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Journalists Challenged To Focus On #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #QandA #TheDrum #NoNewCoal #StopAdani

Journalists Challenged To Focus On Climate Change

A Communications Analyst at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has urged the Ghanaian media to focus attention on climate change and its related issues to create awareness among the people and the need to develop necessary actions that would make the country more resilient to climate change.

Ms. Praise Nutakor, said the media had the responsibility to report adequately on issues related to climate change, green economy and other related issues that had serious implications for the country’s future development.

Speaking at a day’s training workshop for selected journalists from the northern sector of the country in Kumasi, she said encouraging the people to understand climate change and develop measures that would help mitigate its effect, while promoting green economy, was necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) with financial support from the UNDP, while the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) provided technical support.

The participants were taken through the concepts of climate change and green economy, the national policies, institutional arrangement for SDG implementation projects initiatives on the policies, among others.

Mr Peter Dery, Head of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at MESTI, said the Ministry was supporting the development of climate change and green economy related projects and programmes in order to achieve the SGDs in medium and long term planning process.

He stressed the need for the harnessing of green economy in the country’s development process to promote healthy environment and sustainable development.

Mr Dery also called for the intensification of the country’s afforestation programme while working to protect water bodies and stop actions that further depleted the ozone.

Press link for more: Modern Ghana

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Beating Authoritarianism #auspol #qldpol #Neoliberalism #ClimateChange #Refugees #StopAdani

Beating Authoritarianism Isn’t as Simple as You Think.

It’s Even Simpler

Three Lessons of History We’ve Forgotten

umair haqueJun 17

Kids in camps. Congressmen who can’t get access to them.

A President denying it’s happening.

What’s happening to us?

We’ve forgotten three key lessons of history.

Beating authoritarianism isn’t as simple as you think. It’s even simpler. Yes, really. Not easy, mind you, convenient, comfortable, a walk in the park. But simple, as in undo the cause, undo the effect.

There’s no need to overthink it — to endlessly look for nuance, as if there are a million beautiful and subtle shades of grey among dictatorships. That is a way to prove how smart we are — but it does less than nothing to beat the bad guys. In fact, overthinking it, we end up paralyzed and powerless, which is where we are now, a point I’ll return to.

Let’s start here.

Authoritarianism arises in broken societies.

Just how broken is America?

The average American doesn’t have $500 in emergency savings, his life expectancy’s fallng, he’ll never retire, he lives with a mountain of debt, and his income’s shrinking.

Inequality is higher than ancient Rome, trust has collapsed, social bonds have imploded along with towns, villages, and cities, some of which don’t have basic utilities like water, the polity is badly dysfunctional, and so on.

America is a portrait of the rich world’s first failed state.

Now.

We have never once seen authoritarianism arise in a working society — one where people are prosperous.

I’ll get to why.

First, go ahead and think about. Weimar Germany?

Of course not — it was badly broken, thus Hitler. Post-Soviet Russia? Nope — life was plummeting downwards, hence Putinism.

China? Nope — there were mass famines, hence Maoism.

Authoritarianism arises in broken societies — there is absolutely no need to overthink it, which is a kind of denial, but to only to see: is the society we live in broken?

Here’s a simple test to use.

Are real incomes falling?

If so, we are more than likely to going to see authoritarian current rise, and maybe rise all the way to the top.

Just like we do in America.

People turn to authoritarians for a sense of safety and strength when they feel weak and defeated. Why is it that every single American pundit — from Ezra Klein to Nate Silver to Morning Joe to David Brooks — was 100% wrong, over and over again, about Trumpism?

Because they never saw how broken their society was — and so they couldn’t understand the obvious implication.

When people are living right at the edge, without savings, income, denuded of meaning and purpose, without a sense of optimism and faith in the future, they feel insecure, weak, powerless. And they will, much more quickly than anyone expets, turn to the figure who gives them a sense of safety, strength, and protection again.

That is how broken societies end up taken over by authoritarians.

People are often very happy to trade freedom for all that it has cost them — prosperity, stability, belonging, meaning, security.

Step by step, the authoritarian makes them trade away their humanity and decency for his protection and strength too — telling them that is the only way to be strong.

That is how he keeps a society under his thumb — it is exactly how cults and gangs break people — turning it into a predatory place, where he can easily control people who have lost their inner compass, their moral guidance, their courage and defiance, their sense of what is right and wrong.

That is how a society gets to kids in camps in less than two years. But how is that vicious cycle to be reversed?

(Now, you are right to say, “But some people are just terrible racists and bigots!!” Of course they are.

Here’s an uncomfortable truth.

There will always be a proportion of society that’s that way.

We don’t live in utopia, and we never will.

The question is: can we quell the worst instincts in people?

At least motivate them to act like decent human beings?

Civilize them?

And the answer to that is: when people feel safe and secure, they are less likely to give in to the worst, lashing out in rage and fear.

No, not all of them — just enough of them.

Some of them will always be hateful — usually between 10 and 20%, no matter what we have learned to do yet.

Still, societies can function successfully, and so when we make the question black-or-white, we have failed at thinking well, too.)

The way to beat authoritarianism is to offer people a transformative new social contract.

When I say “social contract”, because the Ezra Kleins of the world have reduced you to thinking that means something like a minor-league extension to some kind of ineffectual policy program or bill, you maybe roll your eyes. But policy is not what a social contract is made of at all.

A social contract is about institutions.

What are institutions?

ICE is an institution. DHS is an institution.

When we say, “abolish ICE!”, we are beginning to call for a new social contract, only we don’t know it.

So let’s go all the way.

To offer a new social contract — or a new New Deal, or a New Grand Bargain, whatever you want to call it — means a new set of institutions that repair a broken society.

America doesn’t need an ICE and a DHS, really.

What it needs is an NHS, a National Health Services, a BBC, a good national public broadcaster, instead of a CNN and MSNBC, who failed abysmally at safeguarding the public interest from authoritarianism.

It needs a Social Pension System, not just “social security”.

It needs an American Investment Bank — not just Goldman Sachs — to invest in broken towns and cities and lives.

It needs all the above and more — but the point is that they are new institutions, which fundamentally restructure society, by offering people a new social contract.

Now. Why do we need to “offer” a new social contract?

Well, because authoritarianism presents us with a paradox.

If all we do is react to it, we will never beat it.

The Germans did that, the Russians did that, the Chinese still do that — and they lost. To really “beat” authoritarianism means doing so fair and square — not so that we gain the moral high ground — but democratically, consensually, so that we restore democracy in the process.

And that means offering people something that they genuinely choose over and above it. And they will do that when they are galvanized and inspired and thrilled and excited. Proud to be citizens — not just ashamed of what they are becoming — again. But we can only really do that with a grand vision and agenda for a new society.

Let me put that in perspective.

In every other arena of life, American love dramatic, transformative change.

In business, it’s about relentless innovation.

As consumers, we love the latest fad, from Edison Bulbs to yoga.

We devour the latest TV shows and films and literature.

We pioneer science and art. But when it comes to society — suddenly, we become timid, hesitant, and feeble. “Can we really do that?”, we ask ourselves, bewildered? And then the cycle of overthinking it begins. But the authoritarians aren’t overthinking it.

They aren’t deep thinkers.

What are they?

Authoritarianism ultimately boils down to a plan for total institutional reconstruction. Total — along totalitarian lines. Reconstruction — ICE becomes something like a Gestapo, DHS becomes something like an SS.

I exaggerate a little to make a point.

The authoritarians have a radical plan to reconstruct society.

Not a very thoughtful one — one based on hate and spite and fear. But the problem is that no one else offers an opposing one.

That is the difference between “resistance” and opposition.

Opposition says — radical change is coming, one way or the other, in a broken society. Here is the positive, beneficial kind, that creates the future, not just rewinds to the barbarities of the past. But if no such opposition exists, then a society can never beat authoritarianism.

It didn’t exist in Germany — bang!

Hitler won, to everyone’s shock.

It didn’t in Russia — pow! Putin became President for life. And so on.

And that is where America is now.

It is overthinking authoritarianism, and badly.

No one is offering a new New Deal, a new Grand Bargain, and so there is nothing to galvanize people, inspire them, awaken them, so that they rise up not just against authoritarians, but for themselves, their democracy, their society.

Hopeless, glum, broken, Americans sit around and tweet and lament on Facebook and Twitter — but that is how a people become defeated.

What is there to fight for, if there is only something to fight against?

Authoritarianism, ultimately, is a simple historical process.

People who feel insecure and unsafe and weak, because their societies are broken, turn to strong men for a feeling of strength and protection — just like mafias.

And so fighting authoritarians with cries of hypocrisy and evil does less than no good.

You beat authoritarianism by repairing the broken society that gave rise to it.

Umair

June 2018

Press link for more:

James Hansen: “I’m sorry we’re leaving such a f.cking mess” #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Listening to James Hansen on Climate Change, Thirty Years Ago and Now

Elizabeth Kolbert

On June 23, 1988—a blisteringly hot day in Washington, D.C.—James Hansen told a Senate committee that “the greenhouse effect has been detected and is changing our climate now.” At the time, Hansen was the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and though his testimony was certainly not the first official warning about the “greenhouse effect”—a report to President Lyndon Johnson, in 1965, predicted “measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate” in the decades to follow—it was the first to receive national news coverage.

The Times ran the story at the top of the front page, with a graph showing a long-term rise in average global temperatures.

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of Hansen’s testimony, and it would be hard to think of a more lugubrious milestone.

In the intervening three decades, nearly half of the Arctic ice cap has melted away, the oceans have acidified, much of the American West has burned, lower Manhattan, South Florida, Houston, and New Orleans have flooded, and average temperatures have continued to climb.

Just last week, a team of scientists reported in Nature that the rate of melt off Antarctica has tripled in the past decade; as the Washington Post put it, “If that continues, we are in serious trouble.” (Were the Antarctic ice to melt away entirely, global sea levels would rise by two hundred feet; if just the more vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea levels would rise by about ten feet.) Also last week, scientists reported that most of Africa’s oldest baobab trees have died, probably because of climate change, and last month researchers showed that rising CO2 levels were reducing the nutrient content of rice, which is probably the single most important food source for people.

Yet Washington continues to ignore the problem, or, worse still, to actively impede efforts to address it.

How can this be?

A possible answer, which seems to be the one that Hansen himself, at least in part, subscribes to, is that scientists are to blame.

Hansen is now seventy-seven and retired from NASA.

He recently told the Associated Press that he regrets not being “able to make this story clear enough for the public.”

Many climate scientists seem similarly to believe that they are not good at conveying information to lay audiences, and, as a result, dozens of Web sites and several whole organizations have been created to help them communicate better.

As someone who has interviewed a lot of climate scientists—including, on several occasions, Hansen—I can attest that, as a group, they are not particularly good at expressing themselves. (I once wrote a Profile of Hansen, and watched him lose even audiences predisposed to adore him.) But thirty years into the so-called climate debate—fifty-three years, if you go back to the report to L.B.J.—I also think it’s time to put this particular story line to rest.

Back in 1988, just about the only information available on climate change was written in the dry-as-standard-deviations style of academic science.

The following year, Bill McKibben published the first book on the subject aimed at a popular audience, “The End of Nature.” Since then, more generally accessible books have been written on the climate than even the most avid reader could possibly keep up with; these include kids’ books, comic books, and even a coloring book. Meanwhile, countless newspaper and magazine articles, television specials, and documentaries have appeared on the topic. Above all, climate change has become obvious. You don’t need to read or watch or hear about it; in many parts of the world, all you have to do is look around. The southwestern United States, for instance, is currently experiencing such a severe drought that water restrictions are in place and many national forests are closed. “Thirty years ago, we may have seen this coming as a train in the distance,” Deke Arndt, the chief of climate monitoring at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration center in Asheville, North Carolina, recently told the A.P. “The train is in our living room now.”

Instead of using this anniversary to lament the failures of climate scientists, I’d like to propose that we use it to celebrate—well, “celebrate” probably isn’t quite the right word, but maybe recognize—their successes.

Three decades ago, led by Hansen, they made a series of predictions; for the most part these have proved to be spectacularly accurate.

That we, the general public, have failed to act on these predictions says a lot more about us than it does about them.

I happened to interview Hansen last year, for a video project.

I asked him if he had a message for young people. “The simple thing is, I’m sorry we’re leaving such a fucking mess,” he said.

Could the message be any clearer than that?

Press link for more: New Yorker

Litigation Is the weapon of choice for #ClimateChange warriors #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

Climate Change Warriors’ Latest Weapon of Choice Is Litigation

By Jeremy Hodges, Lauren Leatherby and Kartikay Mehrotra

May 24, 2018

In the global fight against climate change, one tool is proving increasingly popular: litigation.

From California to the Philippines, activists, governments and concerned citizens are suing the biggest polluters and national governments over the effects of climate change at a break-neck pace.

“The courts are our last, best hope at this moment of irreversible harm to our planet and life on it,” said Julia Olson, an attorney for Our Children’s Trust, a legal challenge center in the U.S. that is involved in climate change litigation across 13 countries, including the U.S., Pakistan and Uganda.

The wave of activity is about channeling the fervor of a social movement to drive change via the legal system. The arguments vary based on both culture and the law. In the U.S., home to more cases than anywhere else in the world, many recent suits involve plaintiffs seeking to protect climate-change rules passed under former President Barack Obama. In Europe, it’s largely governments being hammered over pollution-reduction plans that fall short of EU targets.

“The political branches of government have had decades to stop destroying our climate system; now only court-ordered mandates will stop the destruction our governments are perpetuating, and increasingly supporting,” said Olson, whose primary dispute is on behalf of a group of American teenagers suing the federal government to end U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. Both the Obama and Trump administrations have sought to end the case and been rebuffed.

California is quickly becoming ground zero for climate cases in the U.S., where eight cities and counties are suing oil companies to recover the cost of infrastructure needed to protect against rising sea levels. Cases by San Francisco and Oakland face a motion to dismiss the lawsuit today in a California federal court, where Chevron Corp., BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhilips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc will argue that remedies and penalties for climate change are a matter for lawmakers, not a single judge.

The topic came up twice during BP’s annual meeting on Monday. Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley declined to disclose certain climate targets, or even answer some questions from activist investors, and cited the risk of legal action.

“You want to get us to make statements here in front of you that you can document that will lead to a class action,” Dudley said in response to one question from the Union of Concerned Scientists about pending U.S. litigation against energy companies. Such legal actions are “a business model in the United States,” he said.

The climate lawsuits aren’t all about cleaning up the environment. Last year, 27 percent of U.S. climate-related cases—largely those brought by companies—opposed protections, according to the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, which keeps a database on climate-change cases. Among those: a dispute filed by ExxonMobil against the states of Massachusetts and New York that called for the end of an investigation into Exxon’s knowledge and disclosure of climate change-related risks. The case was thrown out in March by a federal judge in New York.

City of New York v. BP

United States

New York City

The case: In January, New York City sued five of the world’s biggest oil companies, arguing the companies are financially liable for damage caused by climate change to the city and its population. New York followed eight California cities and counties who filed similar cases in the previous year.

Latest: The oil companies filed a motion to dismiss the suit, arguing that the case should be heard under federal law and that federal law doesn’t have the authority to rule on issues that focus on global economy and national security. A dismissal hearing will take place in June.

More cases are using human rights arguments, in which plaintiffs make the case that climate change has threatened or taken away populations’ basic rights to shelter, health, food, water and even life. From Ugandan children who sued their government for failing to protect them from climate change to hundreds of elderly Swiss women who sued the country for failure to shield them from climate change’s effects, human rights cases are a small but growing approach to this type of litigation.

Human rights suits

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines

Philippines

The case: While not technically a legal fight, The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines’ inquiry is probing whether 47 major fossil fuel companies can be held culpable for accelerating climate change and how climate change impacts have affected basic human rights of Filipinos.

Latest: In March, scientists and lawyers gave evidence in the first public hearings. Several more hearings in Europe and the U.S. are planned in the months ahead.

Some cases may not focus on climate change itself but center on factors that lead to climate change, like air pollution. These lawsuits often involve an NGO or an individual taking a city or district to court to claim that the air quality laws are being breached, forcing authorities to take action.

The strategy has paid off particularly well in the U.K. and Germany, where suits have forced significant government policy changes. Germany is leading the way. Currently 28 German cities are subject to cases over illegal levels of pollution. On May 17, The European Commission said it was taking six countries—Germany, France, U.K., Italy, Hungary and Romania—to the European Court of Justice over their failure to tackle air pollution.

Suits addressing causes of climate change

DUH v Land Baden-Württemberg

Germany

The case: The Deutsche Umwelthilfe, or DUH, an environmental group, sued municipalities across Germany, pressuring them to enforce EU air pollution limits they’ve exceeded for years. Regional courts in Stuttgart and Dusseldorf ruled in favor of banning diesel cars in 2017 as the best and quickest way to cut emissions in busy city centers.

Latest: In February, Germany’s top administrative court upheld the original decisions, paving the way for bans on diesel cars. The landmark ruling could speed up the process of removing the worst-polluting cars from the country’s roads.

Governments fighting climate change litigation reflect a power struggle. Courts could force adjustments to the political platforms that got some of these officials elected. In the U.S., the Trump administration has said a victory for those cities demanding damages would undermine the government’s “strong economic and national security interests in promoting the development of fossil fuels,” while possibly threatening its position on the Paris climate accord.

That’s the official argument to dismiss the cases. But for attorneys committed to defending the environment in court, that’s the very point.

“It’s a legitimate method of seeking to not only draw attention to the issue of climate change but really hold governments to account because it’s already causing harm to people around the world,” said Sophie Marjanac, a lawyer at the activist law firm ClientEarth, which is behind several European pollution suits. These cases “hold elected officials to account, especially when those officials are breaching fundamental human rights.”

Press link for more: Bloomberg

It is overdue to present a planetary confession. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Johan Rockström – It is overdue to present a planetary confession.

Author : Johan Rockström

Our human “balance sheet” for the past 50 years is everything else than positive, and that should make us humble.

Above all, it emphasizes Albert Einstein’s wisdom that we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

The industrial period started in Britain towards the end of the 18th century when James Watt invented the coal-driven steam engine.

Industrialization spreads quickly across the world, with increasing local environmental problems.

However, it took until the 1960’s before contamination and environmental disasters cause action on a broad level.

Cars cause smog levels higher than today’s problems in Beijing.

Philadelphia is classified as a disaster zone. Even in Stockholm, smog is a common phenomenon.

Lakes in the USA are so oil-contaminated that they start to burn.

It is impossible to eat fish.

Huge oil spills from tankers occur.

Finally, the world reacts.

The Republican president Richard Nixon establishes the Environmental Protection Agency EPA in 1970.

In that year, millions of Americans demonstrate for clean environment, during the first ever Earth Day.

The Swedish Environmental Agency, Naturvårdsverket, is established in 1967.

The Stockholm Conference, the world’s first meeting for environment and development, starts the UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Program, in 1972. Legislation to tackle environmental problems is initiated.

In the USA, major environmental laws are passed which to this day regulate the environmental administration, and these are the very laws which Donald Trump wishes to limit: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

Right now, things happen which the regulations intended to prevent.

In parallel with our mobilisation to fix environmental problems, the problems accelerate.

We switch from linear increase of environmental problems to exponential increase of humanity’s pressure on the planet.

“Environmental hockey sticks” appear, from carbon dioxide to loss of biodiversity. Things go fast.

In only 50 years, we use up the world’s environmental flexibility, and now we have reached the “saturation point” where the atmosphere, the seas and ecosystems on land no longer can tolerate further unsustainable exploitation.

You probably see the drama unfolding.

Just at the time when we mobilize to solve global environmental problems, the result is exactly the opposite!

Instead of solving problems, environmental problems exacerbate in an exponential manner.

What a total failure!

Here we are.

In addition to all negative environmental trends, we are undermining our standard of living – because the invoices start coming.

For a long time, we could grow both our population and standard of living and “send the bill” to the environment and ecosystems.

That is no more.

Already today, when global warming has increased the average temperature by 1 degree Celsius, we see the costs in terms of social destabilisation such as in Syria, we see the collapse of 30% of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and we see huge costs such as the 350 mio USD bill for the 2017 tornado season in the USA.

One reason for our failure is the belief in the Kuznets graph according to which environmental problems increase at low GNP (read: poor countries) and decrease at high GNP, meaning that environmental problems are solved by economic growth, i.e. by having the resources.

The problem is that Kuznets is wrong.

The richer we are, the more damage to the planet we cause.

Recently, a scientific study showed that rich countries such as Sweden do score great on social indicators regarding standard of living, but they do this by over-consuming regarding the planetary limits.

This is depressing.

There is not a single country in the world which achieves good social development sustainably, i.e. within planetary limits.

Is there any hope?

Yes, most certainly!

Firstly, I claim that the right diagnosis of the patient is the precondition for correct treatment.

We need to be open and lay all our cards on the table.

We need to confess – on a planetary level.

Secondly, there are so many “islands of insight”, sustainable solutions and initiatives of cities and companies.

Surely in an “ocean of ignorance”.

However, all these islands start to form an ever tighter archipelago which can alter the logic towards a sustainable future for this planet.

Wikipedia on Johan Rockström

Johan Rockström appointed director at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Press link for more: Heatpower.com

#ClimateChange is the defining challenge of our time. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction

by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, yet it is still accelerating faster than our efforts to address it .

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are higher than they have been for 800,000 years, and they are increasing .

So, too, are the catastrophic effects of our warming planet – extreme storms, droughts, fires, floods, melting ice and rising sea levels .

In 2015, the world’s nations recognized the urgency and magnitude of the challenge when they adopted the historic Paris Agreement on climate change with a goal of limiting global average temperature rise to well below 2 °C while aiming for a safe 1 .5 °C target .

The unity forged in Paris was laudable – and overdue .

But, for all its significance, Paris was a beginning, not an end .

The world is currently not on track to achieve the Paris targets .

We need urgent climate action and greatly increased ambition – in emissions reductions and in promoting adaptation to currentandfutureimpactsofclimate change .

Success demands broad-based concerted action from all levels of society, public and private, action coalitions across all sectors and the engagement of all key actors .

There is no time, nor reason, to delay .

The dogma that pollution and high emissions are the unavoidable cost of progress is dead .

Investing in climate action makes sense for the global environment, improved public health, new markets, new jobs and new opportunities for sustainable prosperity .

Failing to act will simply consign all of humanity to ever- worsening climate calamity .

That is why I urge Parties to vigorously implement the Paris Agreement and to increase their ambition commensurate with the demands of science .

The United Nations – led by UN Climate Change – will provide support every step of the way .

There is no alternative to decisive, immediate climate action if we are to safeguard the future of this and future generations .

Press link for full report: UNFCCC.INT

U.N. #ClimateChange is the single biggest threat to life.. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

UN Climate Change Launches First-Ever Annual Report | UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 30 April 2018 – UN Climate Change today launched its first-ever Annual Report, laying out the key 2017 achievements and pointing to the future of the climate change process.

“Climate Change is the single biggest threat to life, security and prosperity on Earth,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “This annual report shows how UN Climate Change is doing everything it can to support, encourage and build on the global response to climate change.”

The report covers many areas of the 2017 work of UN Climate Change, which includes the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement, as well as their bodies, institutional arrangements, organs and the secretariat.

For example, at the UN Climate Change conference (COP23) presided over by Fiji last November, almost 30,000 people from all levels came together in Bonn, Germany, to drive action on climate change. The conference saw financial commitments amounting to almost USD 1 billion to tackle climate change.

Governments took key decisions, among them launching the Talanoa Dialogue, the first-ever Gender Action Plan, a platform for indigenous peoples and local communities, and an agreement on agriculture.

Throughout 2017, UN Climate Change continued to deliver on its core tasks: supporting the intergovernmental process, bringing transparency to climate commitments, supporting Parties in building resilience and adapting to climate change, facilitating the mobilization of finance and diffusion of technology, and fostering cooperation with non-Party stakeholders to realize the Paris Agreement’s potential.

The report also looks at the outlook for the year ahead, including increasing the number of ratifications of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol so it can enter into force, the Talanoa Dialogue which will inform and inspire Parties as they increase their commitments, and adopting the outcomes of the work programme of the Paris Agreement at the end of 2018.

“Throughout 2018 and beyond, let us do all in our power, together, to accelerate action,” said Ms. Espinosa. “Only by doing so can we succeed in protecting our planet from climate change and securing a low-carbon, sustainable future.”

Countries are now gathered in Bonn focused on critical interim work leading to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, including preparation of the Paris Agreement Work Programme, which will guide implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Read the full UN Climate Change Annual Report 2017.

Sometimes Fighting Climate Change Means Breaking the Law #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Sometimes Fighting Climate Change Means Breaking the Law

By Carolyn KormannApril 3, 2018

Sometimes Fighting Climate Change Means Breaking the Law

Carolyn Kormann

A group of pipeline protesters in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood gave new life to an old legal strategy.Photograph by John Tlumack i/ The Boston Globe / Getty

A woman sees a child fall down a well, so she climbs a fence onto private property to save the child’s life. In the unlikely event that the woman were charged with criminal trespassing, her attorney would use a choice-of-evils defense, also known as a necessity defense, to get her acquitted.

He would argue that the child faced an immediate physical threat, and that it was necessary for his client to break the law in order to prevent the child from dying. But what if the threat were something less discrete than a well—the air, the water, the very ground beneath our feet?

What if it imperilled every child in a neighborhood, or on the planet?

Would the necessity defense still hold?

Last week, in a Boston municipal courthouse, thirteen defendants brought that question before Judge Mary Ann Driscoll.

They had been arrested, in 2016, while protesting the construction of a high-pressure natural-gas pipeline in the neighborhood of West Roxbury, and claimed that their acts of civil disobedience—trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest—were necessary to forestall both local and global threats. In their testimony to Driscoll, some of the defendants focussed on community safety. The pipeline route, they noted, went through densely populated streets, past an active quarry where bedrock is regularly blasted.

According to calculations made for comparable pipelines, an explosion could incinerate an area of at least thirty city blocks.

Others discussed rising greenhouse-gas emissions and the harm that climate change is inflicting on people around the world. Driscoll listened to the defendants silently and, after the last one testified, announced that she found them not guilty—that their actions were justified by reason of necessity.

She acquitted them without so much as an administrative fee.

Traditionally, in the law, necessity has been a narrow defense.

It can be difficult to prove, and is usually limited to cases in which the threat is clear and concrete.

Mark Silverstein, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, told me that, at the start of a civil-disobedience trial, prosecutors often file a motion to bar their opponents from presenting a necessity defense. “They say, ‘Don’t give us any funny business about why you sat in the road; the issue is whether you sat in the road,’ ” Silverstein explained. But that hasn’t stopped protesters from trying anyway.

One common strategy, Silverstein said, is to pursue a jury nullification, in which a jury returns a not-guilty verdict, despite clear and indisputable evidence to the contrary, because the jurors find the charges unjust. In such cases, Silverstein said, “they are putting the law on trial.” Even when a necessity defense fails, he continued, it can give protesters a chance to appeal to the public. “It’s sometimes considered a victory if they got to present the evidence—why nuclear weapons, or the Vietnam war, or climate change are bad,” Silverstein said. “It’s a way to bring attention to the issue.”

West Roxbury’s anti-pipeline movement began in 2015, when Spectra Energy, a Houston-based company, broke ground on a five-mile-long extension of the Algonquin Gas Transmission Pipeline, which carries fracked natural gas from Lambertville, New Jersey, to Boston. (Last February, Spectra was bought by the Canadian multinational Enbridge, which the Obama Administration fined more than sixty million dollars, in 2010, after hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil from one of the company’s pipelines spilled into the Kalamazoo River, in Michigan.) City leaders opposed the extension, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had issued Spectra a permit, so the company proceeded to dig up the roads. When it became clear that legal means of protest weren’t working—petitions, public comments, an ongoing challenge against the F.E.R.C. permit in federal court—an organization called the Climate Disobedience Center started training hundreds of protesters. Veterans of the antiwar and anti-nuclear demonstrations of the nineteen-seventies joined in.

Over the course of about thirty actions, the protesters sat down in front of backhoes, chained themselves to fences, and dropped into the pipeline’s construction trench, decorating it with flowers. They prayed, sang songs, and chanted, “No gasification without representation!” On June 29, 2016, twenty-three of the boldest activists lay down in the trench and refused to move. In Pakistan that summer, people had dug mass graves in advance of a predicted heat wave. “We recognized that trenches like the ones being dug in Pakistan were caused by trenches like the one we were resisting in West Roxbury,” Marla Marcum, a Methodist pastor and a co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, told me. The Boston Fire Department’s technical-rescue squad had to lift or roll the protesters onto stretchers and haul them out of the trench with ropes. By September 29th, the day of the final action, a hundred and ninety-eight people had been arrested. Many pleaded guilty to trespassing or disturbing the peace and were put on a six-month pretrial probation, after which the charges were dropped.

The pipeline entered service on January 5, 2017, but the activists still hoped to bring attention to their fight, this time in the courtroom. From the beginning, the thirteen defendants who appeared before Driscoll planned to present a necessity defense, including testimony from expert witnesses such as James Hansen, the climate scientist who alerted Congress to global warming, in 1988. During the discovery process, which dragged on for more than a year, the defendants and the judge pressed Spectra on a range of issues, including its safety plan for the pipeline. In November, after months of delay, the company’s lawyer submitted an affidavit admitting that no such plan existed. Revelations like that, Marcum said, have made the process worthwhile. Last Tuesday, perhaps recognizing that the case had become a boondoggle, the prosecution downgraded the charges from criminal to civil, making the defendants’ infractions the equivalent of parking tickets. The case could have been over then, but, in an unusual move, Driscoll allowed the protesters to make their final statements. According to Alice Cherry, a co-founder of the Climate Defense Project, which helped represent the West Roxbury activists, Driscoll’s ruling was the first of its kind in a civil case involving climate protesters.

The night after the ruling, the defendants held a public forum in the basement of a church in Jamaica Plain, near West Roxbury. “Communities like this one are fighting these kinds of fights all over the country,” the climate activist Tim DeChristopher said. “There is a sustained resistance, and it’s shifting the way these companies are doing business.” Prior to his involvement in the West Roxbury case, DeChristopher spent almost two years in prison for disrupting a government auction of oil and gas leases on sensitive public lands in Utah. Although his lawyer in that case, Patrick Shea, doesn’t anticipate that the necessity defense will become more common in civil-disobedience trials anytime soon, he noted that Driscoll’s ruling is consistent with “the drift of the judiciary.” Shea cited an ongoing federal lawsuit brought by a group of teen-agers, who argue that the government’s actions and inactions on climate change have, in the words of U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken, “so profoundly damaged our home planet that they threaten plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty.” The suit recently made it through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, over the Trump Administration’s objections. Meanwhile, climate-change activists in Minnesota and Washington State are preparing necessity defenses of their own. “In the beginning, you really didn’t have legal standing to challenge environmental matters,” Shea said. “But the wonderful thing about common law is that judges can begin to architect changes in it that reflect increasing scientific knowledge.”

At one point during the Jamaica Plain forum, Marcum called for a moment of silence, in recognition of the fact that “interactions with the criminal-justice system in this country are not all the same.” She noted that Driscoll’s ruling had come in the same week that Louisiana’s attorney general declined to prosecute a pair of white police officers who fatally shot Alton Sterling, a black man, in 2016. Boston is among the most segregated cities in the country; residents of West Roxbury, which is three-quarters white, tend to emphasize the “West,” to distinguish their neighborhood from nearby Roxbury, which is majority black. One of the only African-Americans arrested in West Roxbury was the Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, a climate-justice activist who has been working to bridge Boston’s racial divide through environmentalism. At the mass-graves protest, in 2016, she spoke to the crowd. “I debated whether or not it’s good to be here today, because all of these officers have to be here, and if I had my choice, I’d rather them be figuring out the sources of violence in our neighborhood and working to stop it,” she said. “But I’m here today because I believe we can lay to rest the spirit of exploitation and extraction that has brought us to such a terrible place.”

Press link for more: New Yorker

#ClimateChange & #Health #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #WHO

Climate change and health

Key facts

• Climate change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

• Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.

• The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between US$ 2-4 billion/year by 2030.

• Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

• Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution.

Climate change

Over the last 50 years, human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate.

In the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately 0.85oC. Each of the last 3 decades has been successively warmer than any preceding decade since 1850(1).

Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting and precipitation patterns are changing. Extreme weather events are becoming more intense and frequent.

What is the impact of climate change on health?

Although global warming may bring some localized benefits, such as fewer winter deaths in temperate climates and increased food production in certain areas, the overall health effects of a changing climate are likely to be overwhelmingly negative.

Climate change affects social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter.

Extreme heat

Extreme high air temperatures contribute directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, particularly among elderly people. In the heat wave of summer 2003 in Europe for example, more than 70 000 excess deaths were recorded(2).

High temperatures also raise the levels of ozone and other pollutants in the air that exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

Pollen and other aeroallergen levels are also higher in extreme heat. These can trigger asthma, which affects around 300 million people. Ongoing temperature increases are expected to increase this burden.

Natural disasters and variable rainfall patterns

Globally, the number of reported weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s.

Every year, these disasters result in over 60 000 deaths, mainly in developing countries.

Rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather events will destroy homes, medical facilities and other essential services.

More than half of the world’s population lives within 60 km of the sea.

People may be forced to move, which in turn heightens the risk of a range of health effects, from mental disorders to communicable diseases.

Increasingly variable rainfall patterns are likely to affect the supply of fresh water.

A lack of safe water can compromise hygiene and increase the risk of diarrhoeal disease, which kills over 500 000 children aged under 5 years, every year.

In extreme cases, water scarcity leads to drought and famine.

By the late 21st century, climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of drought at regional and global scale(1).

Floods are also increasing in frequency and intensity, and the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation is expected to continue to increase throughout the current century(1). Floods contaminate freshwater supplies, heighten the risk of water-borne diseases, and create breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes. They also cause drownings and physical injuries, damage homes and disrupt the supply of medical and health services.

Rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions.

This will increase the prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition, which currently cause 3.1 million deaths every year.

Patterns of infection

Climatic conditions strongly affect water-borne diseases and diseases transmitted through insects, snails or other cold blooded animals.

Changes in climate are likely to lengthen the transmission seasons of important vector-borne diseases and to alter their geographic range.

For example, climate change is projected to widen significantly the area of China where the snail-borne disease schistosomiasis occurs(3).

Malaria is strongly influenced by climate.

Transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria kills over 400 000 people every year – mainly African children under 5 years old. The Aedes mosquito vector of dengue is also highly sensitive to climate conditions, and studies suggest that climate change is likely to continue to increase exposure to dengue.

Measuring the health effects

Measuring the health effects from climate change can only be very approximate. Nevertheless, a WHO assessment, taking into account only a subset of the possible health impacts, and assuming continued economic growth and health progress, concluded that climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050; 38 000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48 000 due to diarrhoea, 60 000 due to malaria, and 95 000 due to childhood undernutrition.

Who is at risk?

All populations will be affected by climate change, but some are more vulnerable than others. People living in small island developing states and other coastal regions, megacities, and mountainous and polar regions are particularly vulnerable.

Children – in particular, children living in poor countries – are among the most vulnerable to the resulting health risks and will be exposed longer to the health consequences. The health effects are also expected to be more severe for elderly people and people with infirmities or pre-existing medical conditions.

Areas with weak health infrastructure – mostly in developing countries – will be the least able to cope without assistance to prepare and respond.

WHO response

Many policies and individual choices have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produce major health co-benefits. For example, cleaner energy systems, and promoting the safe use of public transportation and active movement – such as cycling or walking as alternatives to using private vehicles – could reduce carbon emissions, and cut the burden of household air pollution, which causes some 4.3 million deaths per year, and ambient air pollution, which causes about 3 million deaths every year.

In 2015, the WHO Executive Board endorsed a new work plan on climate change and health. This includes:

• Partnerships: to coordinate with partner agencies within the UN system, and ensure that health is properly represented in the climate change agenda.

• Awareness raising: to provide and disseminate information on the threats that climate change presents to human health, and opportunities to promote health while cutting carbon emissions.

• Science and evidence: to coordinate reviews of the scientific evidence on the links between climate change and health, and develop a global research agenda.

• Support for implementation of the public health response to climate change: to assist countries to build capacity to reduce health vulnerability to climate change, and promote health while reducing carbon emissions.

References

(1) IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

(2) Death toll exceeded 70,000 in Europe during the summer of 2003. Robine JM, Cheung SL, Le Roy S, Van Oyen H, Griffiths C, Michel JP, et al. C R Biol. 2008;331(2):171-8.

(3) Potential impact of climate change on schistosomiasis transmission in China. Zhou XN,

Yang GJ, Yang K, Wang XH, Hong QB, Sun LP, et al. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2008;78(2):188-94.

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Current Carbon Dioxide level not seen for 800,000 years #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol

Increases in greenhouse gases could lead to “severe ecological and economic disruptions” according to a recent report.

Image: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased a record amount from 2015 to 2016, leaving the air laden with a concentration of the potent greenhouse gas not seen for at least the last 800,000 years, the period for which we have direct measurements from ice cores.

The increase essentially guarantees that in the absence of rapid and dramatic cuts to emissions, catastrophic temperature increases “well above” those the Paris agreement sought to avoid will become a reality by end of the century, according to Petteri Taalas, the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

According to a report released by the international climate observing body on Monday (Oct 30), the concentration of CO2 was at 403.3 parts per million as of 2016, up from 400 parts per million a year earlier.

That 3.3 ppm rise is 50% more than the average rate over the past decade.

Over the last 70 years, the rate of increase of carbon in the atmosphere has been “nearly 100 times larger than at the end of the last ice age,” the last time the Earth transitioned to a much warmer world, the WMO writes.

As far as the global scientific community can tell, “such abrupt changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 have never before been seen.”

Such rapid increases in greenhouse gases “have the potential to initiate unpredictable changes in the climate system, because of strong positive feedbacks, leading to severe ecological and economic disruptions,” according to the report.

Image: The Economist

The last time the Earth experienced these levels of CO2 in the atmosphere was roughly 4 million years ago, during the mid-Pliocene, according to the WMO.

The climate back then was 2-3 °C (3.6-5.4 °F) warmer than it is today, and the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melted entirely, causing sea levels to rise 10-20 meters (33-66 feet) higher than those today.

The paper also reported that concentrations of methane, a greenhouse gas with greater short-term potency than CO2, continues to rise rapidly, particularly from tropical zones, a phenomena for which climate scientists do not have clear answers. Some experts fear it signals a “feedback loop” in which methane levels rise, warming the air and triggering more releases of methane ordinarily locked away in natural sinks.

“This was not expected in the Paris agreement,” Euan Nisbet, a climatologist at the Royal Holloway University of London told BBC News. “The carbon isotopes in the methane show that growth is not being driven by fossil fuels. We do not understand why methane is rising. It may be a climate change feedback.

It is very worrying.”

News of the rise comes just as countries are preparing to meet at the next United Nations climate talks in Bonn next week.

Press link for more: World Economic Forum