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John Podesta and Michael Conathan's Posts

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We can’t let Russia screw up plans for a huge marine reserve

Save this seal! Also, the world's fisheries.
Rita Wilaert

In the century since Norway’s Roald Amundsen was the first to plant a flag at the South Pole, Antarctica has effectively -- and uniquely -- been treated as a shared space by the world’s nations. The Southern Continent’s apolitical status was reinforced by the 1959 Antarctic Convention, which stipulates that the area be used exclusively for scientific research. The result has been the preservation of one of the world’s most pristine environments and a triumph for international cooperation.

For the past few years, a majority of member nations of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources have attempted to extend similar protections to certain areas of the Southern Ocean ringing the continent. At a special mid-year commission meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, this past summer, the proposal’s backers were stunned when Russia, supported only by Ukraine, unexpectedly blocked the Southern Ocean sanctuary.

This week, the measure to create what would be the world’s largest marine protected area will be on the table once more at the commission’s annual meeting in Hobart, Australia. After the sanctuary’s proponents, led by the United States and New Zealand, agreed to reduce the size of the protected areas by 40 percent, many believe Russian intransigence could be waning. The Russian delegation has acted in a manner that suggests it may be willing to set aside the procedural arguments it relied on in Bremerhaven to stonewall the proposal.

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Hey Obama: Defend our public lands!

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.Cross-posted from ThinkProgress. The nation's public lands are a central part of our national heritage, imagination, and spirit. Millions of Americans visit our public lands each year to experience history firsthand and wonder at some of the nation's most beautiful natural spaces. That's why one of my proudest accomplishments from the Clinton administration is working with Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to protect these national treasures. Together, we helped President Clinton protect more land in the lower 48 states than any president since Teddy Roosevelt, from the north rim of the Grand Canyon to President …

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How to get cleaner cars and use less foreign oil

This post was coauthored by Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope and League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski. It was cross-posted from the Center for American Progress. America is suffering from another oil price shock less than three years after prices hit a record of $147 per barrel in July 2008. Over the past month, oil prices rose by over $20 per barrel, or more than 25 percent. This price hike reflects political instability in many oil-producing Persian Gulf nations. And Wall Street speculators have preyed upon oil users' fears about supply interruptions to bid up the price to over …

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Taking on the global energy investment challenge

Governments can use policy measures alongside relatively small sums of public money to catalyze the private sector to help developing countries finance their clean energy transition.Photo: Center for American ProgressInternational negotiations on a comprehensive climate change treaty made limited progress this year, yet global investments in clean energy in both developed and developing countries alike continue apace. Ironically, there is a positive connection between the two -- despite the slow pace of negotiations to produce a comprehensive climate treaty, the discussions have produced a continuing and evolving commitment in the international arena to help developing countries finance their transition to …

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Senate should consider deforestation as part of climate bill

This post was co-authored by Lincoln Chafee, former Republican senator from Rhode Island. It was cross-posted from Roll Call. It is imperative that the United States find effective and economically viable solutions to the climate crisis. Our elected officials and business leaders ask how we can afford the global transition to a low-carbon economy. Around the globe, developing nations ask how they can afford to reduce their emissions without sacrificing their hopes for a better life. There is no single answer, but there is one unexpected solution that offers hope on both fronts. To date, the climate debate has focused …

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G20 needs to advance the global agenda on climate change

Cross-posted from the Center for American Progress. The world’s leading economic powers remain inactive in preventing an increase in the serious impacts of climate change. While current impacts of climate change may not have reached alarming proportions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that will happen soon enough if we do not take early action. What is causing increasing concern, as the December U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen draws ever nearer, is the continuing deadlock in political action to deal with this challenge. There is clear consensus among those arriving in Pittsburgh this week for the G20 that …

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The clean-energy investment agenda

This post was co-authored by Center for American Progress Vice President for Energy Policy Kate Gordon, Senior Fellow Bracken Hendricks, and Policy Analyst Benjamin Goldstein. It was cross-posted from Wonk Room. The United States is having the wrong public debate about global warming. We are asking important questions about pollution caps and timetables, carbon markets and allocations, but we have lost sight of our principal objective: building a robust and prosperous clean energy economy. This is a fundamentally affirmative agenda, rather than a restrictive one. Moving beyond pollution from fossil fuels will involve exciting work, new opportunities, new products and …

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Governments need to lead the breakthrough on technology

The Obama administration once again convened a Major Economies Forum in Italy this week after the G-8 meeting, which included the world’s 17 major carbon emitters, to press forward on a global deal on climate change and the transformation to a clean-energy economy. One of the most important announcements to come out of this meeting is the formation of a formal “Global Partnership” on “low-carbon, climate-friendly technologies.” This program aims to double the current commitments on technology assistance by 2015 and sets a deadline for mapping actions for achieving a range of important goals on this cluster of issues by …

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Waxman-Markey: We’d better try to get what we need

Once again Mick Jagger is right: “You can't always get what you want/But if you try sometimes you just might find/You get what you need.” The House of Representatives is poised for its first-ever floor debate and series of votes on a landmark measure to reduce global warming pollution. This bill is revolutionary in its intent and, while imperfect in its means, it deserves the support of progressives. The American Clean Energy and Security Act would establish binding greenhouse gas pollution limits, set the first national renewable electricity and efficiency standards for utilities, and improve efficiency standards for buildings and …

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New energy rules could unleash an economic boom and help quash climate change

In 1997, as the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change was being negotiated, the U.S. Senate voted, 95-0, to reject any agreement that "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." The senators were acting on the widespread fear that the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy would hurt American businesses and cost millions of jobs. Those were the beliefs and the politics of the times. A blueprint for the future. Photo: iStockphoto But times change. Ten years later, it's increasingly clear that it will be more costly not to act on global warming than to …

Read more: Climate & Energy