Amnesty International awards its highest honour to Greta Thunberg and #FridaysForFuture climate movement

Greta Thunberg, 16, inspired other teenagers to hold school strikes to protest adults' lack of action in addressing the climate crisis.
Greta Thunberg, 16, inspired other teenagers to hold school strikes to protest adults’ lack of action in addressing the climate crisis. ANDERS HELLBERG

One of the world’s most influential and admired human rights organization is shining a spotlight on youths trying to save humanity on Earth.

Amnesty International has given its Ambassadors of Conscience 2019 award to Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and the #FridaysForFuture movement.

Thunberg, 16, started going on strike from school last year on Fridays and holding protests outside the Swedish parliament to push legislators to take far more dramatic action to address the climate crisis.

She has inspired other students around the world, including in Vancouver, to hold their own Friday climate strikes.

“This is not my award, this is everyone’s award,” Thunberg said. “It is amazing to see the recognition that we are getting and know that we are fighting for something that is having an impact.”

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AmnestyCanada@AmnestyNow

They’re challenging us to confront realities of the climate crisis. They’re reminding us we’re more powerful than we know. They’re telling us to protect human rights against climate catastrophe. @GretaThunberg & are our Ambassadors of Conscience 2019.

Germany’s Greens oust Merkel’s Christian Democrats as most popular party

Robert Habeck (R) and Annalena Baerbock, co-leaders of the German Green Party, at a rally in Leipzig in November 
Robert Habeck (R) and Annalena Baerbock, co-leaders of the German Green Party, at a rally in Leipzig in November  CREDIT: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/ AFP

Angela Merkel’s successor as leader of Germany’s ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) party is under growing pressure after polls showed the Green party has forced it into second place in the polls.

Three polls published in three days this week showed the Greens pulling ahead of the CDU, making them Germany’s most popular party for the first time since they were founded.

The last poll, published on Saturday, put the Greens four points ahead of the CDU on 27 percent, marking a historical low for the traditional governing party of German politics.

Germany’s Greens have been enjoying a surge in popularity recently and overtook the Social Democrats, their main left-wing rivals, earlier this year.

The environmentalist party’s success has came as concern about climate change, biodiversity and plastic waste surged to the forefront of political debate over the last year.

CDU-leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, left, has faced criticism as the party falls behind the Greens
CDU-leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, left, has faced criticism as the party falls behind the Greens CREDIT:  REX/ANNEGRET KRAMP-KARRENBAUER, LEFT, TOOK OVER FROM ANGELA MERKEL AS HEAD OF THE CDU IN DECEMBER

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Climate change is driving rapid shifts between high and low water levels on the Great Lakes

Image result for the conversation: Waves on Lake Superior crash against the Duluth, Minn. waterfront Sept. 10, 2014. Randen Pederson
Waves on Lake Superior crash against the Duluth, Minn. waterfront Sept. 10, 2014. Randen Pederson

The North American Great Lakes contain about one-fifth of the world’s surface fresh water. In May, new high water level records were set on Lakes Erie and Superior, and there has been widespread flooding across Lake Ontario for the second time in three years. These events coincide with persistent precipitation and severe flooding across much of central North America.

As recently as 2013, water levels on most of the Great Lakes were very low. At that time some experts proposed that climate change, along with other human actions such as channel dredging and water diversions, would cause water levels to continue to decline. This scenario spurred serious concern. Over 30 million people live within the Great Lakes basin, and many depend directly on the lakes for drinking water, industrial use, commercial shipping and recreation.

But since 2014 the issue has been too much water, not too little. High water poses just as many challenges for the region, including shoreline erosion, property damage, displacement of families and delays in planting spring crops. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently declared a state of emergency in response to the flooding around Lake Ontario while calling for better planning decisions in light of climate change.

As researchers specializing in hydrology and climate science, we believe rapid transitions between extreme high and low water levels in the Great Lakes represent the “new normal.” Our view is based on interactions between global climate variability and the components of the regional hydrological cycle. Increasing precipitation, the threat of recurring periods of high evaporation, and a combination of both routine and unusual climate events – such as extreme cold air outbursts – are putting the region in uncharted territory.


Recent monthly water levels on Lake Superior and Lake Erie (black dots). Blue bars are the record high for each calendar month, and black bars are the record lows. Water levels for May 2019 are presented as a red bar for clarity. Image developed using the online Great Lakes Dashboard (https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/dashboard/GLD.html) maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) and the University of Michigan Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR)CC BY-ND

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Aging Enbridge oil pipelines face setbacks over fears of Great Lakes spills

Overseas claims for foreign environmental harm: Vedanta and the Canadian context

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Protesters demonstrate outside a Hudbay Minerals annual general meeting in Toronto on June 14, 2012. Hudbay is facing three lawsuits that allege the company was negligent in failing to prevent security personnel from carrying out acts of violence.Nathan Denette/CP

Last month, in Vedanta Resources PLC & Another v. Lungowe & Others, the UK Supreme Court allowed Zambian citizens to proceed with a claim in the UK against a UK-based mining company for environmental contamination allegedly caused by its Zambian subsidiary. As our colleague Lee McBride has recently written, this landmark decision will be of particular interest to multinational parent companies headquartered in the UK.

Vedanta should be of interest to Canadian multinationals as well, because the case mirrors an emerging trend in Canadian case law that has seen international plaintiffs permitted to proceed with claims against Canadian parent companies for the allegedly wrongful activity of their foreign subsidiaries.

While these recent cases dealt with claims of human rights abuses with respect to mining operations, the reasoning adopted by the Courts in these cases would likely equally apply to claims arising out of environmental damage caused in a foreign jurisdiction.

…The Canadian cases, which are summarized below, share a number of factors in common with Vedanta. In these cases, the claims:

  • Involve direct claims of negligence against the parent company, alleging that they supervised, directed or acquiesced in the wrong committed;
  • Argue that the home jurisdiction is not the appropriate forum, due to deficiencies in the domestic legal system; and
  • Rely on public statements made by the parent corporation with respect to corporate social responsibility to link the parent company to the alleged foreign wrongs.

The summary of the Canadian cases is followed by some key take-aways for any business that operates internationally through subsidiaries. MORE

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‘New era’: Canadian mining industry closely watching three civil cases alleging human rights abuses

Is climate change actually a ‘climate crisis’? Some think so

Since the UN Report on Climate Change said we have 12 years to keep carbon emissions at 1.5 degrees C above pre industrial levels, the fact that mainstream media is finally catching up on the discussion (long overdue) of this existential emergency is a good sign, especially if journalists start to critically analyze and expose fossil fuel industry misinformation.

British newspaper takes lead in reframing climate change discussion


Scientists say that wildfires, such as this one near Sioux Lookout, Ont., are exacerbated by climate change. (Bernie Hawryluk)

What’s in a word? Or a phrase? A lot. Take a quick scan of your social media or news feed and it’s clear that words matter. They can affect our actions and how we feel.

The debate over the environment and climate change can be especially heated.

The British newspaper the Guardian triggered a discussion recently after it announced changes to the way it describes climate change in its reporting. The nearly 200-year-old publication updated its style guide, and now refers to what’s happening to our planet as a “crisis.”

“‘Climate change’ is no longer considered to accurately reflect the seriousness of the situation; use climate emergency, crisis or breakdown instead,” reads the updated guide.

The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, explained that it was also time to do away with such niceties as “global warming,” which is being replaced, in most instances, with “global heating.”

“We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change,’ for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”

It’s something Sean Holman, a Calgary journalism professor, has been thinking about for a while. He wrote an open letter to editors and journalism associations chiding reporters for failing to properly report on the “crisis” shortly after the Guardian made the change.

“This letter is aimed at basically us, you and me, journalists across the country whose job it is to provide the public with the truth more than anything else,” said Holman. “We know that climate change, the climate crisis, is causing a lot of what we are seeing now and we need to be clearer with our audiences about that, because, really, no one else will.” MORE

Turns out there’s more plastic pollution in the deep ocean than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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MR.ANAKED / SHUTTERSTOCK

SAN FRANCISCO – The problem of plastic pollution in the ocean is even worse than anyone feared. Tiny broken up pieces of plastic – microplastic – aren’t just floating at the water’s surface but are pervasive down thousands of feet. There’s actually more microplastic 1,000 feet down than there is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, research published Thursday found.

“We didn’t think there would be four times as much plastic floating at depth than at the surface,” said Kyle Van Houtan, chief scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

He’s one of the authors of the study published in this week’s edition of Scientific Reports from the journal Nature that investigated just how much plastic there is in the ocean’s depths.

Literally tons of plastic trash wash down rivers and out to sea each day, fouling the surface and endangering sea life. It’s long been believed that most of it floated. But when the researchers looked deep below the surface, they found tiny broken-down plastic pieces, smaller than rice grains, wherever they looked.  SOURCE

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This is probably the most important vote you will ever make!

“The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.” — David Attenborough

 

The climate crisis demands radical change. Which party do you trust to  choose to make the transition to a green economy?

In the US, the DNC has swiftly killed the idea of a climate change debate even as scientists reveal industrial methane emissions are 100 times higher than reported. The misinformation, greed, the climate deniers, and politics of fear want business-as-usual to continue.

We can’t let that happen. We have to fight for climate justice! For the water, the air, the earth, the plants, the animals, the fish, for our children and for future generations.

Your vote has never been more important. The various Canadian parties’ climate plans are compared here.

Beyond the words, which leader do you trust to put a robust climate plan into action?

Watch this interview with Evan Solomon  questioning Elizabeth May about the Green Party’s climate policy on CTV’s Question Period. At least this leader seems to get the message.