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Updated: 10 hours 47 min ago

What next for climate strikers?

May 23, 2019 - 9:30pm

This Friday classrooms are quiet while streets worldwide have come to life again with the chants and cries of a new generation of climate activists.  What started as a one-person protest by Greta Thunberg has grown to a movement of millions sacrificing their #FridaysForFuture in over 125 countries in at least 2000 locations.

School strikers voices have reverberated through the halls of power with moral authority and urgency in a way that has woken the world up to the true scale of the climate emergency we face.

Now, in a powerful call to action published in The Guardian school strike organisers are calling on people of all ages to join them in the next massive Global Climate Strike in September.

If you’ve been inspired by the school strikers, but you’re not sure how you can take action as an ally, read on for 3 meaningful ways you can show your support: 

1. Join the Global Climate Strikes

School strikers are calling on everyone: young people, parents, workers, and all concerned citizens to join massive climate strikes and a week of actions starting on September 20.

People all over the world will use their power to stop “business as usual” in the face of the climate emergency. Young people hope this moment will show that they have the backing of millions of human beings who have a growing dread about the climate emergency but who have so far stayed mostly on the sidelines.

Join young people in the streets to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels and emergency action to avoid climate breakdown.  September 20 will kick off a global week of climate strikes, actions and activities

Pledge to join school strikers

2. Spread the word

It’s as simple as it sounds. Talk to everyone you know – young or grown-up – about the climate strikes, about what they’ve achieved already; and our role in supporting young people.  Share with them your own reasons for wanting to see urgent climate action. Tell them about Greta’s message of climate emergency, or, even better,  show them one of her powerful speeches.

Share with people this map of all the upcoming school strikes until September. 

If you’re attending an upcoming school strike as an ally — make sure you let young protesters speak in their own words when you’re sharing content. You can do this for example by asking young people for a short statement on why they’re striking (ask permission to post on social media). Try to amplify voices of young people that you notice being underrepresented in media. Describe the atmosphere, photograph the funniest banners, film the best songs and have fun! And remember to add the #climatestrike and #fridaysforfuture hashtags!

If you’re a parent or guardian, make it explicit that you allow your kids to go on strike, if they want to. If you’re an employer do the same.  Lead others by example.

Don’t underestimate the power you have to inspire your friends if you’re passionate about a cause. 

But remember – your role is to listen and amplify the call to action from young people, not step in and take over. Make sure you hear the concerns, hopes and beliefs of young people around you. Take them seriously. Be their ally in conversations you have with other adults: be explicit about your support, help bring the message of the striking students into spaces where they can’t be present.

Share this video on Facebook and Twitter to let your friends and family know about the climate strikes and week of action coming up.

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3. Organise your community

Activate your own network (yes, you have one!) in support of the climate strikes. Think of the organisations, clubs or faith groups you belong to. Maybe you’re in a parents group, or a bookclub? Talk about the climate strikes at your next meeting; take to social media and share a public statement of support. Organise others for solidarity actions and events.

Take it even further: maybe you or your friends know a reporter at your local radio station or newspaper? Ask them to cover the climate strikes. Maybe you’re on good footing with a local politician or someone from your municipality? Get in touch and ask them to help amplify the climate strikes – or not to discourage the mobilisations or penalise striking students!

If you’re part of an existing climate campaigning group, think of how you can participate in or help organise around September 20 to keep the momentum going. Link your action explicitly to the school strikes (“We’re doing this because we’re answering the call of the striking students, and taking action”).

Check out this amazing new resource:  Climate Resistance Handbook (and share copies with young organisers)

Think long-term: talk with your kids or other grown-ups about what could be done to keep up the momentum between 24 May and 20 September. What are the practical things that are needed? Start a WhatsApp group, plan an informal get-together or a film evening to keep connecting regularly.

If you’re already a climate organiser,  invite school strikers to speak at your upcoming events or meetings.  How about inviting them write an email to your group list themselves? Make sure you locate and connect with any recent youth strike and other climate groups that have sprung up in your community to plan together towards September.  One of the best ways to do this is through the #FridaysForFuture platform and searching on social media.

 

Categories: International News

The Promise to Protect Tour: An Inspiring Journey

May 20, 2019 - 6:32pm

What was the Promise to Protect Training Tour?
The Promise to Protect Tour came to 9 cities across the United States this spring and helped train 1,160 organizers to follow Indigenous leadership and learn how to take nonviolent direct action against fossil fuel infrastructure from coming into their communities. Organizers were provided the opportunity to understand how to organize locally while being a part of a broader, unified movement to stop the fossil fuel industry. We have such a short window to address the climate crisis and we need to escalate to the scale of the problem – and this tour was a great start.

Spanning from Oakland to Miami, the Promise to Protect Tour helped build solidarity between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous activists by teaching folks how to be a good relative and to amplify allyship and strategic action. It also helped solidify a collective understanding of the work and approach needed to build a movement strong enough to stop the most powerful industry in the world–and the politicians that are beholden to them– from continuing to put communities and our climate at risk.

Our highlight reel


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Organizers who participated in the training deeply engaged with lessons such as how to appropriately fill support roles in a nonviolent direct action, protocols for mobilizing in Lakota territory, and how to bring these skills back to their communities to take local action.

What organizers are saying about the Promise to Protect Training Tour this spring:

I am inspired greatly by how as a large group the tour reflected learning new ideas of relating to one another with such a diverse group of attendees. I am also moved by the connections that attendees made with one another sharing the common interest in Promising to Protect. – Dita Devi, Miami

The Promise To Protect training in Boston brought together community members and climate organizers from around New England with Indigenous allies to reconfirm our commitment to joining them on the frontlines of Keystone XL, fossil fuel infrastructure fights, and other struggles when called upon by Indigenous leaders. By building new relationships and rekindling old ones, we are building a movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground and move towards a just and equitable future. – Alan Palm, Boston

The bay area promise to protect tour stop was inspirational! People from all walks of life attended, including a large group of wise women from the affinity group called 1,000 grandmothers. Many frontline activists were present such as Socorro, who came to meet others who are fighting big oil like she is in the bay area’s refinery corridor. After the Saturday training, some folks stuck around and others joined for the Protect the Bay Coalition’s Tar Sands Free SF Bay art build. The bay area now has hundreds of activists trained up on how to take direct action against the Keystone XL pipeline and how to respect Lakota protocol. A big thanks to the trainers and Promise to Protect tour organizers who made this all possible.– Mary Zeiser, 350 Bay Area

What’s next?


We spoke with 350.org Keep it in the Ground Campaign lead, Kendall Mackey to hear about what the Promise to Protect Team’s plans are after the training tour to continue ensuring communities have the tools to #keepitintheground.

“The most important thing people who attended the training tour can be doing right now is engaging in the local work happening in their communities stopping the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. It’s important we all stay vigilant and ready to mobilize if invited by the leadership on the ground to stop KXL, and we should be putting the skills built and the lessons learned through this tour into practice right now in the communities we live in. This movement has never been about one pipeline–it’s about building a movement large enough to take on the fossil fuel industry and win.” – Kendall Mackey, 350.org

As government leaders continue to try shutting down pipeline protestors and the wider movement work to stop the fossil fuel industry, we must continue to keep up the momentum. The tour was a catalyst for greater resource sharing, learning, and movement building that is so critical to the fight against dirty energy. We are excited to see what trainees will be bringing back to their communities, and how our team will continue to brainstorm and engage organizers nationwide who see the need to be part of this work and want to lead others to also take meaningful action.

Stay tuned for more work by signing on to the Promise to Protect at nokxlpromise.org. 

Categories: International News

Schoolkids strike, adults vote

May 20, 2019 - 3:36am

Later this week, kids will skip school again to take part in a massive global climate strike. Their demands are clear: urgent action to stop the climate crisis.

As adults in Europe, next week is our opportunity to not just hear the strikers’ call to action, but to also act on it. We have something the striking kids don’t yet have: the power to vote in the European elections.

If you can vote in an EU country, make sure to head to the polls between 23 and 26 May. [1] As you check the box, remember the kids marching on the streets for the climate, and vote as if their future depended on it: because it does.

Take a look at this short video and share it with your friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or via Whatsapp!

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It matters who gets elected. The new members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will pass laws, approve budgets, and have a say over who will serve on the next European Commission – the EU’s powerful executive arm. They could have a profound impact on the European Union’s response to the climate crisis over the next 5 years. This is a crucial time for action, as our window of opportunity to prevent the worst impacts of climate breakdown and go 100% renewable, shrinks rapidly.

Climate has never been higher on the headlines, and for the first time in the history of the European elections, it can be a decisive issue. [2] The EU is a huge global emitter of CO2, and it has a historic responsibility to champion climate solutions.

So as you vote for your representative in the European parliament this week, vote for candidates and parties who will put climate action at the top of their political agenda. People who have spoken about ending the era of fossil fuels and those behind green energy policies. [3]

The thousands and thousands of schoolkids going on strike this Friday 24 May, across Europe and the world, are showing us the way. It’s up to us to heed their call and take meaningful action. Together, we can make sure that the new MEPs know that we, their voters, care, and will hold them accountable over the next five years for their promises – and their actions.

 

References:
[1] Voting takes place on a different day of the week in different EU member states. If you’re unsure of the exact date of the election in your area, you can double check here.
[2] Climate change will be key issue in EU elections, poll shows
[3] Many groups in different EU countries have published their analyses of parties’ and candidates’ manifestos and election programmes, which could help guide your vote, and are only a quick search away.

Categories: International News

5 ways you can support the school climate strikes

May 19, 2019 - 3:20pm

With classrooms unusually quiet but the streets of towns noisy and alive with young people marching and chanting, you can’t have missed the growing #FridaysforFuture movement.  This Friday 24 May will be even noisier than usual with nearly 4000 school strikes in 150 countries planned around the world!

What first started as a one-person strike by a Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, has now gathered momentum and spread all across the world into the largest climate mobilisation ever. Kids are striking for climate, and for the future. The students are sending world leaders a powerful message: we want bold action on climate change, NOW.

If you’re a grown-up, parent, grandparent, a teacher, or simply an ally, and the striking kids have inspired you too, but you’re not sure how you can take action, read on.

Here’s 5 meaningful ways you can support the climate strikes:

1. Spread the word

It’s as simple as it sounds. Tell the people you know – young or grown-up – about the climate strike, share with them why it’s important. Tell them about Greta’s message of climate emergency, and show them one of her powerful speeches. Share with them this map of all 24 May strikes  and invite them to join, or support, any follow-up strikes or climate actions in your area.

If you’re a parent or guardian, make it explicit that you allow your kids to go on strike, if they want to. Share it with your friends, colleagues, and family members. Lead others by example. Don’t underestimate the power you have to inspire your friends if you’re passionate about a cause.

But remember – your role is to listen and amplify, not step in and take over. Make sure you hear the concerns, hopes and beliefs of young people around you. Take them seriously. Be their ally in conversations you have with other adults: be explicit about your support, help bring the message of the striking students into spaces where they can’t be present.

Share this video on Facebook and Twitter to let your friends and family know about the climate strike.

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2. Organise your network

Activate your own network (yes, you have one!) in support of the school strikes. Think of the organisations, clubs or faith groups you belong to. Maybe you’re in a parents group, or a bookclub? Talk about the school strikes at your next meeting; take to social media and share a public statement of support. Organise others for solidarity actions and events.

Take it even further: maybe you or your friends know a reporter at your local radio station or newspaper? Ask them to cover the school strikes. Maybe you’re on good footing with a local politician or someone from your municipality? Get in touch and ask them to help amplify the climate strikes – or not to discourage the mobilisations or penalise striking students!

If you’re part of an existing climate campaigning group, think of how you can escalate your actions around the strikers next action to keep the momentum going. Link your action explicitly to the school strikes (“We’re doing this because we’re answering the call of the striking students, and taking action”).

Think long-term: talk with your kids or other grown-ups about what could be done to keep up the momentum after 24 May. What are the practical things that are needed? Start a WhatsApp group, plan an informal get-together or a film evening.

If you’re a teacher or youth worker, make it a point to talk about the school strikes in your class. Mobilise your colleagues in school to talk to their classes as well. Even better: invite student strikers to talk with young people in your class. Don’t underestimate how young people relate to their peers. Make your support clear. Answer questions about how one can stay safe in a big crowd. Together with colleagues, speak to the school administration and tell them about your support for the school protest.

For teachers

Are you a teacher in France or Germany? Sign and share one of the solidarity statements launched by teachers’ collectives.
>> I’m a teacher in France.
>> I’m a teacher in Germany.

Share what you’re doing

Are you already supporting the school strikes, or intending to? Share it with us, and help us put together resources to inspire and motivate other grown ups.

Share your story

3. Help with practical preparations

In short: help make it possible, easy and safe for kids to attend the strikes, if they choose to.

Hands-on logistical support is often needed just as much as moral support. Buy your kids or grandkids a public transport ticket to get to the closest school strike. Prepare them a lunch bag or snacks to share with their fellow students.

Often it’s adults who need to register demonstrations, so you can really help the young people with any administrative issues they might face. Volunteer to be a steward for upcoming school strikes, a legal guardian or supervisor for a group of students wanting to join a strike.

Offer kids in your life support with arranging of preparing materials for signs and banners to take to the demonstration. Look for old cardboard or arts supplies in your house which they can re-use, or take them to the city to buy paper, markers and other things they need. Let your child host a “Make your own banner” evening at your house and let them invite their friends.

Show us how you’re preparing

We’re curious: how do you support the school strikes? We’ll collect your stories and amplify them to inspire more people to take action. Share your story of in text and pictures.

Share your story

4. Join the strike as an ally

Most calls for school strikes ask for solidarity from adults, and welcome everyone to join.

If you choose to, you can join the strikes on May 24, by attending a march, rally or other mobilisation being planned in your area. But be mindful about your role as an adult in the protest. Stay on the sidelines, cheer the strikers on, take photos or videos (ask for consent if you photograph individuals!) and share what’s happening on social media to inform and inspire people who can’t join. Remember to add the #climatestrike and #fridaysforfuture hashtags!

When sharing content, make sure you let the protesters speak in their own words. You can do this for example by asking young people for a short statement on why they’re striking. Try to amplify voices of young people that you feel like are underrepresented in media. Describe the atmosphere, photograph the funniest banners, film the best songs and have fun!

Watch this beautiful moment captured by #FridaysForFuture students in Rome last week.
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving
Where will you be rallying tomorrow?#ClimateStrike #SchoolStrike4Climate pic.twitter.com/lQHq3Lbfcm

— 350.org Europe (@350Europe) February 28, 2019

 

5. Join or start a local group

Don’t let the young people do all the work! The climate crisis needs every single one of us to take action and fight for a fossil free future. The most meaningful way to support the school strikes is to listen, and respond, to their urgent call to action on climate change.

Check out this map of 350 and Fossil Free local groups and find the one closest to you. Sign up, write a message, go to the next meeting and get involved. Carry the energy of the youth climate movement into your own actions and organising. If you can’t find an existing group but feel motivated, sign up for an organiser’s starter pack, and we’ll help you set up your first local group or campaign!

Categories: International News

Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources commits to working with civil society to reduce climate impacts on the country

May 16, 2019 - 10:01am

This week, on the eve of the World Climate Protection day, Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology of signed an open memorandum of cooperation with 350.org in Eastern Europe to work together to resist climate change in Ukraine, implement climate action policies and vision of a fossil free future, and highly involve civil society organizations in raising environmental awareness in Ukraine.

350.org EECCA team leader, Svitlana Romanko with Ukraine’s Minister of Ecology, Ostap Semerak

Climate change is affecting Ukraine significantly, and the country urgently needs an ambitious climate policy.

Speaking at a UNDP environmental forum in Ukraine this week, Ostap Semerak, the Minister of Ecology stressed, “Research conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the consequences of a 1.5 C warming demonstrates that the countries need to take global and urgent action in the energy sphere, transport, industry and city building. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. And by 2050 we need to cut them totally. This aim seems unrealistic now.  But this is something we need to strive for and make gradual environmental decisions”.

An important issue in the memorandum is the agreement to raise awareness among Ukrainians on threats from climate change, to intensify a transition to renewable energy sources in cities, and to reinforce public involvement in discussing actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in communities and their adaptation to climate change.

The Ukrainian hydro-meteorological agency reported a significant increase in the temperatures in the country, which means it has been hit by record breaking extreme heat waves and natural disasters for several years in a row. As Semerak noted, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere already exceeds the norm and has reached 415 parts per million. People are suffering climate change-related losses every day. In 2018, more than 62 million people suffered from large-scale climate impacts. This is more than the total population of Ukraine. Millions of climate refugees have already been forced to leave their homes because of climate change, said the Minister.

The future of our climate depends both on the powerful public pressure to unconditionally ban fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions with climate and energy solutions, and on the political will of institutions and decision makers. That is why 350.org in Eastern Europe is happy to be part of this open and transparent agreement to intensify the public role in state climate policy making to create a fossil free future and to urgently set up a National Climate Action Plan, initiated by the communities in Ukraine, for enabling fast and just transition to 100% of renewable energy in the cities till 2050.

Learn more about the renewable energy work in Ukraine at cityforlife.org (site in Ukrainian).

Categories: International News

What makes a movement?

May 16, 2019 - 6:38am

Like this issue of Fossil Free News? Make sure you sign up here to get it delivered by email every 2 weeks.

It feels like things in this movement are changing, and fast.

With the recent news that we’ve hit 415 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere – that change is sorely needed.

We know from the past that change doesn’t come out of nowhere. So this week we’re zooming in on some of the groups building local power and real change through their local organizing.

Climate breakdown may be accelerating at a scary pace. But so is the scale and range of action people are willing to take to create a better future, free from fossil fuels. Here’s the latest. 

In Case You Missed It


Photo: Kathleen Lei Limayo

In the Philippines, student climate organizers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao gathered in Manila for a day of joint skill-sharing and planning for the upcoming global school strikes on May 24. Similar preparations are underway across Asia, Latin America, North America, Africa and Europe for over 700 school strikes in 94 countries next Friday. Parents around the world are supporting youth with escalating shows of support, like this open letter in the Guardian and International Mothers Day marches last Sunday.


Photo: 350 Aotearoa

In Dunedin (above), Wellington, and other cities, organizers held local ‘races’ where New Zealand’s banks competed to become the first to go fully Fossil Free. They’re urging the banks’ real-life counterparts to do the same and stop funding fossil fuels. Read more


Photo: Fossil Free Heidelberg

Local group ‘Fossil Free Heidelberg” secured a win last Friday. The German city committed to never invest in coal, oil, or gas. Now the group is pressuring the university to follow suit, and developing plans to demand the local savings bank commit to not market funds that don’t comply with sustainability targets.


Photo: Twitter, @Flame_Over_

‘Flame over’ for gas: On Monday, activists blocked the 25th annual Flame gas conference in Amsterdam, which brought together over 500 companies in the fossil gas industry. Using a range of creative tactics, activists (aka gastivists) successfully shut down the reception on the first day: “flame over” for the gas executives.

And New Yorkers in the heat of a three-year campaign temporarily stopped the controversial Williams fracked gas pipeline, as regulators issued a rejection “without prejudice” yesterday. Days earlier, Mayor Bill de Blasio – who was a big advocate for the city’s staggering divestment from fossil fuels in 2018 – came out in strong opposition. But their fight is not over: activists are pressing on to ensure it never gets built, and demanding a state-wide ban on all fossil fuel projects. Read more

Feeling inspired and want to get more active yourself at the local level? Try one of our online skill-up courses. Inside Story

 

Sunrise Movement has been an inspiring people-powered force for the Green New Deal in the United States. Mikala, who grew up in Paradise, California – the town razed by the Camp Fire last November – tells the story of how losing her town led her to get involved in the movement. Watch

One to Watch

 

Torres Strait Islanders launched the first climate litigation of its kind against the federal government of Australia. These low-lying islands to the north of the continent – most of which are part of Australia – are at serious risk due to the climate crisis: watch.

Use Your Power

The “potentially groundbreaking” Torres Strait case is based on human rights: Australia has an obligation to protect its people and their home by providing adaptation funds, and drastically reducing emissions by putting an end to coal. Read more about the case, and sign GBK’s petition to support the campaign:

Sign the petition

That’s the news for now! If you still are not signed up to receive Fossil Free News regularly by email, make sure you do sign up here.

Categories: International News

School strikers to G7: Take climate action

May 9, 2019 - 12:25am

On March 15, 1.6 million youth in 112 countries skipped school to bring attention to government inaction on climate change. Students fear they have no future. Still, their cries for help have been ignored.

Student climate strikers from every G7 country have come together to write an open letter to their leaders on behalf of youth around the world. As the world’s top economic leaders, G7 member nations have a responsibility to set a global example for environmental and economic sustainability.

Open Letter

Dear ministers of the G7 environment meeting,

Catherine McKenna,

Andrew R. Wheeler,

François de Rugy,

原田 義昭 Yoshiaki Harada,

Svenja Schulze,

Sergio Costa

and

Michael Gove

We are writing to you not just as a group of young climate activists fighting for our future, but as citizens fighting for the well-being of our countries. Our future is currently uncertain because of our leaders’ constant need for economic growth at the expense of our environment. The UN and IPCC reports are clear: we must change if we want to stop destroying our planet. However, nothing is changing. We, the young people, are ignored, and forgotten.

This is why we are addressing you. The G7 countries are some of the biggest contributors to climate change and are the most influential on the international scale, and yet they do little to slow it down. We demand that this crisis is treated as one. There is no time left for endless discussions anymore. The clock is ticking, the water is rising, and the people are dying.

Arctic Canada is currently warming at three times the global speed: temperature has already risen by more than two degrees causing permafrost melt, impacts of which include homes sinking into the ground, food insecurity as hunting is more dangerous, and starving animals such as polar bears. Climate change is a violation of the Inuit’s rights as indigenous people under UNDRIP: it will result in the extinction of their culture as it is shaped around their environment. Inuit activists such as Sheila-Watt Cloutier have been pleading for help for decades, but their voices are still not being heard.

In Japan, record rains in July 2018 caused floods and landslides that killed about 200 people, followed by unimaginable heat waves which threatened the vulnerable elderly population. The flooding of the Kansai airport by typhoon Jebi has reminded Japan of how vulnerable an island country is to climate change. If the climate keeps getting worse, abnormal weather patterns will occur more regularly. Japan’s future can only be foreseen with even more sufferings.
Despite such obvious signs from nature, Japan has not put enough effort in combating climate change. Japan is the only G7 country still planning new coal-fired stations and since the Paris Agreement, Japanese megabanks Poured $186 Billion into fossil fuels. These megabanks are an army of delayers who refuse to change and think only about profit, but their profit comes with the cost of the generation after them- us.

However, the consequences of climate change are not only visible in the G7 countries. The recurrent droughts in Africa are causing a lot of harm as well, even though most of the African countries produce a very low amount of carbon emissions. Why are they the ones suffering the consequences of our occidental way of living which has caused so much harm to our planet? Furthermore, the disasters happening in developing countries will impact the G7 countries. If no action is taken, there could be around 143 million climate refugees soon, seeking shelter in countries which are less endangered.

This is why you must fulfill your responsibilities as decision-makers for seven of the most powerful countries in the world. You must have bolder emission reduction targets than the IPCC global average: 45% by 2030, net zero by 2050. You must become an example to developing countries and support them financially and physically, so that they do not repeat the same mistakes we made and are now suffering the consequences of.

We are begging you to take immediate action, so that children everywhere in the world can have a future.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Hamilton-Miriam, Maya Mersereau-Liem, Payton Mitchell (Canada)

Isra Hirsi, Maddy Fernands (USA)

Greta Stripp, Elsa Quillaud, Nahia Briault, Mael Blin (France)

Kim Tran (Japan)

Sammy Céline, Luca Salis, Jan Ole Lindner, Carla Reemtsma, Jakob Blasel, Luisa Neubauer, Franziska Wessel (Germany)

David Wicker (Italy)

Anna Taylor (UK)

Do you stand with the youth climate strikers? Add your name to the open letter.

Categories: International News

Cyclone Fani

May 8, 2019 - 8:36pm

In 1999 the Odisha Super Cyclone killed 10,00 people in Odisha, an eastern state of India. 20 years later, as the equally severe Cyclone Fani hit the same state,  13 people lost their lives. In the last two decades, the state of Odisha established India’s best disaster response system and their actions saved countless lives as Cyclone Fani hit — but no disaster response system can prevent the huge destruction to people’s homes and lives that follow in the wake of a super cyclone.

A view of the destruction caused by Cyclone Fani after its landfall, in Puri

 

Once again Odisha stands at an important intersection. It can either lead another energy transformation or continue to be India’s second largest coal producer. Odisha has experienced its share of cyclones in the last decade. While it has improved its response system it hasn’t worked to eliminate the root cause of these cyclones.  Science clearly shows that warming oceans caused by the burning of fossil fuels will only make cyclones more intense and dangerous.

Yes, Odisha’s contribution to global emissions is negligible and it is unfair to blame people in one of the impoverished states in India who have done the least to contribute to the current climate crisis. However, the coal mines, thermal power plants, ports and other industries in the state have put vulnerable communities at bigger risk.

In Bangladesh pushing for the end to the Rampal Coal Plant that would put the vital Sundarbans mangroves in danger.

Mangroves, which are the first and strongest defence against cyclones, are being destroyed along the coastal belt to make way for industries and ports. These mangroves saved many lives in 1999’s Odisha super cyclone, but now their density is decreasing day by day. Locals have been protesting against such destruction for decades but profit has always won over people. Communities that lost their villages and sacred forests to industrialization are now losing everything to such climate disasters.  

As the news of destruction caused by Cyclone Fani spreads globally,  donations and relief materials have started to pour in from all over the world. While this immediate support is urgently needed, people in India and Bangladesh need a bigger commitment from the international community: 

  • Stop the fossil fuel industry in your country.
  • Stop your banks and institutions from funding these reckless companies.  

Your action today is the only way to ensure that houses and livelihoods in coastal regions won’t be destroyed by cyclones every year.

Nations like the United States, and fossil fuel companies like Exxon and Shell, knew that burning of fossil fuels would lead to this destruction. Yet they buried the science and continued to exploit people and their resources in the name of greed and profit. Likewise today the coal and thermal energy that villages in Odisha produce is exported to cities to meet the ever-growing electricity demand for industries, shopping malls and advertising billboards, while tribal villages still wait for basic access to energy.

Timely warnings and evacuation may save human lives but they can’t save the lives and livelihoods that people have built over decades. The sight of your completely destroyed home, the experience of standing in long queues to feed to your children, trying to find remains of one’s memories will haunt people in India and Bangladesh for years to come.  The world must act now and stop chasing fossil fuel based development. We can not continue to keep sacrificing millions of families for the interests of aa handful of billionaires.

Get involved where you live and fight for a fossil free world.

Categories: International News

We are facing a human extinction crisis

May 6, 2019 - 7:53am

The IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) has just released the largest and most comprehensive attempt to assess the state of our living planet.

The findings of the IPBES global assessment show us that climate breakdown is already affecting nature in many parts of the world and causing biodiversity loss. Our planet is warming, our sea levels are rising, our countries are being hit by devastating cyclones. We are on the precipice of seeing the eradication of nearly 40% of insect species.

The report follows from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) October 8, 2018, released a special report on keeping warming below 1.5°C. It was a wake-up call to the world that the window for avoiding runaway climate change is closing — fast.

To have any chance of staying under 1.5°C of warming, no new fossil fuel project can be allowed to go ahead. The second month into 2019 was already breaking records with weather forecasters are struggling to explain the new normal of extreme weather patterns in the US, UK, Australia and elsewhere

We are facing a human extinction crisis. The IPBES  global assessment is another stark reminder that the time to act is now, we must work together to pushback against the fossil fuel industry fuelling the climate crisis and for long lasting and meaningful change.”

Time is tight but working together across the globe, we can do it. As 1.6 million school strikers on the streets in March have shown, rising to such a major emergency unleashes a powerful sense of common purpose. Right now our collective futures depends on us being able to seize this moment and work together. The way we farm, use our soils, protect coastal ecosystems and treat our forests will make or break our future but it can also help us eat better, live longer and have more choice.

There is no single solution to this crisis.  But in the next two years we have a unique opportunity to jump start the solutions together and make collective choices about how we feed ourselves, protect nature and avoid climate chaos.

350.org like the school strikers, Extinction Rebellion and our many other partners, organisations and supporters across the globe are ramping up action on climate change. Over the coming months across the globe, there will be strikes, walkouts, demonstrations, events and action camps. Sign up to find out more about the latest developments, get involved with 350.org to keep the pressure on.  

Categories: International News

Ramadan: A time to reflect on the future of our planet and the urgent need to accelerate change

May 5, 2019 - 10:57pm

Today marks the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, during which time an estimated 1.8 billion people (approximately 24% of the world’s population) will be fasting from dawn till dusk.

Ramadan is the month that the Qur’an was first sent down. Therefore, each year Muslims remember the month by fasting, remembering God (Allah) and recommitting to following the dictates of Allah as delineated in the Qur’an and Hadiths (sayings of prophet Muhammad PBUH).

This is a month focused on fasting and prayer, a chance to step back from daily habits and to reflect and reconnect with a higher purpose for spiritual growth in pursuit of a more balanced life. With that in mind, this month provides the chance to reflect and re-examine the current state of our relationship  with the natural world and each other, and the way in which, sadly, we have veered terribly off track to living in balance.

Since the Paris agreement was signed in December 2015, a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)in October 2018  laid bare the undeniable truth. That we need to take urgent and rapid steps to keep to a 1.5 degree temperature rise, in a world where threats of climate change have become even more clear. This week, with the release of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), its findings show us that we are in a ‘natural and human emergency’ and that climate change is already affecting nature in many parts of the world and causing biodiversity loss. Our planet is warming, our sea levels are rising, our countries are being hit by devastating cyclones. We are on the precipice of seeing the eradication of nearly 40% of insect species.

Climate impacts continue to take us into uncharted territory in terms of floods, forest fires, heatwaves, storms and drought. 2018  was the 4th hottest year in recorded history, the polar ice sheets experience dire impacts, and superstorms continue to ravage communities across the planet.

The threat from climate change has never been more real and more present, adding urgency for climate action. And we know what needs to be done: keep fossil fuels in the ground and commit to a just and fair transition to 100 % renewable energy for all. We urgently need to halt any new fossil fuels projects and phase out existing projects in order to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Exactly in line with what the IPCC report says is needed: limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will mean “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in energy sources, infrastructure, industry, and transportation. It means cutting carbon emissions  by 45% from 2010 levels in the next decade or so.

Where we are seeing climate action and leadership is in many communities worldwide, rising to lead the transition away from fossil fuels. Right now we are living in a unique moment of an unprecedented rising of global movements demanding climate action.

Across the globe, action on climate change is accelerating at a tremendous pace;  from Extinction Rebellion’s week long blockade of London, to calls for the Green New Deal ricocheting across the globe from the US to Spain. From the increasing number of towns and countries declaring a climate emergency to the tremendous successes of the divestment movement in withdrawing the social license of the fossil fuel industry.

Whether or not someone is a Muslim fasting for Ramadan, this month is an opportunity for us to be together, and an invitation to focus on reflection and spiritual growth, a commitment to better the world we live in through resilience and unity across communities as we continue our fight against climate change. We need to fight climate change together and now is the time, before losing everything worth fighting for.  

Photo credit: Jean-Jacques Kissling

 

Categories: International News

Climate emergency declared in the UK

May 2, 2019 - 10:09am

 

Fossil Free News is a twice-monthly newsletter bringing stories of the climate movement from around the globe. Sign up here to get it delivered once every 2 weeks.

In Case You Missed It

Tipping point? Both Paris and London witnessed new powerful acts of climate civil disobedience. Over 1000 Extinction Rebellion activists were deliberately arrested in London and their stark messaging and controversial tactics caught the public mood as a heatwave struck the UK over the Easter weekend. Similar scenes erupted in Paris as 2000 people took direct action targeting the state and its complicity with big polluters like Total. Read more


Greta Thunberg at the UK Parliament. Photo: Evening Standard

Telling the truth: Greta Thunberg and British youth climate strikers were in the UK parliament last week, adding their voices to the demand for a climate emergency. Greta gave her uncompromising indictment of the government’s continued support for fossil fuels. She called their push to develop fracking and new coal mines “beyond absurd’. Hear her full speech

Climate emergency: Just yesterday, on May 1, the Parliament responded by declaring a climate emergency, hot on the heels of the Welsh government earlier this week. “This can set off a wave of action from parliaments and governments around the globe,” said opposition Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

View this post on Instagram

 

Together with the @350pilipinas activists, I joined the #LaborDay2019 march to stand in solidarity with the workers demanding better working conditions and job security, as well as the advancement of a just transition away from fossil fuels into renewable energy in the Philippines. As we work towards a green planet & environmental justice, we need to work with the climate impacted communities, recognize interconnectedness to other issues, and address political effects that will emerge. In all cases, equity must be constantly addressed. #MayDay #justtransition

A post shared by jenny tuazon (@jennytuazn) on May 1, 2019 at 1:32am PDT

No jobs on a dead planet: Also on May Day, people marched around the world to celebrate the rights and contributions of all workers. In Manila, Philippines, thousands marched to call for a just transition away from the age of fossil fuels. It’s a reminder that as we shift to a renewable future we have a huge responsibility to address inequality and leave nobody behind.


Events in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana from days of action in 2018. 

Hardest hit: A category 4 cyclone hit Mozambique again last Friday, just weeks after the devastation of Idai left millions struggling further down the coast. As the reality of climate change sets in and worsens, there’s renewed determination to push for a fossil free Africa, with over 50 Afrika Vuka actions already planned for 25 May.

Sexy Killers: a documentary about coal is going totally viral and sparking national conversations about political corruption and the future of coal in Indonesia. The film Sexy Killers has already had nearly 20 million views and over 1000 community screenings in its first two weeks despite attempts by police and some local authorities to ban them.

Big win: Ecuador’s Waorani indigenous tribe won their first victory against big oil companies in a ruling that blocks the companies’ entry onto ancestral Amazonian lands for oil exploration.

The One To Watch

This 7-minute documentary takes us to the island of Tigtabon in the south of the Philippines, where ways of life for the Sama Badjao indigenous people are at severe risk from climate change. Watch

The Inside Story


 

20 year-old Pacific Climate Warrior Brianna Fruean, from Samoa, and 17 year-old UK school striker Anna Taylor talk about their journeys into the climate movement and what inspires them. Read their conversation

Use Your Power

Whirlwind moments like the one we’re in right now don’t come along very often – let’s seize the opportunity. Get involved, and share this video of all the latest developments to keep drawing more people power into this beautiful movement.

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Categories: International News

This is unique – let’s seize the moment

May 2, 2019 - 5:48am

Across the globe, action on climate change is accelerating at a tremendous pace;  from Extinction Rebellion’s week long blockade of London, to calls for the Green New Deal ricocheting across the globe from the US to Spain. From the increasing number of towns and countries declaring a climate emergency to the tremendous successes of the divestment movement in withdrawing the social license of the fossil fuel industry.

 

Suddenly, everyone is talking climate; it’s a change that has been a long time coming and we are still just in time to make a difference. But to make that difference, every single one of us needs to get on board in whatever way we can.

We are already seeing unprecedented climate impacts unfold in different parts of the world. This past weekend Africa was hit with a second cyclone in just over a months period since Cyclone Idai made landfall. Cyclone Kenneth made landfall in the north of Mozambique, where there is no previous record of hurricane-force systems ever hitting the region so far north before.

These unfolding tragedies point to the bigger crisis that humanity is faced with.

In October 2018 a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid bare the undeniable truth. That we need to take urgent and rapid steps to keep to a 1.5 degree temperature rise. This report could arguably be seen as the catalyst for this current “climate moment” reflecting a new level of urgency.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will mean “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in energy sources, infrastructure, industry, and transportation. It means cutting carbon emissions  by 45% from 2010 levels in the next decade or so.

If that doesn’t happen, dry regions would be much more likely to experience severe drought, and areas prone to heat waves or intense hurricanes would get more of those disasters, too. Most coral reefs would die, and melting Arctic ice would cause sea levels to rise dramatically. These changes could trigger huge migrations of people and mass extinctions of animals.

Much of the recent push to do something about the climate problem has been spearheaded by young people who will shoulder the burden of a warming planet in the future. They are leading the movement towards a long overdue intersectional future.

Their passion and determination is awe inspiring, but it is not only up to them to make the changes we need.  This is an emergency and it’s one that we all need to engage with. While we may not see eye-to-eye with all the methods and messages that an organisation or group may choose to use, we are all learning how to work together for the best possible outcomes.

Right now our collective futures depends on us being able to seize this moment and work together to pushback against the fossil fuel industry fuelling the climate crisis and  for long lasting and meaningful change.

350.org like the school strikers, Extinction Rebellion and our many other partners, organisations and supporters across the globe are ramping up action on climate change. Over the coming months across the globe, there will be strikes, walkouts, demonstrations, events and action camps. Sign up to find out more about the latest developments, get involved with 350.org to keep the pressure on.  

 

Categories: International News

If coal were the solution to energy poverty, wouldn’t it have worked by now?

May 2, 2019 - 4:41am

Originally published by 350.org Australia:

By Renuka Saroha and Chandan Khanna, independent researchers, India

Just last month, India became the fourth nation in the world to have the capability of taking out satellites in outer space by testing its Anti Satellite Missile codenamed “Mission Shakti”. In 2014 it became the only nation to enter the orbit of Mars in the first attempt.

Yet government members in Australia believe India needs the outdated technology of coal-based electricity generation.

Michelle Landry MP, a member of the federal government representing Northern Queensland – near the Adani mega mine’s planned location – argues that coal from Adani´s proposed monster mine in Australia “will help women and families that are cooking over open fires in huts”.

This statement reflects what we call the outdated and racist “White women’s burden” mentality, and it is factually wrong. Coal will not replace cow dung or firewood in Indian kitchens, primarily because 93% of total households in the country now have access to cooking gas.

As scientifically proven, coal will add million tonnes of CO2 and other harmful gasses to the atmosphere, accelerating climate change and threatening human well-being. Burning coal will pollute our rivers, dry our water systems, and pollute our air.

In 2010–11, 111 coal power plants with an installed capacity of 121 GW, generated an estimated 580 ktons of particulates with diameter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5). These emissions resulted in an estimated 80,000 to 115,000 premature deaths and 20.0 million asthma cases from exposure to PM2.5 pollution, which cost the Indian public and the government an estimated INR 16,000 to 23,000 crores (USD 3.2 to 4.6 billion) – even more than the amount of Australian public money Ms Landry wants to throw at an Indian billionaire’s pet pollution project.

Burning more coal in India will not help people “with open fires” with their cooking, and in fact it will only hurt the health of people “in huts”. Combining this with the poor track record of fly ash management in India, along with the high ash content of brown coal, any further commitment to coal infrastructure is going to push India towards a health catastrophe. Adding further injury to the wound, there’s the shoddy environmental and social track record of the Adani Group. The chances are the local community in India will oppose any new coal-fired power station proposed by Adani.

India is the third largest energy producer in the world and it has known about coal power for over 100 years – yet 31 million households are without proper access to electricity.

If coal were the solution to energy poverty, wouldn’t it have worked by now?

As per the government’s report, all villages and cities of India are now connected to the grid. Yet on average, rural India faces power deficit of 14-16 hrs in a day. This clearly shows that coal-based power generation and distribution has not worked. Villages which are so remote that it takes days to reach, villages with populations of less than 100 families will continue to be failed by the current system, as it is “economically unviable” to billionaires like Mr Adani to connect them to the national grid.

India does not need coal from Australia to come out of the dark. We need to empower a billion people – not a billionaire.

We need to harness our own solar and wind energy to help people light up their lives. We need decentralised bio gas plants and small-scale hydro, and well ventilated households to continue cooking our cuisine. Replacing cow dung with coal will not help anyone.

Like our lead over Australia in the space race, India is investing heavily in renewable energy and is amongst the largest renewable energy producers in the world. Delhi’s Metro system will soon be the world’s first public metro system to run on 100% renewable source. A metro is a public transport system built for people, rather than a private rail line for a mining company. We need technology and solutions that will allow all of us to thrive based on principles of just transition, dignity, equity and sustainability. Ms Landry’s comments are miles off that.

India is no longer the land of snake charmers and bare footed people.

We are moving towards renewables at an unprecedented rate, an epicentre for global innovation.

Given Michelle Landry seems intent to lecture us on what would be good for India, let us also offer her some unsolicited advice.

How about you focus on your constituency and their well-being? Such as the potential destruction of sacred sites of Indigenous Peoples, the poisoning of water tables, extinction of local species, and the existential threat to her country’s most iconic natural park the Great Barrier Reef in exchange for a completely mechanised coal mine for a foreign company.

And the only justification you can give is the interests of the perceived poor people in India? Indian philosophy and culture does not allow us to benefit from others destruction.

We do not want anything that will destroy pristine ecosystems, take away land from Indigenous people and cause pains to our brothers and sisters in a far away land.

Categories: International News

5 Ways Workers are Making the Green New Deal Work for Workers

May 1, 2019 - 11:46am

As a climate justice organization we know that a just transition from fossil fuels cannot happen without workers and communities. Working class communities are some of the most impacted by the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to destroy and extract every bit that they can from communities.

May Day March. Workers of the World Unite.

Advancing climate justice means that any efforts to solve the climate crisis must also uplift workers as they stand to benefit most from the millions of of jobs that would be created in a just transition to a renewable energy economy. That is why so many workers are at the forefront of the fight for a Green New Deal, a proposal for tackling the climate crisis, which would create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all.

Check out these five awesome worker and union-led efforts to advance a Green New Deal:

  1. The Executive Board of SEIU local 32BJ, the largest property services union in the US passes a resolution supporting the Green New Deal
  2. The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, which is made up of 200,000 working families passes a resolution supporting the Green New Deal
  3. The Lost Angeles AFL-CIO representing 800,000 workers supports the Green New Deal
  4. The Executive Board of SEIU Local 509, representing 20,000 human service and educators in Massachusetts, endorses the Green New Deal
  5. International President of the Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing 50,000 flight attendants, knows that workers like her are feeling the impacts of climate change and they stand to benefit from policies like the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal needs grassroots support from working class communities in order to shape the transformative projects and policies that the Deal would create. These worker-led initiatives are just the beginning, as millions of more workers join the struggle for a Green New Deal and a thriving renewable energy economy that uplifts working people.

Check out these great resources on labor, the Green New Deal, and economic justice:

Union Resolutions to Support GND

SEIU 32BJ resolution to support GND

San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council Supports GND

Los Angeles AFL CIO Endorses Green New Deal

SIO 509 Executive Board Resolution in Support of GND

Articles

Labor and the Green New Deal

Flight attendants, climate change

Open letter from EJ and CJ orgs on May Day (2017)

How Climate Protection Has Become Today’s Labor Solidarity (2015)

Biggest Union Gains in 2017 Were for Younger Workers (2017)

Portland Clean Energy Initiative – How it prioritized jobs and economic justice

18 Strategies for a Green New Deal (Labor Network for Sustainability)

Categories: International News

Ukraine’s new president can become the main driver of how the largest country in Europe adapts to climate change

April 30, 2019 - 8:58am

On April 22, 2019, presidential elections took place in Ukraine. According to early results, Ukrainians gave 73% of their votes for Volodymyr Zelenskyi. The official report of the Central Election Commission will be published by May 1, 2019, and official results will be published on May 4.

The 350.org EECCA team supports fair, independent and democratic elections in Ukraine as a free and sovereign European state. We congratulate President Volodymyr Zelenskyi on his new position as the head of state, and as an environmental organization, we insist that the newly elected President for 2019-2023 should become the main driver of how the largest country in Europe adapts to climate changes and addresses critical environmental challenges of the present.

Will Ukrainians have affordable, renewable, safe and environmentally-friendly energy, or vice versa, energy dependence on monopolized coal and nuclear energy? Will the country go on subsidizing fossil fuel industry or make 100% renewable energy its policy and fulfill its international obligations under the Paris Agreement?

But the main question is whether we will create a comfortable social environment for future generations, or “drown” in conflicts and struggle for clean water, safe air and safe land?

As an organization that has been working in Ukraine for five years and consistently supporting communities of 10 cities, 350.org in Ukraine pins our hopes on the newly-elected President of the country and is always ready to support useful and long-term changes at the local and national level.

We encourage and urge the President-elect of Ukraine and his future government not to start new gas, oil, or coal mining enterprises and gradually close down the existing ones; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and introduction of renewable energy technologies and other environmental solutions, not to finance or subsidize fossil fuel industry in Ukraine.

While remaining apolitical, we expect everyone appointed to positions with appropriate political influence to suggest effective solutions to counteract climate change, as well as interact with concerned citizens. It is the responsibility of every political leader at all levels to stop excessive human impact on the environment and to adapt countries to climate change.

We believe that the unprecedented vote of confidence given to Volodymyr Zelenskyi by 73.5% of voters in the presidential election will be the best incentive for him not only to go on with reforms in important sectors of the economy, but also to achieve new ambitious goals in the field of environmental protection. When implementing the Country Environment Section of the election program, counteracting climate change and transitioning to 100% renewable energy transition should be priorities.

We emphasize that a coalition of 17 environmental organizations of Ukraine has put forward an agenda of issues to all presidential nominees, which includes the most important environmental challenges of the state. But the public did not get adequate regard from any of the nominees.

The most important thing for a powerful environmental movement in Ukraine is to avoid a shrinking of proactive civil society participation and to preserve and increase important environmental reforms and initiatives of the state:

  • Review and approve a new ambitious nationally-specific contribution to Paris Climate Agreement based on the scenario of Ukraine’s transition to 100% renewable energy and implement its goals.
  • Review the goals of the National Energy Strategy of Ukraine till 2035 towards more ambitious ones so that the country can implement the energy transition to renewable sources by 2050.
  • Ensure proper functioning and development of the newly established Energy Efficiency Fund, implementation of the Law On Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment and the Law On Principles of Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Promote transparent procedure for the adoption of 8449-д Act to ensure a competitive environment for electricity production from alternative energy sources and enable development of small-scale distributed generation in Ukraine in order to ensure fair
    access to clean energy for everyone.
  • Lay groundwork for the development of smart grids and free access to data in energy and environmental sectors.

Dear Mr. President, you have five years ahead and great confidence from Ukrainians and the world! Change the system, not climate.

Categories: International News

Life in a time of rising sea levels

April 29, 2019 - 9:00am

At 350 Pilipinas, our mission is rooted in supporting and maintaining relations with communities responding to the impacts of climate change.

Among them are the Sama Badjao indigenous peoples living in Tigtabon, an island village in Zamboanga City located in the southern islands of Mindanao, Philippines.

Kathleen Lei Limayo, a documentary filmmaker, photographer, visual anthropologist and volunteer of 350 Pilipinas has recently released a multimedia feature that narrates the plight of the Sama Badjao, people of Tigtabon, whose livelihood and culture are at risk because of climate change.

The climate crisis reminds us that we are all in this together. People all over the world are feeling the impacts, but the people suffering the most are the ones who have done the least to cause the problem.

Our common obligation to endure requires that we listen to communities to learn and evolve together, and so that we can amplify their voices.

The fight against climate change is a fight for justice.

Please watch and share this story.

Categories: International News

Ah’ah Laot

April 28, 2019 - 9:14am

Kathleen Lei Limayo, a documentary filmmaker, photographer, visual anthropologist and volunteer of 350 Pilipinas has recently released a multimedia feature that narrates the plight of the Sama Badjao, people of Tigtabon, whose livelihood and culture are at risk because of climate change.

Categories: International News

In Ukraine, the city of Zhytomyr sets a renewable energy course

April 26, 2019 - 8:33am

On April 19, the 350.org team together with partners and journalists toured Zhytomyr – Ukraine’s first city officially planning to make a transition to 100% renewable energy sources by 2050. The city leaders made this public commitment in June last year. During our tour, we tried to find out what has changed in the city and how Zhytomyr has progressed towards their goal.

In conversation with the city’s mayor about plans for the transition to 100% RE. Image: Julia Pashkovska

The city’s path to the modernisation of its energy system started with the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). They introduced one of the first energy monitoring systems in municipal institutions in order to keep a record of the amount of energy they consume. This helped plan Zhytomyr’s annual budget, because an understanding of how much heat energy and electricity is consumed by an institution in different seasons at different temperatures makes it possible to forecast the final public utilities’ bills compared to the starting year.

The Polissya Institute at the (Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences), which explores energy plants. Image: Julia Pashkovska

The first step in the city’s journey to a better energy balance is implementing energy saving and energy efficiency measures. That is why all 24 kindergartens and schools in the city are being comprehensively retrofitted, mostly by means of grants and credit funds.

The city is actively developing an electric transport system. They are now opening a tender for the procurement of 49 new trolleybuses, as each new vehicle consumes 30-40% less energy than older options. Two new trolleybus routes have been opened, and two more lines are planned in order to gradually replace fuel-powered transport. “This is efficient, safe, convenient and environmentally-friendly,” Mr. Sukhomlyn, the mayor of Zhytomyr stated.

The water networks and wastewater treatment plants are being renovated, as previously, up to 55% of drinking water was lost due to leaks. On top of this, the network is run down, and the equipment is outdated. This inefficiency consumes a lot of energy. So this year, the city started laying new networks, and constructing wastewater treatment and sewerage facilities. In two years, the city expects to get a practically new water and wastewater treatment system that should consume 30% less energy. Zhytomyr’s district heating is also to be renovated: 15 km of heat pipes are expected to be replaced.

But so far one of the biggest highlights in the city’s modernisation is the construction of a new power plant working on alternative energy, which will start in September 2019. The power plant is expected to produce heat from renewable energy, and this will cut the heating bill for city residents. This should be half the price of imported gas. Additionally, the power plant will generate electricity for municipal institutions. These measures will allow the city to reduce gas consumption in the energy balance by approximately 40%, according to the city mayor.

Operator of the biofuel boiler that heats the school, is telling about the operation principles of the system. Image: Julia Pashkovska

Renewable energy trends have also been taken up within the region. It has the second support programme in Ukraine for private solar power plants, which reimburses up to 30% of the cost of the power plant. As a result of this programme, about 100 private solar power plants with the capacity of up to 30 kW have been set up in Zhytomyr region. 45 of them in Zhytomyr city itself,  one of which will have 11MW capacity and be set up at a municipal company. This new solar power plant can fully satisfy the power demand of the district’s heating and water and wastewater use.

Participants of the press tour near the home solar station. Image: Julia Pashkovska

The street lights in Zhytomyr have also been replaced with LED lights (12 thousand lamps have been replaced, another 1000 are to be done), as their quality is higher, the life cycle is longer, and the energy consumption is 40-60% smaller than for incandescent bulbs. This replacement is also done with credit funds. But the city is already benefiting, because these lamps are saving energy and the amount of money saved on public utility bills could be used to cover the loan, as Serhiy Ivanovych, Zhytomyr’s mayor says.

Nevertheless, the renewable energy share in the city’s energy sphere is still very small – less than 0.5%. But the mayor is confident: first they will increase energy efficiency throughout the city, while reducing consumption by big industry. When they have achieved significant energy savings in this sector too, Zhytomyr will start rapidly growing the number of renewable energy facilities in the city’s energy mix.

Learn more about the renewable energy work in the Ukraine at cityforlife.org (site in Ukrainian).

Participants of the press tour with city mayor.
Image: Dmitry Pankov

Categories: International News

This is climate change: another cyclone has hit Mozambique

April 26, 2019 - 7:47am

Yesterday, one of the strongest cyclones ever to hit Mozambique made landfall in the north of the country. If this sounds like a familiar piece of news, it’s because it comes just five weeks after Cyclone Idai devastated Biera in the centre of the country. This time, it’s Cyclone Kenneth, and it’s big:

More people need to know how climate change is already affecting our continent. Can you share this video on Facebook and Twitter to tell them?

Two cyclones hitting Mozambique in five weeks  is unheard of, and we know what’s to blame — climate change. It’s making rainfall more intense, in shorter periods of time, and is making storms like Kenneth increase in strength.

We have a short window of time to stop our climate from changing beyond repair. We don’t want headlines like ‘Another dangerous cyclone is about to make landfall in Africa’ to become normal for us, so we should be taking action to stop the fossil fuel industry that’s driving climate breakdown.

Join us on 25 May for the #AfrikaVuka day of action.

Our fight against fossil fuels is a pathway to a united African continent that seeks solutions beyond the tried and tested that’s proven to be destructive. The time for clean energy is now.

Join an event in your community. If your elected officials commit to implementing renewable energy and a just transition, your rally can be a celebration. If they fail to act, it’s a chance to hold them accountable.

City by city, and town by town, we can build connected, resilient communities that stand together in the face of climate challenges.

Header image: Cyclone Kenneth over Mozambique © NASA

Categories: International News