The Anglo Saxon media continue to give a strangely muted coverage to the French Yellow Vest protests. A burning barricade by night with the cathedral of Notre Dame in the background looks impressive for five seconds on the evening news, but – violent protests in France – so what?
Last Saturday a retired champion boxer was filmed beating back two policemen with his bare fists on a pedestrian bridge in Paris. He was obeying Queensberry rules, and they were armed with shields, helmets and Ninja Turtle body armour. He and his wife had just been gassed in a legally declared protest that was inexplicably stopped in mid flow by the police. He’s been arrested and faces up to five years in prison.
The other clip run non-stop on TV news for the past 48 hours shows a forklift truck smashing through the outer doors of a ministry compound. The minister, who was led to safety by the back door; was the one who described the protesters as “fag smoking drivers of diesel engine cars.”
Trivial events, but the storming of the Bastille was trivial (it was almost empty, no-one was hurt or arrested.) But it’s a hundred little details like these which explain why the Yellow Vest movement still has the support of 55% of the public, and why it won’t go away. Before Christmas Macron threw ten billion euros at the yellow vests, using the worst methods of phoney socialism (not a rise in the minimum wage, as he announced, but government-funded salary “top-ups” which subsidise stingy employers) thus breaking the EU rules on budget deficits and destroying for ever his hope of leading a reunited “modernised” Europe. And still the Yellow Vests keep on coming, like Zulus at Isandlwana. After this defeat, Macron was back with his televised New Year’s Eve broadcast, castigating the “spokesmen for a hate-filled mob.” Luckily, Macron, unlike our own dear Queen, is politically impotent. (OK, he can bomb Syria, dissolve parliament, or declare a state of emergency. But apart from that…)
This article was prompted by the government’s latest move, an official declaration by the Prime Minister tonight that they’ll be back next Saturday, with police reinforcements and new weapons (undefined) and new laws in the offing, making it illegal to be on a demonstration that hasn’t received prior approval, and a list of banned demonstrators like the one which exists for dangerous Islamist militants.
The prime minister devoted the entire ten minute interview to measures of repression. There was not a word about the great national debate which begins in a week’s time and which is intended to resolve the crisis. Commenters afterwards were more than usually sober. The director of the Communist paper l’Humanité, and an ex-minister in two previous conservative governments (who has a criminal record for “complicity in actions of armed violence” committed by members of an extreme right group he had founded) agreed that the government was marching blindly on the road to revolution, and, being sensible folk from the far left and far right, they weren’t happy about it.
Now on to things climatical. I’ve just come across this article from the Wall Street Journal by Emmanuel Macron and Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness from December 2nd. The Yellow Vests had already killed off the carbon tax by then, but luckily ex-banker Macron had another ace up his sleeve.
Mobilize the Private Sector to Avert a Climate Crash
The 24th annual United Nations Climate Change conference begins Monday in Katowice, Poland. We have a formidable task before us. New data show that climate change may be even worse than we thought when the Paris Climate Agreement was ratified three years ago. Our objective is to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and down to zero by 2050.
The world only has a few years to change course. The planet is on track to heat up 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. This could raise sea levels by more than a meter and—coupled with increased increased coral bleaching events—render some islands unlivable. Extreme droughts, floods, wildfires and famine will occur with increasing frequency across the globe, threatening population centers like San Francisco, Bombay, Ho Chi Minh City and Abidjan. Climate change could also cause the migration of more than 140 million people worldwide.
In September, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres gave our two countries a mandate to accelerate “climate finance”—investments that will promote green energy, mitigate the impact of climate change, and help the most vulnerable countries adapt. Our aim is to mobilize public and private actors to provide additional funding and develop solutions to the climate crisis.
While government leadership on climate is essential, 70% of world economic activity is in the private sector. Humanity’s ability to correct course depends on how quickly companies adapt. The ones that will thrive in the long run are those that innovate green solutions and create jobs for a low-carbon future.
The One Planet Summit initiative, launched December 2017 in Paris, shows how a coalition of state and nonstate actors can build more-resilient societies. An example of its success: the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator, which has gathered 27 countries and 40 global companies to help fund renewable energy projects in the Caribbean.
In July, the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Initiative also made significant progress. Six of the world’s largest asset owners, representing more than 3% of financial markets, published a set of principles they are using to factor climate issues into their investment decisions. This has increased demand for a commercial response to climate change across the investment chain.
In the coming months, we call on governments, the global business community and financial executives to work with us to help build on these successes with three objectives in mind: First, mobilize public investments in combination with private capital flows to support vulnerable countries and communities. Second, ask companies how they manage climate risks while anticipating the opportunities of a low-carbon future. Third, promote standardized methods for climate-related disclosure and investment decision-making.
The private sector must be prepared to get in the front seat with world governments to avert a climate crash. In September 2019, major government and corporate leaders will convene for another U.N.-sponsored climate conference in New York. Let’s seize this opportunity to help land planet Earth safely.
I’ve quoted it in full to give its full flavour, while underlining the bits I found interesting, either because they were fake news, or because they were only too true, so you can skim the rest if you like.
First the two fake bits:
Climate change may be even worse than we thought
Well, the solution is clear: Stop thinking about it. It’s like Zeno’s paradox. As long as you’re hung up on the maths of infinite series, like Zeno’s arrow, you’ll never get anywhere. Integration is the solution, like Leibnitz said. The green pseudo-left has never got the hang of integration, poor things. Only a snowflake fears a temperature rise of a twentieth of a degree a year.
The planet is on track to heat up 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. This could raise sea levels by more than a meter.
That’s 0.5°C per decade and 30 mm per year, respectively three times and ten times higher than the highest rises ever recorded. Macron and Holness are predicting hockey sticks the like of which have never been seen in the history of exponential fearmongering.
Kingston Jamaica isn’t bothered, since it’s 9m above sea level, though last year, according to Al Jazeera, there were serious flash floods in Jamaica, with Kingston airport reporting 185 mm of rain in one day, while, according to Wiki, The1986 Jamaica floods killed 50 people in the country, comparable to flooding that occurred in June 1979, so, you see, no-one’s safe, especially if they‘re living in the last century.
France is in greater danger. The suburbs of Paris were flooded last year and the year before, and will probably be again this year. But that’s because of a lack of reservoirs up river, and it would cost a billion to build a new reservoir. (It took French TV news four weeks to find a hydrologist to interview last winter. Who cares about risk, about measures to stop thousands of people’s houses from being flooded, when there’s climate change to worry about?)
Now for the (presumably) true stuff:
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres gave our two countries a mandate to accelerate “climate finance”—investments that will promote green energy, mitigate the impact of climate change, and help the most vulnerable countries adapt.
Why only two countries, accounting respectively for 2% and 0.02% of world GNP? Presumably because they were the only ones the UN Secretary General blessed with his mandate. Presumably because France was the only developed (annex 1) nation willing to sign up, and probably felt shy about asking other major undeveloped (non-annex 1) countries to sign – countries like China, India, South Korea, or Saudi Arabia – who are only too keen to see the colour of the trillion dollars per decade they’ve been promised in the Paris Agreement.
Better to sign up with Jamaica, which is basically a steep and sunny blue mountain sticking up out of the ever-rising sea, with a GNP a hundredth of that of France, so their climate mitigation won’t cost too much to finance, and which is a neighbour of four French islets which inexplicably remain part of France in a post colonial world. Not to mention French-speaking Haiti, whose inhabitants continued to pay reparations to France for the criminal rebellion of their enslaved great-great-great-great-great grandparents in 1781 well into the twentieth century. A few million euros to the most influential country in the English-speaking Caribbean might sweeten relations in the region, especially if it involves saving coral from bleaching and stopping hurricanes in their tracks.
The rest of the true stuff speaks for itself, but I draw your attention to the statements that “70% of world economic activity is in the private sector” and the bit about “Six of the world’s largest asset owners, representing more than 3% of financial markets, published a set of principles they are using to factor climate issues into their investment decisions.”
Macron may be incapable of influencing events in the country he was elected to govern, but he’s still head of state of the world’s fifth economic power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and so well placed to be treated as an equal (more or less) by the six people whose combined economic power is, according to Macron, three times that of France (private sector economic activity being twice that of governments, remember.) And those six people don’t have to deal with (or factor in) electors, the European Commission, a self-righteous Frau Merkel, or the political fallout from a boxer and father of three beating the shit out of France’s finest on Youtube and being threatened with a long jail sentence. By Gad, the world has gotten more complex since the Zulu wars.
Now to the World Bank, where, according to Zero Hedge:
Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, abruptly announced that he will be leaving his post on February 1, more than three years ahead of the end of his term..
“It has been a great honour to serve as President of this remarkable institution..” Kim said in a statement on Monday. “The work of the World Bank Group is more important now than ever as …problems like climate change, pandemics, famine and refugees continue to grow in both their scale and complexity,” he added.
…In an email to employees of the bank, Kim said he’ll join a private firm focused on infrastructure investments in developing countries.
“The opportunity to join the private sector was unexpected, but I’ve concluded that this is the path through which I will be able to make the largest impact on major global issues like climate change..” Kim said.
With six people representing more than 3% of the world’s financial markets making important decisions on a climate investment of a trillion per decade guaranteed by the Paris Agreement, it makes sense for the President of the World Bank to realise that there are greener pastures elsewhere. How long before President Macron makes the same decision? The Yellow Jackets have one unifying slogan: “Macron, Resign!”The French commentariat reject this demand as absurd because, in their blinkered view, there’s nowhere else to go, because there’s no-one more powerful than a French President. Yet Macron himself, in an article in the Wall Street Journal, indicates that there are far more powerful positions for the taking.
As the Yellow Vests prepare to break down the gates of the Elysée Palace, Macron has perhaps prepared his backdoor exit.