Earth Hour has become an expression of unanimity and solidarity for a more sustainable path to progress, with millions of people across the globe taking part in the initiative every year.
As good as it is though, we must never forget that responding proportionately to the challenge posed by climate change it must not begin and end in an hour.
The 60-minute lights-off comes as a reminder that we should take it as a first step towards a long journey to a near future, where Earth Hour would no longer be needed to remind us to take action and seize opportunities to turn the world upside-down by changing the way we live and for paving the way for systems that prioritizes sustainability and meaningful change for a world that badly needs climate action.
The switch-off is a call for a sustained and conscious effort to become real agents of change in this struggle to switch on a fossil-free world by pursuing: energy efficiency, renewable energy, fossil-fuel divestment and climate justice as concrete steps that we can take for ushering in a sustainable and just future.
Of course we cannot do this alone that’s why we are counting on you to stand with us. Together, let us show move beyond the hour expressing our personal commitment to climate action. Switching off is a good start. But it is only insurmountable if the inspiring feeling that we all had last night would be translated into daily actions that would be our individual contribution to the global movement that’s dedicated to combating the climate threat.
This week, for the second time in a row, the World Social Forum (WSF) gathered in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab spring. During the five-day event, 70,000 delegates from more than 4,000 organisations representing 120 countries discussed a wide range of issues and topics including, climate justice, immigration, media freedom, women’s rights, refugees and energy.
A group from 350.org was in attendance to talk about climate justice, the growing divestment movement and the inter-sectionality between environmental, social, economic and political issues.
The WSF’s 10th global meeting is seen as the critics’ answer to the Davos World Economic Forum bringing together social movements from around the world to discuss grassroots struggles for political change.
The forum offers an arena beyond formal politics, a space where activists and civil society groups can explore alternative pathways to social, economic and climate justice. The bi-annual WSF, described by organisers as more a process than a conference, is the largest global gathering of activists and social movements.
The WSF grew out of anti-globalisation protest movements in the late 1990s. Since it first met in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2001, it has served as a space of reflection for groups and movements that oppose neo-liberalism and strive for social and economic justice.
Powerful social and environmental movements which claim alternative policies seeking social and environmental justice have erupted around the world. This year people have come together from around the world to consolidate efforts to reverse the global rush to oligarchic rule and environmental catastrophe.
Global efforts to defend the environment, end poverty and marginalisation, advance women’s rights, protect human rights, and promote fair and dignified employment are all being undermined as a consequence of the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few. The current clampdown on civil society taking place in many parts of the world is precisely because it represents a challenge to the nexus of money and power.
Activists at the WSF are clear that the different issues that have brought us into activism–whether social justice or climate justice, economic rights or civil rights–are all part of a common struggle for a world in which everyone matters and in which the power of ordinary people can challenge the people with power.
This is precisely why the WSF is so urgent and necessary.
350.org Vanuatu sent us a report of their response to Tropical Cyclone Pam — and we feel there is much to learn and be inspired by in how they responded, so we’ve put together a timeline based on their report. As Tropical Cyclone Pam approached, they began mobilising their volunteer base to help communities get prepared and in the aftermath 350 Vanuatu has been helping lead the relief and recovery efforts. They’ve done this with minimal money, but massive amounts of passion, care and amazing grassroots leadership.
This is their story.
By Mikhail Matveev, 350.org Communication Coordinator on East Europe, Causasus, Central Asia -March 18, 2015
Climate change is happening in our region 2.5 times faster than the global average. It brings droughts, floods, fires and smog. But there is encouraging news as well: more and more people are implementing up-to-date green solutions and creating an alternative, literally with their own hands, to the climate-wrecking fossil fuel economy and ruthless exploitation of the Earth’s resources.
To avoid a global climate change disaster, humanity must bring about a real revolution in the coming decades: reject fossil fuels, put an end to deforestation, and learn to create “green” cities with modern electric transport, a comfortable urban environment, energy-efficient houses and 100% recycling. Hardly any doubts about this are ever expressed by the majority of scientists, climatologists and economists, including the UN experts who published the Fifth Assessment Report on climate change.
But where does the revolution begin? In the climate experts’ report? At a summit in Paris scheduled for the end of this year? In the first ever solar energy-driven flight around the globe? At a half a million-strong march that flooded the streets in fall 2014?
All of these are of course very important. But the real changes will only take place when average people feel that the new green lifestyle is a real change for the better around us rather than just another load of fancy talk from another leader. Real change that can be looked at, touched and enjoyed here and now. Change we can grow used to and begin to see as an integral part of our everyday lives.
Enabling people to touch the future green world is the principal task of the projects completed within the framework of the Climate Workroom program last year by activists from the region’s countries with the support of 350.org.
Some detail on what has been done so far:
Thanks to the Climate Workroom and The Little Earth organization from Tajikistan, dwellers in the alpine Pamir discovered that there is no need to cut trees for heating; a solar thermal collector will provide free energy and the trees can keep growing and helping to preserve the climate from warming and the highlanders from deadly mudflows.
The Life without Sockets project participants proved that green energy helps survival, even in the Siberian taiga.
But the Climate Workroom is not just about remote areas. In Kutaisi (Georgia), the Workroom’s participants helped an orphanage to become energy efficient by using up-to date LED bulbs. It turned out that the new lighting not only saves energy, but also helps grow greenery and vegetables that are richer in vitamins, even during the winter. And they are now looking forward to switching to clean solar panel energy.
The people of Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine) found inspiration in a similar idea but they decided to build an entire energy-efficient house that would receive a maximum of its necessary energy from the sun. The activist-driven Ecoloft is planned to become the home of the city’s entire environmentalist movement.
The Ecoloft project is nearing completion (courtesy EcoDnepr)
In Lviv (Ukraine), local activists decided to combine a street exercise bike and a cell phone charging point. It is healthy while your phone feeds from your energy rather literally.
This is how the Climate Workroom was judged by its participants:
“The workroom activities are interesting. For me personally, it was a good incentive to research and write in the field of alternative energy. I collected more material than expected. And I want to continue sharing all this stuff”
- -Aleksandr Ivanov, Life without Sockets project, Russia
“Don’t listen to skeptics, don’t wonder if you’ve done enough, just do it! Even your insignificant green projects can become an essential link in a large-scale change and inspire others! The first stage of the Climate Workroom is a proper foundation, so let’s keep building a solid and steady common home on it!”
- -Natalya Idrisova, The Little Earth, Tajikistan
“The Project had an important role … first of all, it helped form a team, involve new interesting folks in the work of 350.org and make this project happen. During the course of the project, the teams wrote blog posts, which allowed us to tell our stories to a wide audience, while the teams could delve into the ideas they generated. The project must be continued, because only through its systematic implementation can a great effect be achieved.
At this stage, the Climate Workroom did what it had to do; it attracted interesting people and raised interest in 350.org, and the continuing work will enable us not only to solidify these achievements but also to have an impact on the environmental situation towards improvement”
- -Nugzar Kokhreidze, Academic and intellectual club Dialogue of Generations (RICDOG), Kutaisi, Georgia
“Moving towards a new, eco-friendly society model is not just perfectly possible. It is already happening everywhere. We can ensure it by ourselves and demand the same from the authorities”
-Yuliya Makliuk, the Climate Workroom coordinator on behalf of 350.org, Kyiv, Ukraine
The past year’s experience has shown that, in spite of the limited resources and restive politics in the region, we can bring the world of green ideas and green technologies a little closer to the people. This means that the work of the Climate Workroom will be continued this year. And there is much good news in this. First of all, the support program for the best practical projects will be extended. Secondly, it will be supplemented by thematic blog post contest on climate problems and suggested solutions. And, thirdly, the Workroom participants will be able to join an international campaign against climate change, while the most active will be able to attend the UN climate talks in Paris.
“The Climate Workroom-2015” is launched on 28 March with a contest for the projects to participate in the support program.
So please follow our updates on the web (in Russian):
Mikhail Matveyev and the entire 350.org team
The Guardian, one of the world’s most respected and influential news organisations, has joined the fight to keep fossil fuels underground by launching its own divestment campaign in partnership with 350.org.
In just 24 hours, more than 75,000 people have joined the campaign on the Guardian’s website asking the world’s largest charitable foundations – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust – to divest their endowments from fossil fuels.
In a watershed moment for the growing divestment movement, The Guardian outgoing editor-in-chief has decided to set the Guardian’s editorial sights on keeping the majority of fossil fuels underground and achieving significant progress on climate change before he steps down in June, after 20 years at the helm.
Both the Wellcome Trust and Gates Foundation are full of good people who recognise the huge threat that climate change poses to the health of millions — but their significant investments in fossil fuels are completely out of step with their mission and actively undermining their own good work.
Join the campaign to end this dangerous double standard now:
Together, we can convince these charitable organisations to lead by example and stop profiting from the industry wrecking our chances of a safe, healthy future. If the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust divest from fossil fuels, it will send a powerful signal that tackling climate change and promoting global health and development are two sides of the same coin.
We know this can work – it already is! The fossil fuel divestment movement is winning new victories every week – from the City of Oslo to the Rockefeller Foundation – and each act of divestment helps build an even stronger case for keeping fossil fuels underground.
With enough of us on board – and working with The Guardian newspaper – we know we can convince huge health and development charities like Wellcome and Gates to divest and create the watershed moment needed for climate action.
Sign the petition now – and then please share it widely with friends and family
It’s completely counter-productive to help those affected by climate change using money made from the fossil fuel industry. And it’s increasingly clear that fossil fuels are a bad long term investment. To avoid climate crisis, we’re going to have to leave 80% fossil fuels in the ground — which means current fossil fuel shares are massively overvalued and investors could lose billions.
This is a battle we must win, and together we will. Over the coming months we’ll be working with The Guardian, Avaaz and other partners to help us secure some major divestment wins around the world – please do join us.
If you want to know more about the partnership between 350.org and The Guardian, click below to listen to a fascinating podcast by the editor-in-chief of The Guardian on why he decided it was time to use their influence to make an impact on climate change.
Today 350 Pacific’s Coordinator, Koreti Tiumalu sent this message to 350.org supporters to update them about the situation in Vanuatu.
“In the next days people will not have enough food anymore”
Isso Nihmei, 350 Vanuatu Coordinator.
By now you’ve probably heard about Tropical Cyclone Pam — the category 5 cyclone that brought devastation upon the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu. Cyclone Pam was the strongest storm to ever hit Vanuatu with some estimates suggesting that up to 42,000 homes being damaged and 150,000 people affected.
350.org has a special relationship with Vanuatu. It’s hard to describe the feeling of grief that we felt as news of the destruction on the ground was sent to us by 350 Vanuatu’s Country Coordinator, Isso Nihmeh.
As the storm began to batter the Island and Isso’s updates were coming through, our team was anxiously glued to our computers. Unsure how long the connection would last, there was a shared feeling of helplessness amongst us. Then, in a message sent to the Climate Warriors in a Facebook conversation, Isso writes:
“We have hope that everything will be fine..we’re doing our best to help our people…thank you all for your prayers, peace be with you all..WE FEEL YOU.”
The 350 Vanuatu team were right there throughout pre-storm evacuations, maintaining communications during the storm, and now, working on the ground in the harrowing aftermath of a storm that has completely annihilated their Island. Isso and the team have been tirelessly supporting displaced families, clearing debris, and even recovering bodies of those unable to protect themselves from the storm – all the while, providing updates to our Pacific team.
In the wake of this unimaginable disaster it is easy to feel helpless, but the international community has already rallied around the Pacific and the support has made all the difference. In the last 48 hours, the outpouring of love and support for Vanuatu and the Pacific in messages and posts to the 350 Pacific page has been immense. Isso and the team have asked us to continue to keep them and their people in our prayers – and we will. #PrayForThePacific has been our hashtag, and it has become a way for us to connect, pray and send words of hope to the people of Vanuatu. The people of the Pacific are people of faith, and your prayers and messages mean so much.
Humanitarian organisations are already on the ground providing relief, but with over 80 remote islands and such utter devastation, the scale of the relief effort required is enormous and these organisations will need your support.
The relationship between climate change and more severe tropical storms is well understood, and extreme weather like Cyclone Pam remind us what is on the line in the struggle for climate justice.
In his last update, Isso sent us this message:
“Now that Cyclone Pam has left, it’s like a heat wave has hit us. Climate change is bringing new extremes to Vanuatu. It’s devastating us.”
These are the realities of being on the front lines of climate change and our Pacific people are well aware of this. But this is not what is at the forefront of their minds — right now, the people of Vanuatu are looking to the world for help. Crops have been destroyed, food rations are in short supply, thousands of families have been displaced, essential infrastructure is still down and search and rescue operations are continuing. Our hope is to be able to support these immediate needs.
We thank you for your support and ask that you will continue to keep Vanuatu and the people of the Pacific in your prayers.
Koreti Tiumalu on behalf of the 350 Pacific team
- The massive tropical storm Cyclone Pam is the first category 5 storm to hit landfall since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013.>>
- Hit island nation of Vanuatu around 10 pm Feb 13, with winds at 250 km/hr. Also impacted Tuvalu and Kiribati.>>
- Was 1 of 4 tropical storms in the West Pacific>>
- For Pacific Islanders already facing problems from climate change, this is a heavy catastrophe. Follow 350 Pacific to see more about this ongoing problem.
- To learn more about the climate crisis and the response needed for island nations – read this.
Follow our live blog for ongoing updates. 350 Vanuatu Coordinator Isso Nihmei is courageously doing relief work as well as sharing info from the ground.
*All times in local times in Vanuatu.[View the story “Cyclone Pam” on Storify]
On Thursday’s episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart rips into New Jersey Governor Christie’s settlement with Exxon, where Christie got the world’s wealthiest oil company off the hook for decades of toxic contamination.
Check out Jon Stewart’s as-always-hilarious coverage of this outrageous deal in the video below — then sign this petition demanding that Christie make Exxon pay for what they’v done.
Made you laugh? You can thank The Daily Show for that.
Overnight in the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila, Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam, one of the strongest storms seen in the South Pacific in years, continues to leave a trail of mass destruction. We received this update from the 350 Vanuatu team, who have been up all night helping locals during the storm. 350 Vanuatu coordinator, Isso Nihmei writes:
“It is now 04:00am in the morning and Tropical cyclone PAM issued warning number 33 for TORBA, SANMA, PENAMA, MALAMPA, SHEFA and TAFEA. Severe tropical cyclone PAM was located at 18.5 degrees south, 168.9 degrees east. This is about 25KM north northwest of Erromango and 115KM south southeast of Efate where the Capital Port Vila is situated. Severe tropical cyclone PAM move in a south direction at 23 KM/HR in the past 3 hours.PAM is position at the left centre of square letter H, number 8 (H,8) of the Vanuatu Tropical cyclone Tracking Map.
Very destructive hurricane force winds of 250KM/HR is affecting SHEFA and TAFEA province. Here in Port Vila (capital), we have experience destructive winds and heavy rains. Flying objects from place to place. Outside the Meteorology office while trying to stay awake/ alert assisting the National Disaster Management office officers with the operations during the cyclone we have witnessed falling objects from the office roof and piles of water running through doors and windows in the office. This is the first time most of us have experienced a category 5 system hit our country, and we know there’s huge impact in the islands and even Port Vila.
Our team has an update meeting with the Director General, Jotham Napat from the Ministry of Climate Change who acknowledged the work of all NDMO staff for the evacuation, but still there is a lot to be done after the cyclone.
I never seen this in my entire life and I know it was a shock to most people in my country. This is the most dangerous storm I have ever experienced, and I can even feel how severe it is on the outside, from inside the Meteorology building.
The National Management office can’t stop receiving calls every second and continues to disseminate warnings to people. At the very start, all communications from all provinces broke down and even our local radio station had to shut down. This has never happened before.
We are now preparing rations for distribution to all 23 evacuation centres, to an estimated 2,000 people in the evacuation centre in Port Vila. To those who are thinking of us in their prayers and following Tropical Cyclone PAM, we take this moment to acknowledge your presence with us. We know it is very hard to keep our emotions and feelings with people who mean a lot to you, but we have to be strong and fight hard. This is our time to face it and we must all try to be safe.
Once again, thank you all for your prayers and thoughts for our people in the republic of Vanuatu.”
As Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam bears down on Vanuatu, we received this update from the 350 Vanuatu team, who have a team of 25 volunteers helping locals get prepared in time for the approaching storm. 350 Vanuatu coordinator, Isso Nihmei writes:
“Cyclone Pam has reached the northern islands of Vanuatu. It‘s now about 130 KM east of Maewo and 240 KM east northeast of Malekula. Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam moved in a south southwest direction at 12 KM/HR in the past 3 hours. People are experiencing rough sea and strong winds at the moment. Red alert over Torba, Sanma, Penama and Malampa and Shefa. Yellow alert over Tafea province. In Port Vila (the capital) we are getting ready and homes are secured. Pam will reach Shefa Province around 8 pm tonight. 350 Vanuatu with 25 Volunteers are currently working together with National Disaster Management Office and trying to share warning information with the public, evacuating people to evacuation centers and registering them to get relief enough to feed them.”
The 350 Pacific network is following the movements and impacts of Cyclone Pam closely, sharing updates on the 350 Pacific Facebook page – click here, and calling on people to join together in prayer to keep our beloved Pacific peoples safe. Here are photos of preparations in Port Vila, Vanuatu that Isso also sent through. The first photo shows Isso with some of the 350 Vanuatu volunteer relief team. Isso tells us the rest of the team were out in the field getting things ready!
Air pollution in Indian cities is at an all time high. Out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 13 are in India. Last year, the WHO ranked Delhi as having the worst air pollution in the world. Yet the discourse on air pollution has mostly remained closeted in a few charts or at times in press conferences. Out of the 13 Indian cities, only New Delhi has proper infrastructure to measure air pollution levels — and even now, city officials are delaying releasing information.
The link between climate change and air pollution is also missing from the mainstream discourse. India’s reliance on coal and the massive use of motor vehicles is massively contributing to climate change.
“Here’s why this matters for climate change: The dirty fuels that cause particulate pollution are the same dirty fuels that cause global warming. Cracking down on local air pollution will not only save lives, it will shift the economics of energy toward cleaner sources that produce less carbon.” — Care about global climate change? Then fight local air pollution
In his first review meeting with officials from the the environment and forests department, Delhi’s newly elected Chief Minister asked for ideas to tackle the problem of air pollution. Citizens from across Delhi came up with their unique solutions for the Chief Minister and here are some of them:
In the lead up to International Women’s Day I asked the staff of 350.org who were some of the women that inspire them in the climate justice movement. Women all over the world bear the brunt of climate impacts; however, it’s crucial to remember that they are also leaders in finding and implementing real sustainable solutions.
I also hope that International Women’s Day can progress to be more queer-inclusive and so I welcomed stories of women, trans, and gender-non-conforming people.
Here were the incredible responses from our team around the globe:
- Melina Laboucan-Massimo
Climate & Energy Campaigner Greenpeace Alberta Tar Sands Campaign
“She’s an amazing leader from the frontlines of the tar sands and has worked tirelessly to connect the issue of missing & murdered indigenous women with climate justice.”
- Lidy Nacpil
Convener of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and Asia coordinator of Jubilee South, vice president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition of the Philippines. She also serves on the board of 350.org and is the coordinator of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice.
“She been fighting over 30 years for justice. She links lots of issues together, i.e. sees the connections between capitalism, debt, colonialism, corruption, power. After the Marcos regime killed her husband in Philippines, she kept fighting, despite having a young daughter.”
Watch her interview with Amy Goodman during the recent climate talks in Lima, Peru in December 2014.
- Naomi Klein
Author, journalist, activist
Beyond the fact that she is an incredibly intelligent woman who brings the world some honest truths it needs to hear — in her many interviews with the press she continually highlights the role of so many of the women on the frontlines of fighting climate change.
- Koreti Tiumalu
Pacific Coordinator 350.org
“This woman inspires me to become the best I can be in this movement. She took me under her wing and showed me all the amazing things that can happen if I believe. Strong and courageous with a warm heart, these are the important things that make an inspiring woman.”
Watch her speech at Power Shift 2013
– Christine Milne
An Australian Senator and leader of the parliamentary caucus of the Australian Greens.
“I cannot even begin to imagine where we would be in Australia without her years of leadership on climate. She is without a doubt one of the most knowledgable people in Australia when it comes to climate policy and is unbelievably generous with her time, especially with young people.”
- Amelia Telford, Maria Clague and Larissa Baldwin
Organisers at Seed
“Seed is an amazing project which is organising young Indigenous Australians around the country to take part in the fight for climate justice. It’s difficult work that hasn’t really been done before but it is so vital to the climate fight. The work they are doing is absolutely vital and the fact that it is being led by three young women is just so cool.”
- Ewa Jasiewicz
“She’s an all-round radical uncompromising activist. She’s involved in Palestine solidarity work, union organising, and is a journalist/writer as well – and does everything amazingly. She occupied a gas-powered power station in a high profile story here in the UK. She’s also leading efforts against fuel poverty, and working with pensioners’ associations in the process. She’s not one who engages with mainstream climate stuff and is uninterested in working at the margins – she *makes* the margins into the mainstream. She’s amazing at connecting the dots. She’s super smart and kind.”
- Wangari Maathai
The founder of the Green Belt Movement and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
“When you talk of women and climate in Africa, you’ve gotta talk about Mama Trees! Sadly, she passed away in 2011, but she left an amazing legacy in Africa and Kenya especially and we still reference her a lot in our work.”
- Anjali Appadurai
“It was just a short speech, but I remember her talking at the 2011 Durban conference, and it hitting me like a lightning bolt… the power and the clarity and the compassion of what she said has stuck with me for years.”
- Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement!
“I can’t just choose one woman – but I just wanted to give a shoutout to all the badass women who are many of the crucial leaders of the fossil fuel divestment movement in the United States. Through my organizing around divestment the past 2 and a half years I have met more phenomenal women and queer organizers who are deeply committed to climate justice. It’s striking and inspiring that so many women are leading the movement to move our universities away from fossil fuels. ”
- Inna Datsiuk, Olga Monchak and Helen Angelova
“These three started the Ukrainian Youth Climate Association few years ago and have been developing it to become a leading youth-based movement building organization in the region.”
- Iryna Stavchuk and Nastassia Bekish
” Iryna is a leading climate and policy expert at National Environmental Center of Ukraine and a mom, rocking the analytical work and inspiring many to step on the climate activism path.”
“Nastassia is a mother of two, climate policy adviser at Green Alliance Belarus and a co-coordinator of CAN-EECCA together with Iryna Stavchuk.”
- Tatyana Kargina
“One of the brightest environmental activists in Russia, tirelessly leading on numerous fights, including the iconic movement against Copper-Nickel mining in Voronezh region in place named Khoper and numerous others.”
- Giovanna di Chiro
The Lang Professor for Issues of Social Change at Swarthmore College, and Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice at Nuestras Raíces, Inc. in Holyoke, Massachusetts
“Because she articulates environmental, climate and reproductive justice; because she’s not only a thinker but is involved in organising (toxic tours); because of her claim to “bring ecology back home”.”
- Colette Pichon-Battle
Executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy
In a 2014 interview she said: “Today should not have to be about reminding the nation that thousands of Gulf Coast residents continue to be impacted by the environmental and economic damage created by the BP oil disaster. The request by coastal residents four years later is the same as in 2010. Clean up the oil. Pay for the damage. And ensure that this never happens again.”
- Shadia Wood
Founder and Director of Project Survival Media
“Shadia is an inspiration because she partners with women around the world to tell stories from the front lines of the climate change, empowering them to tell their stories and engage a wider audience in their local context. Also: identifies as queer!”
- Anna Goldstein
U.S. Deputy Director 350.org
“The way she combines pragmatism and idealism, joy and seriousness, playfulness and responsibility, wisdom and humility, she’s truly an inspiration — I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought, I hope I can be more like Anna.”
I get to wrap up this list with my own nomination:- Oo Nie Kie
She was a young woman from the Karen ethnic minority in eastern Burma, and also my good friend and neighbor. Oo Nie Kie had an effervescent personality and took care of many people around her. Educating women and whole communities in Karen state about the connections between gender justice and environmental justice was her passion. Even though Karen areas were still thick in a civil war with Burma’s military regime, she would spend weeks in villages at a time running training programs. I recorded this little video below one night after we cooked dinner, and just let her talk about some reflections. She had just returned to the Thai-Burma border after seeing the environmental devastation in her home. Not only do Karen women have to face the atrocities of the Burma Army, as well as patriarchy, but also abuses from foreign companies building pipelines through the region. When Oo Nie Kie passed away in September 2009 it was a massive blow to the community. I know she would have loved to meet every person also on this list.
There are so many more people that should be added! Who inspires you? Share on your social media.
For Immediate Release
Majority Of Energy East Applicants Want to Talk About Climate
Economists, students, teachers, farmers, unions among Canadians asking to be heard during pipeline review
Toronto, ON – At least 65 per cent of the total number of applicants, as of the deadline last night, to intervene in the National Energy Board’s review of the Energy East pipeline want to talk about climate change. Applicants include prominent climate scientists, economists, farmers, students, teachers, First Nations and hundreds of community members alongside and near the pipeline route.
TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, what would be North America’s single largest oil pipeline, has galvanized opposition, especially in Eastern Canada in much the same way the Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan pipeline proposals have led to staunch opposition in the West. With Energy East, concern with climate impacts has become a unifying force across Canada.
“I have applied to intervene at the NEB hearing to talk about the impact of the proposed pipeline on greenhouse gas emissions because I think that it’s outrageous that impacts of the pipeline on climate would be deliberately excluded from the assessment process,” said Danny Harvey Ph. D., Professor in the Geography and Planning department at the University of Toronto.
The NEB has refused to consider the climate impacts numerous times, despite over 100,000 messages demanding they include climate in the review.
“A full accounting of economic costs and benefits must include external costs of production — in particular, the impact on existing economic activity, potential impacts due to spills, and impacts on human populations associated with climate change impacts.” explained Marc Lee, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who also applied to intervene in the review.
Landowners and people dependent on the land and water that Energy East could impact also applied, including fisherman on the East Coast and farmers like Katie Ward, President of the National Farmers Union Local 362.
“As farmers in the Ottawa Valley, we’re concerned about the potential impacts of this pipeline, not only if there was a spill that could devastate our crops and animals, but also the long-term impact of focusing Canada’s efforts toward greater use of fossil fuel at the expense of renewable energy,” said Ward. “That’s why we’ve decided to register our opposition with the National Energy Board.”
Dozens of First Nations communities also applied to participate in the review of Energy East, many – like the Wolastoq Grand Council in New Brunswick – raising concerns about the threat that Energy East would pose to water and the risk of spills.
“The proposed route of the Energy East Pipeline will cross our rivers, streams, brooks and lakes at a minimum of 185 times,” said Ron Tremblay, spokesperson for the Wolastoq Grand Council. “Our people depend on those sacred waterways to gather medicines, pick fiddleheads, catch fish, and harvest numerous types of berries, nuts and animals.”
Students all along the pipeline route also applied by the hundreds, including the University of Winnipeg Student Association, the Student Society of McGill University, the Dawson College Green Earth Club and others.
“Students across Canada have been calling for divestment from tar sands companies because we know it’s not an investment if it’s wrecking the planet, and with Energy East we know it’s definitely not an environmental assessment if it doesn’t include climate impacts,” said Bronwen Tucker, a McGill Student and organizer with Coalition ÉCO (Étudiants et étudiantes contre les oléoducs), a network representing over 100,000 students in Quebec opposed to Energy East.
Other applicants to the NEB process include New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, municipalities, provincial governments and more.
– 30 –
Cam Fenton, 350.org, 604-369-2155, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: We will be happy to connect you with other spokespeople
By Miles Goodrich and Allyson Gross, Bowdoin College and the Divestment Student Network
On April 18, 2001, students from Harvard’s Living Wage Campaign marched into their school’s main administrative building and refused to leave. After 21 days of teach-ins, camp-outs, pickets, vigils, confrontations with the police, and intensive media coverage, the occupation came to a close as the students secured a living wage for 95% of campus workers. This escalated action was the culmination of four years of campaigning, and finally pushed the students to victory. Confrontational tactics like Harvard’s sit-in are often celebrated as flashy, but this alone does not explain why they’re so popular. If implemented strategically, they win.
When we think of student movements in history, they’re often characterized by these big moments that catapult campaigns to victory. From the 6-day student strike and occupation of Columbia University against the Vietnam War in April of 1968, to the shantytowns and sit-ins of the South African divestment movement in the late 1980s, the significance of nonviolent direct action lies in its ability to demonstrate student power and halt business as usual with a vision for a better future. Nonviolent direct action demonstrates activists’ commitment and willingness to make personal sacrifices, and shines a light on how far the opposition is willing to go to quell peaceful student protesters. By taking over their administrative building, Harvard students sent the message that if their officials wouldn’t take action for a living wage, they would.
Flash point moments alone, however, are not capable of changing the status quo. In every case of successful escalation, the tactics were preceded by years of organizing–building a strong base across campus, engaging with decision makers, and working through institutional channels. The adage “move slow to move fast” dictated activists’ strategy for years prior. In occupying Mass Hall, however, Harvard students drove their campaign to victory by forcing the administration to make a choice: either commit to a living wage, or show your true colors as callous and corrupt. The students would have won either way, by securing their demands or by strong messaging that painted the administration as repressive.
Such polarization, when supported by the broader community, not only demonstrates the commitment of the organizers but also propels the broader movement forward. Columbia’s first blockade for apartheid divestment in 1985, for example, sent shockwaves that were felt on other campuses, as students followed Columbia’s lead to build shantytowns on dozens of college lawns. Such escalation further alienated administrators from their communities and brought the devastation of apartheid onto campus. In effect, the actions asked of the administrators, “whose side are you on?”
Now it’s time for the fossil fuel divestment movement to escalate and force our college administrators to answer that question. We’ve petitioned. We’ve met with our administrators. We’ve demonstrated our power with rallies and marches. Coming up on the four year anniversary of the first calls to divest, we are now in the same place as Harvard’s living wage campaign was in 2001, and as Columbia in 1968 and 1985. This spring, we are taking the next step to ask our administrators whose side they are on, because neutrality is no longer an option: either they will side with perpetrators of the climate crisis, or with the students, faculty, and almni they claim to support. There is no middle ground.
This spring, the fossil fuel divestment movement is pledging to take nonviolent direct action in order to escalate our campaigns to victory, with some of us risking arrest on campus to further highlight the urgent need for action. Not only are we following in the footsteps of the movements before us, but we are also preparing to take action for justice even if our administrators are reluctant to join us.
Just as in the struggles against the Vietnam War, for a living wage, and for divestment from apartheid, our movement is powerful because we have risen up together. Join hundreds of students across the country in the biggest and most widespread demonstration of student power in the history of the fossil fuel divestment movement by taking the pledge now.
Just a few short weeks after 1000 people hit the streets of Oslo demanding divestment from fossil fuels on Global Divestment Day, we’re hearing reports that the City of Oslo has responded by divesting from coal.
Oslo is divesting US$7 million from its pension fund investments in coal. This places Oslo as the first capital city in the world to make a divestment commitment and we should congratulate them for doing so.
Our partners in the divestment campaign over in Norway, Framtiden i våre hender met the news with the following response:
“The year of 2015 is important, both because this is the year when we need to come together globally and secure a path towards a carbon free society, but in Norway we’re also having local elections, and if there’s any time for local leaders to show what future they want – this is the time.
The fact that Oslo is now divesting from coal is a victory for our hard work, and sends a strong signal to the government that is currently reviewing the investments of the national oil fund. We will regard it as poor leadership if the government choose to take a less powerful stand than Oslo when deciding their own strategy for a sustainable future.”
Framtiden had sent a letter to the mayor of Oslo along with other Norwegian municipalities in January, asking them to take climate leadership and become fossil free.
Let this be a signal for other cities to follow suit. It should also be inspiration to the Fossil Free network that organising for divestment is a solid strategy, and to keep on pushing the communities in which we live to make the right, moral and financial choice by divesting from oil, coal and gas.
On March 3rd the National Energy Board application period for the Energy East pipeline review ends. By then hundreds of people from all across Canada will have applied to the NEB review demanding to speak about the massive climate impacts of Energy East, equal to adding 7 million cars to Canada’s roads.
The NEB is the last review process and last regulatory body in Canada that could mandate climate reviews on tar sands pipelines, a necessity if Canada is going to get serious about tackling climate change. Unfortunately, NEB chair Peter Watson has so far refused to include climate change in the Energy East review claiming that despite the Board’s responsibility to review the cumulative environmental impacts of pipeline projects, climate change doesn’t rate.
Here are five reasons why Watson is wrong and why the NEB needs to review Energy East on climate.The NEB needs to rebuild public trust
Earlier this year a former Suncor board member and lifetime energy executive called the NEB a “farce” and stated that “this Board [is] a truly industry captured regulator”. This was just the latest piece of a story that has seen faith in the NEB fall so low that last October the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association presented polling at an industry conference that showed that only 3 in 10 Canadians still believed in the process. In BC support for the NEB process has fallen so far that the provincial NDP are calling for the province to abandon the Board all together.
The NEB knows that the public has loss faith, Watson himself has commented on the challenges facing the board, even setting off on a cross country tour trying to drum up support for the NEB and pledging to open regional offices in Montreal and Vancouver to better interact with communities. The problem though, is that the NEB’s refusal to listen to climate concerns is at the core of why people have little to no faith in the review process. The inability to bring climate concerns forward at the NEB was the spark for many to risk arrest on Burnaby Mountain late last year and led over 100,000 people to demand a climate review of Energy East – the largest petition ever delivered to the NEB. If the NEB truly wants to rebuild the public trust, they need to start by including climate change in the review of Energy East.It makes economic sense
According to their existing list of issues the NEB is responsible to review pipelines on the “economic feasibility of the Project”. With the collapsed price of oil and the threat of the carbon bubble become more and more real with each passing week, even earning a study from the Bank of England, the economic feasibility for pipeline projects like Energy East may actually hinge on considering the climate impacts of the project.
Andrew Leach, the Enbridge Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Calgary, puts it this way:
“When it comes to the question of demand for the pipeline, there’s an important climate change risk, which the NEB appears to be ignoring. Will the pipeline still be needed if Canada acts to meet its domestic commitments on climate change or if the world takes significant action on climate change, with or without Canadian participation?”
If the NEB is truly interested in making a determination as to whether a pipeline is in the national interest, whether or not there is an economic future for that pipeline or for the oil that is supposed to go in it seems like a good place to start.The precedent for climate reviews has been set
In 2011, then Environment Minister Peter Kent made a proud announcement that Canada was pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, abandoning our previous climate targets with the goal of harmonizing our climate plans with the United States. Fast forward to today and US President Barack Obama seems poised to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, largely because the pipeline would have a significant impact on climate emissions. Obama has the information to make this decision because the Environmental Protection Agency performed a climate review of the Keystone XL pipeline and found that “Until ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of oil sands are more successful and widespread, the Final SEIS makes clear that, compared to reference crudes, development of oil sands crude represents a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions”. If Canada truly wants to align our climate change action plans with the US, we should start by mandating NEB reviews that include climate change.The tar sands carbon math
A recent study in Nature found that in order to maintain a global climate target of 2 degrees maximum warming, Canada needs to keep the vast majority of tar sands in the ground. An earlier study by Marc Lee at the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives estimated that to stay within Canada’s fair share of a global carbon budget at least 78% of Canada’s proven fossil fuel reserves need to stay underground – 89% if you include proven-plus-probable reserves.
In other words, the math doesn’t add up. If Canada is going to have a just, fair climate policy that respects our role in the rest of the world the first step is to know how much more carbon we can emit. Only once we know that can we can craft policy and make decisions on whether a project is truly in the national interest by determining if fits with building the pathway for a just transition to 100% clean energy – a transition that the world best scientists say we need to make as soon as possible.Because they can
With over 100,000 messages demanding it and cl of all applicants to the Energy East review asking to speak on it, you’d think the easiest thing for the NEB to do is just to add climate change to the list of issues, as they already have with marine shipping concerns around Energy East. Even the NEB used to think it was in 2010 when a spokesperson to the Globe and Mail that “just because [climate change] wasn’t listed in the terms of reference doesn’t mean it’s not an issue that the hearing can consider” .
In other words, the only real barriers to a climate review of Energy East are political. The NEB is appointed by the government, and Stephen Harper has stacked the NEB with hand picked allies of the fossil fuel industry. Let’s be crystal clear, if the NEB refuses a climate review it’s not because they can’t do one, it’s because they don’t want to do one – and if that’s the case we have to ask the question, who benefits when pipelines don’t get a climate review?
February was a *huge* month for the divestment movement — and even that might be a bit of an understatement. For one, our movement went truly global, with over 450 events in 60 countries for Global Divestment Day. From the Pacific Islands to South Africa, from the United States to Germany, check out some of what happened on the Global Divestment Day wrap-up page and check out the celebration web workshop here.
Not only that, but it became clear that the fossil fuel industry is getting mighty nervous.
Even oil giants like Shell have been forced to look at whether or not their business plans are compatible with the global goal of limiting warming to below 2°C — hint: they’re not– and the industry is pushing back more and more every day (albeit clumsily). See their silly PR counter-campaign attempting to smear the divestment movement. But, oh wait — then the world’s biggest PR firm dumped the American oil lobby… #sorrybutnotsorry.
All major political parties in the UK — the birthplace of the coal-powered industrial revolution — signed an historic pledge to totally phase out unabated coal. And on top of that, just this week President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline.
Fossil fuels are on their way out, and the industry knows it. Now, it’s up to us to keep the pressure on.
But first, let’s take a few moments to celebrate some of the incredible wins we’ve had this month:5 GLOBAL CAMPUS UPDATES
USA: The New School goes big
This is one for the divestment history books, friends. The New School will be permanently severing its $220 million endowment from dirty fossil fuel investments, making it the second largest university in the world so far to take that step. Not only that, but they’re going even further with a broader plan of action for sustainability. Read more here.
Australia: USYD should Divest the Rest
Fossil Free USYD welcomed the University of Sydney’s decision to reduce the carbon intensity of its investments by 20% over 3 years, but renewed its calls for Australia’s oldest University to divest from all fossil fuels.
USA: Brevard College leads the way in the SE
Here’s a HUGE win in the Southeast, folks. Friday, February 20th, Brevard’s Board of Trustees voted to divest by 2018, becoming the first academic institution in the Southeast to do so. Read more here.
USA: Harvard Heat Week launches as part of Spring escalation
What do Natalie Portman, Dr. Cornel West, Robert F. Kennedy Jr and a Nobel Peace Prize winner have in common? They’re all Harvard alumni who are joining hundreds of faculty and students to turn up the heat until the university divests with a week of escalated action in April — check it out here. The announcement comes right on the heels of a sit-in at the President’s office as part of Global Divestment Day and is part of a broader campus movement to turn it up a notch for campus campaigns this spring — watch the call to action.
Sweden: Chalmers University of Technology is first Swedish university to divest
Chalmers University of Technology has long been a leading university when it comes to sustainability – and now they’ve really stepped up to the mark by selling their assets in fossil fuels worth almost 5 million SEK.
With this first university win, the Swedish divestment movement is gaining momentum rapidly and making an impact on the climate response from its universities. Jönköping University also recently made changes to their investment policy,5 GLOBAL COMMUNITY UPDATES
Norway: World’s richest sovereign wealth fund divests
In terms of cold hard cash, this is the biggest divestment decision to date. The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth (oil) Fund ($850 bn) divested from a total of 22 coal and tar sands companies. This is a landmark win. Read more here.
Australia: Divestment gets HOT
Australia’s institutions are taking a line from Snoop Dogg to heart — drop it (those fossil fuel investments) like it’s hot! Australia’s been making’ waves this month, following an intense period of bushfires. From Perth and the Shire of Goomalling divesting, to Bob Massie’s tour envisioning the post-fossil fuel era, to ANU’s Commonwealth Bank closing during student protests, to the Australian Guild of Screen Composers divestment commitment this week — Australia’s divestment movement is heating up. Follow Australia’s Fossil Free campaigns here.
UK: Bristol becomes 2nd UK city to go Fossil Free
This is a major win for the up and coming Fossil Free Bristol Divestment Campaign launched only recently and marks the culmination of exponential growth in the Fossil Free UK movement. Read more here.
USA: Fossil Free California launches
The new Fossil Free California campaign wants the state to become the first in the U.S. to divest from fossil fuels, and they’re asking its two largest pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS to ditch those fossil fuel investments quick. Fossil Free California launched their new campaign in Sacramento for Global Divestment Day! Find out more here and check out the video from the launch below:
USA: Boston & more (from Amy)
Bonus: One to watch in the coming months…
Germany: Divest Berlin
Over 300 people — including Angela Merkel’s former climate advisor Professor Schnellnhuber and high-profile politicians, doctors, teachers, artists and other Berliners — have signed an open letter calling on Berlin to divest from fossil fuels.And for a dose of fun…
Check out our favorite social media trend that swept the web this month — #fossilfuelbreakuplines!
- Here’s a roundup of some of the best ones.
- And UK Youth Climate Coalition made a hilarious video that you won’t want to miss.
That’s a wrap, folks!
There was an apparent media frenzy when news came that French President Francois Hollande will be visiting the Philippines accompanied by prominent personalities known for their involvement in environmental advocacies to the Philippines, including Marion Cotillard, Mélanie Laurent and high officials from various international organizations and French investors. Hollande’s trip is meant to be a build-up to the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) to be hosted by France in December 2015.
We in the Philippine Climate Movement sees Hollande’s visit as an important opportunity for us to remind France and other developed countries governments of their historical responsibility for climate change and their obligations towards peoples of developing countries who suffer the brunt of the impacts. That is why we took to the streets singing a Filipino rendition of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the musical Les Misérables.
While visit from parties who wish to help many of us in the Philippine climate movement that a mere show of sympathy with our predicament is not enough, that is why we took to the streets to remind President Hollande, and the Philippine government that” Climate justice is best served in actions, not words.
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What we need from France is not posturing, but the fulfilment of their obligations to radically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and deliver sufficient climate finance as their historical responsibility for climate change requires.
Today, we’re one step closer to a final rejection of Keystone XL — President Obama has vetoed Congress’ bill that would have forced him to approve the pipeline.
It’s not the same as rejecting the pipeline, but it is a big deal: it’s just the third time this President has vetoed a bill. He wouldn’t be taking this step if not for the extraordinary work you’ve done to push him to take this issue seriously. A few years ago, he was barely acknowledging the pipeline, and now he’s talking about climate change often, and Keystone is one of the top issues in Washington.
This is history in the making — and it’s because of you.
Now it’s time to make our closing argument to the President. He has the power, the information and the opportunity to reject the pipeline now.
Today dozens of movement leaders, economists, musicians and filmmakers — folks like Bill McKibben, Willie Nelson, Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Patti Smith and others — just released a Unity Letter ahead of the President’s final decision.
Here is the full letter, including some of the other signers whose names you might recognize.
The only thing it’s missing is your name at the bottom. I’m hoping (hoping!) that this will be our final message to the President about Keystone XL. The more unified we are, the clearer the message will be. Click here to read and add your name to the Unity Letter against Keystone XL: 350.org/unityletter/
I want to say this again because it’s important: people power has brought us to this point. Whatever the President decides, we have done what we set out to accomplish — build a movement able to force President Obama to take the climate crisis seriously.
With thousands of people standing beside us, I’m confident we can move the President to reject the pipeline once and for all. I hope you can sign with me, and be there with us as we make our mark on history.
Yours in unity,