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We're mobilizing a global movement to stop dangerous climate change. Join us at 350.org, and take action at an event near you on the International Day of Climate Action, 24 October, 2009.
Updated: 7 min 41 sec ago

Cette fin de semaine marque un point tournant

Mon, 2015-07-06 20:29

Cette fin de semaine, partout au Québec et au Canada, des milliers de personnes ont prouvé que nous bâtissons ensemble un nouveau mouvement pour le climat — un mouvement que nous avons grandi, diversifé, et rendu plus fort.

Aujourd’hui, plus de 10 000 personnes, dans une démonstation spectaculaire de solidarité et d’unité, ont convergé dans les rues de Toronto afin de marcher pour le Climat, la Justice et la Transition. Cette mobilisation a rassemblé une coalition véritablement diverse de groupes, allant des Premières Nations aux plus importants syndicats des secteurs publics et privés au pays, en passant par les étudiants, les organisations de justice sociale et les groupes citoyens qui se mobilisent contre les industries polluantes et destructrices.

Comme l’a exprimé Syed Hussan, organisateur avec Personne n’est illégal (No One is Illegal) pendant l’ouverture de la marche aujourd’hui : « Nous voulons pouvoir penser à l’avenir de nos enfants et des sept prochaines générations sans ressentir de peur à cet égard. Lorsque l’on se tient debout ensemble, nous avons réellement le pouvoir de faire changer les choses. »

Cette marche était le point culminant d’une fin de semaine de mobilisation profondément

inspirante et touchante:

Vendredi, des étudiants dans cinq grandes villes canadiennes ont tenu des sit-ins dans les bureaux de députés fédéraux pour exiger que des gestes concrets en matière de changement climatique fassent partie intégrante de leurs plateformes éléctorales cet automne. Plusieurs d’entre eux sont restés sur place pendant des heures, maintenant leur position jusqu’à ce que des réponses leur soient donné.

Samedi, des communautés de part et d’autres du Québec et du Canada se sont mobilisées afin de montrer que nous valons mieux que le pétrole sale des sables bitumineux. Ces communautés, qui résistent localement aux projets d’oléoducs, de fracturation hydraulique, de forages pétroliers et à d’autres projets liés aux énergies fossiles ayant lieu près de chez eux, ont prouvé que nous menons une bataille commune.

Nous partageons une vision pour une nouvelle économie: une économie qui n’expose pas les emplois aux caprices du marché du pétrole, qui respecte et met de l’avant les droits et les traités des Premières Nations, et qui respecte les limites imposées par notre climat.

Nous avons accompli quelque chose d’immense. Désormais, ce ne sont plus seulement les « habitués » qui se mobilisent. Nous avons un atteint un point tournant pour faire de la justice climatique une réalité.

Nous devons continuer ce momentum afin de poursuivre la construction de ce mouvement si indispensable. Il nous faudra continuer à y travailler, et à faire des sacrifices, mais ensemble, tout est possible.

Avec respect et solidarité,

Clay, Cam, Aurore, Katie, Graham, Angela and Atiya

This weekend was a turning point in the Canadian climate movement

Mon, 2015-07-06 20:25

Pour le français, cliquez ici

This weekend, people across Canada showed that we are building the kind of climate movement we need: broad, diverse, and powerful.

Today, in a spectacular demonstration of unity and solidarity, over 10,000 people marched together in Toronto for Jobs, Justice and the Climate. This mobilization brought together a truly diverse coalition, from frontline Indigenous communities to Canada’s largest public and private sector unions, students, social justice organizations and grassroots groups mobilizing against destructive industries.

As organizer, Syed Hussan from No One is Illegal put it at the opening assembly: “We want to be free of the terror we feel when we think of the future of our children and the next 7 generations. When we stand together, we have the power to bring change.”

The march was just the final exclamation point on a weekend of deeply moving action.

On Friday, students in 5 major Canadian cities staged sit ins at the offices of Members of Parliament to demand that these MPs make meaningful climate action a top priority for the next Prime Minister. Some stayed for hours on end, refusing to leave until they got the answers they need:

Then, on Saturday, communities across Canada mobilized to declare that we, the people, are greater than the tar sands. These are communities that have been dedicated to organizing in opposition to local tar sands pipelines, fracking, off-shore drilling and other fossil fuel projects taking place near their homes — and together they showed how we’re all engaged in a common struggle:

Together, we share a vision for a new, better economy: one that doesn’t expose their local economies to volatile oil market, respects the rights and title of local First Nations, and the limitations of our climate.

This is a big deal. It’s not just the usual suspects that are taking to the streets anymore. We have reached a turning point that will lead us closer to climate justice.

We are going to use this momentum to keep building the movement we need. It will require more hard work and sacrifice from us, but together, anything is possible.

In Respect and Solidarity,

Clay, Cam, Aurore, Katie, Graham, Angela and Atiya

Coal needs some kicking on its way out

Thu, 2015-07-02 11:40

The good news is: The decision by the German government to mothball some of the oldest lignite power plants is yet another sign that coal is on its way out.

The bad news: It doesn’t go nearly far enough. In fact, the government caved in to big polluters and went with a watered-down proposal.

Instead of putting a levy on CO2 from the most polluting power plants, a measure which scientists and economic experts described as the minimum needed to meet Germany’s climate targets, the government decided to go with an ‘alternative’ measure proposed by the big polluters and mining union, which won’t achieve the same emission cuts.

Instead of a measure that would have cost the biggest polluters millions, they went with an option that is estimated to cost taxpayers billions.

For the climate movement, the decision makes it clear once again that while coal is on its last legs, the industry’s influence on the political process is so enormous that it can get its way against any economic sense and against the will of the majority of people who want a coal phase-out.

We need to mobilise to dismantle the industry’s influence and the anti-coal movement is growing stronger than ever. Last night, just before coalition partners decided to scrap the coal levy, 500 people gathered outside the Chancellery in Berlin to deliver well over 300,000 signatures against coal.

 

On 1 July, 500 people gathered outside the German Chancellery to deliver 300.000 signatures against coal.

On 1 July, 500 people gathered outside the German Chancellery to deliver 300.000 signatures against coal.

This summer, grassroots groups are planning to take the anti-coal fight in Europe to the next level. Judging by last night’s decision to ignore the will of the majority of Germans to phase out coal and cave in to coal industry lobbyists, it is more essential than ever that we take action together to end coal.

From 14-16 August, hundreds of people from across Europe will come together to literally stop the digging, by blocking the world’s largest diggers at the source — the Rhineland coalfields which are Europe’s biggest source of CO2. Ende Gelände will be an iconic, peaceful confrontation and an unprecedented act of civil disobedience against coal in this decisive year for the climate. You don’t want to miss this!

 

 ausgeCOhlt

The giant coal excavators in the Rhineland coal mines are the the world’s biggest land vehicles. Credit: ausgeCOhlt

 

Joining 5,000+ people at the Tar Sands Resistance March!

Tue, 2015-06-30 16:29

By Janette Rosenbaum, 350 Madison

It’s 6am, and 50 Madisonians are ready to roll. They’re on their way to the Tar Sands Resistance March in St. Paul, Minnesota. There, they’ll join a few other Madison locals, as well as thousands of people from across the Midwest, some of whom have already been traveling for hours by the time the Madison contingent takes a group photo and boards their bus.

It’s my first major protest and I don’t really know what to expect. Will my fellow protesters, mostly members of 350Madison or the Four Lakes Sierra Club, spend the five-­hour bus ride sleeping or making small talk about their families? Not at all, it turns out. The bus quickly transforms into a rolling conference room. I hear conversations about tar sands, but also about emerald ash borer and race relations and the minimum wage. I’m traveling with an informed, engaged group of people.

departure_from_Madison.jpg

As we cross the Mississippi River, our bus captain, Judy Skog, tells us to be ready to disembark quickly. When we pull up at Lambert Landing in St. Paul, it’s not hard to see why. March organizers snap another group photo of us, then hurry us along so the next bus can come in. One coach after another arrives to unload passengers, flags, banners, and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

The riverside path fills up quickly. I see demonstrators of all ages, from those too young to walk to just about the oldest capable of managing the 1.5­mile route. Groups have come from as far away as North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Indiana.

Organized, But Free

There’s a rough organization to the line­up, with First Nations representatives at the front and war veterans at the back, but nobody seems to be staying in their assigned spot. Protesters break off from their groups to visit other delegations, exchanging energy, stories, and even the signs they’ll be carrying during the march.

First_Nations.jpg

350Madison’s giant octopus balloon attracts a lot of attention. Flags and banners are blowing in the wind coming off the river, but the octopus is one of the few props that needs half a dozen people to hold it down. Balloon creator Carl Whiting directs his crew of handlers masterfully, preventing the Enbridge Octopus from causing any more damage.

The march steps off some time after noon, and a seemingly endless stream of people crosses the first road while police hold back traffic. Cars back up along the river. Drivers honk. Whether they’re honking at us or with us is hard to tell.

crowd_1.jpg

The march is peaceful and orderly as it proceeds through the streets towards the Minnesota Capitol building, though the marchers don’t stay in order. Every time I look around I see different people carrying different signs, with slogans ranging from the starkly unambiguous “No Tar Sands” to the whimsical “Save the Water Pokémon”. This freeform approach to marching confuses me until I learn that the march is not for the small crowd of onlookers.

“We energize ourselves,” Kathlean Wolf tells me on the bus ride home. She explains that the purpose of mass demonstrations is to bring activists together, giving them an opportunity to network, share information, strategize, and draw energy from one another.

wolf.jpg

The march organizers energize us as we walk, leading us in songs and chants. Partway along the route, the organizers inform us that we are 5,000 strong, making this march officially the largest march against tar sands in the Midwest to date.

The afternoon is getting warm as the protesters arrive at and  disperse across the Capitol lawn. Some sit on the grass while others continue standing with their flags and banners. From the speakers’ podium, Native women offer a prayer over water, raising their voices above the construction noise emanating from the Capitol building.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus serves as master of ceremonies for a line­up of prominent climate activists.  Sarah Wells­Headbird of the Ojibwe nation reminds us that the fight is not just about economics: plants and animals have social and cultural value as well. Gianna Strong of the Horse nation agrees, encouraging us to “walk in peace and harmony with all living things, as well as walk in peace and harmony with Mother Earth herself.”

sunflower_signs.jpg

Ground Zero

“The Midwest is absolute ground zero of the climate fight,”  Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, tells the assembled crowd of activists from a dozen Midwestern states. “Every pipeline in America, and every pipeline around the world, is going to be fought from now on, and fought bitterly. We are starting to win in a big way.”

Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District also believes the march will make a difference. “When the people are marching and the people are demanding, the people are going to get what they want,” he says, to a round of applause.

The crowd thins and the cheering dies down a bit as Sierra Club President Aaron Mair speaks and musical group The Raging Grannies sings, but Honor the Earth founder Winona LaDuke brings back some energy to the rally. “You got a choice between water and oil,” she says, after giving the discouraging news that Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission has just approved another Enbridge project. “Time to make the right choice.”

good_hands.jpg

The rally is still going on as the Madison delegation regroups and returns to their bus for the long ride home. As sandwiches and snacks are shared around, I ask my fellow protesters what they think the impact of the march will be.

“From all walks of life, we walked together, we fought together,” reflects Art Shegone, a member of the Menominee Nation. Corporations are making everyone angry, he says, and should remember that the public can do a lot of damage to them through boycotts and other organized actions.

“We’ll probably do another march,” says Harry Bennett, in a tone of resigned determination. “It’s a long struggle.”

Janette Rosenbaum is from 350 Madison. This piece was originally published on Progressive Dane. See more stories and pictures from the Tar Sands Resistance March website.

Meeting the Dalai Lama

Tue, 2015-06-30 12:29
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The Dalai Lama was at Glastonbury Festival for The Guardian-hosted panel discussion: “Who can fix climate change?”

Last Sunday I had a religious experience — and I don’t mean going to my church in Brooklyn. The experience was sitting next to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on a panel discussion about climate change at Glastonbury Festival.

The Dalai Lama had a delightful passion on the topic. It ranged from a love of science; an insistence of the interconnectedness of all people; and the necessity of contemplation and action. But most of all, his presence is all encompassing. While he was speaking, it was if the 150,000 revellers at the Glastonbury Festival weren’t outside the tent, and he alone was speaking. His infectious smile and laugh came suddenly, and exuberantly, and rippled through the whole crowd each time. He regularly made jokes, looked around to see if we were all paying attention, and in a completely unexpected gesture, gently but jovially tapped me on the arm a few times.

Our panel, put together by the unstoppable team at The Guardian, addressed the imperative of keeping fossil fuels in the ground, the successes of the divestment campaign, and the connection between social and individual action. On each point the Dalai Lama had something unexpected to say. He expressed great enthusiasm and support for Laudato Si, the recent Papal Encyclical on climate change. In fact, at the same time as we were speaking, thousands marched in Rome in support of the message. He applauded those who worked to bring together religious leaders in support of more action.

My favorite moment came at the very end, when he was asked for his closing reflections on what people should do in the face of the climate crisis. He paused a moment and said, “I don’t know! Listen to these people!” Gesturing to us on the panel. But then he stopped to add something which I’ll always remember. He said,

“First, we must contemplate, and pray, and try to understand, understand, understand. This builds our conviction. And then we must act.”

The interrelationship between these themes, contemplation and action, is of great importance in the climate movement–and I especially appreciated how he articulated that they operate together, in a cycle, always building towards greater commitment and awareness. There is a lot to learn about climate change and how it connects to so many other important concerns. And in that learning, there is room to become totally overwhelmed, to throw one’s hands up and hope that someone else will step in to fix it, or that technology will solve the problem, or that maybe it isn’t as bad as we think. But the learning can be a powerful tool, just as he said, to grow our conviction, and move us to action. To divest our universities. To put solar panels on our churches. To stop pipelines.

Whether you consider yourself a person of faith, whatever that may be (and mine is not Tibetan Buddhism!) this message can be a liberating one. I was recently asked to speak at my church about faith and climate change. It was a time to clarify a lot of ideas. Faith compels us to believe in things we cannot prove and be sure of, and yet in doing so we are sustained and build resilience. We cannot know what the worst effects of climate change will be—but we do know the problem is already with us. That we can no longer “stop” climate change. But what kind of natural world will be preserved for future generations? And where will people be able to live in a  changing climate? These are in so many ways questions with answers unknown to us. But just like we persist in our faith right along with our doubts, we must act to prevent the worst effects of climate change even when we can’t be sure if our efforts will add up to enough. It’s daunting—and in fact, faith can help push us towards action in the face of doubt.

Doubt and fear lies all around us, and within the Dalai Lama’s own experience in exile, there is ample cause for it. So when he extolled us, yesterday, to always return to a place of action, I was deeply inspired. I think we are in the midst of a turning point on climate change.   Keep the faith.

One Earth, One Human Family: climate march in Rome

Sun, 2015-06-28 14:11

Thousands marched in Rome today to celebrate the Pope’s recent call for urgent climate action

Multi-faith encyclical celebration march, Rome June 2015

Multi-faith encyclical celebration march, Rome June 2015. Photo credit: Hoda Baraka/350.org

People of faith, civil society groups, and communities impacted by climate change marched together in Rome this Sunday to express gratitude to Pope Francis for the release of his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, and call for bolder climate action by world leaders.

Under the banner of “One Earth One Human Family,” the march brought together Catholics and other Christians, followers of non-Christian faiths, environmentalists and people of goodwill. The march ended in St. Peter’s Square in time for the Pope’s weekly Angelus.

The weekly Angelus takes place on Sunday when the Pope is in Rome. At noon he appears from the window of his apartment where he gives a short speech followed by the Angelus prayer and ending with the Apostolic Blessing.

 Hoda Baraka/350.org

Photo credit: Hoda Baraka/350.org

The celebratory march was animated by a musical band, a climate choir and colourful public artwork designed by artists from Italy and other countries, whose work played a major role in the People’s Climate March in New York City last September. Among the artwork was a 75-meter sign in the shape of a green leaf, with verses from Scripture which speak to God’s care for creation and for the poor.

Organisers of the march include:  350.org, FOCSIV, a coalition of over 60 Italian Catholic development, relief and social justice groups, and OurVoices, the international, multi-faith climate change campaign led by GreenFaith and the Conservation Foundation.

Joining the march to represent frontline communities and to relay a message of climate justice were Arianne and George from the  Pacific Climate Warriors alongside Father Warren and Father Jovino who are priests from the Philippines engaged in climate campaigning.

Voices from the Global South relaying the urgent need for climate justice.

Voices from the Global South relaying the urgent need for climate justice. Photo credit: Hoda Baraka/350.org

In the words of Arianne: “As we stand at this critical juncture in addressing the climate crisis we are particularly grateful to the Pope for releasing this encyclical as an awakening for the world to understand how climate change impacts people across all regions. The truth of the matter is that all of humanity needs to stand united in addressing the crisis of our times. Climate change is an issue for everyone with a moral conscience,”

Among the messages relayed to the Pope during the march was a request to make fossil fuel divestment part of his moral message in the urgent need to address the climate crisis.

“The fossil fuel divestment campaign is hinged on the same moral premise communicated by Pope Francis in his encyclical,” said Father Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines. “The campaign serves to highlight the immorality of investing in the source of the climate injustice we currently experience. Which is why we hope that moving forward and building on this powerful message, Pope Francis can make fossil fuel divestment a part of his moral argument for urgent climate action.”

Pope Francis asked to make divestment part of his moral argument in the urgency to address climate change.

Pope Francis asked to make divestment part of his moral argument in the urgency to address climate change. Photo credit: Hoda Baraka/350.org

A petition urging Pope Francis to rid the Vatican of investments in fossil fuels has already gathered tens of thousands of signatures. Over the past months, dozens of religious institutions have divested from coal, oil and gas companies or endorsed the effort, including the World Council of Churches representing half a billion Christians in 150 countries. In May 2015, the Church of England announced it had sold £12m in thermal coal and tar sands and just this week the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) announced it will exclude fossil fuel companies from its investments and calls on its member churches with 72 million members to do likewise. In total, more than 220 institutions have committed to divest from fossil fuels with faith institutions making up the biggest segment.

As world leaders prepare to meet in Paris later this year for the UN climate talks, the growing divestment movement will continue to fuel the ethical and economic revolution needed to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality, a key message from Pope Francis’ encyclical.

The clear path required to address the climate crisis is one that breaks humanity free from the current stranglehold of fossil fuels on our lives and the planet. This encyclical reinforces the tectonic shift that is happening, we simply cannot continue to treat the Earth as a tool for exploitation.

 

 Hoda Baraka/350.org

Photo credit: Hoda Baraka/350.org

 Hoda Baraka/350.org

March enters St. Peter’s Square in time for the Pope’s weekly Angelus. Photo credit: Hoda Baraka/350.org

4 Reasons to Get Excited about July 4th

Fri, 2015-06-26 20:17

With the #JobsJusticeClimate mobilizations just one week away, groups all across Canada are gearing up to host inspiring events in their towns. In all their diversity and local flavors, these actions are sending a common, clear and strong message that we can do better — that we can take real climate action while building a just economy. On July 4th, thousands of Canadians will show that they care about their communities, and that we are ready to stop digging, start building and move beyond the tar sands.

  1. Signs. Posters. Flags. Stickers. Human banners!

Across Canada, people are painting their towns red with strong visuals displays. In Vancouver, hundreds will draw a red line along the seawall at Sunset Beach to mark their demand for real action that protects their coast, water and local economies. In Fredericton, at the iconic walking bridge that towers over the St John/Wolastoq river, people will assemble to show they are ready for an economy that works for people.

IMAGE - Jobs. Justice. Climate Action. 4 (F'ton, June 24, 2015)  winnipegIMG_9404

  1. Summer celebrations

Showing mobilization savviness, people are hitting up local tourist trails, festivals and creating their own summer events to grow the climate movement across Canada. In Quebec City, a bike-powered mobilization will have people pedalling through the city and surrounding areas, just like in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, St John’s, and more. Making the most of the summer, these bike hikes will work with marching bands, children’s games, picnics and flyering and information blitz to make some special summer mobilizing.

In this great radio ad, Winnipeg organizers let the population know why we need to say no to the Energy East pipeline and join the entire city for a full day of events in Winnipeg with pedals & paddles, speakers, music, banners, art project and more.

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3. Kayaktivism

From Nelson to Winnipeg to Hudson-Oka, people are jumping in kayaks and out on the water to protect their communities. In the wake of the inspiring kayaktiviststs that have circled (more than once) Shell’s Arctic rig in Seattle and off the coast of Vancouver, people east and west are about to bring that tactic home on July 4 with paddles and flotillas. Check out this video of the Hudson-Oka event where kayaks and canoes will cross the Ottawa river just outside Montreal to move past tar sands pipelines (Yep, these are REAL sails, on REAL boats).

  1. Solidarity with Indigenous frontline struggles

These mobilizations are striving to take leadership from First Nations communities that are on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction and the climate crisis. We’re building a new kind of climate movement that grounds itself in the struggle for decolonization and recognizes that Indigenous peoples must be the first in line to benefit from a transition to a new economy.

Solidarity with Indigenous frontline struggles is very much central to the actions taking place on July 4th. For example, in Alberta, at the heart of the tar sands and in the middle of a great moment of political and social transformation, the Indigenous peoples that have led this movement will take the stage with local artists for a free outdoors concert in Edmonton showing the solutions and demanding a just transition to renewable energy and a fair economy.

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These are only a few examples  of all the creative and inspiring organizing that’s taking place right now in the lead up to the day of action. Can you hear the buzz of excitement? Make sure to check out the 350.org/july website,  and RSVP to join the thousands who will stand up together on July 4th. Share the mobilization on social media and help local initiatives be heard all through the country with #JobsJusticeClimate (en français: #ClimatJusticeTransition).

And while you’re at it, make an entire weekend of it and march in the street of downtown Toronto for the March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate on July 5th on the eve of the Pan American Summit! See jobsjusticeclimate.ca for all the details and ways to get there.

 

Together July 4th (2) FR Kayak Meme (2) V2

Divest the Vatican

Fri, 2015-06-26 15:42

With the ear of 1.2 billion Catholics and the respect of Christians and non-Christians alike, Pope Francis is uniquely positioned to add both his voice and the unique moral power of his office to the divestment movement.

Divest the Vatican

Fri, 2015-06-26 15:27

With the ear of 1.2 billion Catholics and the respect of Christians and non-Christians alike, Pope Francis is uniquely positioned to add both his voice and the unique moral power of his office to the divestment movement.

Get involved here

Bearing Witness from Ground Zero

Fri, 2015-06-26 11:06
 More than 1,500 protesters, led by Church leaders, staged a procession in Atimonan, Quezon province to dramatize opposition to the proposed 1,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in the town that faces the Pacific Ocean, some 173 kilometers south of Manila.

More than 1,500 protesters, led by Church leaders, staged a procession in Atimonan, Quezon province to dramatize opposition to the proposed 1,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in the town that faces the Pacific Ocean, some 173 kilometers south of Manila.

The Roman Catholic faith, plays an important role in the lives and consciousness of many Filipinos. Because of its involvement in social issues, it has given face to a Christianity that shows a deep sense of faith made known through actions that pursue justice, peace and the integrity of the natural world.

That is why Pope Francis’ recently released encyclical was well received in the Philippines, because by putting the climate crisis in spiritual and moral terms, Pope Francis has focused a spotlight on the ethical and economic shift we urgently need in order to prevent catastrophic climate change and tackle growing inequality.

This Sunday, Catholics, people of all faiths, and people who care about climate change will be marching to thank the Pope for his encyclical and to call for climate action by world leaders. Two members of clergy from the Philippines will be there to bear witness to how they are responding to the impacts of a warming climate.

Fr. Warren Puno: anti-coal activist from Atimonan, Quezon

37 year old Fr. Warren Puno, was ordained in November 2006 and he was primarily assigned in the seminary as formator and professor as well an associate pastor to several parishes.

Last February 28, he was assigned to Our Lady of The Angels parish in Atimonan, Quezon where he became immediately immersed in a community struggle against a proposed 1,200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the town by the company Meralco PowerGen.

In spite of Meralco PowerGen’s political and financial influence, he continues to campaign by using the mass every Sunday as a platform to inform his parishioners about the health and environmental impacts of coal. More than that, he also participates in consultation sessions held by the municipal council to engage the local government and the proponents of the project. Recently, he was among the organizers of a prayer rally and vigil that was attended by more than 1,500 people from the community including leaders of other Christian denominations whom he joined in a procession around town to dramatize opposition to the proposed project.

When asked about his involvement he simply says that: I” continue to fight because I know that at the end, the poor people will suffer because of climate change caused by these rising power plants. It is our moral duty as priests to fight for the rights of our people. “

“We are just following and doing the Call to Action of our Diocesan synod which states that: The church shall intensify her involvement in environmental issues. We already have two existing coal-fired power plants in our province that is why we cannot just be silent and passive on this important issue.”

Fr. Jovino Batecan: building sustainable communities in Lingayen, Dagupan

Fr. Jovino Batecan, or Fr. Bobits as his parish likes to call him, is a diocesan priest in the province of Lingayen, Dagupan, Philippines.

Since his ordination in 1981, he has already served in 9 parishes, he currently serves a the Priest Director of the San Isidro Pastoral Station in Binmaley, Pangasinan while at the same times he is also appointed as the Director of Farmers, Fisherfolk and Laborers’ Apostolate. He currently leads community efforts to integrate eco-spirituality and organic farming as a means for building resilience in the face of climate change impacts.

Knowing that climate change is caused by the combined unsustainable practices of people he led the formation of ecology teams/eco-household projects in his community to implement a project that integrates environmental awareness, community gardening, renewable energy, zero waste and sustainable agriculture and social enterprise for communities, which he hopes to mainstream.

His vision is to build climate-resilient and sustainable alternative communities that shows a different development paradigm –one that runs contrary to today’s corporate-consumer society that values profit over people and the planet which he believes is largely responsible for the current climate crisis.

Bearing witness in Rome

Amidst climate change the Catholic Church in the Philippines sits in the tension that lies between resisting dirty development and social attitudes, in defence of the poorest and the most vulnerable in the face of the climate crisis.

On Sunday, June 28th , Fr. Warren and Fr. Bobits will join Catholics and other Christians, followers of non‐Christian faiths, environmentalists and people of goodwill in marching to St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Laudate Sii, the forthcoming papal encyclical on ecology and to call for climate change action by world leaders.

Lutheran World Federation divests!

Tue, 2015-06-23 14:12
 LJ Pasion

Photographer: LJ Pasion

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) just announced that it will exclude fossil fuel companies from its investments and calls on its member churches with 72 million members to do likewise.

It also asks its member churches “not to invest in fossil fuels and to support energy efficiency and renewable energy companies, and to encourage their institutions and individual members to do likewise.”

The LWF is the latest of dozens of religious institutions that have committed to divest from coal, oil and gas companies or endorsed the effort, including the World Council of Churches representing half a billion Christians in 150 countries.

The announcement comes just days after Pope Francis’ moral call to action on climate change in his encyclical on the environment.

Ellie Roberts, UK church divestment campaigner at Christian charity Operation Noah comments:

“With this commitment, the Lutheran World Federation has joined hundreds of fossil free churches worldwide, acting prophetically in the face of the climate crisis by moving their money away from fossil fuels. Representing 72 million Christians in 98 countries – and coming as Pope Francis calls on the world to unite in tackling climate change – we hope this decision will inspire other churches to divest as a matter of faith.”

Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental group, says:

“For decades, LWF has empowered the world’s most vulnerable communities to fight poverty and to work for better lives. In recent years, they’ve seen that climate change, and its droughts, heat, and destructive weather cycles, erases the progress made. They’ve decided that it’s not right to profit from the industry that’s behind climate change, and we salute that choice.”

More details in the LWF press release.

Climate change may seem unstoppable, but so is our action – video

Mon, 2015-06-22 17:10

More than 30 young leaders from Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia gathered in Kyiv, Ukraine at the end of May to exchange experience on DIY climate solutions at the ‘Climate Workroom’ training. Somewhere between practical workshops and visionary brainstorms they found a time to shot this video, for they have something to tell you wherever you are:

Climate movement is growing everywhere – and the possitive change is unstoppable!

In support of the #Action2015 campaign

Local community & Traditional Owners risk arrest to protect Reef and climate

Mon, 2015-06-22 12:08

Led by Aunty Carol Prior, a Juru elder and traditional custodian of the Abbot Point area, dozens of people have risked arrest by walking onto the Abbot Point Coal Terminal lands to deliver their pledge of commitment to protect the Great Barrier Reef and global climate by preventing the Abbot Point coal port from going ahead. In a powerful escalation of the global campaign against Indian mining company Adani’s proposed Abbot Point and Galilee Basin coal projects, over 120 people have today peacefully protested at the Abbot Point port.

Pledge your support: http://reefdefendersalliance.org

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As the UN World Heritage Committee prepares to meet in Bonn next week to discuss threats to the Reef, this protest shows the depth of community concern over Adani’s plans to dig up the coal reserves of the Galilee Basin and construct a massive new coal export port at Abbot Point in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

‘We are parents, and grandparents, tourism operators and farmers, traditional owners and conservationists from all parts of Australia,’ said Sandra Williams, Airlie Beach resident. ‘The community is saying no to this project. Not here, not now, not ever,’ said Williams.

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The protest foreshadows a sustained campaign of civil disobedience against construction of the controversial project which has already been ranked as having the third highest reputation risk of any project on the planet.

‘We are standing together, united as one, to protect Mother Earth. Mother Earth – our environment – is my culture, my heritage, and my Aboriginality,’ said Juru elder, Aunty Carol Prior.

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‘We’re here today standing up for the future of the Great Barrier Reef, and a safe climate future for our grandchildren,’ said Williams.

‘I’ve worked in the Whitsunday tourism industry for twenty years. A vibrant tourism industry depends on a vibrant Reef. The Reef is suffering irreparable damage created by coastal industrialisation, including ports, and by climate change from increasing coal use.

The Queensland government is currently preparing to submit the controversial dredging project to the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt for approval.

‘We want to see investment in a positive future for our region, in job-rich renewables and a healthy and sustainable tourism industry instead of this project.

‘Adani has repeatedly overstated the local economic benefits of the project and exaggerated jobs figures by eightfold. We’ll be left to deal with the damage while Adani’s short-lived profits flow offshore.

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Eleven international banks have refused to fund the project whilst over three million people around the world have opposed it including a petition of 670,000 people delivered to the US Export Import Bank in Washington DC last week. Today’s action comes just days after Pope Francis delivered his ground breaking encyclical on the environment, calling for an urgent shift away from fossil fuels.

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Praised Me: Pope Francis’ Climate Encyclical

Thu, 2015-06-18 15:10

As we stand at this critical juncture, his holiness Pope Francis has released an encyclical — the highest form of teaching by the Catholic Church – that focuses solely on our relationships with the environment. More than just a theological statement though, it is an awakening for the world to understand how climate change impacts people all over the world, especially the poor. With humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources, the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds. In the Pope’s view, an ethical and economic shift is urgently needed in order to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality. The moral imperative for climate action is true for people of all faiths, from all corners of the world.

Learn more here

 

Ludzkość ma jeden wspólny dom

Thu, 2015-06-18 08:57

Papieska encyklika jest przestrogą. Jej przesłanie bierze się z troski o naszą planetę – „wspólny dom” jak nazywa ją sam Papież. Interpretowanie jej w kategoriach ataku i agresji świadczy o głęboko zakorzenionym strachu i braku zrozumienia dla osiągnięć współczesnej nauki.

Encyklika

Oficjalna prezentacja encykliki “Laudato sii” odbyła się dzisiaj w Watykanie o godzinie 11.00. Przedstawią ją kard. Peter Turkson, przewodniczący Papieskiej Rady “Iustitia et Pax”, prawosławny metropolita Pergamonu Jan (Zizioulas) oraz niemiecki klimatolog Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.

Słowa “Laudato sii” (Pochwalony bądź) nawiązują do przypisywanej św. Franciszkowi z Asyżu (1181/82-1226) “Pieśni słonecznej”, której większość strof rozpoczyna to zawołanie. Ten XIII-wieczny kantyk, najstarszy zabytek poezji w języku włoskim, jest pieśnią pochwalną cudu stworzenia.

„Antypolski” charakter encykliki

Tekst encykliki wyciekł w tym tygodniu. Polskie media szybko zareagowały alternatywną interpretacją papieskiego orędzia. Otóż, jak podaje Rzeczpospolita, papież przygotował dokument antywęglowy, a zatem „antypolski” (takie głosy gazeta słyszy w samym Watykanie).

To ciekawa perspektywa, ale papieską encyklikę można interpretować też w inny, nieco bardziej naukowo ugruntowany sposób.

Otóż sam efekt cieplarniany jest nam dobrze znany od ponad wieku. Brytyjski fizyk John Tyndall w latach 50. XIX wieku dokonał laboratoryjnych pomiarów promieniowania podczerwonego, czyli ciepła. Wykazał, że gazy takie jak CO2 absorbują ciepło, działając jak koc ogrzewający powierzchnię Ziemi1.

By uniknąć katastrofalnego globalnego ocieplenia musimy zmniejszyć emisję CO2 do atmosfery. Bezpieczny poziom stężenia cząstek Co2 w atmosferze to 350 cząstek na milion. W tym roku przekroczyliśmy poziom 402 cząstek na milion.

Znamy też trzy liczby:

– 2 stopnie Celsjusza – to próg niebezpiecznych zmian klimatycznych, którego nie możemy przekroczyć.

– 565 gigaton – to ilość dwutlenku węgla, którą cały czas możemy bezpiecznie wydzielić do atmosfery. Wyższa emisja oznacza, że zapomnieć możemy o 2 stopniach Celsjusza.

– 2795 – gigaton CO2 wyemitujemy do atmosfery jeśli zdecydujemy się spalić złoża paliw kopalnych, o których istnieniu wiemy na dzień dzisiejszy.

Naukowcy są zgodni co do jednego – jeśli spalimy nasze dzisiejsze rezerwy paliw kopalnych, życie na naszej planecie nie będzie już możliwe.

Zagrożenie to rozumieją politycy – na tegorocznym spotkaniu G7 liderzy grupy opowiedzieli się za całkowitą redukcją CO2 do końca XXI wieku.

Rozumie je także rynek. Inwestorzy szybko reagują na wzrost ekonomicznego ryzyka związanego z przemysłem paliw kopalnych. W zeszłym roku Fundacja Rockefellera ogłosiła, że zamierza pozbyć się udziałów w przemyśle paliw kopalnych. W tym roku norweski parlament jednogłośnie opowiedział się za radykalnym ograniczeniem inwestycji węglowych finansowanych z państwowego funduszu naftowego (dysponuje niebagatelną pulą w wysokości 900 mld).

Rozumie je także Papież Franciszek, który w swej encyklice podkreśla, że czas na poszukiwanie globalnych rozwiązań dobiega końca. Ochrona naszej planety jest naszym etycznym obowiązkiem. Wywołana przez człowieka zmiana klimatu jest naukowo potwierdzonym faktem, a stanowcze łagodzenie jej skutków to moralny obowiązek ludzkości. Słowa papieża o tym, że kraje oparte na energetyce węglowej niszczą środowisko przez emisję CO2 to nie złośliwe komentarze godzące w naszą rację stanu. To stanowisko oparte na badaniach naukowych, które zdecydowana większość światowych polityków przestała negować już jakiś czas temu.

Czas by zrozumieli to także polscy przywódcy i polskie media.

Lund University divest direct holdings from fossil fuels

Wed, 2015-06-17 10:43

Text by Cherry Tsoi and Joep Karskens, Fossil Free Lund University 

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Our university made the decision on Friday (June 12, 2015) to divest parts of their investments in coal, oil and gas. This is a large victory for our campaign and for climate justice, as the coal, oil and gas industry are for the first time pinpointed in the university’s official documents as an unethical investment.

Check out our press release (in Swedish) for more info and quotes>>

What does this mean?

Within 5 years, Lund University aim to divest their direct holdings – money donated to the university directly – from coal, oil and gas companies. This applies to approximately 1/10 of the investments that the university is responsible for – the ones that the board has direct control of – but not the foundations that make up 9/10 of their investments.

This means they are dedicated to divest their appr 160 million SEK “direct donations” from fossil fuels, while the over 1.6 billion SEK valued foundations remain to be divested.

The new ethical guidelines say that funds “may not invest in companies where business within coal, oil and gas extraction is more than 10% of their profit or revenue”. (our translation)

Even if this isn’t full divestment, the decision for the first time shows clearly the board’s commitment to take responsibility for investments to be aligned with the university’s values regarding climate change.

How did we get there?

Two years ago LU students launched the Fossil Free campaign, demanding that the university divest from fossil fuels. During this time there has been a gradual build-up of pressure on the university to make the right decision; once more than 1600 students signed a petition with these demands, the students handed over the long list of signatures to the former vice-chancellor right before the University Board’s two-monthly meeting in October 2014 – and came back to remind the board with banners and even more signatures every following meeting throughout last year.

In support of their students, 180 researchers  and staff wrote a compelling open letter to the Board urging them to divest – for ethical as well as financial reasons:

Investing in fossil fuels is not only unethical but also plain stupid in light of the ambitions to mitigate climate change. The opposite, clean technologies, is growing faster and gives better returns for the economy and the environment, commented Professor Lars Nelsson.

Professor Erik Clark added:

Research at Lund University and internationally shows that the actions of financial institutions contribute to generating climate change. Strategic investment of financial resources is an important means to reduce use of fossil fuels. To not divest in assets associated with high use of fossil fuels is to contribute to the crisis.”

With 1800 student signatures, 180 researchers and staff and the majority of the student unions supporting them, the Fossil Free campaigners organised another week of actions right before the Board’s last meeting before summer on the 8th of June. Students from Lund University, as well Gothenburg University and Uppsala University, organised an online Twitter storm challenging their universities to break the silence from their side on this topic and come with an official statement on their position.

On the 12th of June, Lund University’s official statement was this: divestment of their direct donations.

What’s next?

1800 sigs close-upPatience, endurance and persistence prove to be vital qualities in the global and local struggles for a fossil free future.

For two years (and in examples from the US even up to four or five years), the University board responded on our demands with the same answers or no answers at all. Decisions were postponed until the next meeting or the next financial report.

We are thus very excited about this partial commitment to divestment, and we recognize that the university board is increasing its efforts to hear our plea – showing a clear endorsement of the idea of divestment. However, this is not the end of the road for Fossil Free LU – we need a complete divestment from the University board, and we will continue to encourage Lund university to lead as one of the first Swedish universities to fully divest from fossil fuels.

On the ground report: climate activists on the record floods in the Republic of Georgia

Tue, 2015-06-16 12:14

Yesterday we received an alarming letter from our friends and climate activists in Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia in South Caucasus. Over the weekend, unexpected and extremely heavy rains caused a deadly flood in the city. The floods led to human loss and many homes were devastated in its path. The city Zoo was also destroyed in its entirety leaving lions, bears and a hippopotamus straying the streets of Tbilisi. While the authorities and ordinary people unite to organise search and relief efforts, Tsiala, Aleksandre and Levan share this update to highlight the  links between climate change and extreme weather events such as this.  

—–

It was an ordinary Saturday night and people were attending concerts and clubs not expecting the whole city would be engulfed in chaos later that night. A sudden outpour of rain caused the mountain river Vere to overflow in a matter of hours causing unprecedented destruction in its path .

‘We couldn’t have imagined that this rain would trigger such violent and disastrous consequences, that it could kill someone, – writes Aleksandre Tkeshelashvili, a student from Tbilisi. Sadly, the recent death toll has risen to 12 and around 200 people have been left homeless seeking shelter in  different locations in Tbilisi’.

The animals from the city’s low-lying Zoo ran away in an attempt to escape the overflowing water and became a hazard for citizens as they ran through the city streets. The police couldn’t stop them unfortunately; later some were tranquillised and caught while others had to be killed.

‘I saw the police  kill several of the animals. I couldn’t even imagine [that such things could happen]’, – local climate and anti-coal activist Tsiala Abesadze shares in the email.

No official statistics have yet been published, but it is estimated hundreds of families have been left homeless, the losses are too dramatic and Tbilisi won’t forget this night for a long time. The damage is said to be in the estimates of USD$10 mln.

The tragedy left no one indifferent. Many have gathered to provide on the ground help and distribute first aid and food. ‘When I went to the hotel, I saw a lot of people carrying food and supplies to the families and it was a great feeling of solidarity and kindness’, says Aleksandre.

Still, external help is crucial to ensure timely help amidst the chaos. Environmental and youth activist Levan Pangani and his friends promote a local charity platform WeHelp that receives international donations for the flood victims, while others have started a campaign on the Indiegogo.

Yet little has been said about the cause of the disaster. According to experts, flooding and other extreme weather events are amongst the most likely consequences from global climate change.

‘People are negatively impacting the climate, and consequently the climate negatively impacts people in response’, says Tsiala a young organiser who works for the Geo-Eco Alliance of Georgia working to mobilise rural youth in a fight against coal mining in Georgia.

If we continue living without thinking and acting to mitigate climate change, climate catastrophes will lead to more and more losses.

‘Tbilisi and its citizens are witnessing first hand the effects of climate change. Lots of trees are being cut down and coal in being extracted and burnt every day worldwide with little care to what this means for the environment and the long term well-being of the planet. In some way we could say nature is retaliating on people and the case of these floods Georgians are the ones taking the hit.  This is a huge emotional and economical loss for our citizens. Please help us rebuild our city’, she urges.

‘We need people to understand the limitation of our environment. We all have to give climate change increasing priority, inform everyone and ensure people are involved. Now we, the people of Georgia and our city needs your support’, writes Aleksandre in an appeal to international community.

Help Georgians to overcome the disastrous aftermath by sharing this article and donating via either WeHelp or Indiegogo.

Thanks you for your solidarity!

Let a million climate actions bloom

Fri, 2015-06-12 09:59

In the past week there has been a ferment of opposition against dirty energy across the Philippine archipelago as communities, organisations and the Catholic church step up campaigns in multiple sites of struggles following news of the Norwegian parliament’s formal endorsement to sell off coal investments from its $900 Billion sovereign wealth fund, which for the Philippines means the divestment of funds from several of the country’s top dirty energy producers including: Semirara Mining Corporation, Aboitiz Power Corporation, DMCI Holdings Incorporated and Manila Electric Company.

Atimonan townsfolk cry: No to coal!

Atimonan, Quezon: More than 1,500 protesters, led by Church leaders, staged a procession in Atimonan, Quezon province to dramatize opposition to the proposed 1,200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in the town that faces the Pacific Ocean, some 173 kilometers south of Manila.

Dubbed as “Lakad-Dasal-Bibliya para sa Kalikasan,”(Walk-Pray-Bible), the procession first went around town before stopping in front of the municipal hall for a short program. The marchers proceeded to the town’s Our Lady of the Angels Parish Church grounds for an overnight vigil and were joined be a delegation of activists from organizations such as Greenpeace Philippines, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice  (PMCJ)  and 350.org.


1 Million for Renewable Energy

Quezon City, Metro Manila: Representatives from the Catholic Church,  civil society organizations and local communities banded together to launch a National Petition for Renewable Energy,  to gather one million signatures to urge the government to move away from a fossil-fuel driven power industry towards a more sustainable, community-based, democratic renewable energy system.

This effort was led by the Power for People Network which expressed distress over the approval of 59 coal plants and 118 coal mining permits, with 15 more coal plants in the pipeline, which would lead to further coal dependence, as it will comprise 80 to 90% of the overall power mix in the Philippines.

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), PMCJ 350.org and Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) were among the organizations present in the launch of the petition.

Dismantling DMCI’s stranglehold on the Philippine Environment

Makati City, Metro Manila: To commemorate World Environment Day, environmental activists under the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment held a picket protest outside the office of DMCI Holdings denouncing its various environmental crimes and human rights violations in several biodiversity areas in the Philippines.

The protest action was meant to call for an independent investigation to look into the outstanding risks and negative impacts to the people and the environment by DMCI’s various operations.

Resistance in Palawan

Palawan: Despite having been cleared by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), environmental and civil society groups are not giving up the fight to stop the construction of a coal-fired power plant in the western Philippine province often described as the country’s last frontier.

In response PACE denounced the project, also scored the PCSD for issuing a strategic environmental plan clearance to the project, describing it as a “brazen disregard of its core mandate to protect Palawan’s environment.” They also called on their fellow Palawenos to continue the battle of the residents of Panacan, Narra and San Juan, Aborlan who resisted this dirty and harmful energy project, and ensure that a coal plant is not built in San Isidro, Narra and anywhere in Palawan.

While the Palawan NGO Network Incorporated, the largest umbrella group of nongovernmental organizations in the province, filed a motion for reconsideration with the PCSD Friday last week asking the body to set aside the clearance it issued to the 15-megawatt power plant of DMCI.

On the legislative front lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution No. 2164, which called for an investigation of the PCSD’s granting of strategic environmental plan clearance to the coal project.

The Catholic Church calls against coal

Manila: A recent statement from the Catholic Church in the Philippines thru CBCP-NASSA has voiced its “strong opposition” to coal and coal mining, noting how this will only make the country a major contributor to climate change, endangering the ecosystem, as well as the health and lives of people.  The call came out simultaneously with appeals from Bishops Marquez and Arguelles to resist coal projects in their diocese located in Lucena, Quezon and Lipa Batangas.

Going a step beyond advocacy on climate change, CBCP-NASSA thru Caritas Philippines has also been working closely as well with the nine dioceses from Yolanda-hit areas through its recovery and rehabilitation program, by giving shelter, water sanitation, and hygiene facilities, livelihood, and food security, and ecosystem recovery interventions to disaster survivors.

Keeping the momentum

As the eyes of the world turn towards the coming release of Pope Francis’  encyclical on the environment, Laudato sii, the numerous actions that have sprang out like antibodies to protect the Philippines from the surge of destructive coal projects highlight an the growing consciousness among Filipinos that are calling for an energy revolution that hopefully would come to fruit soon.

Sign up here to join the call for Energy Transformation in the Philippines

Report from Bonn: Climate action is in the air ..

Thu, 2015-06-11 18:39

This week 350.org was at the climate negotiations held in Bonn. 350.org was on the panel of the closing press conference held by CAN. Below is the statement made: 

 

This week — and the past few months — have seen an incredible surge of momentum for climate action around the world. Climate action is in the air.

People, businesses, faith communities, and even some politicians, are showing that they are ready to turn away from fossil fuels and towards a 100% renewable energy future.I have a three-page list of accomplishments from outside this process, but since there’s limited time, let me share just a few highlights.

First, the fossil fuel divestment campaign is on a winning streak.

Last week, Norway’s $890 billion dollar government pension fund sold close to $9 billion worth of coal investments. In the last month, Oxford University, Edinburgh University, Georgetown University, the insurance company AXA and more, have also made divestment commitments with banks like Crédit Agricole refusing to finance new coal. And campaigns continue to grow at hundreds more institutions around the world.

Businesses are also moving their money in the right direction. IKEA recently pledged €1 billion euro of climate finance. No offense to rich countries, but if a furniture store is making a €1 billion euro commitment, you could probably up your game.

Some politicians do seem to be getting the message. The mountain air must have been invigorating, because this week the G7 leaders announced an end to the fossil fuel age, agreeing to decarbonize the global economy and transform their energy sectors. While these long-term goals are promising, short-term action is still grossly lacking. In the real world, the only way to match that rhetoric will be for the G7 to start leaving fossil fuels in the ground, while providing the finance and support for others to do the same.

Let’s see the road map to get to this fossil free destination.

Leaders are responding because the public demand for action is undeniable. New data from World Wide Views show that 80% of people around the world are very concerned about climate change. And 68% of citizens think tackling climate change will improve their quality of life. Also, according to a report by the International Trade Union Confederation – 9 out of 10 people want to see leaders take climate action.

That demand will only grow louder over the months ahead.

Just next week, we will welcome the Pope’s climate encyclical, which we expect to issue a clear moral call for action. Soon after, the medical community will weigh in on the health impacts of climate change with the new Lancet commission report.

And the people will keep marching: mobilizations are planned across Europe and around the world. Just this morning, activists with the German group Ende Gelande hosted an action training outside this conference center to prepare for a mass protest of the Rhineland coal mines, the largest source of CO2 emissions in Europe, located just 40km from here in Bonn.

All these actions should send shivers down the spines of the fossil fuel industry. Much more work to be done, but change is going to come. In many places it already has.

Around 100 members of the Berliner Ärzteversorgung (pension fund of physicians in Berlin) are asking their pension fund to divest

Thu, 2015-06-11 15:03

Divestment of fossil fuels additionally discussed at the recent German Medical Assembly in May 

At the beginning of April, 97 members of the Berliner Ärzteversorgung sent a letter calling on their pension fund to divest all of their fossil fuel shares within the next five years and to reinvest the freed capital in shares that support a sustainable and healthy future. The Berliner Ärzteversorgung holds assets worth 7-8 billion Euro.

Eckhard Schreiber-Weber from MEZIS (Initiative of incorruptible doctors)

The letter was initiated by Eckhard Schreiber-Weber, board member of MEZIS and myself, a member of the IPPNW– International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

In our letter we referred to the health impacts of burning fossil fuels. The combustion of fossil fuels, particularly of coal, already causes pollution that leads to the premature death of millions of people every year. According to the Lancet Commission climate change poses the biggest threat to human health in the 21st century.

We argue that if the increase in temperature is to remain within the international community’s agreed 2° target, we must keep 60-80 % of the existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground. According to members of the financial community, the Bank of England and the World Bank, climate change carries a big financial risk and, therefore, also affects medical pension funds.

IPPNW Berlin group

In our letter, we addressed the economic and moral responsibility, particularly that of doctors and medical organisations, to not continue investing in an industry, which is harmful to health and contributes to climate change – a threat to our entire civilisation. Sustainable investment has to pay off in the long-term, not only economically, but also ecologically. And the investment decisions of the pension fund should take into account public welfare and the living conditions of younger and future generations.

Meanwhile, during their recent general conference in May, the German Medical Assembly also dealt with the issue of divestment and has relegated a proposal for further discussion to the board. This proposal calls on all doctors and medical organisations, in particular pension funds, to divest from fossil fuel companies and to promote the debate on climate change and health within the medical profession and the general public.

In doing this, the proposal followed the decision of the British Medical Association, which in 2014 became the first association of physicians in the world to promote divestment. Generally, the debate within the British medical sector has been very helpful and a good example for us.

Dieter Lehmkuhl with his fellows from IPPNW demonstrating against nuclear power

With our call and with the ongoing debate at the German Medical Assembly, the issue has been placed on the agenda of the German medical profession. Apparently, the investment strategy of the Berliner Versorgungswerk is already relatively sustainable and it no longer holds any shares in coal companies. So, the pension fund appears generally open to discussing our concerns.

The process of clarification within the committees of the medical pension fund requires some time. We, therefore, do not expect a quick decision. However, a positive outcome would surely act as a signal for other medical and other professional pension funds to also examine their divestment options. The climate and future generations will be more than grateful.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed,

Dieter Lehmkuhl

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