World Bank to end financial support for oil and gas exploration

“It is hard to overstate the significance of this historic announcement by the World Bank.”

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim at One Planet Summmit: “We’re working with partners to put the right policies in place, get market forces moving in the right direction, put money on the table, and accelerate climate action.” (Image: World Bank / Twitter)
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The World Bank will end it’s financial support for oil and gas exploration and production after 2019.

In response to the growing threat posed by climate change, the World Bank announced that it “will no longer finance upstream oil and gas” after 2019.

To align our support to countries seeking to meet their Paris Agreement goals, we announced today that we will no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019. Our statement: http://wrld.bg/rpne30haHL0  

The petroleum industry can be broken down into three sectors: upstream, midstream, and downstream. The upstream sector deals with the exploration and production of oil and gas.

The announcement was made on Tuesday at the international One Planet Summitin France to mark the 2 year anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

 

President Donald Trump – who intends to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement – was not invited to the meeting.

The world bank has been lending $1 billion a year for oil and gas projects in developing countries (about 1-2% of the company’s $280 billion portfolio), but was under increasing pressure from lobby groups to divest.

The bank said that it recognizes the need to change its practices in a “rapidly changing world.”

In addition to ending financial support for upstream oil and gas, the bank announced that 28% of it’s lending will be allocated to climate action by 2020, as outlined in its Climate Action Plan, developed after the Paris accord.

Countries that lead shift away from fossil fuels will reap the greatest economic & environmental benefits for this http://bit.ly/2yf2nnK   

Stephen Kretzmann, the executive director of Oil Change International, praised the World Bank’s latest announcement:

“It is hard to overstate the significance of this historic announcement by the World Bank. Environmental, human rights, and development campaigners have been amplifying the voices of frontline communities for decades in calling for an end to World Bank financing of upstream oil and gas projects.”

“Today the World Bank has raised the bar for climate leadership by recognizing the simple yet inconvenient truth that achieving the Paris Agreement’s climate goals requires an end to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.”

The Bank already stopped lending to coal-fired power stations in 2010.

The bank admitted that in rare cases it may be willing to lend to oil and gas production, but only in the poorest countries, where it allowed the people to get access to energy, and only if it does not conflict with the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Thank you @antonioguterres@JimYongKim for co-organizing this unprecedented Summit on climate action.
More than statements, this  is all about mobilizing everyone to lead concrete game-changing actions. 

Other initiatives announced at the One Planet Summit include:

  • Climate Action 100+, which is comprised of 225 investment funds managing more than $26 trillion in assets, said it would use its financial clout to raise the issue of climate-related risk with 100 of the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters.
  • More than 200 companies pledged greater transparency on reporting climate-related risks in their businesses as part of a voluntary program led by Michael Bloomberg.
  • Dutch bank ING plans to have zero investments in coal power generation by 2025.
  • Norwegian pension fund Storebrand said it’s expanding its portfolio of fossil fuel-free investments to more than $3 billion.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron proposed raising the minimum price per metric ton of carbon dioxide to 30 euros ($35.39). Current prices for the greenhouse gas in Europe are up to five times lower.

Alexandra Jacobo

Alexandra Jacobo is a progressive writer, activist, and mother who began her political involvement in earnest passing out blankets to occupiers in Zuccotti Park in 2011. She is concerned with educating the public and inspiring them to take action on progressive issues that promote positive change at home and abroad.

Historians Still Unable To Determine How Americans Were Able To Build Hoover Dam

December 15, 2017 (theonion.com)

CAMBRIDGE, MA— Expressing continued bafflement at the practical knowledge and proficiency required to construct the massive structure, leading historians announced Friday that they remained unsure how Americans managed to build the Hoover Dam. “Decades into researching this tremendous feat of engineering, the question of how Americans ever mustered the ingenuity, determination, and resources to pull it off remains veiled in mystery,” said Harvard researcher Pritam Singh, noting that the enigmatic dam suggested Americans once possessed a level of competence, civic planning, and mastery of structural engineering far beyond what history would suggest. “We still can’t explain how United States citizens managed to handle tons of dynamite without blowing themselves up or causing the tunnels to cave in upon their own heads. This is the American people we’re talking about. There’s no evidence for how the people in this country worked and achieved such a challenging task without fucking it all up. Frankly, I’m beginning to think the answers may be lost to history.” Singh added that despite the questions surrounding the structure, he was intrigued by a recent theory suggesting the iconic dam was constructed by slaves.

Help for the Homeless at Berkeley Aquatic Park

From:  Sam Clune
Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2017
Subject:  Aquatic Park needs basic stuff. Thank you
To:  Berkeley Homeless Support

Food. We need food. We just do.
Toilet paper.
Luxury good, paper towels.

Sorry to bother you all but we are running out of canned soup even.

Thank you for all you do.

(Submitted by JP Massar: Find them between Ashby & the south entrance to Aquatic Park on Bay Street – Shellmound becomes Bay going north.)

Four Blockchain Bills Introduced in New York State Assembly

A New York lawmaker has introduced four bills covering blockchain, making it one of several states to consider the issue in 2017.

BY  DECEMBER 15, 2017 (govtech.com)
SHUTTERSTOCK

“In 2016, Kings County lost 120,000 voter records,” Vanel said. “I felt we needed to secure and safeguard our election system. I wondered if blockchain (technology) was the solution.”

According to blog post written by Vanel, blockchain technology is “a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block of information contains a pointer to the previous block of information that represents a transaction of data. By design, these blockchains are resistant to the modification of the data. Additionally, this information can be used on a distributed ledger that is managed by a peer-to-peer network that makes it virtually impossible to hack.”

Because the uses of blockchain technology are largely untested in government records keeping, Vanel introduced three bills to study the technology and the effects it would have on securing voting records, election results and government record storageAnother bill would create a digital currency taskforce to analyze the impact of cryptocurrencies on New York financial markets.

fourth bill would amend the state’s technology law to include a definition of blockchain technology, smart contracts and provide a legal understanding for digital signatures stored on a blockchain.

“We can’t be too quick to regulate (blockchain), we need to understand it first,” and how it might enhance “record keeping in government,” he said.

Vanel convinced a bi-partisan group of legislators to co-sponsor the bill, including, Rep. Ed Ra, R-Nassau County; and Rep. Luis Sepulveda, D-Bronx; and Rep. Ron Kim, D-Whitestone.

Rep. Kim was positively adamant about the potential of the technology to push the state into the future. “Blockchain excites me,” he said. “This is a game changer … Imagine five years from now we might be able to pick up a cellphone and register to vote or send health records instantaneously. New York must be in the forefront of this.”

OTHER STATES EXPLORE BLOCKCHAIN

Four other states have made similar moves this year by introducing legislation to study blockchain. Illinois, Hawaii, Maine and North Dakota have all passed laws that direct state government to find out how blockchain technology can enhance record keeping.

“What are the opportunities and the risks of using this technology,” said Irakli Mirzashvili, a tax analyst with the tax policy division of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, adding that his views on blockchain do not reflect the views of the Texas Comptroller.

Other states will look on with interest to see what these diverse states find worthy of adoption, he said. Their exploration of blockchain uses in government will answer difficult questions for legislators throughout the country.

survey conducted last winter found that those government leaders and business executives who understand blockchain have big plans for its implementation in the not-too-distant future.

Mirzashvili said there should also be interest in the results of a New York inquiry into cryptocurrencies and how that will affect the state’s financial markets.

“New York has a real stake in understanding the effect on an industry,” he said. The state’s financial markets employ 1.5 million people and it comprises 35 percent of Manhattan’s economy. “No other state has a mandate like this,” but, he said, “other states will be interested to see what the task force finds out and consider how it might affect them.”

Mirzashvili points out that New York is not a latecomer to the bitcoin arena. “It has been on the forefront of bitcoin regulation.” In 2015 the state passed a bill to authorize regulation of companies who are actively engaged in bitcoin. Called a BitLicense, the state charges companies a fee to operate in cryptocurrencies.

In a similar move, he said, Delaware lawmakers recently passed a law in August that lets corporations maintain shareholder lists, along with other corporate records, using the technology.

“The legislation is part of the state’s effort to promote the use of blockchain via the Delaware Blockchain Initiative, a joint venture between the state and a blockchain provider,” he said. Delaware is regarded as the incorporation capital of the United States with over 1 million business entities created in the state.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more activity along these lines (throughout the United States).”

Elizabeth Zima

Elizabeth Zima Staff Writer


Elizabeth Zima has written in depth on topics including health care, clinical science, physician relations and hospital communications.

“California’s campaign for universal health care has a long history” by RoseAnn DeMoro

Hiram Johnson

CALIFORNIA NURSES ASSOCIATION·  

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2017

San Francisco Chronicle on December 8, 2017

With House Speaker Paul Ryan pledging to push major Medicare cuts to reduce the added $1 trillion in federal debt created by the huge tax gifts for corporations and the super-rich proposed in versions of the House and Senate tax bill that Republicans are working to reconcile — the urgency mounts for state action to protect the health security of Californians.

The Medicare cuts are just one sign of the health care threats posed by the expected final bill. Among other provisions that could be in the final bill are:

Elimination of the mandate to buy insurance, which analysis suggests would prompt insurers to levy new double-digit premium hikes; and,

An end to tax deductions for people whose medical expenses exceed 10 percent of their income, which would punish millions of people with severe health problems such as cancer and certain chronic illnesses.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative for California, a state bill that would guarantee health coverage to all, SB562, and will be eligible for legislative action again early next year. It builds on an illustrious history in our state, dating back more than a century to legendary California reformer Hiram Johnson.

In 1912, then-Gov. Johnson was the running mate for former President Teddy Roosevelt’s insurgent, though unsuccessful, campaign to return to the White House on a Progressive Party platform that prominently included a universal system of social insurance to protect all Americans from the “hazards of sickness.”

It was an early version of what became more than a century of national efforts to assure health care for all as a public responsibility and moral imperative.

Johnson continued that push by appointing a Social Insurance Commission in 1915 to study state solutions.

It proposed a state constitutional amendment that went before voters in 1918 to develop a system for universal coverage for California. The private insurance industry, joined by a large group of doctors, led the opposition, a pattern that would recur again and again.

It would be the first of repeated efforts over the past century by some of California’s most legendary political figures, joined by nurses and other reformers to guarantee health care for all Californians. They were not deterred by critics, like those today, who insist California must wait for a federal solution, rather than act here to protect our own people.

The honor roll over the years included such notables as Johnson; governor, soon to be Supreme Court chief justice, Earl Warren; martyred San Francisco Mayor George Moscone; and Democratic Party icon John Burton.

Bill after bill laid out frameworks that show a striking parallel to what the California Nurses Association and activists have proposed in SB562.

These include a single-payer-type structure with a new state agency to administer the funding from existing revenue and new state revenue to be paid to private providers for care delivery.

Nearly all featured universal, guaranteed coverage, without forcing Californians to be bankrupted by huge medical bills or skip the care they need due to the high cost, and comprehensive benefits, from hospitalization to physician services, dental, mental health, prescription drug coverage, and long-term care.

All those elements are the basic framework of SB562 as well.

Here’s Gov. Culbert Olson in 1939: “It is no longer seriously debated that a fundamental change is needed in the method of meeting the costs of medical care and the risks and loss of sickness, especially for wage earners and others of small or moderate income.”

Warren initiated at least four legislative efforts, starting in 1945 with an effort to provide universal coverage for all Californians modeled after similar European systems.

In his 1947 gubernatorial inaugural address, Warren noted it is “not sufficient to have medical services, hospitals, clinics and laboratories … unless the people have economic access to them.”

Burton, who retired in May as chair of the California Democratic Party, pushed his own plan as an Assembly member in 1961 for a prepaid health service system.

Three years before his election as San Francisco mayor, state Sen. George Moscone sponsored the Consumer Health Protection Act of 1972 to provide single-payer, universal coverage with no co-pays or deductible payments — a reminder that SB562’s plan to eliminate co-pays and deductibles also has a long precedent.

Virulent opposition, led by those who profit from sickness and suffering, and their allies in elected office, has blocked proposals, but not slowed efforts for a social insurance system to safeguard Californians.

In 1994, a single-payer initiative, Proposition 186, united CNA with major senior, small-business, consumer, women’s and progressive doctors’ groups. The initiative lost only after being outspent by insurance companies by about 10-1.

California came even closer to achieving this goal in 2006 and 2008 with single-payer bills by former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, also sponsored by CNA, that twice reached the governor’s desk, only to be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Those bills, like SB562, featured public administration, the use of existing federal, state and local health care spending with new revenue, comprehensive benefits and universal coverage.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, a proud legacy of California leaders and activists has lighted the way.

RoseAnn DeMoro is executive director of the California Nurses Association. (With thanks to a 2007 research paper, “Ninety Years of Health Insurance Reform Efforts in California,” by Michael Dimmitt.)

Occupy Oakland-inspired video game lets you play cop or rioter

By Matier & Ross (sfchronicle.com)

December 10, 2017

 

An image from “Riot: Civil Unrest.”

An image from “Riot: Civil Unrest.”

Just in time for Christmas, the Occupy Oakland riots of 2011 have been immortalized in a new video game simulator called, “Riot: Civil Unrest.”

Players can be police, and choose “whether to use smoke grenades, rubber and plastic bullets, tasers or even live ammunition,” among other tactical options. 

For what it’s worth, hurling a reporter at a police line almost never works.

According to the Merge Games promo, “rather than attempting to popularize violence to a desensitized video game generation, the developers set out to create a game in which force and violence work short term but patience and passive actions yield far more positive outcomes.”

Merge Games say it sold 10,000 copies in the first 24 hours — at $11.69 apiece, with the introductory discount.

San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross appear Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Matier can be seen on the KPIX TV morning and evening news. He can also be heard on KCBS radio Monday through Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Got a tip? Call (415) 777-8815, or email matierandross@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @matierandross

“WAGING PEACE: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist” by David Hartsough

As many of you know, I have written a book, WAGING PEACE: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist. I share stories of my peacemaking adventures and the power of active nonviolence around the world.. My hope in the book is to help give people hope that we can make a difference in a very troubled world and help create a just, peaceful and sustainable world we would all like to live in.  The book includes Resources for further study and Action, what you can do, and ten lessons learned from my life of activism. The book is an excellent gift for your friends, children or grandchildren  (or yourself).
~~~~PM Press, the publisher is offering the book with 50% off during the month of December. Just go to PMpress.org and order the book(s) and when you check out, just write in GIFT in the coupon code. The book is an excellent gift for your friends, children or grandchildren  (or yourself).

See http://www.pmpress.org/content/article.php/DavidHartsough/print to see some reviews of the book. PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR friends and colleagues.

I’d love to hear your feedback after you read the book and how you are and what you are  up to.

Many thanks,
Warm Greetings and Peace,
David Hartsough

Trump Just Accidentally Told Millions of Working Class Families the Truth About GOP Tax Plan

Trump slipped up and (correctly) called the GOP plan the “biggest tax increase” in American history.

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)President Donald Trump speaks to members of the White House Press Corps prior to his Marine One departure from the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump lies a lotespecially about the Republican tax plan—but during a Friday morning scrum with reporters on the White House lawn, Trump accidentally told the truth.

Asked about the GOP tax bill, which is expected to hit the floor of the House and Senate for a final vote early next week, Trump said: “I think we’re doing very well, it’s something that’s going to be monumental. It will be the biggest tax increase—or tax cut—in the history of our country.”

Watch:  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/12/15/trump-just-accidentally-told-millions-working-class-families-truth-about-gop-tax?utm_term=Trump%20Just%20Accidentally%20Told%20Millions%20of%20Working%20Class%20Families%20the%20Truth%20About%20GOP%20Tax%20Plan&utm_campaign=News%20%2526%20Views%20%7C%20Trump%20Just%20Accidentally%20Told%20Working%20Class%20the%20Truth%20About%20GOP%20Tax%20Plan&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email&cm_mmc=Act-On%20Software-_-email-_-News%20%2526%20Views%20%7C%20Trump%20Just%20Accidentally%20Told%20Working%20Class%20the%20Truth%20About%20GOP%20Tax%20Plan-_-Trump%20Just%20Accidentally%20Told%20Millions%20of%20Working%20Class%20Families%20the%20Truth%20About%20GOP%20Tax%20Plan

Even if it was just a slip of the tongue, Trump’s characterization of the GOP tax bill as the “biggest tax increase” in American history is accurate, according to some analysts.

As The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim noted in an analysis earlier this month, the GOP tax bill is “routinely referred to as a $1.5 trillion tax cut. And, in some ways, that’s true: On net, it would reduce the amount of taxes collected by the Treasury by about $1.5 trillion over 10 years.”

However, “that figure masks the eye-popping scale and audacity of the GOP’s rushed restructuring of the economy,” Grim adds. “[The bill,] properly described, is two things: the largest tax cut—and also the biggest tax increase—in American history.”

This tax increase, as research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has found, would primarily be shouldered by low-income and middle class Americans. Additionally, while the GOP bill would give corporations permanent tax cuts, many of the cuts for middle class and low-income Americans would expire after a decade.

As Common Dreams reported on Wednesday, House and Senate Republicans reached a backroom “deal” that tilts the benefits of their bill even further toward the wealthiest Americans by reducing the top marginal tax rate from from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.

“Overall, in 2027—when only the corporate tax cuts, slower inflation measure, and individual mandate repeal would remain in place—the Senate bill would, on average, raise taxes or reduce federal expenditures for households with incomes below $75,000 by about $60 billion—while still giving large tax reductions (through its corporate tax cuts) to those at the top,” noted CBPP’s Chuck Marr.

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