Tzeporah Berman has been instrumental in delaying or stopping 21 oil projects. Her next target: the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Photo, Johann Wall.
Last December, environmental activist Tzeporah Berman joined thousands of activists, scientists, policy makers and industry reps in Katowice, Poland, for COP24, the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference. She was scheduled to present a comprehensive analysis of the increase in Canada’s oil and gas emissions. Berman has been to many such gatherings, but Katowice, located in the heart of Poland’s coal country, provided a particularly bitter lesson in the contradictory nature of climate change talks. “I would leave my hotel and walk through coal-choked streets, coughing, to get to the climate negotiations,” she says.
Once there, the irony only deepened: While Berman listened to the world’s experts on renewables talk breathlessly about price drops and leaps in technology, in the room next door, Canadian government representatives cozied up to execs from Suncor. The next day, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented its grim Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C. “I’d never seen scientists like that before,” she says, “near tears, frantic and scared, saying it’s worse than we thought.”
Since she was 23, when she first helped coordinate logging protests in B.C.’s Clayoquot Sound, Berman’s mission has been to bring together political enemies (those experts and Suncor execs). In 1993, during what was dubbed “The War in the Woods,” she famously organized blockades that got her arrested and charged with 857 counts of criminal aiding and abetting (the charges were ultimately stayed). Her determination, along with testy negotiations between environmental groups, logging companies and First Nations, ultimately protected the majority of the Sound’s remaining rainforest.
In the decades that followed, Berman became known as one of the country’s most formidable environmentalists, with a reputation as a passionate but pragmatic deal maker who could nimbly balance the needs of industry, the desires of politicians and the health of the planet. MORE
UN summit urged to end all coal burning and introduce substantial taxes on emissions
Global investors managing $32tn issued a stark warning to governments at the UN climate summit on Monday, demanding urgent cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of all coal burning. Without these, the world faces a financial crash several times worse than the 2008 crisis, they said.
The investors include some of the world’s biggest pension funds, insurers and asset managers and marks the largest such intervention to date. They say fossil fuel subsidies must end and substantial taxes on carbon be introduced. MORE
At the conclusion of the United Nations COP24 climate talks in Katowice, Poland, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna boasted that Canada “played a leading role in laying the groundwork for a global carbon market.”
In short, this is a corporate-friendly approach backed by the World Bank Group in which a central authority allocates or sells a limited number of credits to corporations to discharge specific quantities of carbon pollution. Polluters that want to increase their carbon emissions must buy credits from other corporations willing to sell their excess credits. MORE
“We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules,” says Greta Thunberg, “because the rules have to be changed.”
UN Secretary General António Guterres seated next to 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who explained that while the world consumes an estimated 100 million barrels of oil each day, “there are no politics to change that. There are no politics to keep that oil in the ground. So we can longer save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.” (Photo: UNFCC COP24 / Screenshot)
Striking her mark at the COP24 climate talks taking place this week and next in Poland, fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden issued a stern rebuke on behalf of the world’s youth climate movement to the adult diplomats, executives, and elected leaders gathered by telling them she was not there asking for help or demanding they comply with demands but to let them know that new political realities and a renewable energy transformation are coming whether they like it or not.
“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago,” said Thunberg, who has garnered international notoriety for weekly climate strikes outside her school in Sweden, during a speech on Monday. MORE
The deal’s main accomplishment is that the whole world signed up, but campaigners fear it does too little to slow global warming.
KATOWICE, Poland — The point of a compromise is that all sides have to give up something to reach a deal.
The 133-page final text of the COP24 climate summit is no exception. The major accomplishment was that 196 governments agreed on arulebook to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, but the result left bruised feelings all around.
The poorest and most vulnerable countries felt that it demanded too little of industrialized countries, developing countries had to agree on common reporting requirements to bring their climate promises into line with those of more developed countries, and the richest countries have to be more open about their financial support to those most affected by global warming.
“You cannot cut a deal with science, you cannot negotiate with the laws of physics”— Mohamed Nasheed, former president of the Maldives
And the answer to the biggest question of all — will the agreement actually help the world avoid catastrophic climate change? — is mixed at best. MORE
UN conference reaffirms Paris Agreement commitments, leaving Canada and other countries with a lot more to do at home
[KATOWICE, Poland] (December 15, 2018) – The annual United Nations climate change conference in Katowice (COP24) ended today, making progress on some issues but putting the real work of addressing climate change squarely on the plates of national governments.
The conference took place in the wake of the IPCC’s latest report, which warned the world of the dangerous impacts should global warming exceed 1.5˚C, including more devastating wildfires, floods and famine. Like many countries, Canada is far from a trajectory that is compatible with a 1.5˚C world, and needs to commit to getting on track now….
Yet Canada failed to reiterate its earlier signal that it will increase the ambition of its climate pledge ahead of 2020, as other countries have done. This represents a missed opportunity to show leadership on the world stage. It is critical that Minister McKenna shows this leadership when she returns home, by announcing that Canada will have a process in 2019 to put the country on track to a 1.5˚C-compatible climate pledge. MORE