The Climate Talks: Quotes From Women in Copenhagen

Lucinda Marshall

From impressions of Obama's handling of climate change to effects on women worldwide, a roundup of quotes from key players in the debate.

As pressure to address climate change increases, long-simmering debates
on the connections between population and environment have been
renewed. Historically, concerns have been expressed about the impact of “population” policies on human rights. 
Rewire welcomes open debate on these
issues and encourages both comments on this and other articles as well
as submissions from other authors.

This article was originally published on Feminist Peace Network, and is reprinted with permission.

Activist Naomi Klein
kicked off the Klimaforum, the alternative people’s gathering being
held in conjunction with the Copenhagen Climate Change talks by
pointing out that the official talks had official corporate sponsors,
which says it all when it comes to integrity:

Naomi also had critical words to say about Hopenhagen
and its branding extravaganza. “The globe has Siemens logo on the
bottom and the whole event is sponsored by Coke. That is a
capitalization of hope but Klimaforum09 is where the real hope lies,”
she said.

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“Klimaforum is not about giving charity to the developing world its
about taking responsibility and the industrialized countries cleaning
up our own mess,” she concluded.

In a followup article, she writes,

A highlight of my time at COP15 so far was a
conversation with the extraordinary Nigerian poet and activist Nnimmo
Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. We talked about
the fact that some of the toughest activists here still pull their
punches when it comes to Obama, even as his climate team works
tirelessly to do away with the Kyoto Protocol, replacing it with much
weaker piecemeal targets.

If George W. Bush had pulled some of the things Obama has done here,
he would have been burned in effigy on the steps of the convention
center. With Obama, however, even the most timid actions are greeted as
historic breakthroughs, or at least a good start.

“Everyone says: ‘give Obama time,’” Bassey told me. “But when it
comes to climate change, there is no more time.” The best analogy, he
said, is a soccer game that has gone into overtime. “It’s not even
injury time, it’s sudden death. It’s the nick of time, but there is no
more extra time.”

Global Sister has an excellent article up called, A Feminist Focus on Climate Change which points to a fascinating study by BRIDGE that looks at linkages between gender and climate change, well worth the read.

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid has this to say:

“Women should be part of any agreement on climate change
— not as an afterthought or because it’s politically correct, but
because it’s the right thing to do. Our future as humanity depends on
unleashing the full potential of all human beings, and the full
capacity of women, to bring about change.”

Women, Water, and Climate Justice—Cameroonian Human Rights Activist Asaha Elizabeth Ufei Leads the Way
posted by the NAACP Climate Justice Iniative provides an excellent
analysis of how the impact off climate change on water supplies
influences women:

As the climate conditions worsen, women are finding it
harder to provide food and water for their families. The once reliable
and nearby water sources are drying up or contaminated; and the crops
aren’t producing enough. So we are faced with questions: How many more
miles must women have to walk to provide basic life-sources? What other
ways can women sustain their families when the traditional agriculture
and craft materials are gone? How many women will have to uproot their
families and migrate to other places—that may be hostile to
immigrants—because they can longer find food and shelter in their
communities? How many more women and girls will be pushed into survival sex work
because there are fewer economic opportunities?  How many more people
who speak up about human rights and organize for change will be
severely punished, coerced to leave their countries, or forever
silenced?

 

Dr Sue Wareham, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons’ (ICAN) Australian board member discusses whether nuclear power has a place in how we address climate change in this Q&A with IPS:

IPS: Is nuclear power, being carbon-free, the panacea
for climate change problems and should it be a substitute for
coal-fuelled power stations?

SW: We don’t agree nuclear power is a sensible way forward in
response to climate change. Nuclear power cannot address the issue of
climate change. There are physical limitations to the number of nuclear
power stations that could be built in the next decade or so.

Even if there is further development of nuclear power, it will be
far too slow because it takes 10 to 15 years to get a nuclear power
plant at a point of producing electricity. We need action faster than
that.

Particularly important also is the links with weapons. We know there
are definite links between the civilian and military fuel cycles, and
that is a particular problem that will remain as long as nuclear power
is there.

There is also the problem of nuclear waste to which no country has a
solution yet. We regard it as unacceptable that this generation should
leave our waste to future generations. The technological and practical
reality is that we don’t have any way of separating nuclear waste from
the environment.

Our message is that the world really needs to put serious and
significant funding into further promotion, development and
implementation of renewable energies—solar, wind, geothermal and
biofuels, which have been underused and under-resourced.

In this thoughtful piece, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai discusses what poorer nations need to combat climate change:

Unless the poor countries commit to development, they
will continue to be under-developed and they will not be able to
improve the quality of life of their people. Yet, any path that
continues to encourage growth and use of fossil fuels will generate
disquiet. It is for this reason that these poor countries need
financial help, capacity building and transfer of not only available,
but also affordable technology.

Vandana Shiva speaks to protesters in Copenhagen:

 

And Democracy NOW’s Amy Goodman reports on Shiva’s thoughts about U.S. responsibility when it comes to financial responsibility for fighting global warming,

Afterward, I asked her to respond to U.S. climate
negotiator Jonathan Pershing, who said the Obama administration is
willing to pay its fair share, but added that donors “don’t have
unlimited largesse to disburse.” Shiva responded, “I think it’s time
for the U.S. to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognize itself as a
polluter, a polluter who must pay. … This is not about charity. This is
about justice.”

Sister Joan Chittister in remarks a t Copenhagen,

From where I stand, several strains were clear: Whatever
agreements come out of Cop15, enforceability is key. Classism-poor
against rich-is a danger. Multilateralism that does not support those
nations who stand to be as smothered by the effects of national
agreements that deny them economic development as they are by the
effects of achieving it through the energy sources of the past will
become a major political problem in the future. And, finally, this is
only the beginning of a real struggle to resolve it.

Latin American Women Want Modified Trade Rules:

“Where there is biodiversity, where there is wealth,
where there is culture, that’s where corporate interests
flock,”(Norma)  Maldonado, deputy head of Ecumenical Services for
Christian Development in Central America (SEFCA), an organisation
working with women and young people for community development and
political effectiveness, told TerraViva.

As the climate talks in Copenhagen develop, I will update this as warranted regarding perspectives on women and climate change.

Analysis Politics

Experts: Trump’s Proposal on Child Care Is Not a ‘Solution That Deals With the Problem’

Ally Boguhn

“A simple tax deduction is not going to deal with the larger affordability problem in child care for low- and moderate-income individuals," Hunter Blair, a tax and budget analyst at the Economic Policy Institute told Rewire.

In a recent speech, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested he now supports policies to made child care more affordable, a policy position more regularly associated with the Democratic Party. The costs of child care, which have almost doubled in the last 25 years, are a growing burden on low- and middle-income families, and quality options are often scarce.

“No one will gain more from these proposals than low- and middle-income Americans,” claimed Trump in a speech outlining his economic platform before the Detroit Economic Club on Monday. He continued, “My plan will also help reduce the cost of childcare by allowing parents to fully deduct the average cost of childcare spending from their taxes.” But economic experts question whether Trump’s proposed solution would truly help alleviate the financial burdens faced by low- and middleincome earners.

Details of most of Trump’s plan are still unclear, but seemingly rest on addressing child care costs by allowing families to make a tax deduction based on the “average cost” of care. He failed to clarify further how this might work, simply asserting that his proposal would “reduce cost in child care” and offer “much-needed relief to American families,” vowing to tell the public more with time. “I will unveil my plan on this in the coming weeks that I have been working on with my daughter Ivanka … and an incredible team of experts,” promised Trump.

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An adviser to the Trump campaign noted during an interview with the Associated Press Monday that the candidate had yet to nail down the details of his proposal, such as what the income caps would be, but said that the deductions would only amount to the average cost of child care in the state a taxpayer resided in:

Stephen Moore, a conservative economist advising Trump, said the candidate is still working out specifics and hasn’t yet settled on the details of the plan. But he said households reporting between $30,000 and $100,000, or perhaps $150,000 a year in income, would qualify for the deduction.

“I don’t think that Britney Spears needs a child care credit,” Moore said. “What we want to do is to help financially stressed middle-class families have some relief from child-care expenses.”

The deduction would also likely apply to expensive care like live-in nannies. But exemptions would be limited to the average cost of child care in a taxpayer’s state, so parents wouldn’t be able to claim the full cost of such a high-price child care option.

Experts immediately pointed out that while the details of Trump’s plan are sparse, his promise to make average child care costs fully tax deductible wouldn’t do much for the people who need access to affordable child care most.

Trump’s plan “would actually be pretty poorly targeted for middle-class and low-income families,” Hunter Blair, a tax and budget analyst at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), told Rewire on Monday.

That’s because his tax breaks would presumably not benefit those who don’t make enough money to owe the federal government income taxes—about 44 percent of households, according to Blair. “They won’t get any benefit from this.”

As the Associated Press further explained, for those who don’t owe taxes to the government, “No matter how much they reduce their income for tax purposes by deducting expenses, they still owe nothing.”

Many people still may not benefit from such a deduction because they file standard instead of itemized deductions—meaning they accept a fixed amount instead of listing out each qualifying deduction. “Most [lower-income households] don’t choose to file a tax return with itemized deductions,” Helen Blank, director of child care and early learning at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), told Rewire Tuesday. That means the deduction proposed by Trump “favors higher income families because it’s related to your tax bracket, so the higher your tax bracket the more you benefit from [it],” added Blank.

A 2014 analysis conducted by the Congressional Research Service confirms this. According to its study, just 32 percent of tax filers itemized their deductions instead of claiming the standard deduction in 2011. While 94 to 98 percent of those with incomes above $200,000 chose to itemize their deductions, just 6 percent of tax filers with an adjusted gross income below $20,000 per year did so.

“Trump’s plan is also not really a solution that deals with the problem,” said Blair. “A simple tax deduction is not going to deal with the larger affordability problem in child care for low- and moderate-income individuals.”

Those costs are increasingly an issue for many in the United States. A report released last year by Child Care Aware® of America, which advocates for “high quality, affordable child care,” found that child care for an infant can cost up to an average $17,062 annually, while care for a 4-year-old can cost up to an average of $12,781.

“The cost of child care is especially difficult for families living at or below the federal poverty level,” the organization explained in a press release announcing those findings. “For these families, full-time, center-based care for an infant ranges from 24 percent of family income in Mississippi, to 85 percent of family income in Massachusetts. For single parents the costs can be overwhelming—in every state annual costs of center-based infant care averaged over 40 percent of the state median income for single mothers.”

“Child care now costs more than college in most states in our nation, and it is an actual true national emergency,” Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, CEO and executive director of MomsRising, told Rewire in a Tuesday interview. “Donald Trump’s new proposed child care tax deduction plan falls far short of a solution because it’s great for the wealthy but it doesn’t fix the child care crisis for the majority of parents in America.”

Rowe-Finkbeiner, whose organization advocates for family economic security, said that in addition to the tax deduction being inaccessible to those who do not itemize their taxes and those with low incomes who may not pay federal income taxes, Trump’s proposal could also force those least able to afford it “to pay up-front child care costs beyond their family budget.”

“We have a crisis … and Donald Trump’s proposal doesn’t improve access, doesn’t improve quality, doesn’t lift child care workers, and only improves affordability for the wealthy,” she continued.

Trump’s campaign, however, further claimed in a statement to CNN Tuesday that “the plan also allows parents to exclude child care expenses from half of their payroll taxes—increasing their paycheck income each week.”

“The working poor do face payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, so a payroll tax break could help them out,” reported CNN. “But experts say it would be hard to administer.”

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released her own child care agenda in May, promising to use the federal government to cap child care costs at 10 percent of a family’s income. 

A cap like this, Blank said, “would provide more help to low- and middle-income families.” She continued, “For example, if you had a family with two children earning $70,000, if you capped child care at 10 percent they could probably save … $10,000 a year.”

Clinton’s plan includes a promise to implement a program to address the low wages many who work in the child care industry face, which she calls the “Respect And Increased Salaries for Early Childhood Educators” program, or the RAISE Initiative. The program would raise pay and provide training for child-care workers.

Such policies could make a major difference to child-care workers—the overwhelming majority of which are women and workers of color—who often make poverty-level wages. A 2015 study by the EPI found that the median wage for these workers is just $10.31 an hour, and few receive employer benefits. Those poor conditions make it difficult to attract and retain workers, and improve the quality of care for children around the country. 

Addressing the low wages of workers in the field may be expensive, but according to Rowe-Finkbeiner, it is an investment worth making. “Real investments in child care bring for an average child an eight-to-one return on investment,” she explained. “And that’s because when we invest in quality access and affordability, but particularly a focus on quality … which means paying child-care workers fairly and giving child-care workers professional development opportunities …. When that happens, then we have lower later grade repetition, we have less future interactions with the criminal justice system, and we also have a lower need for government programs in the future for those children and families.

Affordable child care has also been a component of other aspects of Clinton’s campaign platform. The “Military Families Agenda,” for example, released by the Clinton campaign in June to support military personnel and their families, also included a child care component. The former secretary of state’s plan proposed offering these services “both on- and off-base, including options for drop-in services, part-time child care, and the provision of extended-hours care, especially at Child Development Centers, while streamlining the process for re-registering children following a permanent change of station (PCS).” 

“Service members should be able to focus on critical jobs without worrying about the availability and cost of childcare,” said Clinton’s proposal.

Though it may be tempting to laud the simple fact that both major party candidates have proposed a child care plan at all, to Rowe-Finkbeiner, having both nominees take up the cause is a “no-brainer.”

“Any candidate who wants to win needs to take up family economic security policies, including child care,” she said. “Democrats and Republicans alike know that there is a child care crisis in America. Having a baby right now costs over $200,000 to raise from zero to age 18, not including college …. Parents of all political persuasions are talking about this.”

Coming up with the right way to address those issues, however, may take some work.

“We need a bold plan because child care is so important, because it helps families work, and it helps them support their children,” the NWLC’s Blank said. “We don’t have a safety net for families to fall back on anymore. It’s really critical to help families earn the income their children need and child care gives children a strong start.” She pointed to the need for programs that offer families aid “on a regular basis, not at the end of the year, because families don’t have the extra cash to pay for child care during the year,” as well as updates to the current child care tax credits offered by the government.

“There is absolutely a solution, but the comprehensive package needs to look at making sure that children have high-quality child care and early education, and that there’s also access to that high-quality care,” Rowe-Finkbeiner told Rewire. 

“It’s a complicated problem, but it’s not out of our grasp to fix,” she said. “It’s going to take an investment in order to make sure that our littlest learners can thrive and that parents can go to work.”

News Violence

Fetal Tissue Workers Sue to Stop David Daleiden From Getting Their Names

Nicole Knight

The plaintiffs' lawyer explained that the researchers, who remain anonymous in the complaint, “are very fearful that they may be subjected to the same type of harassment and violence” that abortion clinic employees have faced.

Employees and scientists with ties to the University of Washington’s Birth Defects Research Laboratory have won a temporary reprieve in federal court barring the release of their personal information to anti-choice activist David Daleiden and his cohorts.

Federal judge James L. Robart granted the restraining order on Wednesday, after the plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit to block the release of a trove of documents requested by Daleiden and a representative from a Washington state anti-choice group. The unredacted records reveal the individuals’ identifying information, such as names, addresses, and phone numbers, according to court documents.

A hearing on a permanent order is expected later this month in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Using the Washington state Public Records Act, Daleiden and Zach Freeman, communications director with the anti-choice Family Policy Institute of Washington, had sought records dating back to 2010 related to work at the Birth Defects Research Laboratory. The research laboratory collects, processes, and distributes fetal tissue for research at academic and nonprofit institutions nationwide, according to court documents. Also ensnared in the sweeping document request were various medical and bioscience institutions, including Seattle Children’s Hospital and Planned Parenthood affiliates.

Daleiden had requested purchase orders, invoices, emails, grant applications, contracts, materials transfer agreements, rent/lease agreements, and other documents, according to an exhibit in court documents.

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Janet Chung, counsel with Seattle-based Legal Voice, who is representing the plaintiffs, said her clients wanted to stop the release of the unredacted records.

Daleiden, a self-proclaimed investigative journalist and head of the California-based anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress, was formerly indicted for his role in a string of discredited “sting” videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations.

Reached by phone on Friday, Chung explained that the plaintiffs, who remain anonymous in the complaint, “are very fearful that they may be subjected to the same type of harassment and violence” that abortion clinic employees have faced, particularly after the publication of the CMP videos. Releasing the unredacted records would violate the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to privacy and free association, according to the complaint.

Chung called Daleiden and Freeman’s records request a “fishing expedition” intended to “harass and intimidate.”

In an emailed statement, Daleiden said he is seeking the “truth” about a “cover-up” at the University of Washington.

When Rewire asked Daleiden whether he objected to redacting identifying information, such as names and addresses, he said in an email that his records request in February did not ask for the “personal contact information of any individuals whatsoever.”

As he explained to Rewire, however, he is seeking the communications of eight individuals whom he considers public figures:

My request only seeks those of 8 public figures…who are very publicly identified with their work at [Birth Defects Research Laboratory] with fetal body parts or with Planned Parenthood’s abortion program in Washington state.

The eight “public figures” that Daleiden names include a retired birth defects researcher, a research director at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and a top executive at Planned Parenthood.

Chung, however, told Rewire that Daleiden’s request was so broad that releasing the records would disclose the personal information of more than 150 individuals.

Chung said the plaintiffs resorted to court action because the state public records law doesn’t necessarily require the redaction of personal information, and the University of Washington had warned that it would release the records on August 5.

About two weeks before filing the complaint, Chung said they’d discussed redacting the documents with Daleiden, but he declined. She said they’re continuing to try to resolve the matter with Daleiden’s legal counsel.

In affidavits included with the complaint, plaintiffs claim they’ve been threatened, harassed, and exposed to violence —even murder—due to their ties to fetal tissue research.

As an employee at Seattle Children’s Hospital, identified only as John Doe 1 to protect his privacy and safety, writes:

In one case, Seattle Children’s diagnosed a fetus with a lethal disorder, and because of number of weeks of gestation, the patient had to travel out of state to obtain an abortion. I had interactions with the physician who performed the abortion relating to the autopsy that Children’s Labs performed on the fetus. That physician was later killed by someone with anti-abortion views.

In another affidavit, a professor and research scientist who studies congenital birth defects and is identified as Jane Doe 8, writes:

I fear that having my identity and personal information released to the public would lead to harassment, threats, or violence directed against me or my family.

Protecting the privacy and safety of researchers and employees with ties to fetal tissue science has emerged as an issue of growing concern among scientists as anti-choice groups and Republican lawmakers march on with what some have called a Planned Parenthood “witch hunt.”

In June, the head of the U.S. House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives revealed fetal tissue scientists’ identities in letters sent to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—prompting fears in the medical research community the individuals will be subject to harassment and violence by anti-abortion activists.

As Chung told Rewire, “This is all very much rooted in the concern that the same types of harassment and violence that clinics experience are now being targeted on a wider range of people—all with the goal of chilling important research and medical care.”

The lawsuit is the fourth filed against Daleiden and his anti-choice group following the release of the first wave of CMP’s sting videos last summer. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Abortion Federation (NAF), and StemExpress, a fetal tissue processing firm that once worked with Planned Parenthood, have all sued in federal court in California.

Daleiden often frames his work as citizen journalism, but in a brief filed with the NAF lawsuit, 18 of the country’s leading journalists and journalism scholars noted that “calling himself an ‘investigative journalist’ … does not make it so.”

In April, California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office searched Daleiden’s California apartment as part of an ongoing investigation into the CMP’s secret recording methods.

Officials in a dozen states, including Washington state, have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in its tissue donation programs, and eight additional states have declined to investigate the health-care provider.

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