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Updated: 7 hours 28 min ago

French villagers launch first community-owned solar field

February 22, 2018 - 10:02am

In Luc-sur-Aude, a village just north of the Pyrenees Mountains in France, a community-owned solar field is providing enough electricity to light the entire town.

Thanks to crowdfunding and a community financing scheme, a quarter of the village’s 220 inhabitants have become co-owners (and shareholders) of the solar PV field. It covers 8,000 square meters and has 250KWc of capacity, and began producing electricity in December 2017.

After years of being approached by developers who wanted to build a solar installation in their village, the mayor Jean-Claude Pons decided it would be better to involve local people and do it themselves.

“We realised that each time there was a renewable energy project, the profits were going back to distant shareholders rather than to our own community.”

Jean-Claude Pons (left), mayor of Luc-sur-Aude, on a visit with villagers to the site

So the villagers set about doing it for themselves. 286 people, mostly from the village and surrounding the region, invested in the scheme. Everyone in Luc-sur-Aude got involved in the crowdfunding campaign, even children, who will receive their own dividends when they turn 18. In just under a month, the villagers had raised 275,000 euros towards the scheme.

“It’s just a small-scale solar installation – but it’s by and for the people” said Georges Mounier, who runs the community company in charge of the solar panels.

The new co-owners all have a say in its management, and receive monthly dividends from the solar panels’ energy production.

Now France’s first community-owned solar installation is inspiring other villages and towns nearby to follow suit. Marmagne, a town in the centre of France with 2,000 inhabitants is now aiming to generate all of its own electricity by 2019.

The villagers of Luc-sur-Aude have set a powerful example of how to work at the local level to create a Fossil Free future for themselves and their children.
Inspired by this example? Town by town and village by village, it’s time to repower our communities with clean, renewable energy from the sun, earth, wind and water. Get involved where you live.

This story was first reported on in French by Livia Garrigue in We Demain.

 

 

 

Categories: International News

Time’s up for California AG Becerra to investigate #ExxonKnew and prove he’s a real climate leader.

February 20, 2018 - 9:41am

With Trump and fossil fuel executives in the White House, any shot of powerful and lasting protections for our climate and communities will come from our cities and states. That’s why it’s so troubling that in California, one of the most progressive places in the U.S., current state attorney general Xavier Becerra is failing to stand up to ExxonMobil and its ilk.

Executives at companies like Exxon knew everything there was to know about climate change as far back as the 1970s, but chose to spend the last half a century sowing doubt and confusion. Exxon’s own Rex Tillerson is now US Secretary of State, even following revelations that he usedthe  secret alias ‘Wayne Tracker’ to cover up all things climate change while serving as the corporation’s CEO. And while the rich get richer, it’s our communities — especially low-income communities and communities of color — who bear the impacts of this dangerous deception.

2017 was a year of unprecedented federal regression and climate devastation: from Trump backing out of the Paris climate accord and hellscape wildfires engulfing California, to Hurricane Maria ripping through Puerto Rico, shedding light on existing inequities previously swept under the rug. It was also a year of resistance and uprising, as it became clearer than ever that these weren’t isolated events, but rather perpetuated and worsened by fossil-fueled greed.

Now, people are rising up to hold corporate executives to account for the climate destruction they’ve caused. The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts are showing tremendous leadership in their unyielding investigations into what could be the worst case of corporate fraud in history. Is California going to really sit back and force New York and Massachusetts to take on Exxon alone?

As Becerra and elected officials meet and discuss strategies to tackle climate change, launching an investigation into all that Exxon knew is Xavier Becerra’s opportunity to prove he’s a real climate champion.

This is far from the first time AG Becerra has been urged to investigate Exxon. Local organizers and national groups delivered over 70,000 petition signatures calling for an investigation last April. In January, over 30 national and local organizations from labor unions to environmental organizations signed a letter to Becerra ramping up the call. Even the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board has urged him to move on an Exxon probe.

Years of research on greenhouse gas emissions revealed that just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of major greenhouse gas pollution. Even more staggering, just eight companies are responsible for 20 percent of global carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution.

This, as head of the Center for International Environmental Law Carroll Muffett explains, “for the first time identifies a discrete class of defendants” in the fight against climate change. This blows away any legitimacy of the falsification that if everyone is responsible, no one is. We know who is responsible: fossil fuel executives and their bought-and-paid-for political allies.

Climate litigation is emerging as a major strategy to recover costs from the fossil fuel billionaires who caused the climate crisis. As cities and counties across California step up in holding Exxon accountable, Xavier Becerra drags his feet.

The growing list of climate lawsuits includes San Francisco and Oakland suing Exxon, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips; and San Mateo and Marin counties and the city of Imperial Beach suing 37 companies. Beyond California, New York City; Paris, France; Boulder, Colorado, and more are joining the fight around lawsuits against major oil companies.

Make no mistake, executives at companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron are trying every trick to fight these lawsuits, going so far as to point fingers and sue other fossil fuel companies. That’s like Philip Morris executives claiming it doesn’t matter that they lied about the dangers of smoking because they weren’t the only ones to do so.

In failing to take on Exxon’s climate deception, Xavier Becerra stands to undercut California’s vaunted leadership in global efforts to combat climate change. To build the fossil free world that works for all of us, we must use all of our tools to hold accountable those who have profited most from this destruction, in our legal system and in the court of public opinion.

With September’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on the horizon, AG Becerra must stand with the people he’s meant to represent and hold the likes of Exxon accountable.

Categories: International News

Event for Climate Justice guarantees fight against oil exploration in Portugal

February 14, 2018 - 3:45pm

The 3rd National Meeting for Climate Justice, held on Sunday (11) at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal, brought together activists and academics from more than 20 social movements, organizations and trade unions to discuss some of the central themes of the struggle for social justice in combating climate change. From forest fires to the fight against fossil fuels in Germany, the UK and Brazil, the meeting discussed the most critical projects, or the ‘red lines‘, for the future.

The main issues under discussion were the link between climate change and a eucalypped forest that produced the catastrophic fires of 2017, the threat of underwater mining in the Azores region, the impact of the new mechanisms of international trade (Multilateral Investment Court) in climatic injustice, the necessary relationship between combating climate change and promoting public transport, threats to the exploitation of fossil fuels in Portugal, alternative sources of energy and the migration process linked to climate change.

The event ended with an illustrative session of intense social confrontations in the fight against fracking and oil exploration in Brazil and Latin America, in the United Kingdom and in the fight against coal in Germany, with international representatives from 350.org Brazil, the No Fracking Coalition, as well as from the organizations Reclaim The Power in the United Kingdom, and Ende Gelände in Germany.

“I am happy to represent Brazil and Latin America in this meeting. I believe these forums of international articulation are fundamental to the cause, because we can share experiences, practices and knowledge, expand our partnerships and, possibly, our branch of action, thus increasing the strength of the global movement fighting for climate justice and for a Fossil Free world,” said Juliano Bueno de Araujo, climate campaigner at 350.org Brasil and founder of COESUS, presented the experiences of the No Fracking Brazil campaign.

Among the main decisions of the national meeting was the guarantee of a decisive fight for the end of the oil and gas exploration contracts in Portugal, starting with the block of Aljezur, of the companies GALP and ENI, recently authorized by the Portuguese government. The activists have pledged to take concrete actions against its realization, to be announced in the coming weeks.

Categories: International News

Paris considers suing the fossil fuel industry

February 6, 2018 - 1:38pm

Today, the city of Paris has said it will explore the possibilities of suing the fossil fuel industry. In response to the city’s recent climate damage including massive recent floods, Paris is considering taking this action following in the footsteps of New York and other American cities.

 

Paris made the commitment to divest three years ago in the run-up to COP21 where the Paris Agreement was signed. The city council also aims to use its influence, as well as the mandate of president Anne Hidalgo within the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group to convince other big cities to divest.

This month, Paris suffered once again major floods, which, according to Anne Hidalgo, poses “clearly a question of adaptation of the city to climate change”. Following the floods that swamped Paris in May 2016, studies have shown that climate change has increased the chances of floods by almost twice as much.

Paris floods in 2016. Photo: p.guayacan CC BY-SA 2.0

 

But today’s announcement shows that cities in the path of climate impacts are ready to take action.

“It’s fantastic news that cities like New York and Paris are mobilizing to protect their citizens and hold multinational fossil fuel companies accountable for the damage they cause. This is a major breakthrough for the divestment movement and the thousands of people around the world who have pushed cities to take a stand against polluters who are destroying our climate and the planet.

Fossil fuel companies like Total, Shell, BP and Exxon are causing floods and heat waves that are intensifying in Paris, and severe floods, droughts, forest fires, rising sea levels strike in France and around the world. This wish is a crucial step towards a future free of fossils. ”

~ Clémence Dubois, 350.org France

On January 10, 2018, the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, announced that the city would disinvest its pension funds of $191 billion in fuel fossil investments and sued BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

With today’s statement, the city of Paris affirms its solidarity with the City of New York’s bold move. Major cities such as Sydney and Cape Town, as well as many European capitals such as Berlin, Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm have already committed to divest fossil fuels. Could this be a start of a wave of cities divesting and institutions suing fossil fuel companies for damages?

In France, thirty-three other local authorities, such as Bordeaux Lille La Rochelle, Dijon have adopted divestment motions.

“We will mobilize locally to ask other cities to follow: communities have more power than is believed in resistance to the fossil industry, including through their links with the “Caisse des Depots et Consignation” who manages the pensions of their employees, officials and contractors. We will ask that this crucial public financial institution listens to this momentum that is happening throughout the country, and divests from fossil fuels”

~ Clémence Dubois.

Find out more about the Caisse des Depot campaign (in French)

With this announcement, the global pressure on the fossil fuel industry ramps up some more. To date, more than 800 institutions, including universities, religious and medical groups, have joined the divestment movement. To build on these victories, the Fossil Free movement is preparing to launch a new wave of local actions around the world to keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate the shift to community-run renewable energy. Be a part of it – find out how you can take action wherever you are.

Categories: International News

People of faith call for an end to fossil fuels

February 1, 2018 - 9:04am

In early January, a 125-year-old church in Immerath, North Rhein Westphalia (Germany) was demolished to make way for the expansion of a dirty and unnecessary coal mine. Günter Salentin, the parish’s former priest, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Garzweiler mine and the coal company RWE for decades.

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St Lambertus church demolition

Good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created.St Lambertus church in the village of Immerath was demolished today.Germany, January 10, 2018.

Posted by Architectural Revival on Wednesday, January 10, 2018

 

We spoke to Gunther and other people of faith to find out why they took up the fight against fossil fuels. He shares his thoughts in this video, filmed in the Rhineland coal region of Germany not far from where the UN Climate Talks were held last November. Fiji held the presidency of the annual conference, and the 12 Climate Warriors from different islands in the Pacific traveled to Bonn together to underline the urgency of the climate crisis. From the Pacific islands to Germany, people around the world are experiencing the impacts of fossil fuel production. It’s threatening their very existence.

Watch what Gunther and leaders from the faith community have to say:

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Climate justice and faith: voices from the Rhineland in Germany

Churches demolished to make way for mines, homes wiped out by climate impacts – it’s clear fossil fuel infrastructure threatens our ways of life and the values we hold dear. During the UN climate talks in Germany, people of faith reflected on the need to stand together, against fossil fuels. Watch and share this video:

Posted by 350.org on Thursday, January 25, 2018

 

Lusia Taloafulu Feagaiga, a Pacific Climate Warrior and youth leader in the Methodist Church of New Zealand, spoke of this threat in Bonn emphasizing how religious communities can be powerful agents in this inter-generation, cross-cultural struggle. More and more, faith leaders are speaking out and taking action where they can – for example, by divesting church funds

“Faith gives us the strength to carry on. But what gives us even more strength are the encounters with people. Especially people from around the world who are impacted by climate change,” explained Antje Grothus, a Catholic climate activist from the Rhineland.

In 2018, more faith groups will be organizing in solidarity, in Germany and around the world. On World Earth Day, 22 April, we’re aiming for a powerful joint announcement of church divestment commitments. But these wins don’t come out of nowhere – they rely on community leaders like Günther, Lusia, and Antje to get it done. You can join them: sign up to receive updates in German on the growing faith divestment movement in Germany.

Or, if you’re not interested in faith groups but would like to help, you can take the Fossil Free pledge to begin organizing in your community today.

 

Categories: International News

Dirty Energy in Peruíbe – Not Here, Not Anywhere!

January 31, 2018 - 6:55pm

Peruíbe is free from polluting projects! The amendment to the local law was unanimously approved today. This is an achievement of the people, who mobilized and didn’t give up the fight! #UsinaNão #FossilFree

Read more here. 

Categories: International News

Dirty Energy in Peruíbe – not here, not anywhere!

January 30, 2018 - 8:00pm

By Caroline Kwasnicki

The city of Peruíbe, in the Southeast region of Brazil, has been struggling against the installation of a thermoelectric power plant, which could be one of the largest of its type in an urban area in the world. Citizens have organized themselves, pressured city councilors, and are about to get the approval of an amendment to the municipal law that would prevent other mega-polluting projects from being built in the city. 

The community of Peruíbe has been mobilizing for months to prevent the thermo plant. It is truly a great example of how people power can fight and win for a Fossil Free world.

Peruíbe has clean and sustainable energy to spare and holds unquestionable tourist potential. The region is one of the last reserves of continuous Brazilian Atlantic rain forest in the world, and more than half of the city’s territory is in a preservation area. With the construction of the thermoelectric power plant, its several beaches (some even untouched) would be threatened – as well as other key sites. Indigenous communities, terrestrial and marine biodiversity, and fishermen who have their livelihood, history and roots there would be put at risk.

The controversial industrial project, estimated at R$ 5 billion, belongs to Gastrading Comércio de Energia and provides for the construction of a natural gas-fired thermoelectric plant, an energy transmission line, two underground pipelines and an offshore port. The project called “Green Atlantic” – which is anything but green – would have the capacity to generate up to 1.7 gigawatts of energy. Last December, the Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo has already denied Gastrading’s environmental license, but this is unfortunately not enough to prevent the construction of the plant once and for all.

The power is in our hands

The process of voting on the amendment to the law has been going on since last year. The project has been presented several times in Peruíbe’s City Hall, and during one of the voting sessions, the community was surprised by a political maneuver: six councilors “fled” the vote and the minimum of 10 votes was not reached for the final approval of the amendment. Other councilors who are against the power plant have pledged to take the project to a new voting session. And they kept their promise.

We now come, once again, to this final step in the process to permanently stop the construction of the thermoelectric plant in Peruíbe. The approval of the law remains in the hands of the councilmen, but the community will attend in strong numbers and show that the decision is ours. The decision belongs to the people. And the population of Peruíbe has already made it clear what it wants: true and fair development, and a future with 100% clean, renewable and free energy!

We at 350.org Brazil support this fight and together with the community of Peruíbe we want to prevent the installation of this harmful and dangerous project. This Wednesday will be a historic and decisive day for the future of the city. Send your message of support using the hashtags #UsinaNão and #TermelelétricaNão.

And you, what would you do to protect your home? From wherever you are, you can also join the Fossil Free movement.

Categories: International News

Dirty Energy in Peruíbe – not here, not anywhere!

January 30, 2018 - 8:00pm

By Caroline Kwasnicki

The city of Peruíbe, in the Southeast region of Brazil, has been struggling against the installation of a thermoelectric power plant, which could be one of the largest of its type in an urban area in the world. Citizens have organized themselves, pressured city councilors, and are about to get the approval of an amendment to the municipal law that would prevent other mega-polluting projects from being built in the city. 

The community of Peruíbe has been mobilizing for months to prevent the thermo plant. It is truly a great example of how people power can fight and win for a Fossil Free world.

Peruíbe has clean and sustainable energy to spare and holds unquestionable tourist potential. The region is one of the last reserves of continuous Brazilian Atlantic rain forest in the world, and more than half of the city’s territory is in a preservation area. With the construction of the thermoelectric power plant, its several beaches (some even untouched) would be threatened – as well as other key sites. Indigenous communities, terrestrial and marine biodiversity, and fishermen who have their livelihood, history and roots there would be put at risk.

The controversial industrial project, estimated at R$ 5 billion, belongs to Gastrading Comércio de Energia and provides for the construction of a natural gas-fired thermoelectric plant, an energy transmission line, two underground pipelines and an offshore port. The project called “Green Atlantic” – which is anything but green – would have the capacity to generate up to 1.7 gigawatts of energy. Last December, the Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo has already denied Gastrading’s environmental license, but this is unfortunately not enough to prevent the construction of the plant once and for all.

 

The power is in our hands

The process of voting on the amendment to the law has been going on since last year. The project has been presented several times in Peruíbe’s City Hall, and during one of the voting sessions, the community was surprised by a political maneuver: six councilors “fled” the vote and the minimum of 10 votes was not reached for the final approval of the amendment. Other councilors who are against the power plant have pledged to take the project to a new voting session. And they kept their promise.

We now come, once again, to this final step in the process to permanently stop the construction of the thermoelectric plant in Peruíbe. The approval of the law remains in the hands of the councilmen, but the community will attend in strong numbers and show that the decision is ours. The decision belongs to the people. And the population of Peruíbe has already made it clear what it wants: true and fair development, and a future with 100% clean, renewable and free energy!

 

We at 350.org Brazil support this fight and together with the community of Peruíbe we want to prevent the installation of this harmful and dangerous project. This Wednesday will be a historic and decisive day for the future of the city. Send your message of support using the hashtags #UsinaNão and #TermelelétricaNão.

And you, what would you do to protect your home? From wherever you are, you can also join the Fossil Free movement.

Categories: International News

Southern Gas Corridor Dirty as Coal

January 30, 2018 - 7:01am

In less than two weeks a section of the Southern Gas Corridor could receive the European Investment Bank’s largest ever public loan of 1.5 billion Euros but fresh analysis reveals that this pipeline will likely be dirtier than coal due to all the methane leakage associated with gas power. New research commissioned by Bankwatch shows exactly why European institutions and financiers must subject massive new energy and infrastructure projects to a climate test ensuring they will be compatible with Europe’s climate targets.

What is the Southern Gas Corridor?

The Southern Gas Corridor is a proposed interconnected system of gas pipelines stretching nearly 3,500 kilometers through six countries transporting up to 31 billion cubic meters of fossil gas from Azerbaijan to Italy (see route below).

Route and sections of the Southern Gas Corridor. Source: Bankwatch

It is a hugely expensive project estimated to cost around 45 billion US dollars, and requires the support of European public finance institutions, such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. The European Commision has admitted its failure to assess the impact of this massive new gas pipeline on the climate. That is, to determine whether or not this project adheres to Europe’s long term commitment to limit global warming to 1.5°C degrees (above pre-industrial levels) under the Paris Agreement.

This pipeline failed its climate test

European institutions and politicians may have jumped the gun and financed a pipeline without understanding the full consequences of their actions, but researchers from the Observatori del Deute en la Globalització and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia have delivered a climate test for the Southern Gas Corridor. The results are in and it is bad news: the pipeline failed because it’s climate footprint will likely be comparable to coal power. This is because of greenhouse gas emissions that always leak from the highly pressurised lines and equipment used in transporting natural gas.

Infrared image of methane leakage. Source: EDF

This new study quantifies the greenhouse gas leakage produced along the Southern Gas Corridor, focusing on extraction and transmission operations, it takes account of carbon dioxide and methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a hundred year period. We now know:

  • In 6 out of 9 projected scenarios the Southern Gas Corridor will be as damaging as coal power, in terms of emissions intensity.
  • The pipeline will very likely unleash annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the country of Bulgaria.

European gas expansion is a reckless undertaking

This research completely undermines claims that the Southern Gas Corridor will help to displace coal power with so-called cleaner gas – it will not help the EU meet its long-term climate targets. Instead it reinforces the argument that European gas expansion is a white elephant when it comes to finance and energy security, and downright dangerous in relation to climate change and community wellbeing.

Gas compressor and pumping station. In Europe demand is falling. Source: Siemens

There are plenty of signals to suggest that by betting on gas, European politicians and financiers are making a big mistake. In 2017 the gas industry giants Siemens and General Electric had to close their gas turbine construction facilities and lay off workers because orders have dropped off a cliff – as a result more than 12,000 people lost their jobs. Around the same time financial behemoths like the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund and the World Bank announced their intentions to stop investing in gas and other fossil fuels.

Time to reassess Europe’s priority projects

Some Members of the European Parliament are starting to catch on to the dangers of the EU railroading through a swathe of massive new gas projects without adequate impact and risk assessment. Last week 13 MEP’s wrote a letter of concern to the secretariat of the Parliament’s Industry Committee, formally raising an objection to the proposed ‘Projects of Common Interest’ or PCI list. These are the major infrastructure projects that are being prioritised and fast-tracked by the European Union, but the list includes plans for gas expansion that we now know could be as damaging to the climate as building new coal plants.

“It is the first post-Paris list of key energy infrastructure that Europe is supposed to have to face the energy challenges of the future, nonetheless it continues to include an extravagant number of gas projects”

Antoine Simone, Friends of the Earth

One lesson we can learn from this groundbreaking new analysis of the Southern Gas Corridor is that major new infrastructure projects on Europe’s PCI list must be subject to a climate test in order to be approved and to receive finance. There is no time to lose, climate impacts are already hitting frontline communities here and now: last year alone Europe suffered a deadly heatwave (the most severe since 2003), devastating wildfires in Portugal that killed more than 60 people, and the strongest Atlantic storm ever to hit Ireland, according to records, that took even more lives.

Wildfires on the horizon in Portugal. Source: Contando Estrelas

The divestment movement has already been extremely influential in getting financiers to take climate change into consideration and ditch fossil fuels but we need to build our strength further as Europe teeters on the edge of a climate cliff by gearing up to build massive new gas infrastructure that will lock us in to 40 more years of dangerous, dirty energy. We need to pile on the pressure to ensure that decision-makers and financiers are applying a climate test to these projects, and when they fail we must be there to cut the financial flows that breathe life into unwanted fossil fuels.

To find out how to stop gas expansion in Europe visit defundtap.org

Categories: International News