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Updated: 14 min 2 sec ago

Churches at the Frontline of Climate Action

5 hours 43 min ago
 Alexander Neureuter,  www.neureuters.de

Photographer: Alexander Neureuter, www.neureuters.de

Johannes Kapelle has been playing the organ in the Protestant church of Proschim since he was 14. The 78-year-old is actively involved in his community, produces his own solar power and has raised three children with his wife on their farm in Proschim, a small village of 360 inhabitants in Lusatia, Germany.

Now the church, his farm, the forest he loves dearly and his entire village is threatened with demolition to leave space for expansion of Swedish energy giant Vattenfall’s lignite (also known as brown coal) operations to feed its power plants. Nearly all of the fuel carbon (99 percent) in lignite is converted to CO2 – a major greenhouse gas – during the combustion process.

For Kapelle, this is inconceivable: “In Proschim, we’ve managed effortlessly to supply our community with clean energy by setting up a wind park and a biogas plant. Nowadays, it is just irresponsible to expand lignite mining.”

The desolate landscape the giant diggers leave behind stretches as far as the eye can see from just a few hundred metres outside Proschim.

 Christian Huschga

Photographer: Christian Huschga

“It’s only going to take about a quarter of a year to burn the entire coal underneath Proschim. But the land is going to be destroyed forever. You won’t even be able to enter vast areas of land anymore because it will be prone to erosion. You won’t be able to grow anything on that soil anymore either. No potatoes, no tomatoes, nothing,” says Kappelle.

Some 70 km northeast of Proschim, Protestant pastor Mathias Berndt also sees his community under threat. His church in Atterwasch has been around for 700 years and even survived the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century. Now it is supposed to make way for Vattenfall’sJänschwalde Nord open cast lignite mine.

The 64-year-old has been Atterwasch’s pastor since 1977 and refuses to accept that his community will be destroyed: “As Christians, we have a responsibility to cultivate and protect God’s creation. That’s what it says in the Bible. We’re pretty good at cultivating but protection is lacking. That’s why I’ve been trying to stop the destruction of nature since the days of the German Democratic Republic.”

“Vattenfall’s plans to expand its mines have given this fight a new dimension,” Berndt adds. “This is now also about preventing our forced displacement.”

Berndt is currently involved in organising a huge protest on August 23 – a human chain connecting a German and Polish village threatened by coal mining in the region. He has also been pushing his church to step up its efforts to curb climate change.

 Christian Huschga

Photographer: Christian Huschga

As a result, his regional synod has positioned itself against new coal mines, lignite power plants and the demolition of further villages. It is also offering churches advice on energy savings and deploying renewable energy. The parsonage in Atterwasch, for example, has been equipped with solar panels.

Despite Germany’s ambitions for an energy transition, its so-called Energiewende, the country’s CO2emissions have been rising again for the past two years, for the first time since the country’s reunification. This is primarily due to Germany’s coal-fired power plants, and brown coal power stations in particular.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently confirmed that it is still possible to limit global warming below 2° C. But there is only a limited CO2 budget left to meet this goal and avert runaway climate change.

The IPCC estimates that investments in fossil fuels would need to fall by 30 billion dollars a year, while investments in low-carbon electricity supply would have to increase by 147 billion dollars a year.

As a result, more and more faith leaders are calling for divestment from fossil fuels. One of the most powerful advocates has been Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former South African Anglican Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, who recently called for an “anti-apartheid style boycott of the fossil fuel industry”.

Tutu’s call to action has been echoed by U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres, who has urged religious leaders to pull their investments out of fossil fuel companies.

 Christian Huschga

Photographer: Christian Huschga

Many churches have taken this step already. Last month, the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of over 300 churches representing some 590 million people in 150 countries, decided to phase out its holdings in fossil fuels and encouraged its members to do the same.

The Quakers in the United Kingdom, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the United Church of Christ in the United States, and many more regional and local churches have also joined the divestment movement.

The Church of Sweden was among the first to rid itself of oil and coal investments. It increased investments in energy-efficient and low-carbon projects instead, which also improved its portfolio’s financial performance.

Gunnela Hahn, head of ethical investments at the Church of Sweden’s central office explains: “We realised that many of our largest holdings were within the fossil industry. That catalysed the idea of more closely aligning investments with the ambitious work going on in the rest of the church on climate change. ”

Meanwhile, from the frontline, pastor Berndt calls for putting ethics first: “What we’re seeing today is the result of putting economic thinking at the forefront. Our mantra is to just continue doing things as long as they generate profit. We need to counteract this trend with ethical thinking. We need to do what’s right!”

This article was originally published by IPS News.

Leonardo DiCaprio explains why carbon must stay in the ground

17 hours 21 min ago

In this eight-minute video, Leonardo DiCaprio narrates the story of the carbon “monster” – what it is, and how we can keep it in the ground. This is the first in a series of short films on the climate crisis and solutions, called Green World Rising. Check out the first installment, “Carbon,” below:


Courtesy of Green World Rising

How Racial Justice is Integral to Confronting Climate Crisis

17 hours 32 min ago

By Deirdre Smith, Strategic Partnership Coordinator

It was not hard for me to make the connection between the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, and the catalyst for my work to stop the climate crisis.

It’s all over the news: images of police in military gear pointing war zone weapons at unarmed black people with their hands in the air. These scenes made my heart race in an all-to-familiar way. I was devastated for Mike Brown, his family and the people of Ferguson. Almost immediately, I closed my eyes and remembered the same fear for my own family that pangs many times over a given year.

Scene from post Katrina New Orleans

Scene from post Katrina New Orleans

In the wake of the climate disaster that was Hurricane Katrina almost ten years ago, I saw the same images of police, pointing war-zone weapons at unarmed black people with their hands in the air. In the name of “restoring order,” my family and their community were demonized as “looters” and “dangerous.” When crisis hits, the underlying racism in our society comes to the surface in very clear ways. Climate change is bringing nothing if not clarity to the persistent and overlapping crises of our time.

Scene from Ferguson, MO

Scene from Ferguson, MO

I was outraged by Mike Brown’s murder, and at the same time wondered why people were so surprised; this is sadly a common experience of black life in America. In 2012, an unarmed black man was killed by authorities every 28 hours (when divided evenly across the year), and it has increased since then. I think about my brother, my nephew, and my brothers and sisters who will continue to have to fight for respect and empathy, and may lose their homes or even their lives at the hands of injustice.

Can y

Can you tell whether this is from New Orleans or Ferguson?

 

To me, the connection between militarized state violence, racism, and climate change was common-sense and intuitive.

Quickly understanding interdependence and connectedness here, and often elsewhere, is the result of my personal experience of growing up black in America, and growing up in New Mexico, a place ravaged by climate impacts. New Mexico is, as Oscar Olivera noted, showing the early signs of what sparked the Cochabamba Water Wars, yet another example of how oppression and extreme whether combine to “incite” militarized violence. The problems of Cochabamba and Katrina are not just about the hurricane or the drought – it’s what happened after. It is the institutional neglect of vulnerable communities in crisis, the criminalization of our people met with state violence, the ongoing displacement of New Orleans’ black residents through the demolition of affordable housing for high-rise condos — that all adds up to corporations exploiting our tragedy using the tools of racism, division, and dehumanization. (Naomi Klein calls it the Shock Doctrine.) And it’s also about what happened before too: how black and brown communities have coal refineries, tar sands, and gas wells in their back yards to extract fossil fuels in the first place. These divisions imposed on us prevent us from building the movement we need to create a new future for ourselves, a future where we have clean energy that doesn’t kill us, and creates jobs that provide dignity and a living. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, black and brown people were seen as “disposable,” and the powers-that-be sought to divide us by once again painting the victims and heroes as villains.

How would you be portayed if unarmed and killed by police?

How would you be portayed if unarmed and killed by police?

The hashtag #iftheygunnedmedown trended during the past week in reaction to the media’s portrayal of Mike Brown and countless other victims. Black folks asked: if I was killed by police, how would I be portrayed? It illustrated how a racist and victim-blaming cultural narrative is central to how the media responds to the victimization of a vulnerable community in crisis. A discourse that dehumanizes and blames the victims makes black and brown communities even more vulnerable than they already are in the wake of climate disasters. If extreme weather is about droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires, the way people get treated in the wake of disaster is about power. Demonization and the illusion of the “other” allows mainstream US to feel unaffected and disconnected to the employment of unacceptable and institutionally supported militarized violence. If we hope to build anything together and employ our combined power we must deny that anyone is an “other” – denying this pervasive cultural norm isn’t easy but it’s a central challenge we face.

We’re all impacted by climate change, but we’re not all impacted equally.

Communities of color and poor communities are hit hardest by fossil fuel extraction, as well as neglected by the state in the wake of crisis. People of color also disproportionately live in climate-vulnerable areas. Similarly, state violence should concern us all, but the experience of young black men in particular in this country is unique. Those of us who are not young black men must step up to the challenge of understanding that we will likely never experience that level of demonization. That kind of solidarity is what it takes to build real people power — the kind of power that stands up unflinchingly to injustice, and helps us all win our battles by standing together. This is difficult work. Some of it requires listening and working with racial justice organizations, and some of it requires introspection, questioning what we have been taught, and healing from internal oppression. Part of that work involves climate organizers acknowledging and understanding that our fight is not simply with the carbon in the sky, but with the powers on the ground. Many people have pointed out that the climate movement needs to understand our internal disparity of power too: between mainstream and grassroots organizations, between people of color and white folks, between the global north and the global south. We need to account for these things if we truly want to build the diverse movement leadership that we will need to win. The events in Ferguson offer an important moment if you’re a climate organizer, looking around the room, wondering where the “people of color” are. It’s a time to to dig deep and ask yourself if you really care why – and if you are committed to the deep work, solidarity, and learning that it will take to bring more “diversity” to our movement. Personally, I think the climate movement is up to this necessary challenge.

It isn’t incidental, it’s institutional, and it’s rooted in history

I can’t stress enough how important it is for me, as a black climate justice advocate, as well as for my people, to see the climate movement show solidarity right now with the people of Ferguson and with black communities around the country striving for justice. Other movements are stepping up to the plate: labor, GLBTQ, and immigrant rights groups have all taken a firm stand that they have the backs of the black community. Threats to civil dissent are a threat to us all. We’ve seen this kind of militarized police violence in the environmental movement before: in the repression of the Global Justice Movement, pioneered by police with tanks on the streets of Miami during the Free Trade Area of the Americas protests in 2003, to name just one example.

miami model tank

Scene from the militarized police repression of environmental and global justice activists in Miami 2003. Since pioneering this model, local police forces across the country have been given military-grade weapons with little to no training.

It has happened to our movements before, and it will happen again. As James Baldwin expressed, “if they come for you in the morning, they will come for us at night.” But solidarity and allyship is important in and of itself. The fossil fuel industry would love to see us siloed into believing that wecan each win by ourselves on “single issues.” Now it’s time for the climate movement to show up– to show that we will not stand for the “otherizing” of the black community here in America, or anyone else.

We have a lot of learning to do about how to come together, but we are in process of learning how our fights are bound together at their roots. If we knew everything we needed to know about navigating the climate and ecological crises, we would have done it already. Now is a time to stand with and listen to the wisdom of our allies in movements that are co-creating the world we all want to live in. As crisis escalates, as climate change gets worse, we better get ready to see a whole lot more state violence and repression, unless we organize to change it now.

The first step to understanding is listening. The second step is digging.

I could tell you all day about the brilliant and strategic analysis and leaders that exist in historically oppressed communities. I could tell you…but your path to understanding why solidarity is important is your own. Don’t miss this opportunity to dig in and show up. Don’t miss this opportunity to leverage our power together. If we mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis it, will be because we understood our enemies and leveraged our collective power to take them down and let our vision spring up. Take a moment today to read the demands of the Dream Defenders, Freedomside, and Organizing Black Struggle. Read about solidarity and white allyship, and identify anti-blackness showing up in your spaces. Take a moment today to really think about how we really should confront the climate crisis and ask yourself if you’re willing to dive into the long haul and complex work it will take.

I believe in us. 

I am grateful that amidst all my anger, frustration, sadness, determination, and exhaustion that I am left with one resounding thought: I believe in us. Doing climate work takes a lot of courage, and I am endlessly inspired by my comrades’ and colleagues’ abilities hold the contradictions, complexity, and overwhelming reality it is to take on this challenge. I am excited by the deepening and aligning I’ve been seeing happening in cross-sector movement spaces over the past year especially. The more complex (and less comfortable) we allow ourselves to be, the more simple things actually become: we are in this together and our fights are connected. We don’t know everything by ourselves, but together we know enough.

Through Ferguson solidarity we show that our struggles are bound.

Through Ferguson solidarity we show that our struggles are bound.

Special Workshop for Divestment Campaigners: How to Leverage the People’s Climate March

Wed, 2014-08-20 19:38

You may be hearing some buzz about the People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014, which is shaping up to be the biggest climate mobilization ever. So how do you align fossil fuel divestment campaigning efforts with the march?

We’re doing a special web workshop this Tuesday to help divestment leaders leverage this march for their fossil free goals.

Here’s everything you need to know:

WHAT: How To Leverage the People’s Climate March for Divestment Webinar
WHEN: Tuesday, August 26th, 6:30 PM EDT/3:30 PM PDT
WHERE: Online! We’ll send you the link to view the workshop when you RSVP.

Click here to RSVP for Tuesday’s workshop.

This workshop will bring together campaigners from across the Fossil Free team (and beyond) to share information, tools, and tips for leveraging the People’s Climate March for the divestment movement. We’ll talk about how divestment and the People’s Climate March can complement each other, chat about messaging and recruitment strategies, and dive into some of our plans for the weekend of September 21st.

Bring your questions and your friends!

Carpathian resistance: has the “green blessing” turned to a “green curse”?

Wed, 2014-08-20 14:18

In an attempt to gain energy independence from neighbouring Russia, Ukraine  has adopted dream-like tariffs and tax exemptions for green energy. The Ukrainian experience showcases that the “green economy”  is not just about taxes, tariffs, and technologies. But if we are, in fact, serious about building true democracy and addressing the climate crisis, we first need to change society and its attitude toward the world.

Among the post-USSR countries, Ukraine is a champion of green energy. In the last years, unprecedented efforts were made to stimulate small and green participants in the  energy market. A dream-like “green tariff” was introduced for several types of renewables that allowed the supplier to sell  “green energy” to the grid for a price much higher than the “regular” price. It especially stimulated small distributed generation, since the price of energy from very small  plants 0,2-1,0 MWt was sufficiently higher than for more powerful ones (1-10 MWt). Last but not least – some“green energy” producers were exempted for  10 years from  tax on their profits.

Theoretically,  the preferential treatment was generous enough to promote flourishing local generation benefiting locals, business, and the Ukrainian state, which now seek independence from Russian gas and oil. Instead, in  the Carpathians mountains in Western Ukraine, severe conflict between businessmen interested in the abundant hydro-power potential of the region, and environmentalists,  who are trying  to protect their beloved rivers and mountains in collaboration with locals, has been instigated.

“On June 17 2014, villagers of Goloshyno and Bila Rechka  established checkpoint and blocked the road leading towards Romania along the Bili Cheremosh river. This desperate move  of the highlanders was triggered by the administration’s inability to stop the construction of small hydropower plants in the Verkhovynsky area by Hydropower company” wrote Olexi Vasiliuk, an anti-hydropower activist

Even local city councils were not always ready to cheer the “pioneers” of the green energy: “A session of Chertkovsky Town Council (Ternopol District) second time refused to support the construction of small hydro plant at Seret River (Dniester’s left inflow)”. -

The fears of environmentalists and locals are easy to understand – it’s enough to look at the photos from the construction sites to see the damage to mountain landscape.

A small hydropower station in Carpathians – pryroda.in.ua

A scene near a mountain river – pryroda.in.ua

More tubes … – pryroda.in.ua

Locals are deeply dependant on tourism, and have all reason to be concerned:

“We understand that the increase in water outflow [to the hydroplant] will decrease the level of water in the river, and the level of the groundwater. We all live along the river, and our wells will be emptied. We have  an example of the Proboynovka river, where two hydro plants are in operation, and where we can see that the water at times disappears, is dirty, and contains oil” – a local resident Tamara Timofiychuk said. “Nobody asked the local community for permission. They explode rock, it will provoke landslides. When the river is blocked, trout will disappear. And what kind of tourism can we expect, if the river will flow inside giant rusty tubes along few kilometers? That’s why we are strongly against any hydro power plants, we need it [our land] to be a recreation zone,  with untouched nature as it must remain forever”

The construction workers have already been fined for damage to the river fish population – but looks like small fines can do nothing where potential profit is high.

Laughingly  the reaction of the “green businessmen” was stunningly similar to those of a fossil-fuel company like Gazprom – from ignoring results of public hearings or promoting massive PR-campaigns against  the environmentalists  - to even the use of paramilitary units to secure the construction from the locals.

Nevertheless, local activists got some success – the construction of at least four plants was recently cancelled, few more are still disputed. This outcome could be welcomed, but it was accompanied by really bad news – the “tax vacations” for green energy were cancelled by the Ukrainian Parliament.  Little doubt, the widespread opposition to the small hydropower plants played its role in taking this decision, and can further fuel public disbelief in a “green energy” – to the profit of the lobbyists of even worse decisions like shale gas or even coal . The question of how long the “green tariff” will survive remains unanswered.

What has gone wrong, and why has the “green energy” become the curse for both locals and the environment? It is extremely important to have an answer to this question, because the situation is very commonplace for the entire region. Recently, I witnessed a similar situation in Georgia – a small hydro power plant allegedly built by a Turkish company  without any environmental assessment near a protected area, without the consent from locals.  It is not a problem of hydropower only – any “green industry” is still considered industrial, and has thus the ability to inflict serious damage  to the environment. And, as we can see, sometimes its way to “solve” the problems doesn’t differ too much from that of any other  industry.

First of all, let’s take a look at how the projects in Carpathians were implemented. Nobody asked for the locals’ consent on whether they needed more electric power. Nobody was interested in their opinion about the type of a plant (hydro, solar, wind) or its placement they preferred. Often locals found out about the construction just after it had begun – a typical situation in the post-Soviet space. The same scenario was seen in the  Khimki forest scandal , and in many other dangerous projects. Often, governmental officials have proper “motivation” from businesses to openly support such projects or, at least,  turn a blind eye to multiple violations of the law. In the case of Carpathians, Ukrainian activists blame corruption rooted back to the Yanukowitch regime, which they seem to have ground for.  Thus, the lack of democracy  and abundance of corruption played a key role in turning the “green blessing” into a “green curse”. That’s why the first obvious and necessary condition to make the “green economy” benefit both society and environment  is a social transformation: implementing democracy and fighting corruption. Without public pressure – bureaucrats and business will always find the “common ground” at the expense of both the public and the environment. Hopefullly today Ukraine has enough will and power to move forward with democratic reforms and fighting corruption, despite all the external and internal problems.

But is it always enough to promote public participation and avoid open corruption to make the “green solutions” really green? Personally, I am not sure. We can see, for example, how fracking companies can lobby their interest in countries with old traditions of democracy, like USA  . And locals are not always the best allies for the environmentalists – especially if they are offered a share in the income from the destruction of nature.  I remember an American activist who told me about her fight for Amazon rainforests – after realizing that cutting down jungle trees allows locals to enlarge their crops to grow more profitable “green” biofuel – they turned into worst foes of  the environmentalists.

That’s why the second necessary condition for the true green progress is spread of conservation ideas in society, which entails an understanding of the fact that Nature has value incommensurable with all the income generated by its destruction. Only such feelings can successfully deter the lobbyists of dangerous projects – regardless of their embellished stories about “green energy” or “energy independence” they often like to share. We can see that the temptation to get  “quick solutions” regardless  of local people’s opinion or damage to the local environment has ultimately the opposite effect. The society ends up disappointed not only with the proposed solutions, but with the very idea of  a “green energy”, which has detrimental long-term consequences. That’s why listening to people and conservation of local nature are essential parts of the climate change fight.

Thus, the true “green economy” is not just about taxes, tariffs, or technologies, but rather about the transformation of society as a whole and its attitude vis-a-vis the world. This is a very complicated task – but it is essential.

A good example of a responsible approach to  the implementation of “green” solutions are the projects developed within climate workroom agenda. They are small yet, but they represent the right kind of relationship where local interests are  taking into account from the very beginning. Hope authorities and business will be able to turn to these kinds of projects – both in Ukraine and everywhere else.

You can support Ukrainian activists fighting for Carpathians rivers by signing their petition

 

 

 

Fracking activists “Reclaim the Power” around UK

Mon, 2014-08-18 14:44

 

Not for Shale Simon Lewis photoEarly this morning, campaigners from the Reclaim the Power camp at Blackpool  unleashed a series of coordinated direct actions against fracking targets around the United Kingdom. Targets range from government departments to universities building new fracking research facilities and a fracking site in East Yorkshire.

“What’s to hide, DEFRA?”

Protestors occupied the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in London, following the release of a government report  last week containing 63 redactions on the potential impacts of shale gas exploration on rural communities.  Three activists superglued themselves to the doors of DEFRA’s main entrance and deployed reinforced arm tubes to prevent access. Another activist climbed the building and unfurled a banner reading: ‘WHAT’S TO HIDE DEFRA? – DON’T FRACK WITH OUR FUTURE’.iGas office shutdown in London

Some of the activists wore black tape across their mouths, highlighting the vital information which was blacked out in the report. Deleted sections include analysis around falling house prices and failing rural services.  The chapter examining the effect of drilling on house prices had three sections cut. Only three paragraphs survived in the conclusion. A health policy report was likely redacted also, along with estimates suggesting the industry may not be commercially viable.

Fossil Free Swansea UniversityWalesOnline-best gate welsh banner

At 6am, a group of students, graduates and local residents also  shut down the construction of Swansea Bay campus at Swansea University.  The student protesters were angered by tens of millions of public money being funnelled into research on fracking via Swansea University’s new Energy Safety Research Institute and its main partner BP. They argue that investment and new research facilities should instead be supporting the development of Wales’ plentiful renewable energy sources.

Local Swansea resident Jac Bastian said:

“We are here today to stand with communities across Wales and the UK who are resisting their local areas becoming fracking sites. Not only is it dangerous and unnecessary but people across the UK don’t want it. If we are going to avoid dangerous climate change we need to leave unconventional gas in the ground.”

The protest was linked to Fossil Free  campaign calling on UK universities to divest from fossil fuels companies and sever research partnerships that lead to further fossil fuel extraction.

Rathlin EnergyRathlin Energy shutdown east Yorkshire

Elsewhere around the UK, a group of campaigners occupied and shut down a new fracking site at Crawberry Hill, East Yorkshire.  This protest follows a number of safety breaches committed by Rathlin Energy at nearby West Newton drilling site.

Local resident, Pippa Hockey, stated:

“Rathlin Energy is recklessly putting profit before peoples’ health, as shown by recent events in West Newton. The local community here are determined to do everything in our power to prevent dangerous mistakes being made again”.

Less than a week ago, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were alerted by Hull and East Riding Frack Off to a major operational failures and reported the use of specialist Well Intervention equipment at West Newton. The HSE admitted they didn’t have the resources to investigate the incident despite Rathlin disclosing pressure issues with the well.

And much more…Cuadrilla Office

Occupation, shutdowns, sit-ins and lock-ons were also staged at other sites, including the headquarters of iGas in London and the Blackpool offices of Cuadrilla, who own most of the fracking wells across the country.

The day of action was part of the Reclaim the Power camp in Blackpool where protestors have joined local residents resisting fracking by Cuadrilla.  The camp runs from 14 – 20th August with more protests expected throughout the week.

For further updates throughout the day, follow #reclaimthepower or the No Dash for Gas website.

Shifting the Power in Afghanistan

Mon, 2014-08-18 12:02

Afghanistan Climate Change Movement (ACCM) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit & non political organization of dedicated, energetic and passionate youngsters, professionals and civil society activists. ACCM was found as a result of a commitment with GPS, June 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey ACCM recently organized a climate change awareness seminar. The event held on 24th May, 2014… Read more »

Students lock-on at Swansea University fracking research campus

Mon, 2014-08-18 10:00

Swansea University Bay Campus shut down by residents and students campaigning against fracking research.

Today at 6am, as part of the Reclaim the Power camp, concerned residents from Swansea, students and graduates, dressed as mad scientists, shut down construction of Swansea University’s Bay Campus.

There are two protestors locked on, one up a tripod and a number of the group are inside the site and have dropped a banner which says ‘No Fracking’. Outside the site the banner reads ‘Dim Ffracio’ in Welsh. The protesters were angered by tens of millions of public money being funnelled into research on fracking via Swansea University’s new Energy Safety Research Institute.

Local Swansea resident Jac Bastian said:

“We are here today to stand with communities across Wales and the UK who are resisting their local areas becoming fracking sites. Not only is it dangerous and unnecessary but people across the UK don’t want it. If we are going to avoid dangerous climate change we need to leave unconventional gas in the ground.”

Swansea University is currently building a second campus and innovation park on land previously used by BP, who gifted it to the university. Funding for the project was made available by the Welsh Government.

Today’s action was part of Reclaim the Power, a six day camp in Blackpool, organised by local residents and a coalition of climate, social and economic activists. Over 1000 people have joined the camping taking part in direct action against gas drilling, as well as sharing skills and knowledge in a variety of workshops.

Student network People & Planet has been speaking out against the ties between UK universities and the fossil fuel industry as part of the Fossil Free campaign.  A campaign to break Swansea University’s ties to the industry has been gaining pace since 2013, including a growing petition calling for divestment. The research at Swansea’s Energy Safety Research Institute will be focused on long-term ‘strengths’ in petroleum and chemical processing – particularly fracking. The primary collaborator will be BP. Research on fracking already being funded by Research Councils UK has been focused on increasing the amount of gas that can be extracted.

The Norwegian committee on research ethics has told universities that fossil fuel research is ethically irresponsible if it leaves Norway unable to meet its UN climate targets. Burning the gas extracted through fracking will mean we have no chance of meeting these targets in the UK and divert essential research and development funding away from renewables towards fossil fuels.

Heather Corvid, a student with national campaign network People & Planet, said:

“The fossil fuel industry is unequivocally driving us towards a global climate crisis: we will not keep dangerous climate change at bay without halting our extraction of fossil fuels. Ironically the Bay Campus will end up under water if research they are doing means we frack our future.”

 

Support a Fossil Free Swansea University: sign the petition now

The story behind Line 9

Fri, 2014-08-15 23:56

On August 5th, peaceful protestors took over an Enbridge pipeline site in Ontario. What happened next? Watch and learn.


Courtesy of Nicole Coenen

Take Action to Stop TransCanada’s Tar Sand Sales Pitch

Thu, 2014-08-14 22:59

Earlier this week  local organizers, concerned people from as far as Winnipeg gathered in Kenora, Ontario protest an Open House hosted by TransCanada Inc. to build support for their Energy East project. Led by Anishinaabeg people, TransCanada was sent a clear message that this pipeline will not be allowed because of the threat it poses to the water, the land and the climate.  Check out this inspiring video from the action.

(Video by Crystal Greene, find more video and a full account of the action here!)

Over the next three weeks, TransCanada has scheduled Open Houses across Northern Ontarion in Longlac, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Cochrane, New Liskeard, Mattawa and Cobden. Will you take a stand like the folks in Kenora and take action at an Open House in your community?

We’ve put together a step by step kit to help you plan, organize and take action that you can download by clicking here.

TransCanada’s Open Houses only tell TransCanada’s side of the story and leave out the real threats to communities and the climate. That’s why we need your help to show up and let people know the truth about Energy East. Helpfully, TransCanada posted the dates and times of their events on their site here.

You don’t need huge numbers to take powerful action, a few people gathering with signs or going to the TransCanada Open House to ask pointed questions helps show that community oppostion is growing. Will you take action?

If you’re interested in planning or joining an action, email us and we’ll help support you and connect you with more people in your community who want to take action.

People’s Climate Mobilisation: A Global Invitation

Thu, 2014-08-14 13:11

To change everything, we need everyone.

This September, world leaders are coming to New York City to talk about how to address the climate crisis. This is a crucial moment; we’re at a crossroads. We can and must change course by building a new economy through efforts to reconceive corporations and redefine economic progress. We need to do this in order to address the greatest crisis in the history of mankind.

Put simply: we need to break free from the shackles of the fossil fuel industry in order to address the climate crisis. We’re already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change around the world, with the poorest and most vulnerable being the hardest hit.

There can be no climate justice without economic justice, but there won’t be any economic justice without facing up to our climate reality.

Scientists tell us we’re running out of time to avoid planetary catastrophe. If we can’t get our politicians and leaders to act soon, it’s going to be too late.

Let’s get real about implementing the solutions we need to solve this crisis. We can power the world with 100% renewable energy and make our economy more sustainable. The transition to this clean energy future will create millions of new, good jobs around the world.

Together, we can create energy that’s democratically controlled by our communities, instead of major corporations. But we need real investment in this future and disinvestment from the fossil fuel industry.

Tackling the climate crisis is good for our communities, good for the planet, and good for the economy. But right now, the fossil fuel industry is standing in the way of progress.

Fossil fuel companies have made it clear that their business plan is to wreck the planet. They don’t care about our communities or our children’s future, they just care about making a profit. Even worse, they’re spending millions of dollars every year to spread denial and block solutions.

The fight against climate change is also a fight against inequality. It’s time to end their stranglehold over our economy and our democracy.

We need to come together to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and fight for our common future. No one is immune to the impacts of climate change. But everyone can benefit from the solutions.

Together, we can create a world with cleaner air, healthier communities, and more economic opportunities. This is what we mean when we talk about climate justice. We know this world is within reach, but we’re going have to fight for it.

That starts with taking to the streets this September to show our politicians that they need to choose a side. It’s either the people or the polluters.

As heads of state from around the world head to New York City in September, there will be an unprecedented climate mobilisation – in size, beauty, and impact. Both in New York and globally.

The demand is for Action, Not Words: taking the necessary action to create a world with an economy that works for people and the planet – now. In short, we want a world safe from the ravages of climate change.

It’s either leaders stand with the fossil fuel industry or stand with our communities, our children, and our future.

We’re fighting to save the entire planet from destruction. It’s time to choose sides.

Register your event or join scheduled events throughout the world here.

Support Pacific Warriors bringing climate change to the doorstep of the fossil fuel industry.

Thu, 2014-08-14 03:41

Our 350 Pacific network just launched an amazing video as part of their crowdfunding campaign. Here’s what they have to say about it. Click here to watch the video and chip in if you can – their fight is our fight!

Every morning, we wake up and the ocean is there, surrounding our island. But now the ocean, driven by climate change is creeping ever closer. Unless something changes, many of our Pacific Islands face losing everything to sea level rise.

For 20 years we’ve asked world leaders to take action to stop polluting the atmosphere. We cannot wait longer. Now, warriors of the Pacific are rising peacefully to protect the Pacific Islands from climate change.

Our message: We are not drowning. We are fighting.

This October, we’re standing up to those blocking action on climate change. We’ve been building traditional canoes across the Islands. Pacific Climate Warriors will journey to Australia, where they will use the canoes to peacefully lay down a challenge to the fossil fuel industry.

Warrior crowdfunder blog

We must act now to protect our culture, our land and our oceans, and we need people all around the world to stand with us. Make us powerful in this fight, by chipping into our Pacific Warriors journey crowdfunder.

Who we are

Five years ago, our network of young Pacific Islanders began to form under the name of 350 Pacific, to join with the global climate change movement, 350.org. Active in 15 of the Pacific Island Nations, we have a unique approach of empowering young people to understand the issue of climate change and to take action to protect and enrich our islands, cultures, and oceans.

We know that this project is beyond what we can deliver on our own. We don’t have big bank accounts, big funders, or big email lists. That’s why we’re asking the international community to stand in support with the Pacific Warriors.

What we do have is the network of courageous young Pacific Islanders – from Niue to Tuvalu – that have been learning the skills of canoe building from their elders, are clued up about how climate change is affecting their Islands, and are ready to stand up peacefully but powerfully as warriors for their Islands.


The Pacific Warrior Journey

As Pacific Warriors we will journey to Australia to tell the fossil fuel industry in person to stop their radical plans that are destroying our island homes.

This journey will be epic. From across 13 Pacific Islands, our Pacific Warriors will travel to Australia, carrying with us traditional hand-made canoes decorated with symbols of support from our homelands. We will use these canoes to lay down a challenge to the fossil fuel industry, and to highlight what we will lose if their reckless contribution to climate change continues. This will be a means of telling the industry, the Australian public, their Government, and the global community that climate change is having a real impact and is threatening the culture, health and environment of our Pacific Islands.

Following this, our Pacific Warriors will travel the country, bringing our story of struggle directly to the Australian people. This will be a call-to-arms, a request that Australians take up the fight to the fossil fuel industry to save our homelands.

We know that many Australians are ready to stand with us. As we arrive, Australians around the country will stand in solidarity because our fight is their fight too. From those fighting against the construction of new coal mines at Maules Creek and in the Galilee Basin, to those working on essential policy changes, Australians will collectively stand up to say “we will not let our neighbours drown.”

This is a huge undertaking. Building and transporting canoes, speakers and at least 30 Pacific Warriors all costs a lot. We can’t do it without you! Click here to read more and chip in!

 

These warriors are preparing for an epic journey to stop the fossil fuel industry from destroying their homes

Wed, 2014-08-13 21:35

… And guess what? You can help them: Stand Up for the Pacific.

Many Pacific Islanders face losing everything to sea level rise, but here’s a message from them: “We are not drowning. We are fighting.”

This October, the Pacific Climate Warriors will journey to Australia to stand up to those blocking action on climate change, and they will need all the help they can get. Watch their video below, and show your support here.


Via 350 Pacific

Can climate change actually make us healthier?

Wed, 2014-08-13 02:40

Climate change could be the greatest health threat of our time, but can we turn it into our greatest moment of opportunity? Watch the video below, and find out more about what climate change means for human health here.


Courtesy of The Global Climate & Health Alliance

Urban projects fight climate change in Russia and beyond

Mon, 2014-08-11 15:43

Simple and practical actions may sometimes speak louder than words. It is hardly a mere coincidence that Gandhi span and mined salt, Berliners hammered at the wall, the nuclear weapon’s opponents made cranes out of paper. These simple matter-of-fact actions helped activists recruit supporters, reach their objectives and simply made history as symbols of entire epochs. In Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Tajikistan, growing anti-climate change movement finds its symbols in solar collectors, eco-roofs, bicycle chargers and arboreta made by people and for people.

It is hardly a mere coincidence that Gandhi span and mined salt, Berliners hammered at the wall, the nuclear weapon’s opponents made cranes out of paper.

Enter climatic urbanists

This week saw the end of the contest of practical eco-initiatives by a civic campaign “Climate Workroom” initiated by 350.org. 33 local groups from 6 countries in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia submitted descriptions of their project ideas aimed at the greenhouse emissions reduction and, at the same time, developing more comfortable urban and rural environment. We had the pleasure to get to know lots of really useful and well-designed eco-urbanist inventions: from the restoration of lighting in war-damaged villages through to the complex city transport infrastructure planning. Although the contest lasted only 15 days and surely couldn’t cover all existing projects, in the aftermath it is hardly daring to say the solutions for climatic crisis do exist and people begin to realize their accessibility.

Climate Workroom is 350.org campaign to celebrate local community-led climate solutions in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

Climate Workroom is 350.org campaign to celebrate local community-led climate solutions in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

 

Choosing just one project the Workroom could afford to support financially was very hard. In the end, we decided to award the idea entitled “Hot running water on top of the world” by “The Little Earth” organization from Tajikistan. This team will work in a remote highland village of Nisur to install a solar thermal collector that will heat running water in a public building. This will enable them to reduce the use of firewood for water heating, and will not just cut the CO2 emissions and save meager vegetation around the village but also free some time for the countryside women and children picking wood to heat water. If the dwellers welcome the project and stimulate further advent of the renewable energy, it will mean more time to do other things and less harmful smoke from the primitive stoves. All in all, a highly useful idea under all viewpoints. Follow the news from the Tajik team on the Climate Workroom website (in Russian).

This team will work in a remote highland village of Nisur to install a solar thermal collector that will heat running water in a public building

 

Do you dream of a babushka with a Nokia phone?

In the meanwhile, the community of climate masters takes shape and grows. To begin with, we asked the projects’ authors what inspired them to do what they did. Here are some answers. They do turn us on too, what about you?

We were inspired by the great usefulness of our project for nature, society, individual participants, for the development of our organization and us volunteers.”

The possibility to make the city better, turn it from a noisy, dusty and car-crowded mega-city into a really comfortable and safe one, a city for people. When a street turns from a highway-like main road into a real street… where kids play on the pavement which is no longer a car park; where traffic is made up by 30 per cent of cyclists not drivers… where the stops are served by a quiet low-floor 5-unit tram instead of a packed lemon shuttle bus… where the central square is a place to seat on the grass and not to park cars… where trolleybus drives faster on its separate lane than do cars in a traffic jam; where students ride bicycles to the class and schoolchildren can ride to school instead of paying 4 hryvnyas (0.3 US) for a shuttle bus… Something like this…”

‘We’re almost seeing her, a babushka [an older lady or a grandmother in Russian, - translator] sitting on our energy bench, charging her Nokia 200 and explaining to her grandson that energy can be obtained just out of the clear blue sky without wires’

 

Projects just like this one stimulate people’s two motivations simultaneously: a) purely consumerist and practical one, meaning that people acquire some useful and needed thing; and b) moral one – the people feel they contribute to the preservation of nature and climate stabilization.”

Both adults and children will see that life can be changed for better.”

Helping those suffering from hostilities, showing them that it’s not just the government which wants to help them but that also ordinary citizens want to help them return to life as usual, while now also using green technologies.”

The most inspiring thing is to involve people from other cities who either plant oak trees themselves in their region or donate acorns to our project. Eventually, new partnerships are formed and entail other projects. Acorns changing hands, people participate in the creation of a park in the town of Dobropillya, and they follow the results with huge interest. This is really cool to feel such an enormous support.”

This team makes a climate-friendly renowation in a house they will convert into a movement-building center of a 1-million city

 

Informing people that energy efficiency is possible and even lucrative, and using ‘the energy of social support’ for the implementation of energy saving measures in houses. If the energy research results in economic feasibility study of the necessary energy efficiency measures, then it will be easier to bring in the energy companies to more costly projects with longer payback period.”

The project is not just green but also social (it creates extra recreational zones for the people who can’t go to a park) and economical (it extends roof usage life three- or fourfold and places additional orders with local businesses).”

Such a trend will make our city more attractive for tourists! Many countries have already supported the movement and it means that we’re moving in the right direction!” “All that is done for the young generation, its nature-concerned upbringing, its environmental education, inspires us, invigorates us and makes us happy!”

What inspires us a lot is also our work with different people, developing horizontal ties which can be later used as a foundation of a strong public movement

 

Our main idea is to move from the use of fossil fuels to a life based on renewables as we learn to limit ourselves without infringing our interests. In other words, to live in unity with nature. For example, the idea of unity is shown in the ‘Avatar’ movie in a slightly different aspect.”

For us, it is the excitement like in the old tale: cooking a stone soup. How a small $1000 investment and our own stubbornness can send cycling movement in our city to a new level. What inspires us a lot is also our work with different people (novices and old supporters), developing horizontal ties which can be later used as a foundation of a strong public cycling movement.”

The most inspiring thing for us is our argument in favor of renewable energy as a quotidian fact that has to be present in our world right now rather than as jokes and fairy tales. We’re almost seeing her, a babushka [an older lady or a grandmother in Russian, - translator] sitting on our energy bench, charging her Nokia 200 and explaining to her grandson that energy can be obtained just out of the clear blue sky without wires)))”

This group works with the ‘children city’ – an inclusive accommodation and up-bringing of the orphaned children project – to improve energy efficiency of the houses in which the children live

 

What next?

Surely, as isolated projects such initiatives alone won’t solve the global problems of climate change, poverty, and inequality. Yet they give their participants and society hope and understanding of their power in the face of global problems. They let their participants speak the language everyone understands. It’s not unlikely that guerilla gardening and electricity-generating bus stops will in the near future become universal and practical symbols akin to Gandhi’s spin that united entire India. Perhaps their help to launch action in the right direction will stimulate not only ordinary citizens but also those responsible for the problem solution at the urban, regional and national levels.

The Workroom wishes fair wind to all teams. You can follow the projects’ news in Russian on our website http://climateworkroom.org/, on FacebookVkontakte and on Twitter.

Ethics committee to universities: oil research can be unethical

Mon, 2014-08-11 13:00

The Norwegian committee on research ethics tells institutions that oil research, often sponsored by the industry, is ethically irresponsible if it contradicts UNs climate targets.

After months of deliberation over the ethics of petroleum research, the statement from The Norwegian National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT) is ready. Their powerful conclusion could shift the priorities of research institutions across the oil-dependent nation: if petroleum research hinders the transitions necessary to reach the UNs climate goals, such research is ethically irresponsible.

The statement from NENT comes after a debate started at the University of Bergen (UiB) in the autumn of 2013. A group calling itself “Fossil Free UiB” was formed in the wake of protests against the renewal of a sponsorship deal with Norwegian oil giant Statoil, and sparked a wider debate about the ethics of collaborating with the petroleum industry and petroleum research in general. When the debate gained wider currency and support both among staff and students, the head of the University of Bergen, Dag Rune Olsen, wrote to NENT for their advice on the matter.


North Atlantic oil platforms. Photo: Arne List. Some rights reserved.

NENT is an advisory body on research ethics, which provides counsels and recommendations concerning concrete research projects. They decided to lift the debate to a national level, and asked all the Norwegian universities to provide details of their involvement with the petroleum industry and their wider research on petroleum. They also requested a reflection on how this fitted into the universities’ wider strategy in relation to the realities of climate change. After several months deliberation, NENT’s assessment was ready last week, and makes for an uplifting read which expands the perspectives of the Norwegian debate. The statement is a clear and comprehensive message to the universities to take the lead on dealing with climate change, and spearhead the transition to a sustainable society.

The statement problematizes not only industry relations, but also the extent to which resources are channelled by government priorities. There is, they write, a real danger of a “vacuum of responsibility” where neither the government, the bodies that fund research, nor the universities have taken the responsibility to assess the overall picture. They also find it “striking” that the universities have failed to reflect on their potentially conservative role in collaborating with the petroleum industry. That there is no overview available of the extent of this collaboration, the amount of money entailed or the structure of the funding, is equally a cause of concern.

Out of all the universities asked for details on their industry collaboration, the Norwegian Universities of the Life Sciences is the only one with an extensive and explicit strategy for contributing to sustainable development. They are also the only one without any direct involvement with the petroleum industry.

In their replies to NENT, several of the other universities have tried to justify their petroleum research by referring to the growing demand for energy globally, referring to prognoses that fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix. They fail, however, to view this in a larger perspective on the social, ecological and economical consequences of a development that fails to meet the UN climate target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees or less. Another common trope is that competence related to petroleum can be transferred to the renewable sector. Why they cannot immediately start this transfer rather than delay it by several years, is far from clear. NENT, on the other hand, asks that the petroleum industry and collaborations must be about transition, not to continue on the current path.

Several of the questions NENT ask are relevant far beyond the borders of Norway:

What are the main knowledge challenges we face and how shall we meet them? Do universities as a body contribute to the continuing development of today’s society or are they proactive in distorting the development? What place should research that helps prolong the oil age have at the research institutions? Does collaboration with the petroleum industry tie up intellectual capacity and competence to an excessive degree over time? Does petroleum-financed research help legitimize the attitude that there is no urgency as regards change?

These are not questions for a committee on research ethics to answer alone, but for universities nation- and worldwide to consider carefully and respond to in a responsible, reflected manner. In light of current climate realities and probable scenarios for development, it is imperative that flows of money and intellectual labour are channelled towards solutions rather than deepening the crisis through continued dependency on fossil fuels. This responsibility lies with the whole research community; management, departments, staff and students. A particularly large part of the responsibility lies with those who most influence and control the flow of money and research priorities. Yet, as the Norwegian debate has shown, groups such as the divestment movement can shift the terms of the debate and have a great impact on how our institutions face the realities of climate change.

In parallel to the university debate, the investments of the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund (usually referred to as “the oil fund” domestically), the largest sovereign wealth fund on the planet, has been the topic of heated public debate. The fund is heavily invested in oil, coal and gas, but a combination of political parties, environmental groups, business commentators and other groups have pressured the government to rethink this strategy. In February of this year, they made a historical decision to create an independent commission to assess the consequences of divesting from fossil fuel companies. The report is to be delivered next year, and may lead to a significant shift towards sustainable investments in line with Norway’s ambition to lead on sustainability.

NENTs statement potently frames debate by highlighting the ethical responsibility universities have to contribute to and not hinder sustainable development, and makes clear demands that invite further discussion and debate. Norwegian universities are set to continue these in the autumn, and can come to serve as examples to follow elsewhere: to reach the UNs climate targets, universities have a clear ethical responsibility not to contradict their own researcher’s knowledge, and accelerate their collective efforts to develop knowledge that aid a transition. If one of the world’s most oil dependent countries can dare to raise the debate, then others, such as the resource-rich and highly competent UK institutions, surely should be able to follow.

This piece is an updated version of an article that was originally published on OpenDemocracy  by Ragnhild Freng Dale.

6 steps closer to the People’s Climate March

Fri, 2014-08-08 23:21

Friends,

Want a preview of what the People’s Climate March will be like on September 21st? Here are just a few photos from the Organizers’ Tour, which hit 6 cities in 12 days to help lay the groundwork for what we hope will be the biggest climate march ever:

At every stop, local organizers noted how surprised they were by the number of new people in the room who came to help build this march into something amazing.

At every event we set up local organizing hubs that are now up and running. You can find the hub nearest you — or get plugged in to hubs working on fracking, coal, and many other issues — by clicking here: peoplesclimate.org/organizing/

What I saw on the tour is that people from all walks of life are ready to do what it takes to fight for climate justice at this march — and to do it arm in arm, with beautiful art, and with all the joy we can bring.

The 6 stops on the tour were just 6 steps along what’s still a long road to the People’s Climate March in New York this September 21st. If you’re ready to walk it with me, click here to get plugged in, and we’ll make this something amazing.

Onwards and upwards,

Janina

Australian farmers gave up their quiet lives to stand up against this atrocious project

Fri, 2014-08-08 21:00

These farmers’ homes are threatened by construction of the biggest coal mine in Australia. For 800 days, they’ve protected their land, water, and future, but they need help. Watch the video below, then support them here.


Thanks to our friends at GetUp! Australia

A teaser for this year’s must-read book, by Naomi Klein

Thu, 2014-08-07 20:58

Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, where she tackles the war our economic model wages on life on Earth, is sure to be a must-read. Watch the trailer for the book below, which is set to come out on September 16th.

And check out the cool, new website for the book here.

Watch Obama’s chief science advisor explain the climate/wildfire link in 3 minutes

Thu, 2014-08-07 01:09

Right after California declared a state of emergency for wildfires on Saturday, the White House released this video featuring President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren, to explain how climate change and wildfires are linked.

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