Climate change

Statement COP26: Challenges of Climate Change

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4 October 2021, Vienna; download the statement here

An NGO statement to the 2021 UN climate change conference, COP 26, in Glasgow

For many years the scientific community, the Member States of the United Nations, and civil society have discussed the impact on our planet of climate change and identified measures needed to protect the world in which we live.

To date, the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have convened 25 conferences. They have signed and ratified decisions, protocols and agreements on the reduction of CO2.

Measures and actions to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change need to be taken without delay. The undersigned NGOs admitted with Observer Status by the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC and joined by other NGOs in Consultative Status with the United Nations thus urge the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC to act promptly on the following challenges:

1) Mitigation

The scientific community worldwide should coordinate research and innovation so as to draw up procedures to reduce CO2 emissions. Systems need to be developed that are sufficiently robust to operate under varying conditions, e.g., excessive drought or flooding, changes in flora and fauna due to rising temperatures, and the loss of biodiversity. The ultimate aim should be to halt global warming and achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

2) Adaptation

Recent months have shown that the impact of climate change is palpable on every continent and in every region, and is driven by the physical environment, such as mountains, oceans, and permafrost. Therefore, local decisions are critical to effective adaptation to changing weather and climate conditions. The regional focus should be on planning, land use, settlements and infrastructure, as well as forestry and agriculture. The global rise in temperatures and the related changes in the spread of disease pose an inordinate challenge for public health systems. Moreover, it is evident that with regard to energy systems, limiting changes to electric vehicles alone will not suffice.

3) Participation and cooperation

Action plans for adaptation may result in significant changes to regional patterns of settlement and lifestyles and may have a disproportionate effect on marginalised populations including minorities, women and children. New formats for democratic participation are thus called for. They should be so designed as to inform all stakeholders and secure their participation in the decision-making processes. Only if the consistency of such measures is upheld can aims be reached ensuring that the most marginalised groups do not bear the brunt of the climate crisis.

On the international level, UN cooperation in particular needs to be reliable and accountable. International treaties and conventions must be respected, reports must be verifiable, obligations implemented without delay, and enforcement transparent. Matters would be improved where an international panel set up empowered to monitor progress independently and make reluctant states confront their responsibilities.

4) Financial frameworks

The costs for all necessary measures and actions will be very high, yet far lower than the costs of damages incurred in the case of “business as usual”. Countries should provide sustainable, long-term financial plans, which may require modifying tax systems. An international fund – administered by the UN – should provide assistance to the developing countries.

The challenges posed by climate change are global and cannot be successfully met by countries or regions in isolation, and even less by competition between nations. Cooperation and transparency are critical and indispensable to solving climate change.

The statement is also supported by CoNGO

Submitted by NGOs in Observer Status with the Conference of Parties of UNFCCC:

  1. Association pour le Développement Durable (ADD)
  2. Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD)
  3. Haiti Cholera Research Funding Foundation, Inc. USA
  4. International Council of Women (ICW)
  5. Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Inc.
  6. Nurses Across the Borders (NAB)
  7. UNANIMA International
  8. Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
  9. United Methodist Church—General Board of Church and Society (UMC-GBCS)
  10. VIVAT International

Endorsed by NGOs in Consultative, Associated and Observer relations with the United Nations:

  1. Abraham’s Children Foundation
  2. African Action on Aids (AAA)
  3. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS)
  4. Arab Society for Academic Freedoms(ASAF)
  5. Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs
  6. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  7. Asociación Latinoamericana para Los Derechos Humanos (ALDHU)
  8. Association of Presbyterian Women Aotearoa New Zealand
  9. Awaz Centre for Development Services (AwazCDS-Pakistan)
  10. Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI)
  11. Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO)
  12. Congregations of St. Joseph
  13. Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute (CBCI)
  14. Dianova International
  16. Election Network in the Arab Region(ENAR)
  17. GCS International
  18. Global Action on Aging (GAN)
  19. Graduate Women International (GWI)
  20. Initiatives of Change
  21. Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Loreto Generalate
  22. International Alliance of Women (IAW)
  23. International Council on Environmental Economics and Development (ICEED)
  24. International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)
  25. International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)
  26. International Federation of Women in Legal Careers (FIFCJ)
  27. International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
  28. International Inner Wheel (IIW)
  29. International Presentation Association, The (IPA)
  30. International Progress Organization (IPO)
  31. Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)
  32. League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS)
  33. Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (ODVV)
  34. Pan Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA)
  35. Pax Romana
  36. Servas International
  37. Sisters of Charity Federation
  38. Society for International Development (SID)
  39. Socialist International Women (SIW)
  40. Soroptimist International (SI)
  41. Temple of Understanding
  42. Tiye International
  43. Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
  44. Verein zur Förderung der Völkerverständigung
  45. Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI)
  46. Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO)
  47. Women’s Missionary Society of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
  48. World Association for Psychological Rehabilitation (WAPR)
  49. World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)
  50. WUZDA Ghana
  51. Zonta International

The statement above was drafted and finalized by the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development in Vienna and was officially endorsed by the following NGO members with ECOSOC consultative status: Graduate Women International, Initiatives of Change, International Inner Wheel, International Federation of Business and Professional Women, Pax Romana, Servas International, Soroptimist International, Society for International Development, Socialist International Women, Verein zur Förderung der Völkerverständigung, Women’s Federation for World Peace International, Women’s International Zionist Organisation, and World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Youth – make it better!

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Our youth skips school and demonstrates instead. They complain that the Austrian government is doing too little delaying climate change. Politics is not easy, but undoubtedly they could do more. Today’s Youth in Austria, for the most part, is materialistic and demanding: they should limit their needs under the motto – Make It Better!

Roland Leithenmayr VFV

Air resistance increases with the speed of the car!

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The market share of SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) is growing. SUV drivers are looking down on others demonstrating their social status. One’s safety is certainly highly motivating for a person to acquire an SUV, even though the fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions are high and do not relieve the climate change.  The SUV is technically efficient but usually bulkier and consumes more energy and resources. The big front of SUVs dramatically increases the air resistance of the vehicle compared to streamlined cars. From physics lessons, we know that air resistance increases quadratically with speed. Accelerating, the speed of the SUV from 130 to 140 km / h, increases the air resistance over 20%.

Source: Christoph E. Mandl, Lernen S‘ in bißschen Physik, Herr Minister! Der Standard Sa/Do., 16/17 February 2019.

Roland Leithenmayr VfV

Warming of 2 degrees Celsius achievable?

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The IPCC (Weltklimarat) comes to the conclusion that even a warming of two degrees Celsius has severe consequences for our planet and with the currently planned measures of two-degree-celsius-limit cannot be achieved. The focus is therefore on urgency. Ms. Alzbeta Klein, Director of Climate Business at the World Bank Group’s International Financial Corporation (IFC) mentioned in an interview in the Wiener Zeitung 27/28 October 2018 “Climate change is a financial risk!” two technologies to mitigate the climate change problem: one is the storage of solar energy (including for the household) and the other Off-shore-wind power. For both, the World Bank Group is launching a $ 5 billion investment program. Ms. Klein notes a lot of movement at the corporate level citing several reasons: leadership vision and increasing pressure from customers. In summary, Ms. Klein enumerates three levers:  visionary business leaders, a government that takes the climate change seriously, and finally the consumer who demands a greenhouse,green car, and food with a good carbon footprint.

Roland Leithenmayr VFV 

The decrease of fossil emission is too slow

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IIASA (1) criticise the assumption of international policymaker that heavy implementation of negative emission technology later can offset the slow decrease of fossil fuel emission today.  IIASA proposes that the policymaker “…need a broader range of scenarios as they seek to limit climate change to below 2°C above the pre-industrial level .”  

(1) IIASA – International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, is located in Laxenburg near Vienna, Austria. IIASA uses systems analysis to research the critical issues of environmental, economic and technological change we face today.

(2) Thinking outside the box on climate mitigation, Option Summer 2018, page 5.

Further reading: Obersteiner M, Bednar J, Wagner F, Gasser T, Ciais P, Forsell 

N, Havlik P, Valin H, et al. (2018), How to spend a dwindling greenhouse gas budget.Nature Climate []

Roland Leithenmayr VFV

The unsustainable history  of SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle)

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SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) are becoming increasingly popular – a paradox!

Before US car companies developed the new car type- the SUV- there were ingenious constructions of cars with fuel consumption of about 1.2 liters per 100 km. This was in line with rising mobility demands, dwindling supplies of oil, and growing concerns about climate change. Although the SUVs required on average 10 times as much fuel, the US government favored the SUV, offered tax incentives and stopped promoting the further development of fuel-efficient and electric cars. The SUV was a triumphal development,  still not ending.  Moreover, the US government called on its citizens to buy a house outside the city and offered low down payment and interest on the loans. The author of this posting himself acquired a house near Philadelphia, where the bank granted him a 120% loan with a low-interest rate and, also, put a large tax-exempt SUV in front of the garage door. The author lived with the feeling of being able to afford everything in the USA. There were hardly any reasons to pay much attention to “sustainability” and environment. One looked fascinated at global finance capitalism and was annoyed only by the outrageous bonuses to the acrobats of the financial circus. These magicians wrapped the mortgages in Christmas paper and sold them on to banks around the world to reduce the risk of US state-owned mortgage lenders (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). In 2007 and 2008, the mortgage bank crisis broke out, which in turn disrupted the global financial system. The investment banks, which were commissioned by the US government, bet for themselves that the mortgages become worthless. Back to SUV! The aforementioned urban sprawl and the tax-subsidized fuel-cutting SUV combined with the shock of crude oil prices in 2007 and 2008 and mortgage interest rates triggered the crisis, which can be outlined as follows (Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Factor Five, The Formula One sustained growth, 2009): 2007: world oil prices go crazy -> long-distance commuting becomes a nightmare in the US -> the pumped-up houses lose value -> subordinate mortgages turn into financial junk -> mortgage banks crash. This triggers an avalanche, many car stocks are scrap. Over the next 20 years, the shift to electric motors and digitization will lead to further economic upheavals that require a transformation of capitalism (destructive innovation, Joseph Schumpeter).

Roland Leithenmayr VfV


President Trump turned his back on the Paris agreement.

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In November 2016 the Paris Accord became the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement and framework for countries to adopt clean energy and collectively mitigate global warming. 

On June 1, 2017, in a Rose Garden speech, President Trump turned his back on the Paris agreement. Trump said he represented “the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” 

Apparently, the citizens of Pittsburgh hadn’t been consulted. 

“As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy, and future,” tweeted Mayor Bill Peduto. He then issued an executive order recommitting the city government to its goals of cutting energy use by half and sourcing all its energy from renewable sources by 2030. 

Trump may be out, but two hundred and forty-seven US cities are in, including nine of the ten largest cities in America – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose – along with hundreds of additional cities large and small in both red and blue states.

In the Climate Mayors statement, the mayors claim that not only will their cities individually adopt the Paris accord, but they will also work as a group to push for even stronger climate action. “We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create the 21st-century clean energy economy,” reads the statement. “The world cannot wait – and neither will we.”

As we build, so shall we live,

Kirstin Miller, Executive Director

Kirstin Miller

Executive Director at Ecocity Builders, San Francisco Institute of Architecture


Larger project in Vienna rejected because of climatechange !

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For the first time, a large-scale project in Austria was rejected by the Federal Administrative Court (BVWG) referencing to climate protection targets and ground consumption. It is the third runway at the Vienna Airport. This causes clashes between the supporters and opponents of this third track. The advocates see the danger that the Vienna airport will no longer be able to fulfill the unique feature of “the gate between West into the East” and that the economic- and employment situation in Vienna and around it will be negatively affected. The opponents are glad that this practice will lead further stops for large projects in Austria and abroad. They point to the 21st climate conference of the United Nations (COP21) and to the voluntary reduction plans (NDCs- Nationally Determined Contribution), and that the emissions of Austria have not declined since 1990. The author of this posting recommends applying the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach (PPP – Prosperity, Planet, and People) and the 17 SDGs to accomplish a fair evaluation of projects such as the third runway of the Airport Vienna. It shall be noted that the three dimension of the TBL shall be treated equally and balanced and that among the factors of the TBL as well as between the 17 SDGs exist dependencies.

Roland Leithenmayr, FVF

Post-Capitalism and Climate Change as Non-Zero-Sum-Game

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The demand to transform current systems seems to be a depressing diagnosis. It takes a holistic package were almost everyone gains by those desired transformations. The problem is, – contrary to the holistic solution -, that attempts are made to solve each problem isolated and the suggested solutions are zero-sum games. It’s a political, social, ecological and economical arrangement that one set of players would gain at the expense of another set.  Because the prospective losers could be a powerful nations, multinational corporations or influential stakeholder, they are not willing to negotiate adequately or refuse it entirely fearing they would be losers. To break this deadlock, a non-zero-sum game has to be started; therefore, the suggested solution is instead to solve each problem by itself (individually) applying the holistic approach with the chance everybody wins.

Previous game theories based on the assumption that one party’s loss was always the adversary gain. John Nash, 1928-2015, he shared the Nobel Prize with two fellow game theory pioneers 1994 (depicted in the hit 2001 Hollywood film “A Beautiful Mind”), developed the Nash Equilibrium where each party gets the best deal possible under the circumstances and is now used to underpin everything from nuclear arms talks to developing contract negotiations tactics (Source: Obituaries, The troubled mathematician who inspired A Beautiful Mind, The Week, June 5, 2015, Volume 15, Issue 722).

Here is an amusing example of the Nash Equilibrium as shown in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”: Five girls meet in the evening in a bar five lads. All ten persons are interested in making an acquaintance, so there are ten persons with the same objective. One of the five girls looks very beautiful and all five young men desire to have a date with her. According to the theory of John Nash, none of those young men will achieve his objective. The beautiful girl would, if at all, select no more than one of them, but probably none, because it feels obliged to her girlfriends who are not cherished by the boys. To preserve her status in the group, the sought-after girl will do anything not to be separated from her group. So no one will achieve his or her goal: the girls who want to make the acquaintance, not, and the young men not because they interfere with each other due to their mutual interests. John Nash calls this  a “non-cooperative equilibrium“: five possible relations, bit five times a failure.

It seems that in this “Nash Equilibrium” are stuck the negotiators at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 being held in Le Bourget near Paris, November 30 to December 11. In case of post-capitalism, the economists (or self-proclaimed one), politicians and well-meaning people hinder and denigrate each other at every given opportunity at low level by discussions about the transformation of the capitalism or about the climate change. In the case of economics, the conclusion is that the originators of the well-known schools of economic suffered less of a tunnel vision that some of their followers today: they caught in the Nash Equilibrium! (Source: Josef Taus, Oliver Tanzer, Umverteilung Neu, Ideen für die Zukunft von Wirtschaft und Finanzsystem, 10. Kapitel, Chancen der Synthese, Plädoyer für eine neue Sicht der Ökonomie).

Although the Nash Equilibrium appears mathematically and abstract, it should be applied in conjunction with synthesis. Maybe a reader of this Post has an idea how this “non-cooperative equilibrium” could be bypassed whether in the negotiations in Paris or to create an adequate system for the Post-Capitalism?



The Bad and the Good: Oil Companies

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When it comes to climate change, there are the Do-Gooders who categorize typically between the good and the bad. The Good, the NGOs and politic who are committed to environmental protection and the Bad primarily the neo-liberal businesses and multinational corporations, – and very evil they oil companies. These are now trying to improve their image, and ten (10) of them support the global climate agreement: global warming of max. 2 degrees Celsius. These ten oil companies campaign for a global CO2 trading system. The immediate actions would be the application of (innovative) technologies, such as “Carbon Capture and Storage”. And the restriction of gas flaring at oil fields, – blasting around 300 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, corresponding to the driving of 77 million cars a year (total of 1.2 billion cars worldwide). Greenpeace – an environmental organization – views this critically: the initiative has no concrete objectives. US oil companies which are not involved in this project assert that there are (innovations, state of the art) technologies available to solve this problem in short-medium term.

According to recent studies there will be up to 2.7 billion cars on the Earth in the year 2050; and therefore, 8 billion tons of carbon dioxide are projected to be discharged annually. Whether by then so many fossil fuels will still be present is questionable.

Roland Leithenmayr VfV