Obama talks climate change in Indonesia

WASHINGTON — Climate change emerged as the top priority during President Barack Obama’s visit this week to Indonesia.

On Nov. 9, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a new partnership with the U.S. to combat the threat of climate change, according to a White House press release. The U.S.-Indonesia partnership includes $136 million in U.S. funding, the bulk of which will be spent on climate change research and forest conservation. Another $7 million will go toward the establishment of a Climate Change Center in Indonesia that will link science to policy and set Indonesia’s priorities for climate change adaption and mitigation, according to media reports from Indonesia. The U.S. pledged another $10 million in funding for projects to protect peatlands.

Obama also offered his support for Norway’s pledge of up to $1 billion over the next seven to eight years to support Indonesia’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. The Norway-Indonesia agreement was signed in May.

Climate change impacts in Indonesia worry security experts like Capt. Tim Gallaudet, director the U.S. Navy Climate Change Task Force. In a recent interview, Gallaudet said he was concerned that ocean acidification, caused by increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, could have a negative impact on fisheries in Indonesia, threatening food security and stability of the country. The low-lying island nation is threatened by rising sea levels, which cases erosion and flooding, and has also suffered from high levels of deforestation, which some climate experts say both contributes to and exacerbates the impacts of climate change.

Just before his arrival in Indonesia, Obama was in India, promising to work together on climate change mitigation. According to the White House, India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Obama reaffirmed their countries’ commitments to “taking vigorous action to address climate change” through clean energy initiatives.

Obama’s climate change discussions overseas contrast with the conversations — or perhaps, lack thereof — on Capitol Hill, where the House now has a new class of climate skeptics. Environmentalists and climate scientists have been bracing for an attack since mid-term elections last week, when a largely climate-skeptic Republican Party took control of the House.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund found that nearly all Republican candidates in congressional and gubernatorial races disputed the science on global warming, and none supported measures to mitigate it, reported in a recent article in The Washington Post. Moreover, questions abound whether Republicans will shut down the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which was launched by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and to bring attention to climate issues. Ranking GOP members have already made threats about investigating the EPA and climate science.

The GOP’s midterm victory effectively ends the two-year effort to pass sweeping climate legislation. Meanwhile, the U.S. appears dedicated to spending hundreds of millions to combat climate change in nations half a world away.


Beebe outlines “human security” at book launch


Lt. Col. Shannon Beebe speaks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars about his new book which describes a different view of security.

WASHINGTON — Lt. Col. Shannon Beebe, Assistant Army Attaché for the U.S. Africa Command station, spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars about a new security paradigm that emphasizes environmental security and global partnerships, the focus of his new book, The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace. Beebe joined co-author and London professor Mary Kaldor on Oct. 19 for the book launch. Listen to audio from the talk here. … Continue Reading


Friday event: Working with climate change

Friday, the New America Foundation is hosting the authors of “Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in a Fast-Changing World” by Aron Cramer and Zackary Karabell. Cramer is president and CEO of Business for Social Responsibility, a research and consulting company that focuses on sustainable business strategies. Karabell is president of Twice River Research and a senior adviser to BSR.

The stories I’m working on for our project focus on the security of our way of life here at home, so I like to see what smart people write about how businesses are handling … Continue Reading


Military opens discussion on energy security

Navy Vice Adm. William R Burke

Vice Adm. William R Burke, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, speaking Oct. 13 about the Navy's energy conservation

The Department of Defense celebrated its efforts to minimize energy consumption last week at the Pentagon. (Read about the panel and events here.) Considering that DoD accounts for more than 90 percent of the federal government’s oil consumption, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen put it best: “It’s taken us far too long to get to this point.” Read his speech

Moving from the “burn it if you’ve got it” mentality has been hard for the military but recent emphasis on the many sketchy countries the U.S. buys oil from has helped with the transition. And the US military in particular has a real opportunity here to lead. Again, as Mullen put it, “We can either lead the change or be changed by the leadership of others.”