What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Hooray for the Climate Deal, But It’s Not Enough to Save Us

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Hooray Climate Deal, But It's Not Enough

A thousand bikers and marchers converged on Manila in the Philippines to calls for climate justice as the ‘last word’ following the historic UN COP 21 climate talks. (LJ Passion/350.org/Flickr cc. 2.0)

A climate deal arrives –> In Paris, 195 nations signed an agreement to limit global warming. Negotiators have been trying and failing to reach such an agreement for decades, and this one was six years in the making, writes Coral Davenport at The New York Times. At Grist, Ben Adler offers a comprehensive explainer of the deal.

In the run-up to Paris, countries laid out their own plans to cut emissions, and under the new deal they promise to try and meet their goals. Together, those plans still put us on track for between 2.7 and 3.5 degrees of warming, far higher and far more dangerous than the 1.5 to 2.0-degree target called for by the Paris accord.

President Obama’s negotiators made sure that the deal was designed so that it will not require Republican approval in the Senate. That means the Paris agreement won’t face the same certain death as the Kyoto Protocol nearly two decades ago. In some cases, this meant carefully choosing between specific words, like “shall” — that imply legal obligation — and “should” — which do not. Even though climate-denying senators will not get to vote on the agreement, these word choices had a significant effect on limiting how strong the deal ultimately became.

A long, long road ahead –> The agreement signals intent and lays the groundwork for stronger future action, but does not in itself compel states to take the action needed to keep the environment stable. “The basic reality… is that the Paris agreement can only encourage countries to step up their efforts. It can’t force them to do so,” writes Brad Plumer for Vox. It also falls short on raising funds to help poor countries green their economies and adapt to climate change.

These shortcomings leave many climate hawks concerned. “It’s a fraud, really, a fake,” James Hansen, the scientist whose testimony before Congress in the 80s sounded the alarm on climate change, told The Guardian. “There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.” Naomi Klein expresses similar fears at The Nation; Bill McKibben at Grist.

Ben Adler writes that activists turned out in Paris and around the world to make clear that “the deal being finalized wasn’t even close to strong enough.”

Is climate denial funding drying up? –> At least for some groups it appears to be, reports Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy: “The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a US climate-change-denial group that espouses the ‘free market,’ has lost more than two-thirds of its funding in the past two years, according to tax filings.” Other groups that have played a role in confusing America on climate science, including the Heartland Institute and ALEC, also have seen funds dwindle as their fossil-fuel backers come under fire for pushing misinformation.

Pushing back –> “The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is demanding more equitable coverage from the ‘corporate network news,’ which it says has engaged in a ‘Bernie blackout.’ The campaign pointed to data showing that flagship news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC devote paltry air time to Sanders compared to other similarly positioned candidates,” Bradford Richardson reports for The Hill. Media Matters for America notes that one program, ABC’s World News Tonight, has spent 81 minutes covering Trump’s campaign, and less than a minute covering Sanders.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain –> Someone purchased Las Vegas’s largest newspaper, the Review-Journal, but its employees aren’t being told who. Some speculate that it’s casino mogul and conservative megadonor Sheldon Adelson, but Adelson’s not talking. Michael Calderone reports for The Huffington Post.

The start of something –> “Saudi Arabia has elected its first female local councillors in a historic step for a country where women are banned from driving and face routine discrimination. Results from Saturday’s municipal council elections indicated there were about 17 female winners.” Ian Black writes for The Guardian that candidates “used social media to contact voters because of restrictions on women meeting men and bans on both sexes using photographs.”

French far-right loses election –> In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, the Associated Press reports, “Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front collapsed in French regional elections Sunday, failing to take a single region after dominating the first round of voting, pollsters projected.” Turnout was much higher than last week, indicating that French voters went to the polls to keep the extremist, anti-immigrant party from gaining more power.

Dog-whistle politics –> “An expanding body of research by psychologists, economists and political scientists suggests that voters’ racial biases help the GOP win elections, and critics say the party is capitalizing on that fact. Though researchers haven’t settled how successful dog-whistle politics are at tapping into those prejudices, some believe that race will become more, not less important in the party’s future campaigns,” Max Ehrenfreund reports for The Washington Post.

Better late than never –> The Federal Elections Commission, an agency usually mired in partisan gridlock, has finally gotten around to fining the “pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future (ROF) $50,000 for illegally spending millions of dollars airing an advertisement in 2012 that was originally produced and aired by the 2008 Romney presidential campaign,” according to the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit that filed the complaint. Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with candidates.

Sounds like an informed decision –> Headline in the UK Independent: “US town rejects solar panels amid fears they ‘suck up all the energy from the sun.'”

Morning Reads is compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.

You can get our Morning Reads delivered to your inbox every weekday! Just enter your email address below…