‘Bill Gates is continuing the work of Monsanto’, Vandana Shiva tells FRANCE 24

“Our guest is Vandana Shiva, a world-famous environmental activist from India. Her latest book is entitled “One Earth, One Humanity vs. the 1%”.

She tell us about more her opposition to big multinationals such as Monsanto for their nefarious influence on agriculture. But Shiva also singles out billionaires like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for criticism.

“When Bill Gates pours money into Africa for feeding the poor in Africa and preventing famine, he’s pushing the failed Green Revolution, he’s pushing chemicals, pushing GMOs, pushing patterns”, she tells FRANCE 24’s Marc Perelman SOURCE

This company says it’s making food from ‘thin air’ … plus a dash of water and clean energy

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Helsinki, Finland (CNN)In Finland, scientists are making an entirely new ingredient out of air, water and electricity — and they hope it could revolutionize the way our food is produced.

Feeding an ever-growing population is putting a huge strain on the Earth’s resources. Agriculture is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases, with animal farming in particular responsible for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from beef and dairy cattle.
On top of that, farming uses vast areas of land that might otherwise be home to carbon-storing forests; it also guzzles huge amounts of water — up to 70% of water-use worldwide, according to the OECD.
But a Helsinki-based company is trying to change that.
“In order to save the planet from climate change, we need to disconnect food production from agriculture,” says Pasi Vainikka, CEO of Solar Foods.

Protein powder

At its pilot plant, the start-up is developing a new natural source of protein it calls Solein. Like other protein supplements, it has no discernible taste and can be added to almost any snack or meal. But Solar Foods says its product will have have a tiny carbon footprint.
Solar Foods makes hydrogen by applying electricity to water, and sources carbon dioxide by extracting it from air — which is why the company describes Solein as being “food out of thin air.” All this is powered by renewable energy, minimizing the product’s carbon footprint.
“You end up with a powder that is about 65 percent protein and carbs and fats,” Vainikka told CNN.
That powder could be added to things like bread and pasta, or to plant-based meat or dairy substitutes. One day, it could even be used as a food source for lab-grown meat, he says.
Solar Foods claims production of Solein is 100 times more climate friendly than meat and 10 times better than plant-based proteins, as well as using much less water.

Scaling up

The company was founded in 2017, made up of former scientists from Finland’s national research institute.
Its pilot plant is able to produce about a kilo of dry protein powder per day, and Vainikka says it can match the price of existing plant or animal protein ingredients, with “a production cost of $5-$6 per kilogram of 100 percent protein.”
Solein, in its powder form.

It aims to have Solein on the market and in millions of meals by 2021, but before then it needs to scale-up from pilot plant to major commercial production, and Solein needs regulatory approval for human consumption.
Tomas Linder is an associate professor of microbiology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, not connected to Solar Foods. He believes that proteins derived from microbes have a part to play in feeding the planet while reducing emissions.
He points out that using carbon dioxide as the carbon source means you can produce this kind of food anywhere, and adds that freeing up land from farming means it could be used to let forests recover, which would sequester more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
But Linder cautions that more studies are needed before we can be sure of the carbon emissions associated with these kinds of products. “You also have to consider that at the amount we have to produce, you would need to build huge bioreactors, with lots of concrete and steel,” he says — which would result in extra carbon emissions.
Solar Foods is currently working with the European Space Agency on a way for astronauts to use Solein while in orbit. While that may sound like the realms of science fiction, Solar Foods is keen to point out that its process is natural.
“We are doing the same thing plants are doing, but … we don’t need the sun,” says Vainikka. “Our process is fundamentally more efficient.” SOURCE

 

DAVOS 2020: Trump vs. Thunberg: The climate crisis could dominate Davos

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London (CNN Business)US President Donald Trump and environmental activist Greta Thunberg are getting top billing at Davos this year as the conference for global elites turns its attention to the climate crisis and sustainability.

The World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting begins Monday, drawing 3,000 of the world’s richest and most powerful people to a picturesque skiing village in the Swiss mountains.
Trump will deliver what the organizers describe as a special address on Tuesday, offering his brand of populism to attendees who represent governments, companies, central banks and transnational organizations.
Two hours later, Thunberg — Time Magazine’s Person of the Year — will open a debate on how to avert a “climate apocalypse.”
The headliners have clashed on social media and may steer clear of each other in Davos. But attendees won’t be able to avoid climate change given the theme of the meeting is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.” The World Economic Forum (WEF) is asking all companies present to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Among the highlights: Britain’s Prince Charles will deliver a special address Wednesday on “how to save the planet.”
Trump, who is aggressively rolling back environmental protections and pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, may well be challenged over his view on climate change.

Who attends, and how?

About 3,000 of the people who flock to Davos are official conference participants.
Tickets are invite-only and very pricey for businesses. Membership of the WEF costs anywhere from $60,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there’s an additional fee of around $27,000 to get into the conference.
Davos also plays host to thousands of journalists, security personnel, corporate support staffers, as well as businesspeople and chancers, many of whom never step foot in the official conference rooms.
Some instead spend the week attending parallel discussions, panels, corporate events and parties. Many take advantage of the fact that so many elites are gathered in one place by jamming their schedules full of meetings.

What do they do all week?

The official conference schedule is filled with dozens of speeches, debates, performances and events. This year, many are focused on the issue of sustainability.
“People are revolting against the economic ‘elites’ they believe have betrayed them, and our efforts to keep global warming limited to 1.5°C are falling dangerously short,” WEF founder Klaus Schwab said in a statement.
“With the world at such a critical crossroads, this year we must develop a ‘Davos Manifesto 2020’ to reimagine the purpose and scorecards for companies and governments,” he added.
Beyond the headliners, attendees can choose to attend panels featuring US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO David Solomon.
Also roaming the hallways and attending exclusive dinners are hundreds of high level executives and political figures such as Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff.
The roster of attendees often reflects the global political and business mood. MORE

Goodbye, gas furnaces? Why electrification is the future of home heating

From electric baseboards to heat pumps, here’s a closer look at the options

The burning of fossil fuels to heat our homes is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in this cold country. Green builders say we need to decarbonize heating by going electric if Canada is going to meet its climate targets. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

It’s a stereotype, but it’s true — Canada’s winters are cold. And many of us stay toasty by burning fossil fuels such as natural gas in our furnaces or the boilers that feed our radiators.

In an effort to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets to reduce global warming, the U.K. has proposed banning fossil fuel-based heating in new homes by 2025. Cities in the states of CaliforniaWashington and Massachusetts are also trying to phase out natural gas.

If your home is hooked up to a district heating system, where a utility supplies heat directly, you may be able to tap into a variety of greener energy sources.

But if your home relies on its own individual heating system, as most do, what are the alternatives to fossil fuels and will they work in the colder parts of this country?

Here’s a closer look.

How much does heating buildings contribute to CO2 emissions?

About 45 per cent of Canada’s emissions come from burning fossil fuels to make energy, including heat and electricity — quite a bit more than transportation (28 per cent), the Prairie Climate Centre reports. Of that, about half is from houses, shops, schools and other private and public buildings. The other half is from industry.

Nearly 70 per cent of the energy used in the residential sector comes from fossil fuels, a 2014 study estimated. Forced air furnaces and hot water or steam boilers with radiators, which most often burn fossil fuels such as natural gas, make up a majority of the primary heating systems in Canada, Statistics Canada reports.

How important is it to decarbonize heating?

“Very important,” said Fin MacDonald, program manager of the Zero Carbon Building program at the Canada Green Building Council, a non-profit that advocates for and certifies green buildings. In provinces such as B.C., Ontario and Quebec whose power grids don’t produce a lot of emissions, fossil fuel combustion from buildings represents the biggest source of carbon dioxide, he said.

That’s certainly the case in Vancouver, where more than half the greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, said Brady Faught, green buildings engineer with the city.

While people may be concerned about a car idling for 10 minutes, Faught says “your house is basically idling all day.”

And it’s not just the gas it’s burning that’s the problem. Natural gas or methane — a greenhouse gas that traps heat far more effectively than carbon dioxide, causing much more global warming per molecule — also leaks from the entire distribution system used to deliver gas to people’s homes and furnaces, Faught said.

Using natural gas for heating generates emissions not just from burning it, but also from leaks through the system. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

How can emissions from home heating be reduced or eliminated?

Buildings heated with fossil fuels can cut some of their emissions by reducing the need for heating through things like better insulation and reusing “waste” heat.

But in order to make a big difference, the green building industry is looking to electrify heating.

“The only fuel that we can truly make 100 per cent carbon neutral is electricity,” MacDonald said.

That’s why the City of Vancouver is trying to come up with regulations and incentives for homeowners to electrify their home heating.

“The ultimate goal is zero emissions,” said Faught, whose job is to develop policies to encourage green retrofits for single-family homes in Vancouver.

In provinces with an electrical grid based mostly on hydro, nuclear or other non-fossil fuel energy sources, such as Ontario, Quebec and B.C., replacing a gas-burning furnace with an electrical heating system can nearly eliminate a home’s emissions.

In some provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, power is largely generated by burning fossil fuels. For now, homeowners who want to cut heating emissions need to go beyond electrification and also install green power generation, such as solar panels.

What are some of the options for heating your home electrically?

  • Baseboard heaters are the most common option in use across Canada. They’re powered by electrical resistance heating, just like your toaster and oven. Electric forced air furnaces, electric convection heaters and electric radiant floors also use electrical resistance heating.
  • Heat pumps are far more efficient, because they simply move heat into your home, rather than generating heat. There are two kinds:
    • Air source heat pumps, which draw heat from the air. (Yes, it can work even when it is very cold outside, just as your freezer can use its heat pump to cool itself to -18 C in a 20 C kitchen.)
    • Ground source heat pumps, which draw heat from the ground and are sometimes referred to as geoexchange or geothermal heat pumps. However, MacDonald says the industry is trying to move away from calling it geothermal, as it gets confused with geothermal power generation.

What are the pros and cons of baseboard heaters and other electrical resistance heaters?

Baseboard heaters are popular because they’re very cheap and easy to install.

However, those and other kinds of electrical resistance heaters are very inefficient.

“They’re like just having a toaster running in your house all day … resulting in high electric bills,” said Faught.

For those reasons, baseboard heaters are often popular in rental units where landlords install them and tenants pay the cost of electricity.

This home in Edmonton is ‘net zero energy,’ meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes using solar panels on its roof. It also doesn’t generate emissions from heating, as it relies on an air source heat pump for heat and hot water. (Cooper & O’Hara/Builtgreen Canada)

That said, it’s possible to bring the cost down in a small home by making the building more airtight and better insulated.

David Turnbull, a former homebuilder and current manager of Enerspec Energy Consulting, said his company built a townhome complex in Edmonton where units were relatively small and so well-insulated that “you could almost heat the house with two hair dryers.” In that case, baseboard heating made financial sense.

When does installing a heat pump make sense?

Heat pumps are way more efficient than electrical resistance heating. Both MacDonald and Faught say it’s possible to get 300 per cent efficiency from a heat pump — that is, you can get three kilowatts of heat for every kilowatt of electricity you put in. They’re especially efficient in spring and fall.

However, MacDonald says heat pumps tend to produce a lower temperature heat than burning fossil fuels, and therefore don’t heat a building as quickly.

That means a building needs to be airtight and well insulated to keep the heat from escaping and reduce the “heating load” before you should consider this as an option — and even more so the further north you go.

This is the basement of a demonstration net zero home in Ottawa. Instead of a furnace, it has a cold climate heat pump and a drain water heat recovery system. (Gordon King Photography)

Faught says air source heat pumps can heat an airtight, well-insulated home to a comfortable temperature until it gets to about -10 C outside. In places with colder winters than that, supplementing with baseboard heaters may be necessary with conventional air source heat pumps. However, some manufacturers have brought cold climate heat pumps on the market that they say can deal with outside temperatures down to -25 C or -30 C.

One big advantage of heat pumps is that they don’t just heat homes, they can also cool them.

In fact, air conditioners are technically heat pumps. The difference with the heat pumps capable of heating homes is they can run in reverse.

What’s the difference between air source and ground source heat pumps?

Air source heat pumps are cheaper and easier to install, but less efficient and more expensive to run. That’s because the ground temperature tends to remain stable all year round — containing more heat in the winter and more “coolness” in the summer than the air.

However, ground source heat pumps tend to be a lot more expensive — and require more space — to install because it’s necessary to dig deep to access stable underground temperatures.

Ania Kania-Richmond stands with her husband and children in front of their certified ‘passive house’ in the EchoHaven development in northwest Calgary. The house has no furnace. It is heated with passive solar energy, supplemented by electric radiators when needed. (Dave Will/CBC)

That can be particularly costly in places where the ground is bedrock, said Turnbull. It’s more economical if you’re building on clay or sand, he said, and especially if you’re digging anyway — for a parkade, for example.

What about solar?

Solar power is useful for generating green energy to run devices like heat pumps in provinces with a fossil fuel-based electricity grid.

However, there’s also solar thermal energy, where heat is collected directly rather than by generating electricity.

The Drake Landing Solar Community in Okotoks, Alta., is a district energy project that uses solar thermal heating with underground storage. (Mike Ridewood/Natural Resources Canada)

MacDonald said that tends to be more expensive than other options and requires lots of space for the solar panels. Because most of the heat is collected in summer, it also needs to be stored somewhere.

“If you have a pool, perfect,” he said. If you have a ground source heat pump, in theory you can also store the heat in its underground heat exchange loop.

Turnbull and Faught both think solar technology is not quite ready for heating individual homes in Canada (although solar thermal heating with storage has been successfully tested for district heating in Okotoks, Alta.).

What are governments doing about this?

In Canada, the federal government is holding public consultations on proposed changes to the National Building Code and its National Energy Code for Buildings. Some jurisdictions such as Vancouver are also coming up with their own regulations and incentives to encourage electrification, especially in new homes.

The city’s climate emergency response report  proposes that by 2025, all new and replacement heating and hot water systems should be zero emissions.

“Having a fully electric house without a gas line is the direction we want to go,” Faught said.

Turnbull says governments need to plan to phase out fossil fuels in home heating.

“It’s an inevitability that we are going to get off them.” SOURCE

 

World’s richest 1% have twice the wealth of the rest of humanity combined: Oxfam

  • The UK-based charity said governments are ‘massively under-taxing’ rich individuals and corporations
  • The world’s three richest people amassed a total of $231 billion over the past decade

The total wealth of the top 20 billionaires has doubled from $672 billion to $1,397 billion since 2012. Photo: Reuters

The total wealth of the top 20 billionaires has doubled from $672 billion to $1,397 billion since 2012. Photo: Reuters

The world’s richest 1% have more than twice the wealth of the rest of humanity combined, according to Oxfam, which called on governments to adopt “inequality-busting policies.”

In a report published ahead of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, the U.K.-based charity said governments are “massively under-taxing” rich individuals and corporations, and under-funding public services.

Oxfam’s ‘Time to Care’ report also highlighted gender-based economic disparities, saying women and girls were burdened with disproportionate responsibility for care work and fewer economic opportunities.

“Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women,” said Oxfam India Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Behar. “No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist.”

Billionaires’ Fortunes

The world’s three richest people amassed a total of $231 billion over the past decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg — the fifth-richest person in the world — had the highest boost last year, with a net gain of about $6 billion. Amazon.com Inc CEO Jeff Bezos still claims the top spot with a net worth of $116 billion.

The total wealth of the top 20 billionaires has doubled from $672 billion to $1,397 billion since 2012, according to Bloomberg Wealth.

An individual who saved $10,000 a day since the construction of Egypt’s pyramids would still only have a fifth of the average fortune of the world’s top five, Oxfam said.

Oxfam’s critics have dismissed the headline inequality statistics as misleading and suggest that they drastically overstate the scale of the problem. The organization has repeatedly defended its analysis and challenged such accusations.

The charity’s annual statistics rely on Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth report, which Oxfam itself said suffers from poor quality of data and may even underestimate the scale of wealth disparities.

Extreme Poverty

Citing World Bank research, Oxfam said reducing inequality has a bigger effect on lowering extreme poverty than economic growth. That analysis “shows that if countries reduced income inequality by 1% each year, 100 million fewer people would be living in extreme poverty by 2030,” it said.

Figures from the Washington-based lender show extreme poverty has declined drastically in the past two decades. They show the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day declined by 1.1 billion from 1990.

The World Bank warns however that poverty reduction has slowed or even reversed in some countries. 736 million people still lived in extreme poverty in 2015, more than half of whom are in Sub-Saharan Africa. SOURCE

 

 

 

New York Times: THE DEMOCRATS’ BEST CHOICES FOR PRESIDENT

U.S. JUDGES TOSS LANDMARK YOUTH CLIMATE CASE, SEND PLAINTIFFS BACK TO THE BALLOT BOX

Our Children’s Trust/Twitter

After a five-year push just to secure a trial date, the landmark Juliana v. United States youth climate justice case is hanging by a thread, after two out of three judges who heard the case before the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that it didn’t belong in court.

Our Children’s Trust, the legal charity managing the case, said it would appeal for an en banc hearing before a panel of 11 judges, the New York Times reports.

Even though the Juliana plaintiffs “made a compelling case that action is needed,” wrote Judge Andrew Hurwitz, he and Judge Mary Murguia determined that climate change is not an issue to be decided by the courts. “Reluctantly, we conclude that such relief is beyond our constitutional power,” he concluded in a 32-page opinion. “Rather, the plaintiffs’ impressive case for redress must be presented to the political branches of government.”

“They want to leave the key decisions to the ballot box,” said Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. “So for now, all three branches of the federal government are sitting on their hands as the planet burns.”

Even so, the decision was “a disappointment but not a surprise,” Gerrard added, since “many U.S. judges have vigorously enforced the environmental laws written by Congress but won’t go beyond that.”

“If ever there were a case where your heart says yes but your mind says no,” said University of Michigan law professor, former head of the environmental crimes section at the U.S. Justice Department, “Juliana unfortunately is that case.”

None of which stopped District Judge Josephine Staton from writing what Grist calls a “searing dissent” that “lacerated the U.S. government” and argued that the 21 youth plaintiffs, ages 12 to 23, had standing to go to trial.

“In these proceedings, the government accepts as fact that the United States has reached a tipping point crying out for a concerted response—yet presses ahead toward calamity,” she wrote. “It is as if an asteroid were barreling toward the Earth and the government decided to shut down our only defences. Seeking to quash this suit, the government bluntly insists that it has the absolute and unreviewable power to destroy the Nation.”

The judgement “reverses an earlier ruling by a district court judge, Ann Aiken, that would have let the case go forward,” the Times writes. “Instead, the appeals court gave instructions to the lower court to dismiss the case.” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark said the Trump administration was “pleased with the outcome,” contending that it “fell squarely outside the parameters” of Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which defines the role of the federal courts.

Our Children’s Trust Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel maintained the case is “far from over”, telling the Times the request for an en banc hearing would be the next step. Olson “originally filed the federal suit in 2015 against the Obama administration, demanding both that the government drop policies that encouraged fossil fuel use and take faster action to curb climate change from a president already seen as friendly to environmental interests,” the Times recalls.

“Working under a legal principle known as the public trust doctrine, which can be used to compel the government to preserve natural resources for public use, the initial complaint stated that government officials had ‘willfully ignored’ the dangers of burning fossil fuels.”

Climate law specialist Ann Carlson of the UCLA Law School said she’d “always thought this case was creative and interesting but a long shot,” given “just how big the remedy was that the plaintiff were seeking in the case”, to “get the United States to stop emitting carbon into the atmosphere.” At a hearing in June, the Times recalls, Hurwitz pressed Olson on the lead role she was asking the courts to take: “You’re asking us to do a lot of new stuff, aren’t you?” he asked.

But Carlson pointed to the strongly sympathetic note the two justices took in a majority opinion that acknowledged the need for climate action. “There really is a giant dilemma here about the lack of political will to address the problem, the lack of judicial comfort in stepping in to solve the problem,” she told the Times.

Olson said the sweeping remedy described in the court decision wasn’t the only option available to it. “It doesn’t have to be the whole shebang,” she said. But for the Juliana kids, “the idea that their only recourse is to go to the very branches of government that are violating their rights when half of them can’t even vote is a preposterous notion.”

In a Friday evening e-blast to supporters, Our Children’s Trust stressed that “we’re not done!” and laid out the process and prospects for seeking an en banc review.“Given the strength of the dissenting opinion of Judge Staton, articulating the apocalyptic conditions, the strength of the evidence, and the proper role of the government and the courts, we are optimistic that the 11-judge panel will reverse today’s majority decision and finally set the case for trial,” the organization stated. “Assuming the Ninth Circuit grants the en banc review, we expect briefing and argument of the case to be complete by year end.” SOURCE

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Judge writes blistering dissent as kids’ climate lawsuit gets tossed