“We would love some action,’ Greta Thunberg says at climate summit in Madrid

Spanish capital is hosting 2-week, UN-sponsored talks on climate change

Activist Greta Thunberg again calls for urgent action on climate change

At a climate summit in Madrid, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg again appealed for awareness, and immediate action on climate change. 1:56

The voices of climate strikers are being heard, but politicians are still not taking action, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said Friday at a summit in Madrid.

“We are getting bigger and bigger, and our voices are being heard more and more, but of course that does not translate into political action,” Thunberg told a news conference during the United Nations-sponsored COP25 climate gathering.

Thunberg, who has sparked a global youth-led protest movement, said asking children to skip school to protest inaction by governments on climate change was “not a sustainable solution.”

“We don’t want to continue. We would love some action from people in power,” she said. “People are suffering and dying from the climate and ecological emergency today and we cannot wait any longer.”

Thunberg said she hopes the two-week annual round of climate negotiations, which opened in Madrid on Monday, would lead to “concrete action” and world leaders would grasp the urgency of the climate crisis.

“Of course there is no victory, because the only thing we want to see is real action,” Thunberg said. “So we have achieved a lot, but if you look at it from a certain point of view, we have achieved nothing.”

The Swedish teen arrived in Madrid on Friday to a swarm of media cameras and microphones at the Spanish capital’s northern train station.

In an ironic tweet, Thunberg said she had “successfully managed to sneak into Madrid.

“I don’t think anyone saw me…,” she said. “Anyway it’s great to be in Spain!”


Climate activist Greta Thunberg, from Sweden, attends a news conference before a protest march in Madrid on Friday. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

The two-week UN summit is aimed at streamlining the rules on global carbon markets and agreeing on how poor countries should be compensated for destruction largely caused by emissions from rich nations.

The talks came as evidence mounts about disasters that could ensue from further global warming, including a study commissioned by 14 seafaring nations and published Friday predicting unchecked climate change could devastate fishery industries and coral reef tourism.

Thunberg paid a surprise visit to the venue of the talks and joined a group of some 40 teens staging a sit-in there to demand real action against climate change.

Greta Thunberg
@GretaThunberg

I successfully managed to sneak into Madrid this morning! I don’t think anyone saw me…
Anyway it’s great to be in Spain! https://twitter.com/quicktake/status/1202859979310419968 

QuickTake by Bloomberg

@QuickTake

LOOK: Teenage climate activist @GretaThunberg arrives at a Madrid train station in Spain for the Climate Action Summit #COP25.

She traveled back to Europe from the U.S. via catamaran to promote sustainable travel

Embedded video

Holding hands, the teens sang a version of John Lennon’s Power to the People and displayed banners with the logo of Fridays for Future, the global climate movement inspired by Thunberg.

In the presence of dozens of media cameras and curious summit participants, the protesters exchanged chants: “What do you want?” “Climate Justice” “When do you want it?” “Now.”

Thunberg did not appear unsettled by the commotion surrounding her.

“It’s absurd. I laugh at it. I do not understand why it has become like this,” the 16-year-old was quoted as saying by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, whose reporter rode with them in an electric car in Madrid.

“I don’t like being at the centre of the focus all the time, but this is a good thing,” she told Aftonbladet. “As soon as the media writes about me, they also have to write about the climate crisis. If this is a way to write about the climate crisis, then I guess it is good.”

While Thunberg seemed bemused by the attention, her father Svante was startled, saying it was “total madness.”

“I have never seen anything like this,” he told Aftonbladet.

The study commissioned by seafaring nations says climate change could cause hundreds of billions of dollars in losses by 2050, adding limiting global warming would lessen the economic impact for coastal countries, but they also need to adapt to ocean changes.


Thunberg meets with participants at the UN-sponsored COP25 summit on Friday. (Juan Medina/Reuters)

The authors said fish will migrate to cooler waters as oceans heat up and become more acidic, jeopardizing some fishing communities. While regions near the equator will suffer fish stock declines, the report forecasts increases in Arctic and Antarctic Oceans

Demands for greater action by non-governmental organizations and a whole new generation of environment-minded activists were expected to take the spotlight with the presence of Thunberg in Madrid.

Past appearances have won her plaudits from some leaders — and criticism from others who’ve taken offence at the angry tone of her speeches.

Activist cross Atlantic aboard catamaran

An advocate for carbon-free transportation, Thunberg travelled by train overnight from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, where she arrived earlier this week after sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from the United States by catamaran.

That became necessary after a sudden change of venue for the COP25 summit following a wave of anti-government protests that hit Chile, the original host.


British professional yachtswoman Nicola Henderson, yacht owners Elayna Carausu and her husband Riley Whitelum, with their son, and Thunberg dock earlier this week in Lisbon, Portugal, after crossing the Atlantic. (Horacio Villalobos/Getty Images)

Separately Friday, an alliance of American states, cities, academic institutions and companies opened its own venue at the UN climate talks, aiming to show that despite the federal administration’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord, many Americans remain committed to the treaty’s goal of curbing global warming.

Elan Strait, who manages the “We Are Still In” initiative for the environmental conservationist World Wildlife Fund, said the movement is “a short-term band-aid not only to get those carbon dioxide emissions down but also to encourage policymakers to lay the ground for further achievements.

“And that, regardless of the colour of the government that is in power,” Strait said.

Over 3,800 organizations and corporations representing 70 per cent of U.S. economic output have joined the coalition, organizers claim, amounting to roughly half of the country’s emissions.

The U.S. Climate Action Center is hosting Mandela Barnes, lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, Pat Brown, chief executive of non-meat burger company Impossible Foods, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and others.

The venue is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, a charitable organization founded by billionaire businessman and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is now seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. SOURCE

 

Greta Thunberg says school strikes have achieved nothing

Activist says 4% greenhouse gas emissions rise since 2015 shows action is insufficient


 Greta Thunberg holds a news conference in Madrid where the COP25 climate summit is being held. Photograph: Sergio Pérez/Reuters

The global wave of school strikes for the climate over the past year has “achieved nothing” because greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, Greta Thunberg has told activists at UN climate talks in Madrid.

Thousands of young people were expected to gather at the UN climate conference and in the streets of the Spanish capital on Friday to protest against the lack of progress in tackling the climate emergency, as officials from more than 190 countries wrangled over the niceties of wording in documents related to the Paris accord.

In the four years since the landmark agreement was signed, greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 4% and the talks this year are not expected to produce new commitments on carbon from the world’s biggest emitters.

Thunberg, whose solo protest in Sweden in 2017 has since snowballed into a global movement, spoke at a press conference before a march through the centre of Madrid. She said that although schoolchildren had been striking around the world, this “has not translated into action” from governments.

South American indigenous people attend a protest in Madrid, Spain, over the climate
 South American indigenous people attend a protest in Madrid demanding action against climate change. Photograph: Rodrigo Jimenez/EPA Pinterest

 

“I’m just an activist and we need more activists,” she said. “Some people are afraid to change – they try so desperately to silence us.”

“I sincerely hope COP25 will reach something concrete and increase awareness among people, and that world leaders and people in power grasp the urgency of the climate crisis, because right now it does not seem that they are,” she said.

Although young people would keep striking, Thunberg said, they wanted to stop – if governments made credible promises and showed a willingness to act.

“We can’t go on like this; it is not sustainable that children skip school and we don’t want to continue – we would love some action from the people in power. People are suffering and dying today. We can’t wait any longer,” she said.

The march was scheduled to coincide with protests and youth climate strikes around the world. In the US, Bernie Sanders and Jane Fonda were among the politicians and celebrities planning to join in.

 Inside the mission to create an army of Greta Thunbergs – video

As well as the march and a sit-down protest in the conference centre, there were shows of international solidarity among young people from around the world, including a picnic in a central Madrid park. The conference centre was flooded with hundreds of schoolchildren accompanied by their parents, many with babies in prams, who were kept separate from the rooms where negotiators were working on a draft text to clarify aspects of the Paris agreement.

Young people voiced their frustration at protests inside and outside the conference centre on the outskirts of Madrid.

Brianna Fruean from Samoa, speaking for the Pacific Climate Warriors, told the conference: “World leaders need to know that people like me are watching them. The text we put down today on paper at COP is what our future will look like.”

Many of the young people joining the conference from developing nations around the world bore personal witness to suffering they had experienced or seen.

“I’ve had typhoid. I’ve had malaria. My grandmother died from cholera. I know what I’m talking about,” said Jimmy Fénelon, the national coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environmental Network in Haiti. “We need to raise awareness among young people. We can get them to work together and send a strong message.”

Renae Baptiste, also from CYEN, said: “For us, climate change is no longer a concept or theory, it’s our new reality. It’s affecting our lives now.”

The activist Miguel van der Velden said: “These things are not games. They’re getting worse. They’re affecting millions of people around the world. I come here because I have hope that we can work together.” SOURCE

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Greta Thunberg arrives in Lisbon after three-week voyage from US

Climate activist heading to COP25 in Madrid after crossing Atlantic on family’s yacht

Greta Thunberg arrives in Lisbon on La Vagabonde, which leaves little or no carbon footprint when its sails are up, using solar panels and hydro-generators for electricity. Photograph: Pedro Nunes/Reuters

The climate activist Greta Thunberg has arrived in Lisbon after a three-week catamaran voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from the US.

The Swedish teenager now plans to head to Spain to attend the UN climate conference in Madrid.

Thunberg hitched a ride from the US with an Australian family on their 48-ft (15-metre) yacht.

The white catamaran carrying Thunberg sailed slowly up the River Tagus under blue skies and a stiff breeze. Thunberg’s father, Svante, was also on the boat as it approached the Lisbon quayside.

 Inside the mission to create an army of Greta Thunbergs – video

Chile’s environment minister, Carolina Schmidt, saluted Thunberg’s role in speaking out about the threat of climate breakdown.

“She has been a leader that has been able to move and open hearts for many young people and many people all over the world,” Schmidt said at the summit in Madrid. “We need that tremendous force in order to increase climate action,.”

Thunberg was due to be met in Lisbon by local dignitaries and other activists. Her representatives said they could not confirm when she would travel to the Spanish capital.

SOURCE

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Flight shaming, offsets and electric planes: How aviation is tackling climate change

Air industry knows it has a carbon footprint problem – so what is it doing about it?


Domestic and international aviation accounts for approximately two per cent of global CO2 emissions. (David Gray/Reuters)

Delegates from more than 200 countries will be travelling to Madrid this week to take part in COP25, the UN’s annual climate conference.

The perceived hypocrisy of so many people flying from all corners of the globe to try to tackle the climate crisis has led some to call for an air travel ban for participants.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), domestic and international aviation accounts for approximately two per cent of global CO2 emissions produced by people. It estimates international aviation alone is responsible for 1.3 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

But air travel is only growing. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts 7.8 billion passengers will be flying by 2036, a near doubling of the four billion who flew in 2017.

According to Reuters, a Swedish-born anti-flying movement — perhaps inspired by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg — is creating a whole new vocabulary, from flygskam (which translates as “flight shame”) to tågskryt (“train brag”). The agency reports the movement is spreading to other parts of Europe.

What is the aviation industry doing?

In 2009, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the industry’s trade organization, set out to make the industry more fuel efficient and reduce CO2 emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050.

The plan was built around:

    • The use of more fuel-efficient aircraft and sustainable low-carbon fuels.
    • More efficient aircraft operations — such as reducing on-board weight.
    • Technology and infrastructure improvements, including modernized air traffic management systems, to allow for more direct routes.

In 2016, ICAO airlines (about 290 worldwide) also agreed to the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). CORSIA aims to offset 2.6 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2035, by providing more than $50 billion Cdn for climate projects.

All participating countries will be required to begin offsetting any emission growth from 2019-20 levels starting in 2021. (As a signatory of CORSIA, Canada began monitoring and verifying emissions from international flights on Jan. 1, 2019.)

Do offsets really work?

As CBC News reported earlier this year, the general consensus is that carbon offset programs have improved. But there is still debate about whether they actually work.

The anti argument says they do nothing to actually reduce carbon emissions. The pro argument says if they weren’t tied to carbon offset projects, climate-friendly initiatives such as tree planting or wind and solar energy development would never happen.

The debate around carbon offset projects, such as wind farms, is seen as a controversial response to aviation’s contribution to climate change. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Kathryn Ervine, an associate professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax who has researched carbon offsets, said they are simply a way for airlines and individual travellers to try to appease their guilt, and aren’t beneficial.

Her suggestion? “Go and find a worthwhile green initiative that you know is making an impact and make a financial contribution to it.”

Are individual airlines doing anything?

Many airlines encourage travellers to buy carbon offsets, fly direct (which uses less fuel) and even to pack less (lighter planes use less fuel).

KLM has gone a step further by encouraging potential customers to consider travelling by train instead. It points out some train travel between major European cities is faster than flying.

British Airways recently announced plans to offset its domestic travel beginning next year, after becoming the first airline to commit to net carbon zero flying by 2050. But an investigation by BBC’s Panorama revealed the airline was also using a cost-cutting measure called fuel tankering, in which planes load up with extra fuel to avoid refuelling costs at their destination.
British Airways became the first airline to commit to net carbon zero flying by 2050. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

Panorama reported that carrying that extra fuel meant the airline generated an extra 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide last year. BA said it would review the practice.

Qantas followed BA’s lead on lowering emissions with a pledge to also be a net zero emitter by 2050. Australia’s national carrier has already experimented with flying a plane from Los Angeles to Melbourne using mustard seed biofuel.

“So, we know the technology’s possible,” CEO Alan Joyce told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He said the challenge is doing it commercially, at scale. “That’s why it’ll take some time to get there.”

Other airlines — including Air Canada — have committed to using more sustainable fuels.

An aviation carbon tax

But all of this isn’t enough for some European countries. Transportation is the only European sector currently increasing its emissions, so nine EU countries (the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark and Bulgaria) are calling for the creation of an aviation tax.

In a letter to the EU chief executive of climate, the countries’ finance ministers said an aviation tax where “the polluter pays a fairer price for the use of aviation transport” is necessary to combat climate change.

“Compared to most other means of transportation, aviation is not sufficiently priced,” the letter said. The European Commission has said it plans to respond by the end of December.

A ban on business class?

Jozsef Varadi, the head of Hungarian economy flyer Wizz Air, is calling for a ban on business class for flights under five hours.

It’s not an entirely new idea. The World Bank studied the environmental impact of flying first and business class versus economy in 2013, and found that the higher-paying passengers generated about three per cent more carbon emissions. Why?

First and business class seats on airplanes are bigger, fewer passengers sit in those sections and so the aircraft’s fuel is used to move fewer people.


There have been calls to reduce business and first class travel for environmental reasons. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

Indeed, according to this online carbon calculator, a round trip flight in economy class from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to London Heathrow produces 4.9 tonnes of carbon emissions. The same trip in business class produces 9.5 tonnes.

What’s the future of flying?

In a word: electric.

Companies around the world are working on building all-electric aircraft. One of them is Vancouver-based Harbour Air.

The company’s founder and CEO is getting set to fly a DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver float plane that’s been retrofitted with a 750-horsepower electric motor for the first time Dec. 11. It should be about a 10-minute flight but will add to the growing body of research about electric aviation.

NASA is also playing a big part in that research. Its first all-electric aircraft — the X-57 Maxwell — arrived at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. in early October.

NASA has been involved in the research, development and testing of electric aviation technology for decades. Its goal is not to build the first all-electric commercial airliner — or even a prototype — but to help the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establish standards for electric flight.

“Before electric aircraft start flying everywhere, [the] FAA needs to set certification standards for certain systems,” said Matt Kamlet, senior public affairs specialist for aeronautics. “And our goal with X-57 is to help set those standards.”

That has involved years of designing and redesigning the model, as well as experimenting with different energy sources.

“We needed electric motors which take the electric power and drive the propellers,” said Sean Clarke, principal investigator for the X-57. “We needed motor inverters or controllers that take the DC power that batteries provide and turn it into a rotating power for the motor to use. And then we also needed batteries.”

So the team modified some commercial battery cells — the 18650 cell — and repackaged them with the requirements for aircraft. The whole system weighs about nearly 400 kilograms and provides about 45 minutes of travel.


Technicians work on NASA’s first all-electric plane, the X-57 Maxwell. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Clarke said NASA will be ground testing its electric plane in the next six to eight months and doing its first crewed flight test by the end of next year. The aircraft will be far quieter than current aircraft and in flight, it would be completely carbon-free.

If you think that 45 minutes of carbon-free flight isn’t of much use, Clarke pointed out that the technology will almost certainly benefit large aircraft as well.

“Hybrid aircraft — which could use a lot of the technologies from this vehicle and even batteries to some extent — could make a lot of sense at small scales up to ranges of two or three hundred miles [320 to 480 kilometres] pretty soon.”

So, should COP25 ban delegates from flying to Madrid?

Natalie Jones, a research associate at the Centre for Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, said no.

Given the conference is in Spain, you’d have delegates from European countries who could take the train, maybe delegates from some North African countries who could sail across the Mediterranean and perhaps North American representation, if their delegates could afford a two-week trip by sea across the Atlantic. That would leave those most affected by climate change on the sidelines.

“You’re missing most of Asia, probably. You’re missing most of Africa. You’re missing most of the poorest countries, the small island states in the Pacific. How are they going to send people?”

What about video conferencing? Jones said for many less-developed countries, the technology can be unreliable. Plus, so many key conversations at conferences like COP happen in hallways, in smaller rooms, even the lunch line. So being confined to one video line would be of little use.

Arguably you’ll be locked out of kind of where the … actual power is,” she said. “And so if you’re not there, then your interests are going to get absolutely trampled on.” SOURCE

Goodbye, America: Greta Thunberg to Sail Again After Climate Talks Relocate

Greta Thunberg at a rally in New York on Sept. 20, one of many climate demonstrations around the world that week.
Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

Greta Thunberg is sailing across the Atlantic, again. It’s much sooner than she had planned, but not before she makes her mark in the United States.

Ms. Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, was scheduled to set sail from Hampton, Va., on Wednesday morning. This time, she will hitch a ride with an Australian couple that sails around the world in a 48-foot catamaran called La Vagabonde and chronicles their travels on YouTube.

La Vagabonde will take roughly three weeks to reach Spain, where Ms. Thunberg hopes to arrive in time for the next round of United Nations-sponsored climate talks.

“I decided to sail to highlight the fact that you can’t live sustainably in today’s society,” Ms. Thunberg said by phone from Hampton on Tuesday afternoon. “You have to go to the extreme.”

Ms. Thunberg doesn’t fly because of the outsize greenhouse gas emissions from aviation. And so her trip from Europe to the United States was also by boat — a racing yacht that set off from Plymouth, England, and arrived in New York harbor to much fanfare in August.

Greta Thunberg

So happy to say I’ll hopefully make it to COP25 in Madrid.
I’ve been offered a ride from Virginia on the 48ft catamaran La Vagabonde. Australians @Sailing_LaVaga ,Elayna Carausu & @_NikkiHenderson from England will take me across the Atlantic.
We sail for Europe tomorrow morning!

View image on Twitter

Her slow travel plans needed to be quickly changed. First came a wave of street protests in Santiago. Chile said the climate talks could no longer be held there. Spain offered Madrid as the venue, and Ms. Thunberg found herself suddenly needing another ride across the ocean.

“It turns out I’ve traveled half around the world, the wrong way,” she said on Twitter. “Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November… If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful.”

Help came from Riley Whitelum, an Australian who has been sailing around the world with his wife, Elayna Carausu. “If you get in contact with me, I’m sure we could organize something,” he responded.

In the span of a week, the voyage was organized. Mr. Whitelum and Ms. Carausu will be joined by a British professional sailor, Nikki Henderson, for this voyage. Ms. Thunberg’s father, Svante, will accompany her back across the ocean, as he did on the westward trip.

The couple’s 11-month-old son, Lenny, will also be onboard, meaning that Ms. Thunberg, who is usually the only child in rooms full of powerful adults, will not be the youngest person in the crowd. “Finally,” she said.

Ms. Thunberg’s extraordinary rise stems, in large part, from the fact that she is a child.

She was 15 when she decided she would skip school and sit in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a homemade sign that read, in Swedish, “School Strike for the Climate.” She credits her single-minded focus on climate action to what she calls her superpower: Asperger’s syndrome, a neurological difference on the autism spectrum.

Word spread of her solo act of civil disobedience. It buoyed the efforts of other young environmental activists and inspired hundreds of school strikes. Young people organized with the tool that they best know how to use: the internet, mobilizing by the millions, from Melbourne to Kampala to Bonn to New York City. Their anger, like hers, embodied the frustration of their generation at the incongruously slow pace of action in the face of definitive science.

Ms. Thunberg’s fame has grown in the United States. A collection of her speeches, most of them previously published, has been released in a new anthology by Penguin Press. Her angriest speech, delivered to world leaders at the United Nations in September, has been used in a death-metal remix. The likeness of her face is painted on a mural on the side of a building in San Francisco.

Threats of violence have come at her too, along with attacks aimed at her medical condition.

Perhaps her most famous American encounter was with President Trump in the corridors of the United Nations. He didn’t see her. But she saw him, flashing icy daggers with her eyes. Asked what she was thinking in that moment, Ms. Thunberg said, “It speaks for itself.”

Ms. Thunberg said Tuesday that she hoped La Vagabonde would bring her to Spain safely and on time. After that, she was looking forward to going back home to Stockholm and hugging her two dogs. “Traveling around is very fun and I’m very privileged to have the opportunity to do so, but it would be nice to get back to my routines again,” she said.

Popular uprisings against neoliberalism are spreading around the world

 

Puerto Rico. Hong Kong. Ecuador. Haiti. Lebanon. Iraq. And now, Chile. People are rising up around the world against austerity and corruption, defying police forces unleashed to suppress them. Many of these mass movements share a fierce critique of capitalism. In Santiago, Chile, more than 1 million people flooded the streets last weekend, and mass protests continue. There, the brutal Pinochet dictatorship from 1973-1990, during which thousands of progressive activists and leaders were tortured, disappeared and murdered, was followed by decades of neoliberal policies, with rampant privatization, union busting, stagnant wages and increased costs for education, health care, transportation and other services. Chile, among the richest countries in South America, is also one of the most unequal. At least 20 people have been killed during recent protests there, further angering and emboldening the crowds.

These global protests also occur at a critical inflection point in history, with as few as 10 years remaining for humanity to transition from a fossil fuel economy to one powered by renewable energy. On Wednesday, Chile’s embattled, billionaire president, Sebastian Pinera, abruptly announced that his country was cancelling plans to host two major international summits, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in mid-November, and the United Nations climate summit, the 25th “Conference of the Parties,” or COP25, in the first two weeks of December.

Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s COP25 president-designate, said, “The citizens have expressed in a strong way their legitimate social demands that require the full attention and all efforts from the government.”

Chile’s cancellation of the COP could be a setback for global action on climate. But climate activists should take heart: this renewed spirit of rebellion around the world signifies a rejection of the status quo, and could portend accelerated, grassroots mobilization to avert irreversible, catastrophic climate change.

“Social injustice and the climate crisis have a common root cause,” the Climate Action Network said in a release not long after Chile’s COP cancellation. “Climate justice and solidarity is fundamentally about the protection of human rights and a better quality of life for all.”

The climate crisis touches everyone, first and most forcefully the world’s poor. The mass uprising in Puerto Rico that forced the resignation of governor Ricardo Rossello was the culmination of decades of frustration with Puerto Rico’s colonial status and the more current exploitation by Wall Street vulture funds. But the discontent was fueled by the utter devastation of the back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria two years ago. “The austerity policies that have been implemented have put the people of Puerto Rico in a position of vulnerability. Social inequality has increased to levels that we have never seen here,” Manuel Natal, a member of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, said on the Democracy Now! news hour days before Rossello’s resignation. “We need more democracy, not less democracy. We are on the brink of a political revolution here.” Rossello’s ouster was the first time in U.S. history that a governor was forced from office by popular protest.

Indigenous people are also leading the way, often at the front lines, confronting resource extraction with disciplined, nonviolent resistance. Hundreds of Indigenous and campesino social leaders in Colombia have been murdered in recent years, simply for standing up for justice and environmental protections.

The Paris climate agreement specifically notes the importance of climate justice, and pledges to work “in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.” One of the enduring conflicts that has hampered international climate negotiations has been the refusal by wealthy nations, principally the United States, to accept the simple premise that “polluters pay.” The U.S. is the wealthiest nation in human history because, in part, it has polluted its way to the top, using cheap, dirty power: coal-fired power plants, diesel locomotives and now, so-called clean-burning fracked gas.

The Green Climate Fund was supposed to raise billions of dollars to finance renewable projects in poorer countries. The fund’s pledging conference last week fell short of its goal, primarily because the Trump administration reneged on the U.S.’s $2-billion commitment. Australia and Russia followed suit, refusing to make contributions.

A new study by Climate Central, a news and science organization, shows that climate-induced coastal flooding will likely be far worse than previously predicted, forcing between 200 to 600 million people, rich and poor, to flee their homes later in the century. Climate change-fuelled wildfires are now raging across California, with hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from their homes and at least 1 million people without power.

Popular uprisings are also spreading like wildfire, though, against corrupt autocratic leaders, austerity and inequality. People are also flooding the streets, globally, linking the movements against inequality with the fight for a just, sustainable world powered by renewable energy. SOURCE

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