As Poland’s new government promises to be more assertive over everything from refugees to how to handle Russia, the first battle with Brussels is already looming and may prove to be just as divisive. The Law & Justice party, which is on course for an unprecedented parliamentary majority, will fight for special treatment under the European Union climate pact, according to Konrad Szymanski, the likely next minister responsible for EU affairs. As the continent’s largest producer of coal, Poland wants concessions going beyond what European leaders decided last year or it will seek an opt-out from the pact. –Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 27 October 2015
The head of a congressional committee on science has issued subpoenas to the Obama administration over a recent scientific study refuting claims that global warming had “paused” or slowed over the last decade. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and a prominent congressional skeptic on climate change, issued the subpoenas two weeks ago demanding e-mails and records from U.S. scientists who participated in the study, which undercut a popular argument used by critics who reject the scientific consensus that man-made pollution is behind the planet’s recent warming. –Joby Warrick, The Washington Post, 24 October 2015
One group wants wealthy countries to be beholden to an International Tribunal of Climate Justice. Another wants the final Paris agreement to reflect the rights of Mother Earth. Some countries want “free of cost” access to clean technology. Others have a counteroffer: “no text.” One thing everyone seems to agree on is that the past week of negotiations in Bonn, Germany, did little to make the decisions for a new global climate agreement any easier. While countries did make the thousands of options before them somewhat clearer, no one actually compromised. Come December, all the hard decisions will still be on the table. Finance remains the most contentious issue of the deal. Many developing nations feel that wealthy countries are trying to back out of a 2009 promise to deliver $100 billion annually by 2020, and some say the 1992 architecture of the entire climate change regime demands that industrialized nations deliver assistance in perpetuity for poorer countries. –Lisa Friedman, E&E News, 26 October 2015
A closely linked and equally contentious issue known in the talks as “loss and damage” is also shaping up to be one of the most contentious endgame decisions. Island nations and other countries deeply vulnerable to climate change are currently experiencing the impacts of extreme weather events that scientists say are worsened by the greenhouse gas emissions currently in the atmosphere. They want a provision in the main agreement out of Paris that will ultimately allow them to seek compensation. The United States and other rich countries are indeed rejecting any text that even implies their countries are liable for the impact of climate pollution. Their counteroffer to a lengthy G-77 proposal for tackling the issue is to delete the section altogether. Activists say they don’t believe that tactic will succeed. –Lisa Friedman, E&E News, 26 October 2015
India on Monday said that developed nations should come out with more ambitious climate action plans and hoped the coming climate change summit in Paris does not end up in “failure.” “We want equitable and just climate agreement in Paris. We do not want Paris to fail. We will try hard till the end that collective wisdom prevails. India is walking a sustainable path but we are on a growth trajectory. So we want more carbon space and that must be provided by those who have occupied that space for the last 150 years,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said. He said that the five-day session in Bonn recently was a “classic” example where the G-77 plus China and African grouping countries dominated and “marshalled” out “old, inequitable and very lopsided” draft agreement. —Press Trust of India, 27 October 2015
Participants in the Paris conference are expected to set up a Green Climate Fund to pay for renewable energy projects. Most of the money, $100 billion a year starting in 2020, will be provided by prosperous developed countries. President Obama intends to bypass Congress. The Obama era is winding down, however, and key Republicans are warning that Mr. Obama’s climate change agreement might not survive his departure in 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent word to foreign embassies across Washington that any deal the president makes with United Nations members may not be legally binding without Senate approval. –Editorial, The Washington Times, 26 October 2015
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