Saving the Arctic? Kerry’s roadmap not melting hearts in Russia, China & India

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The US-led GLACIER environmental conference in Anchorage ended with a joint declaration calling for more international action to tackle climate change. China, India and Russia abstained from signing the document.

The Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) that took place in Anchorage during the last days of summer has once again showed the division between leading nations over global climate change issues.

There are differing opinions on the environmental effect of the warming up of the Arctic, and how this will affect the world’s leading economies.

In his statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said “climate change is not a distant threat for our children and their children to worry about.”

“It is happening now. Some people just want to write it off as a natural change,” said Kerry.

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The American diplomat wants to agree a roadmap regarding climate change in the Arctic before the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) regarding emissions is signed in Paris in December.

The final declaration of the GLACIER conference signed by high-ranking diplomats from the US, the EU and several Asian states maintains that “Arctic sea ice decline has been faster during the past 10 years than in the previous 20 years, with summer sea ice extent reduced by 40 percent since 1979.”

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“We take seriously warnings by scientists: temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at more than twice the average global rate,” the declaration reads, stressing that loss of ice from Arctic glaciers and ice sheets contributes to rising sea levels worldwide, increased risk of coastal erosion, persistent flooding and that Arctic warming may disrupt weather patterns globally.

“Actions to reduce methane — a powerful short-lived greenhouse gas — can slow Arctic warming in the near to medium term,” the declaration claims.

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But Russia (the world’s leading oil and gas producer), China (the world largest producer of goods), and India with its huge emerging economy opted not to sign the document, however nonbinding it might appear.

For China and India reducing emissions entails huge expenditure and loss of economic effectiveness, and for Russia the upcoming environmental deal brings additional costs to the oil and gas extraction industries.

Moscow is boosting Russia’s presence in the Arctic, including militarily, for at least two reasons: future hydrocarbons extraction and the Northern Sea Route, a much shorter way from Asia to Europe, which could soon be operable year-around because of less ice in the Arctic Ocean.

LISTEN MORE:

READ MORE: Russia could protect interests in Arctic via military means – defense minister

However, Moscow does intend to reduce emissions considerably, in line with US President Barack Obama’s recent Clean Power Plan initiative, which aims to cut overall emissions in the US by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

READ MORE: New emissions rules for power plants bring fears of higher energy bills

Exploitation of its Arctic territories is a major principle for Russia and amounts to a national idea. With some 20 percent (3 million square kilometers) of the country lying within the Arctic Circle, Russia is the world’s largest Arctic nation. About 1.5 million Russians live above the 67th latitude (polar), which is several times more than in all other Arctic nations combined.

Most of the population (97 percent) of Canada, another great Arctic nation, lives below the 55th latitude, on a narrow strip of land along the border with the US. Moscow is also on the 55th latitude, while St. Petersburg lies some 600 kilometers further north. Russia’s second city has a population of 5.2 million, which is more than in the whole of Norway, another Arctic nation.

Altogether, there are nine Russian cities with populations over one million and seven cities with populations over 500,000 above the 55th latitude, with two of them, Murmansk and Norilsk, right above the Polar Circle.

Obama admin assures foreign governments they won’t be penalized for doing business with Iran

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Has Obama registered as an agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran yet? Why not? What would he be doing differently if he were one?

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“Senators: Obama Admin Hiding Secret Iran Deal Letters,” by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, August 19, 2015:

Two leading U.S. senators are calling on the Obama administration to release secret letters to foreign governments assuring them that they will not be legally penalized for doing business with the Iranian government, according to a copy of a letter sent Wednesday to the State Department and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Sens. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) disclosed in the letter to the State Department that U.S. lawmakers have been shown copies of several letters sent by the Obama administration to the Chinese, German, French, and British governments assuring them that companies doing business with Iran will not come under penalty.

The Obama administration is purportedly promising the foreign governments that if Iran violates the parameters of a recently inked nuclear accord, European companies will not be penalized, according to the secret letters.

Congress became aware of these promises during closed-door briefings with the Obama administration and through documents filed by the administration under a law requiring full disclosure of all information pertaining to the accord.

The issue of sanctions on Iran has become a major issue on Capitol Hill in the weeks since the Obama administration agreed to a deal that permits Iran to enter the international community in exchange for temporarily constraining its nuclear program.

Iran will receive more than $150 billion in sanctions relief as part of the deal and many of its military branches will be removed from international sanctions designations.

“The documents submitted by the Administration to Congress include non-public letters that you sent to the French, British, German, and Chinese governments on the consequences of sanctions snap-back,” Kirk and Rubio wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry.

“These letters appear to reassure these foreign governments that their companies may not be impacted if sanctions are re-imposed in response to Iranian violations of the agreement,” they claim. “While Administration officials have claimed that this is not the case, we think it is important for the American public to be able to read your assurances to foreign governments for themselves as their elected representatives review this deal in the coming weeks.”

Kirk and Rubio are demanding that the Obama administration release these letters to the public so that the full nature of the White House’s backroom dealings are made known.

“We therefore request the Administration to publicly release these letters, which are not classified, so that the full extent of the Administration’s non-public assurances to European and Chinese governments can be discussed openly by Congress and analyzed by impartial outside experts,” they write.

“Given the conflicting interpretations hinted at by the deal’s various stakeholders, it would also ease congressional review of the deal if you were to receive assurances from the other members of the P5+1 about the guidance they will provide to companies about the inherent risks of investing in Iran due to Iran’s ongoing support for terrorism and use of its financial system for illicit activities and the potential for sanctions to snap back if Iran violates the nuclear agreement,” the letter states.

As Iranian companies and government entities are removed from sanctions lists, they will be permitted to do business on the open market. A number of governments, including the Russia and Italy, have already expressed interest in partnering with Iran.

U.S. lawmakers remain concerned that if Iran violates the nuclear accord, sanctions will not be reimposed in a meaningful way.

“The conditions under which foreign investment in Iran would proceed under the nuclear agreement remain unclear,” Kirk and Rubio wrote. “On July 23, 2015, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that companies that have invested in Iran would ‘not be able to continue doing things that are in violation of the sanctions’ if sanctions snap back.”

“Foreign investment in Iran will involve long-term contracts in many cases, however, and some interpretations of the Iran agreement indicate these contracts might be protected from the snap-back of sanctions by a so-called ‘grandfather clause,’” they write.

Under the terms of the agreement, sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a paramilitary force known to commit acts of terrorism across the globe, will be lifted.

A multi-billion dollars financial empire belonging to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also will be removed from sanctions lists, according to the parameters of the deal.

– See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2015/08/obama-admin-assures-foreign-governments-they-wont-be-penalized-for-doing-business-with-iran.html/#sthash.Nz2N1WSc.dpuf

Sharpton calls for black churches to lobby…

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BY MARK HENSCH

Rev. Al Sharpton will push America’s black churches to lobby in favor of the Iran nuclear deal, a new report says.
Sharpton is launching his push backing President Obama’s pact with Tehran this weekend, according to The Huffington Post.
“I am calling on ministers in black churches nationwide to go to their pulpits Sunday and have their parishioners call their senators and congressmen to vote yes on the Iran nuclear plan,” he said Friday.
“We have a disproportionate interest, being that if there is a war, our community is always disproportionately part of the armed services, and that a lot of the debate is by people who will not have family members who will be at risk,” Sharpton added.
He also argued Friday that his efforts would counter a coordinated national effort against Obama’s historic diplomatic achievement.
“There needs to be a balance in this,” he said. “Clearly lobbyists and others like AIPAC are pushing on their side, and there needs to be an organized effort on the other side.”
“A lot of Democrats, I think, should have to consider how their voters will feel in their base vote,” the reverend added.
Sharpton also noted Friday that he has already contacted Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and other New York-area Democrats about backing the accord.
He praised Booker earlier this month for the New Jersey lawmaker’s announcement approving the deal.
“Kudos to Senator @CoryBooker for standing firm,” Sharpton tweeted on Aug. 4. “I stand beside him in supporting @POTUS with the #IranDeal.”
Congress is currently within a 60-day window for reviewing the nuclear deal’s details. They will then vote on a resolution either approving or disapproving the landmark diplomatic agreement.
Obama is currently pressuring lawmakers to support the controversial agreement amid skepticism over its details. At issue is whether the pact prevents Iran from developing an atomic weapons arsenal.
It reduces economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for greater restrictions on its nuclear energy capabilities.
Tehran has promised it is accepting more frequent nuclear inspections and caps on its centrifuge and uranium stockpiles in exchange for the deal’s financial concessions.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced the U.S. and its allies had reached a satisfying agreement with Iran in Vienna last month.
Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia aided his diplomatic efforts at the bargaining table with Iranian leadership before the pact’s completion.