Just days after Secretary of State John Kerry's Indonesia speech equated the impacts of climate change with those from weapons of mass destruction,   the New York Times reports today that retired billionaire Tom Steyer will seed his political organization NextGen Climate Action with $100 million to pressure national and state leaders to address the impacts of global warming.

NextGen Climate will focus primarily on states where governors and national elected officials deny the reality of climate change, including the 2014 Florida Governor's race, where Rick Scott holds firm to his contention that science has failed to prove that human activity has had any impact on the global climate.

According to the Times article, Steyer, a retired financier who used $11 million to assure Terry McAuliffe's successful bid to win the governorship of Virginia,  met with environmental philanthropists  earlier this month to announce plans to raise $50 million from donors and to personally match that amount.

Steyer also financial and politically supports the campaign against the Keystone Pipeline, writing in a February 2, 2014 letter to Secretary Kerry:

At his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Obama made clear the Administration's position when he stated that climate change is a fact.

For those of us in California experiencing an historic drought, as well as for those across the country who have been dealing with extreme weather, climate change affects us every day – impacting our economy, our health and our welfare.

Many of us have been heartened to hear that amidst your many pressing responsibilities, you intend to take an active role in advising the President on his decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline.

In light of the concerns enumerated below, I urge you to launch an independent and transparent review of the work product contained in the Keystone XL Pipeline Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) released last Friday.

Of particular concern are FEIS conclusions that conflict with and are contradicted by tar sands industry executives who confirm that they need the pipeline in order to continue to develop the tar sands and to reach international markets. The FEIS fails to consider that construction of the KXL pipeline is a necessity to fully maximize extraction of tar sands.  

In other major climate news today, Reuters reports that extreme weather events  -- Britain's wildly wet winter, Australia's heat wave and the "Polar Vortex" impacting Canada and the US Midwest and Eastern Seaboard -- are pushing climate change to front and center ahead of the 2015 deadline for an international agreement at the United Nations 2015 Paris Climate Conference.
"Attention has been increasing ... sadly because of the increase in the frequency and intensity of natural events and disasters,", U.N. climate change chief Christiana Figueres told Reuters.

"The scale and speed of action needs to improve," she said, adding that disasters in the past two or three years including 2013's Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines had also focused minds.

U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande last week urged an "ambitious" climate deal in 2015, which would come into force from 2020.

Meanwhile, the United Nations announced today the selection of Barbados' environmental scientist Hugh Sealy to oversee the Clean Development Mechanism's (CDM) executive board.  Since 2005, this panel has financed $315 billion to assist least developed countries adapt to climate change.

Originally posted to boatsie on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 05:32 PM PST.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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