Clinton: Climate needs cash

2011-09-21 14:40

New York - Former US President Bill Clinton said on Tuesday that the success of the alternative energy movement is hampered by a lack of financing.

His comments came as world leaders attending his annual philanthropic conference expressed fears about rising seas.

The ex-president's three-day Clinton Global Initiative for VIPs with deep pockets began on Tuesday with a frank discussion about addressing global climate challenges, co-hosted by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and President Jacob Zuma.

There was a sense of frustration among the world leaders over the failure to create a legally binding world agreement on carbon emissions.

"We have seen much less progress than we hoped for," said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Proper funding

Pointing to Germany's successful creation of solar energy jobs as a model for other nations to emulate, Clinton said the main issue with green energy is a lack of proper funding.

"This has to work economically," he said. "You have to come up with the money on the front end."

Clinton's talk of renewable energy financing comes as Republicans are criticising the Obama administration for awarding billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for such projects, including a $528m loan to a now-bankrupt California solar panel maker.

Fremont, California-based Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1 100 employees.

It was the first renewable energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a stimulus law programme to encourage green energy and was frequently touted by the Obama administration as a model.

Rising seas are a matter of life and death for small island nations, Zuma said.

"Not theoretical, not in the future, now," he said. "And they can't understand why we're failing to realise that."

Affected countries

Noting that the Kyoto Protocol on climate change is set to expire next year, Calderon said progress must be made toward establishing new rules at the UN convention on climate change in Durban in November.

Calderon said he is concerned that the world's economic problems are overshadowing the need for action on climate change.

"Last year we had the worst rains ever in Mexico, and this year we are living with the worst drought ever in Mexico," he said.

"I know that the world has a lot of troubles, but we are still facing the most challenging problem for human kind in the future, and that is climate change."

Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, said rising seas would submerge one-fifth of her country, displacing more than 30 million people. Clinton said the next countries most likely to be affected by climate change are places that are inland and hot - such as Mali, a landlocked nation in western Africa.

"A few years ago, after the south Asian tsunami, I spent a lot of time in the Maldives," Clinton said. "I think it's quite possible that the Maldives won't be here in 30 or 40 years."

Clinton said Caribbean nations are microcosms of the problems associated with combating climate change. Every Caribbean nation should be energy-independent, he said, by generating solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Government spending

"But only Trinidad has natural gas," Clinton said. "Everybody else imports heavy oil to burn old-fashioned generators at high cost."

Other leaders who participated in Tuesday's panel included European Commission President Jose Barroso, Slovenian President Danilo Turk, Tillman Thomas, the prime minister of Grenada, and Cisse Mariam Kaidama Sidibe, the prime minister of Mali.

Last year's GCI conference generated nearly 300 new commitments valued at $6bn to tackle major global issues from poverty and disease to climate change.

This year, the conference is happening during an especially rancorous debate in Washington over government spending.

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama scrubbed a clean-air regulation that aimed to reduce health-threatening smog, yielding to bitterly protesting businesses and congressional Republicans who complained the rule would kill jobs in America's ailing economy.

"We've got to somehow involve the imagination of ordinary people," Clinton said. "They have to understand that this is not a burden, it's an opportunity."

Other panels on the first day of the conference touched on subjects ranging from women and jobs in technology fields to the challenges and opportunities facing the world's increasingly urbanised population living in a growing number of cities.

Cash donations

In a discussion on disaster preparedness, speakers emphasised the needs for preventative action such as improved building standards to mitigate the impact of hurricanes and earthquakes.

They also spoke about how to best help when a disaster does occur, in terms of the public outpouring of donations and goodwill that usually follows.

It's important for people to realise what can really help, like cash donations, and what isn't as useful, like medications that end up not being usable or clothes that victims of disasters don't want or can't use, said Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator for the UN.

When well-meaning people send things that aren't usable, aid agencies can waste precious time and money disposing of them.

"Let's really check what's needed and make sure we're helping rather than being part of the problem," she said.

  • Marius - 2011-09-21 15:22

    Someone should ask Clinton how much it would cost to stop solar cycles, if he can fund a program to stop the sun from going through its natural cycles. Then we can surly stop climate change. Otherwise it’s a big waste of time. The earth didn't need humans to create the 6 major ice ages. the earth didn't need humans for the global warnings that was required to recover out of each one, the earth didn't need humans to create global warming to recover from the last ice age about 20 000 years ago. The fact that the earth for 66% of its existence never had ice caps is not because of humans. Half the earth surface was covered in ice the last ice age, who complained when that was melting? But one thing is for sure, global organisations needs global funding, it has nothing to do with climate change.

      Ernst - 2011-09-21 15:48

      It's a fallacy that the sun is the cause of global warming. Solar activity has decreased as of late, yet the temperature on earth is going up. Do you honestly think that the scientists, which are saying we are responsible, would have been so stupid to not look at the sun as a possible cause? So you are right and the scientists with PHD's, actively publishing in peer reviewed scientific journals, are wrong? Leave the science for the scientists.

      CTScientist - 2011-09-21 16:12

      @ Marius: "Someone should ask Clinton how much it would cost to stop solar cycles, if he can fund a program to stop the sun from going through its natural cycles" Even though precession, obliquity, and eccentricity are well understood it has been clear for over two decades that these cycles are not the sole causes of climate change. There are multiple positive feedback mechanisms which interact with each other. No, anthropogenic influence was not necessary for the countless ice ages that have preceded the LGM circa 24-18ka. However, anthropogenic influence has caused a paleoecological first: the highest methane and carbon levels EVER RECORDED in the atmosphere. These two gasses are CRITICAL in the feedback mechanisms which interact with the climate and since they've never been seen before, we're not very sure how badly we're going to get screwed because of it. To make matters significant worse, the model projects from industry is that by 2025 there will be more carbon in the atmosphere than EVER BEFORE. And if that doesn't scare you, then you clearly know NOTHING about climatology and should cease from making uneducated comments. Yes, variability is part of the Earth's unique climatic systems. However there are some aspects which are currently under anthropogenic influence which can directly cause climatic variation to go into uncharted areas which could have dramatic consequences. Imagine the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation were to shut down as a result?!?!

      Johan van Zyl - 2011-09-21 16:20

      @Ernst - I know of "peers" in that report who opose it! That report is not worth the paper it's written on. Solar activity can decrease steadily for hunderds of years before temperatures follow suit, simply because of the vast volumes of the oceans. The long and short of it is that man-made global warming argues the effect of warming, CO2 as a cause - and therein is the flaw. I find it amusing that those who support man-made global warming theory turns to aggression and attack people's character when they fail to provide evidence.

      CTScientist - 2011-09-21 16:26

      @ Johan: Do you want to name drop please? And the issue isn't about "man made global warming" - it is actually about climate variability which now has significant anthropogenic input. This input is causing significant changes to the atmosphere (namely viz gas concentrations) and it is well documented that such atmospheric composition is directly involved in global feedback processes.

  • Brainbow - 2011-09-21 17:02

    Take a walk outside into the beautiful sunlight. It's hot!

  • Ernst - 2011-09-21 17:29

    @Johan van Zyl: Yes Johan, of all scientists that are actively publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, between 98 and 97 percent agree that we are responsible for the current climatic changes. So you are going with the 3 %?

      Johan van Zyl - 2011-09-26 09:58

      You've got it wrong mate. Go research the earth's climate history. It was much warmer in the holoscene period some 8000 years ago. It was even warmer in the medieval warm period than now when vineyards flourised in the norhtern parts of England. Most of the warming of the last 200 years happened before WWII my friend. You have some research to do! Also take note: 1. The IPCC is NOT an enviromental body, but a political one. Question their motives like you question me. 2. Those 2500+ "scientist" having their names on the report actually comprise of a small number of scientists, many who are in disagreement. A vast majority of those reviewers include politicians, corporates, etc. 3. CO2 is vital for life on earth, and a very weak greenhouse gas. Warming causes Co2, not the other way around. To understand this process, you need to study the ocean.

      Shistirrer - 2011-09-26 10:10

      Ernst, what is the source of your statistics? IMO Johan is absolutely correct. Please read up the letter by 100 leading scientists and climatologists (some of them Nobel laureates), sent to Ban Ki Moon of the UN. We are being duped by the world's governments. It's all a money making scam, and an effort to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels because they are running out, and the governments are too chicken to tell it the way it is. I have no problem with us looking for viable alternative energy sources, but I HATE being lied to.

  • Badballie - 2011-09-22 13:26

    Mr. Clinton needs to explain party policy to us as rising sea levels and solar cycles, not to mention the point made by Marius about the earth change cycle having nothing to do with human interference. So Mr. Clinton 1) explain rising sea levels that only effect certain countries? Indonesian is and has been under water for the past month at least, the 1 meter "rise in sea level" only seems to be effecting that part of the world why no increase in sea level in other areas.......surely sea level is a universal standard therefor a 1 meter rise on 1 coast will be matched by a 1 meter rise internationally something that isn't happening, why not just admit Indonesia is sinking? 2) Sun cycles have been happening on a regular basis since man crawled out of the sea (well according to science anyway) what has changed in the last 100 years that will cause such a large and deadly reaction by the sun? 3) Global warming is punted as a man made anomaly which is driving us into another ice age....please explain how if since the dawn of creation we have had 6 ice ages at fairly regular interval and the next or approaching one is within its expected time parameters we could have in any way caused it? @CTSCIENTIST:- Although you make some good points your continuous referral to "Highest Levels ever recorded" overlooks the obvious fact that humans knowledge spans less than a blink of an eye in terms of the earths true history, and "highest ever" means nothing at all in the history of the planet

      Ernst - 2011-09-22 14:24

      Please visit the site: "" to find answers to your questions. This site debunks the common climate myths that deniers are perpetuating. The people running this site base their arguments on real science.

      Shistirrer - 2011-09-26 10:27

      Ernst, don't believe everything you read online, or in Huisgenoot. Think for yourself for a moment. It may change your life.

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