a divided and fractured state.
MEMO: Algeria officially applies to join BRICS bloc
Algeria has officially applied to join the BRICS economic group, Anadolu News Agency reports.
The bloc of emerging economies includes Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa.
Foreign Ministry official, Leyla Zarruki, said the North African country has requested membership of the economic bloc, the State radio reported.
Zarruki said Algeria has finalised all necessary measures for membership, without any further details.
All Africa: South Africa: Strike Action by Public Sector Workers to Impact Multiple Govt Departments
A public sector stay-away is expected to affect car licencing offices and border posts, eNCA reports. This comes as wage negotiations between government and public sector unions remain at an impasse after workers rejected a proposed 3% increase, demanding a 6.5% rise instead. Workers also requested a R1,000 gratuity payment to continue beyond March 2023.
However, in his medium-term budget policy statement, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said the public service wage bill would increase by 3.1%.
According to BusinessTech, negotiations stalled after government representatives refused to make concessions, leading to a collapse in talks.
RT: White House privately asks US banks to work with Russia – Bloomberg
The Biden administration is privately urging leading US banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup to continue doing business with strategic Russian firms despite sanctions imposed on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, people familiar with the issue told Bloomberg.
The requests have been made by the US Treasury and State Departments as the government tries to maintain pressure on Russia, but at the same time avoid “a global economic catastrophe,” the news agency reported on Monday.
Washington has been requesting services such as US dollar settlements, payment transfers, and trade finance for Russian firms that are exempt from certain aspects of the sanctions, including gas giant Gazprom and fertilizer producers Uralkali and PhosAgro, the sources said.
As a result, the largest American banks are currently being “caught in the push-pull” between the Biden administration and Congress, which insists on harsher measures against Moscow.
People’s Daily: U.S. facing highest flu hospitalization rates in decade
The United States is facing the highest flu hospitalization rates in more than a decade with children and the elderly most at risk, CNBC reported Friday, citing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Flu and respiratory syncytial virus had receded during the COVID-19 pandemic due to mitigation measures such as masks and social distancing. But as people start to return to their normal routines and socialize without masks, the viruses are staging a major comeback,” said the report.
At least 1.6 million people have fallen ill with the flu so far this season, 13,000 people have been hospitalized, and 730 have died, according to CDC data.
“About 3 patients are being hospitalized with the flu out of every 100,000 people with the virus right now, which is the highest rate since 2010,” said the report.
The current hospitalization rate is nearly five times what was observed during the last pre-pandemic season in 2019, it added.
WSWS: Fatigue emerges as key issue as US airline pilots reject contracts, authorize strike action
A 72-hour span last week saw a series of votes by airline pilots which set the stage for a showdown with the US airlines. On Monday, 15,000 Delta Airlines pilots voted by 99 percent to authorize strike action. On Tuesday, pilots at United Airlines voted to reject a tentative agreement by 94 percent. On Wednesday, officials in the Allied Pilots Association (APA) at American Airlines voted down a new deal by a vote of 15–5.
These votes were a powerful sign of the determination of pilots and air crews to fight against worsening conditions. Pilots and flight attendants also held informational pickets at airports across the United States earlier this year. Around the world, flight crews went on strike recently at Eurowings in Germany and Ryanair in Spain.
One of the main factors driving pilots’ opposition is the issue of fatique. During the month of June, there were quadruple the usual number of fatigue-related pilot call-ins at American Airlines. Pilots are directly responsible for the safety of flights and are obligated to report to work fit for duty, which means using their own sick leave if they feel they cannot perform their duties up to standard on a particular day.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires a minimum rest period of nine hours between shifts for pilots, who are also limited to 30 hours of flight time per week. But when the commute to work, meals and other life requirements are added into the equation, this leaves little time for uninterrupted sleep and sabotages workers’ abilities to follow their FAA-mandated training to avoid fatigue on their own time.
WSWS: Teamsters pauses 4-day strike by bus mechanics fighting for wages, medical care in Orange County, California
A four-day strike by 150 mechanics, machinists and service technicians against the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), that began on November 2 was paused by Teamsters Local 952 on November 6. The powerful job action by this pivotal section of the working class shut down public bus transportation on 50 routes in the Southern California county with a population of over 3 million.
The union’s spokeswoman Margie Stites told the press on Monday, “The pause gives people who depend on public transit a time to vote.”
But the real reason for this bureaucratic maneuver was to bolster OCTA management and prevent the strike from spreading. The mechanics had the full support of the OCTA’s 1,000 bus drivers and UPS drivers, members of the same local, who were honoring the picket lines in a powerful show of solidarity. This meant that no buses were on the streets for four days, affecting over 100,000 daily riders. The solidarity among workers surprised the company and both union bureaucracies.
Al Jazeera: Polls open in critical US midterm elections
The first polls have opened in the United States midterm elections, which will determine the makeup of the next Congress and set the tone for the remainder of President Joe Biden’s term in the White House.
Inquirer: Trump says he will make a ‘big announcement’ on Nov. 15
TeleSUR: First Indigenous Water Utility To Operate in Canada
A transfer agreement was formally signed on Monday to make the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFNWA) become the first indigenous water utility in Canada.
The agreement, signed by Potlotek First Nation Chief Wilbert Marshall, AFNWA Chief Executive Officer Carl Yates and the federal Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu, initiated the transfer of responsibility for the operation, maintenance, and capital upgrades of all water and wastewater assets in participating First Nations to the Indigenous-led AFNWA.
“This has been a long time in the making and we are grateful to the leadership and commitment from our communities to get us to this milestone. We look forward to building capacity and increasing the level of service to standards enjoyed by other residents of Canada,” said Marshall.
“We have blazed a trail for others to follow but that is the way of the Wabanaki who have always been first to see the dawn,” Marshall said.
The agreement enabled First Nations to now officially join the water authority after receiving approval from their community members. Upon completion, the AFNWA will assume responsibility for water and wastewater services for as many as 4,500 households and businesses located in up to 17 participating First Nations, which represents approximately 60 percent of the on-reserve population of First Nation communities in Atlantic Canada, according to a news release issued by Indigenous Services Canada.
Caribbean and South America
TeleSUR: Venezuela and Colombia Resume Air Operations After 2 Years
“By instruction of President Nicolás Maduro today (Monday), commercial air transport operations were resumed with the Republic of Colombia; we are happy to connect with this brotherly country. Following the path of brotherhood and peace of our Liberator Simón Bolívar”, said Velásquez through the social network Twitter.
The opening flight of the private airline Turpial Airlines took off from the Simón Bolívar de Maiquetía international airport, in La Guaira state (north), to the El Dorado terminal in Bogotá.
Monthly Review: Bolivian president issues warning about destabilization attempts
Since October 20, the conservative opposition sectors in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz department have been organizing different protest actions against progressive President Luis Arce and the government of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party. Their primary demand is that the Population and Housing Census be carried out in the first semester of 2023 and not in 2024. Since their protests began, the national government has been repeatedly calling on them to engage in dialogue. Nevertheless, the sectors have been rejecting all attempts of negotiation and insisting that the national government submit to their technically impossible demand.
The far-right opposition leader and governor of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, the president of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, Rómulo Calvo, and the rector of the Autonomous University Gabriel René Moreno (UAGRM), Vicente Cuéllar, called for an indefinite strike in the department to force the government to give in to their demand. The selective nature of the strike which began on October 22 has however backfired. Since October 27, workers from diverse sectors in the department have been marching and organizing road blockades and factory blockades in rejection of the strike, denouncing the fact that the strike only forced poor workers to stop while rich businessmen and large merchants continued to work and earn profits.
In the face of widespread rejection from the people, Camacho, who promoted violent and racist demonstrations against the MAS government and then President Evo Morales in October 2019, has once again resorted to violence. Far-right extremist groups and Camacho’s supporters have been attacking those who have opposed the strike.
TeleSUR: The FSLN Sweeps Nicaraguan Municipal Elections
The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) presented the results of the subnational elections held on Sunday, when 2,028,035 citizens turned out to elect mayors of 153 Nicaraguan cities.
The ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) swept the municipal elections by winning the 153 mayorships in a democratic process in which 55 percent of the citizens called to vote went to the polls.
These results are historic because, for the first time since 1990, a single political party will manage all the mayor’s offices in this Central American country.
The Ukraine Proxy Conflict
SCMP: Xi Jinping’s no-nukes-in-Ukraine stand not expected to unravel China-Russia ties
No shit? I feel like the libs deep in the pro-Ukraine sauce are so utterly convinced that Russia is imminently going to nuke Ukraine that this statement by China is meant to be some rebuke and a signal that Everything Will Fall Apart Soon™, when obviously Putin has no want nor need to nuke Ukraine. If anything, it’s a rebuke of the West’s escalation and fearmongering of the possibility that may simply be, as always, projection.
Jakarta Post: Russia, US discuss first nuclear talks since Ukraine conflict
Russia and the United States are discussing holding talks on strategic nuclear weapons for the first time since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine, Russian newspaper Kommersant said on Tuesday, citing four sources familiar with the discussions.
Talks between the two sides on strategic stability have been frozen since Russia began its military campaign in Ukraine on Feb. 24, even as the New START treaty on nuclear arms reduction stays in effect.
The talks may take place in the Middle East, the paper said, adding that Moscow no longer saw Switzerland, the traditional venue, as sufficiently neutral after it imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.
Earlier on Monday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has been engaged in confidential talks with senior Russian officials aimed at lowering the risk of a broader war over Ukraine, a source familiar with the conversations said.
The source, who asked to remain unidentified, said the talks are ongoing. The Sullivan talks were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Reuters: Ukraine says it never refused to negotiate with Russia, wants talks with Putin successor
A senior adviser to Ukraine’s president said on Monday that Kyiv had never refused to negotiate with Moscow and that it was ready for talks with Russia’s future leader, but not with Vladimir Putin.
The comments on Twitter by Mykhailo Podolyak followed a Washington Post report on Saturday saying the Biden administration was privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Moscow.
Analysis and Retrospectives
The Left, Broadly Construed
Jacobin: The ACLU’s Drift From Radical to Neutral Tells the Story of Modern American Liberalism
Once an arm of the radical labor movement, the ACLU now defends free speech as a neutral principle — including the anti-union speech of bosses and the political speech of corporations. The story of the ACLU’s evolution is the story of liberalism itself.
The Right, Broadly Construed
Internationalist: The History of Fascism in Ukraine Part I: The Origins of the OUN 1917-1941
Internationalist: History of Fascism in Ukraine Part II: The OUN During World War 2, 1941-1945
Inside the Imperial Core
Naked Capitalism: Trump and the Republican Base: A Machine Learning Approach
Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
Michael Roberts: US mid-term elections: it’s the economy, stupid!
Financial Times: US and EU argue over claims of gas crisis profiteering
Outside the Imperial Core
Responsible Statecraft: The new Iraqi PM is a status quo leader, but for how long?
Common Dreams: Global Heating Has Made Ice-Free Summers in Arctic Inevitable by 2050
A new report released at the 2022 United Nations Conference of the Parties on Monday revealed that some level of total Arctic sea ice loss in summer months is now unavoidable, regardless of whether policymakers are able to drastically reduce planet-heating fossil fuel emissions.
Even an ambitious emissions-cutting agenda—one that slashes emissions by at least 50% by 2030, which experts say would put the planet on the path to a peak global temperature rise of 1.6°C to 1.8°C—“will not prevent at least one ice-free summer before 2050,” reads the annual State of the Cryosphere report.
Common Dreams: Single Billionaire Produces a Million Times More Emissions Than Average Person: Oxfam
With the United Nations Climate Change Conference underway in Egypt, Oxfam on Monday released a report highlighting how billionaires' investments produce massive amounts of planet-heating emissions that must be reined in to ensure a habitable planet.
The group’s analysis—Carbon Billionaires: The Investment Emissions of the World’s Richest People—reveals that the investments of 125 billionaires emit 393 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, or the same as the entirety of France.
Putting that figure into an individual context, the report explains that the annual average tops 3.1 million tonnes of CO2e per billionaire—or over a million times higher than the 2.76 tonnes that is the average for people worldwide who are in the bottom 90%.
Al Jazeera: Global South needs $2 trillion a year to fight climate crisis
Michael Roberts: Another cop out?
COP 27 started over the weekend. COP stands for the conference of the parties under the UNFCCC. Under the 1992 UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), every country is treaty-bound to “avoid dangerous climate change” and find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally in an equitable way. At the 2015 COP in Paris, countries committed to holding global temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, while “pursuing efforts” to limit heating to 1.5C. Those goals are supposedly legally binding and enshrined in the treaty. However, to meet those goals, countries also agreed on non-binding national targets to cut – or in the case of developing countries to curb – the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in the near term, by 2030 in most cases. Those targets are known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
As the international COP 27 climate change conference opened in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, the UN released a new report finding that the last eight years were the hottest ever recorded and the chances of keeping the world temperature from rising more than the international target limit 1.5C compared to pre-industrial times was ‘barely possible’.
The rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993. It has risen by nearly 10 mm since January 2020 to a new record high this year. The past two and a half years alone account for 10 percent of the overall rise in sea level since satellite measurements started nearly 30 years ago. Extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating flooding have already affected millions and cost billions this year.
Temperatures in Europe have increased at more than twice the global average in the last 30 years, according to a report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). From 1991 to 2021, temperatures in Europe have warmed at an average rate of about 0.5C a decade. This has had physical results: alpine glaciers lost 30 metres in ice thickness between 1997 and 2021, while the Greenland ice sheet has also been melting, contributing to sea level rise. In summer 2021, Greenland had its first ever recorded rainfall at its highest point, Summit station.
Human life has been lost as a result of the extreme weather events. The report says that in 2021, high impact weather and climate events – 84% of which were floods and storms – led to hundreds of fatalities, directly affected more than 500,000 people, and caused economic damages exceeding $50bn. Disaster is already here.
If global warming continues, scientists predict even more devasting disasters and long-term disruption to weather patterns that would destroy lives and livelihoods and upend societies. Mass migration could follow. And failure to get emissions on the right trajectory by 2030 may lock global warming above 2 degrees celsius and risk catastrophic tipping points—where climate change becomes self-perpetuating.
According to major study, the world is on the brink of multiple “disastrous” tipping points. The study shows five dangerous tipping points that may already have been passed due to the 1.1C of global heating caused by humanity to date. These include the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap, eventually producing a huge sea level rise, the collapse of a key current in the north Atlantic, disrupting rain upon which billions of people depend for food, and an abrupt melting of carbon-rich permafrost. At 1.5C of heating, the minimum rise now expected, four of the five tipping points move from being possible to likely, the analysis said. Also at 1.5C, an additional five tipping points become possible, including changes to vast northern forests and the loss of almost all mountain glaciers.
Are countries getting to net zero carbon emissions? Nowhere near close, says IMF in a new report. Net-zero rhetoric does not match reality. New IMF analysis of current global climate policies shows they would only deliver an 11 percent cut. “The gap between that and where we need to be is massive—equivalent to more than five times the current annual emissions of the European Union.”
And the UN’s environment agency has said: “There is “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place”, The UN environment report analysed the gap between the CO2 cuts pledged by countries and the cuts needed to limit any rise in global temperature to 1.5C, the internationally agreed target. Progress has been “woefully inadequate” it concluded. Current pledges for action by 2030, if delivered in full, would mean a rise in global heating of about 2.5C and catastrophic extreme weather around the world. A rise of 1C to date has caused climate disasters in countries from Pakistan to Puerto Rico.
Even if the long-term pledges by countries to hit net zero emissions by 2050 were delivered, global temperature would still rise by 1.8C. But the glacial pace of action means meeting even this temperature limit was not credible, the UN report said. Instead, the report found that existing carbon-cutting policies would cause 2.8C of warming, while pledged policies cut this to 2.6C. Further pledges, dependent on funding flowing from richer to poorer countries, could cut this – but only to 2.4C.
The International Energy Agency warned last year that no new fossil fuel development should take place if the world was to stay within 1.5C. “If these developments are not swiftly curtailed they could be disastrous for hopes of avoiding the worst ravages of climate breakdown.” Instead, because of energy crisis and the war in Ukraine, some EU countries have also returned – temporarily, they insist – to coal-fired power generation and embarked on a hunt for new fossil fuel supplies, building liquefied natural gas terminals and seeking deals with countries in Africa and elsewhere to explore new gas fields.
Can the environmental disaster that is already with us be curbed and even reversed? Well, it won’t if we have to rely on private finance and capital. Even the limited commitments by private capital to funding climate mitigation have not been kept. The US, UK, Canada and Australia have fallen billions of dollars short of their “fair share” of climate funding for developing countries.
An assessment by Carbon Brief, compared the share of international climate finance provided by rich countries with their share of carbon emissions to date, a measure of their responsibility for the climate crisis. Rich countries have pledged to provide $100bn a year by 2020. The US share of this, based on its past emissions, would be $40bn yet it provided only $7.6bn in 2020, the latest year for which data is available. Australia and Canada gave only about a third of the funding indicated by the analysis, while the UK supplied three-quarters but still fell $1.4bn short.
Nafkote Dabi, the climate change policy lead at Oxfam International, said: “Rich countries continue to fail to deliver their long-standing pledge of $100bn a year. The failure is all the more stark when you consider that the $100bn is minuscule compared to what is required to address the climate crisis.” And the head of the V20 group of most climate-vulnerable nations representing 1.5 billion people in 58 countries. reckons that these countries have already suffered $500bn in losses because of climate impacts. “Currently we face a debt crisis because so many of the assets that we took loans to pay for are being destroyed by climate change.” And yet, at the very start of COP27 there was a bitter row to get a discussion of these losses and funding for the V20 on the agenda.
While the poor countries suffer the impact of global warming with little or no support, the rich go on investing in carbon intensive industries. According to a new report by Oxfam, the super-rich emit greenhouse gases at a level equivalent to the whole of France from their investments in carbon intensive businesses. Examining the carbon impact of the investments of 125 billionaires, Oxfam found they had a collective $2.4tn stake in 183 companies. On average each billionaire’s investment emissions produced 3m tonnes of CO2 a year; a million times more than the average emissions of 2.76 tonnes of CO2 for those living in the bottom 90% of earners. In total, the 125 members of the super-rich emitted 393m tonnes of CO2 a year – equivalent to the emissions of France, which has a population of 67 million.
And then there is war, not just in Ukraine but everywhere. US military pollution is a significant contributor to climate change. If it were a nation state, it would be the 47th largest emitter in the world. In 2019, a report released by Durham and Lancaster University found the US military to be “one of the largest climate polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries”. The US military was also found to have purchased 269,230barrels of oil a day and emitted more than 25,000 kt of carbon dioxide. The Cost of Wars Project found that US military pollution had accounted for 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which amount to 257million passenger cars annually. They compared this astonishing output as higher than the emissions from whole countries like Sweden, Morocco, and Switzerland.
Yet again the powers-that-be from the IMF, World Bank and even the UN, look only to market solutions to deal with climate change. At COP27, US president Joe Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry is trying to marshal support from other governments, companies and climate experts to develop a new framework for carbon credits to be sold to business. The proceeds could then fund new clean energy projects, so Kerry argues. Kerry says that the private sector could be “enticed” to the table because it would offer the most-polluting companies a way of addressing their emissions. But carbon credits are really a method of avoiding cutting emissions for companies as they can just buy their way out of doing anything. And there is no guarantee that money raised would be used to reduce fossil fuel output.
Private finance won’t decarbonise the planet – only public investment can do so argues leftist economist Daniela Gabor. “We cannot rely on private finance to lead us out of a climate crisis it has systematically contributed to. We have to disempower carbon financiers, and we do that by making the democratic state – not investors – lead the way forward.”
And this is what I wrote at the time of COP26 in Glasgow last year: “market solutions will not do the trick, as again the COVID pandemic has shown. Only government intervention, investment and planning on a global scale can give humanity and nature a chance to succeed before too much degradation is made permanent. Carbon pricing will not allocate investment properly or change consumption sufficiently – and it only benefits the richer countries (1bn people) at the expense of the poorer (6.5bn)….Private finance organised by banks and investment funds will not deliver. That’s because capitalist companies control and make decisions on investment based on profitability. Global warming will not be stopped or reversed without ending fossil fuel and mining exploration and phasing out fossil fuel production. Nothing like that is on the agenda of COP26.” And neither is it on the agenda of COP27.
In my view, a transition to a decarbonised energy system can only happen if it is organized globally and funded and implemented by state investment. A recent study offers a realistic future of a near fossil-free energy system by 2050, providing 55% more energy services globally than today, with large amounts of wind, solar, batteries, electric vehicles, and clean fuels such as green hydrogen (made from renewable electricity). Such a net-zero carbon future is not only technically feasible, but the research shows it is expected to cost the world $12 trillion less than continuing with the polluting fossil fuel-based system we have today.
We won’t control or reverse (if that’s still possible) greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures in a capitalist world economy that supports and finances the fossil fuel industry. Nor will it happen while the extreme rich who control the decisions of government and companies continue to invest in carbon-intensive businesses.