Switzerland

Pharrell to the UN: ‘It’s time to go from climate change to climate action.

UNITED NATIONS (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It’s time to go “from climate change to climate action” in efforts to save the planet, U.S. pop star Pharrell Williams said at the United Nations on Friday.

Singer-producer Williams, 41, partnered with the United Nations Foundation on the International Day of Happiness to raise awareness and call for more action on climate change.

“If you look at our behaviour is hard to believe we’re all aware we only have one planet,” Williams said in a General Assembly hall crowded with young people. “My main inspiration for being here today is that we’re in trouble, but we can change that. This earth is our home.”

The star is the creative director of the Live Earth movement, which campaigns for a climate deal to be reached before a global summit takes place in Paris in December.

“On this day we are using the universal language of music to show solidarity with the millions of people around the world suffering from poverty, human rights abuses, humanitarian crises and the effects of environmental degradation and climate change,” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a video message.

As the event wrapped up, the audience got up and started dancing to “Happy”.

Williams later greeted young fans who swarmed the General Assembly hall’s stage, sending U.N. security momentarily into panic as it struggled to contain the wave of screaming young people and their parents.

Press link for more: Maria Caspani | businessinsider.com

Video: http://www.theguardian.com/music/video/2015/mar/21/pharrell-united-nations-happiness-video  

5 Ways to Reduce the Drivers of Climate Change

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim gave a lecture at Georgetown University on March 18, 2015, about the development challenges created by climate change and actions that can be taken now to reduce the drivers of climate change and the impact.

Climate change is fundamentally a development issue. It threatens to exacerbate poverty and hurt economic growth. At the same time, how countries grow and the investments they make to meet the energy, food and water needs of an expanding population can fuel climate change, raising risks worldwide, or contribute to solutions.

In a lecture to students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., on March 18, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim laid out five key areas where policies and growth choices can help reduce the drivers of climate change.

“We have to keep the economy growing – there is no turning back on growth,” President Kim told the student audience. “What we have to do is decouple growth from carbon emissions.”

Put a price on carbon

Cutting emissions starts with clear policy signals.

Carbon pricing systems – such as emissions trading systems that cap emissions or carbon taxes that charge per ton – send a long-term signal to companies by creating an incentive to reduce polluting behaviors and to invest in cleaner energy choices and low-carbon innovation.

End fossil fuel subsidies

Fossil fuel subsidies send a different signal – one that can encourage waste and discourage low-carbon growth. By phasing out harmful fossil fuel subsidies, countries can reallocate their spending to where it is most needed and most effective, including proving targeted support for the poor.

Build low-carbon, resilient cities

Getting prices right is one part of the equation. Another piece is building a sustainable future, because all development happens in the context of climate change.

There will be more infrastructure built in the next 20 years than in the past 6,000, the president told the audience.  Cities are growing fast, particularly in the developing world. Just over half the global population is urban today; by 2050, cities are expected to hold two-thirds of the world population.

Increase energy efficiency and use of renewable energy

When we talk about energy, we have to talk about access. Worldwide, about 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity and 2.8 billion rely on solid fuels for cooking, such as wood, charcoal, and coal, which cause harmful indoor air pollution.

Through the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, the World Bank Group support three goals for 2030:  achieve universal access to modern energy, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Energy efficiency improvements are crucial. Every gigawatt saved is a gigawatt that didn’t have to be produced. Globally, energy use is about one-third lower today than it would have been without the past 20 years of energy efficiency improvements.

Implement climate-smart agriculture and nurture forest landscapes

The fifth area for action takes in both mitigation and adaptation. Climate-smart agriculture techniques help farmers increase their farms’ productivity and resilience to the impacts of climate change, such as droughts, while also creating carbon sinks that help reduce net emissions. Forests, too, are valuable carbon sinks that absorb carbon and store it in soils, trees, and foliage.


Press link for more: World bank

Why we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground – video.

We need to reduce emissions to keep our planet safe for future generations – the science is clear. However, it can be quite hard to get your head around how to do that. Here’s a very simple idea from writer and climate campaigner, Bill McKibben: keep fossil fuels in the ground. If we were to burn all the fossil fuel reserves we currently know about, experts forecast the Earth’s temperature would warm by more than 2C and have catastrophic effects. Guardian journalists explain the ‘keep it in the ground’ theory in easy to understand terms.

Press link to watch video: theguardian.com

Global carbon emissions experienced zero growth in 2014. 

In what has been described as a real surprise by the International Energy Agency (IEA), annual global emissions of carbon dioxide experienced zero growth in 2014, even as the globe’s economy continued to grow. According to IEA data CO2 emissions for 2014 were 32.3 billion tonnes, the same as 2013, meanwhile the global economy grew by 3 per cent.

While this is not the first time that growth of emissions has stalled, on previous occasions it was coupled with a significant economic downturn such as the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 and the collapse of industrial production with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

On this particular occasion it appears to be driven by structural changes in China and decarbonisation and enhanced energy efficiency across China, the United States and Europe.


Press link for more: Tristan Edis | businessspectator.com

The Intergenerational Report underestimates climate threat: an open letter to the government

initiated by Dr Andrew Glikson, signed by Australian environmental and climate scientists.

We the undersigned are concerned that the 2015 Intergenerational Report underestimates the serious threat of global warming to future generations.

Based on the basic laws of physics, direct measurements and empirical observations in nature, the current rise in atmospheric greenhouse gases by about 40% since the 19th century is inducing a shift in the state of the atmosphere-ocean-land-ice sheets system, seriously endangering future generations, and indeed nature’s life-support systems.

Our concern is based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature, as summarised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and on observations by the world’s national science academies and geophysical research societies of leading nations, including Australia.*

The current and projected trend in CO2 from the 19th century concentration of 280 parts per million (ppm) to the present 400 ppm, currently rising at more than 2 ppm per year, threatens to transform the planetary climate, creating conditions in which large parts of the continents become subject to droughts, fires and other extreme weather events. If this trend is allowed to continue, low coastal and river valleys, where much of the world’s population lives and where its food supply is produced, would be inundated by rising sea levels.

At the current rates of CO2 emissions, by 2055 (the projected date in the Intergenerational Report) CO2 concentrations would rise to about 480 ppm, threatening the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and approaching conditions that existed on the planet more than 2.6 million years ago, before the appearance of the genus Homo.

Australia has many excellent renewable and low-carbon energy resources and access to commercially available technologies that would enable Australia to transition to zero-carbon electricity within two to three decades, given the political will. This zero-carbon electricity system would be reliable, affordable and job-creating.

We call on the Australian government, and indeed the governments of all nations, to reconsider the consequences of ongoing emission of greenhouse gases and, as a matter of urgency, promote much more rapid transition to non-polluting energy-generating methods.

Press link for more: Andrew Glikson | theconversation.com

Climate change the biggest threat to humanity yet journalists struggle to tell the story. 

Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity. Yet journalism has struggled for two decades to tell a story that doesn’t leave the public feeling disheartened and disengaged.

This podcast series lets you behind the scenes as the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, and team set out to find a new narrative. Recording as we go, you’ll hear what works, as well as our mistakes. Is there a new way to make the world care?

Press link for more: Aleks Krotosky | theguardian.com

10 myths about fossil fuel divestment put to the sword.

1. Divestment from fossil fuels will result in the end of modern civilisation

It is true that most of today’s energy, and many useful things such as plastics and fertilisers, come from fossil fuels. But the divestment campaign is not arguing for an end of all fossil fuel use starting tomorrow, with everyone heading back to caves to light a campfire. Instead it is arguing that the burning of fossil fuels at increasing rates is driving global warming, which is the actual threat to modern civilisation. Despite already having at least three times more proven reserves than the world’s governments agree can be safely burned, fossil fuel companies are spending huge sums exploring for more. Looked at in that way, pulling investments from companies committed to throwing more fuel on the climate change fire makes sense.

2. We all use fossil fuels everyday, so divestment is hypocritical

Again, no-one is arguing for an overnight end of all fossil fuel use. Instead, the 350.org group which is leading the divestment campaign calls for investors to commit to selling off their coal, oil and gas investments over five years. Fossil fuel burning will continue after that too, but the point is to reverse today’s upward trend of ever more carbon emissions into a downward trend of ever less carbon emissions. Furthermore, some of those backing a “divest-invest” strategy move money into the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors which have already begun driving the transition to a low-carbon world.

Press link for more: Damian Carrington | theguardian.com

Pressure is growing. A relentless climate movement is starting to win big, unprecedented victories around the world, victories which are quickly reshaping the consensus view.

The good news is, that pressure is growing. In fact, that relentless climate movement is starting to win big, unprecedented victories around the world, victories which are quickly reshaping the consensus view – including among investors – about how fast a clean energy future could come. It’s a movement grounded in the streets and reaching for the photovoltaic rooftops, and its thinking can be easily summarised in a mantra: Fossil freeze. Solar thaw. Keep it in the ground. 

Triumph is not certain – in fact, as the steadily rising toll of floods and droughts and melting glaciers makes clear, major losses are guaranteed. But for the first time in the quarter-century since global warming became a major public issue the advantage in this struggle has begun to tilt away from the Exxons and the BPs and towards the ragtag and spread-out fossil fuel resistance, which is led by indigenous people, young people, people breathing the impossible air in front-line communities. The fight won’t wait for Paris – the fight is on every day, and on every continent.

Press link for more: Bill McKibben | theguardian.com

Swiss pilots attempt first around-the-world solar flight.

A Swiss pilot has begun the first ever attempt to fly around the world in a plane propelled only by the sun.

André Borschberg and his compatriot Bertrand Piccard will take turns piloting the single seater Solar Impulse 2 for 21,747 miles (35,000km) over 12 legs, including gruelling five- to six-day stints across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The entire journey will take five months.

Borschberg took the controls for the takeoff at Al-Bateen executive airport in Abu Dhabi early on Monday. Its first destination is Muscat in Oman.

The pilots will endure roughly 250 hours each inside a narrow cockpit with no oxygen or temperature control. Temperatures outside will range between -40C to 40C.

“To fly with the sun, day and night, we had to build an aircraft that is extremely energy efficient. These technologies that provide energy efficiency can be used in your home, in your car, in the appliances that you buy,” he said.

The four motors that power the aircraft generate about half the power of a motorcross bike. But unlike conventional engines they lose only 3% of their energy through heat. The standard loss, says Borschberg, an engineer, is around 70%. According to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency is the single cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions across the world.

“With these technologies we can cope with a major part of the challenge we are facing today in terms of energy, environment, pollution, natural resources and so on,” says Borschberg.

Press link for more: Karl Mathiesen | theguardian.com

13 Quotes from women around the world that will inspire you to save the world.

Women around the world do incredible things every day – but today, on International Women’s Day, we’re making a special effort to celebrate and applaud the tireless work of women to overcome injustice and work towards a green and peaceful future.

The theme of International Women’s Day this year is ‘Make it Happen’ – so we’re reflecting on the incredible women who inspire the movement to protect the planet.

Take a look through the wise words of the women below today and think about what you can do this year to ‘Make it Happen’!


Happy International Women’s Day.


Press link for quotes: International Women’s Day