Greta Thunberg … ‘I have always been that girl in the back who doesn’t say anything.’ Photograph: Michael Campanella/The Guardian
Greta Thunberg cut a frail and lonely figure when she started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish parliament building last August. Her parents tried to dissuade her. Classmates declined to join. Passersby expressed pity and bemusement at the sight of the then unknown 15-year-old sitting on the cobblestones with a hand-painted banner.
Eight months on, the picture could not be more different. The pigtailed teenager is feted across the world as a model of determination, inspiration and positive action. National presidents and corporate executives line up to be criticised by her, face to face. Her skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for climate) banner has been translated into dozens of languages. And, most striking of all, the loner is now anything but alone.
On March 15, when she returns to the cobblestones (as she has done almost every Friday in rain, sun, ice and snow), it will be as a figurehead for a vast and growing movement. The global climate strike this Friday is gearing up to be one of the biggest environmental protests the world has ever seen. As it approaches, Thunberg is clearly excited.
“It’s amazing,” she says. “It’s more than 71 countries and more than 700 places, and counting. It’s increasing very much now, and that’s very, very fun.” MORE
But not everyone supports the campaign. Like Andreas Scheuer of Germany’s conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) party, who said on Wednesday that “we do not want kids playing hooky from school.”
Some parents, however, have now come out in support of the youngsters. One of them is Thomas Stegh, a father of four who lives near the western German city of Cologne. He helped create the Parents of Future initiative (link in German).
“We support our kids and their demands, and explicitly support school strikes,” he says.
Both the young and the older activists have a simple demand: They want global leaders to honor the Paris Climate Accord, which was agreed in 2015 by 196 countries in an effort to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. So far, the commitments made by individual countries leave much to desire,making this goal seem ever remoter. That is why the protesters are urging the world’s governments to deliver on their promises. MORE
Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investor-led venture fund backed by some of the world’s top business executives, has invested in Baseload Capital, the private investment company which Climeon owns part of, to speed up the global deployment of low temperature geothermal heat power.
– Working together with Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Baseload Capital we can now take leaps, rather than steps, toward our vision of becoming the number one climate solver, says Thomas Öström, CEO of Climeon.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures is an investor-led fund created to accelerate the transition to clean energy. The team funds cutting-edge companies with the potential to eliminate a half gigaton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year and invests across five grand challenges: electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing and buildings. These are the broad areas of activity that contribute most to GHG emissions. The Fund’s investment team has identified low temperature geothermal heat power as one of the most significant opportunities available to address GHG emissions in the production of electricity.
– Geothermal energy from low temperatures has the potential to transform the energy landscape. We believe that the combination of Baseload’s implementation expertise and Climeon’s Heat Power technology has the ability to unlock the large potential of low temperature geothermal resources and result in the deployment of significant quantities of renewable electricity, says Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures. MORE
The steel mills on the Hamilton waterfront harbour are shown in Hamilton, Ont., on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. Canada’s push to be a world leader in the fight against climate change may be hampered by its distinction for producing the most greenhouse gas emissions per person among the world’s 20 largest economies. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has come up with a new way to meet Canada’s greenhouse gas emission targets under the Paris climate accord.
Except it doesn’t reduce emissions. It’s an accounting trick.
Since there’s no way we can meet our looming target for 2030 that Trudeau agreed to when he signed the 2015 Paris climate deal — lowering Canada’s emissions to 30% below 2005 levels — the Liberals have started moving the goalposts closer to the target.
But it has nothing to do with what we’ve been told is the real problem — industrial emissions from man-made activities when burning fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) for energy.
Canada’s emissions in 2016 were 704 megatonnes, the last year for which figures are available, while Trudeau’s commitment under the Paris deal for 2030 works out to 512 megatonnes annually, or 192 megatonnes less. MORE
The Plan outlines the government’s commitment to addressing climate change through the protection of land, air, water, and reduction of waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Posted by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Plan would increase ethanol use in gasoline by 15 percent in 2025, increase the use of renewable gas and fuels, establish emission performance standards for large emitters, and provide financial assistance for emissions reduction initiatives.
Pleased with the Ontario Government’s proposal to increase the ethanol content of gasoline, Growth Energy and USGC highlight the “tremendous benefits to the public” MORE
Campaigners accused the government of ignoring the “elephant in the room” and investing in new roads at the expense of the nation’s future climate targets.
With more and more electricity coming from renewable sources, transport is now firmly established as the biggest polluter, responsible for over a quarter of the UK’s emissions.
“We could be starting the kind of decline on transport emissions as we’ve done with power but instead both the government and the car industry are idling on the issue.”
Overall the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 42 per cent since 1990, with a 3 per cent drop between 2016 and 2017, the most recent period for which figures are available. However, while most sectors have seen considerable declines of up to two-thirds in the past three decades, transport pollution has fallen by just 2 per cent. MORE
Last year, the U.S.’s carbon-dioxide emissions increased by an estimated 3.4 per cent, the second-largest gain in the past two decades. Photograph by Fernando Moleres / Panos Pictures / Redux
In 1974, the economist William Nordhaus described the transition from a “cowboy economy” to a “spaceship economy.” In the former, he wrote, “we could afford to use our resources profligately,” and “the environment could be used as a sink without becoming fouled.” But, in the spaceship economy, “great attention must be paid to the sources of life and to the dumps where our refuse is piled.” He added, “Things which have traditionally been treated as free goods—air, water, quiet, natural beauty—must now be treated with the same care as other scarce goods.”
“It’s absolutely the case that emissions and growth can be decoupled,” Marshall Burke, an assistant professor in Stanford University’s Department of Earth System Science, told me.
“But the switch to nuclear and renewables needs to happen more rapidly. “It takes policy. It won’t happen through markets alone.”
As a small but growing coalition of congressional Democrats, led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have outlined as part of their Green New Deal, transforming the energy sector—and, really, the entire economy, in a just and more equitable way—will require some sort of carbon tax (preferably a “fee and dividend” approach, which distributes tax revenues as rebates directly to citizens), and also new regulations and huge investments. “We can decarbonize the electric sector at a fairly low cost….That’s where some of the cheapest emissions reductions are to be found. Extensive government subsidies could hasten the spread of renewables—specifically, solar, wind, and batteries—and offset any rise in emissions elsewhere….There are ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels in heating; utilities, for instance, can create incentive programs so that homeowners have a motivation to replace their boilers with electric heat pumps. MORE
‘At partisan times like these that we must remind ourselves that when it comes to climate policy—like climate science—we can choose what we listen to and broadcast: evidence and expertise or political soundbites.’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with B.C. Premier John Horgan in Vancouver in 2017. PMO Photo by Adam Scotti.
As one factually dubious claim after the other continues to make headlines, an entire decade of real-world evidence from B.C. is sitting on the shelf collecting dust.
And so it is at partisan times like these that we must remind ourselves that when it comes to climate policy — like climate science — we can choose what we listen to and broadcast: evidence and expertise or political sound bites.
Because there is independent research, and plenty of it. There’s the research that found that B.C.’s revenue-neutral carbon tax has cut emissions by 5 to 15 per cent from what they would be otherwise. There’s also the research that says B.C.’s tax demonstrably reduced gasoline demand as well as natural gas use — and actually increased employment. MORE
This article by Barry Saxifrage in today’s National Observer shows conclusively that the Trudeau climate plan is a sham with not a hope in hell of meeting our climate responsibilities under the 2030 Paris Agreement.
The Trudeau game plan for the next election seems to be to talk about his government’s economic performance all the while never mentioning that our economic ‘success’ is built on criminal ecocide and, ultimately, a betrayal of our children’s future. This isn’t leadership. This is betrayal.
A battery-powered Nissan Leaf sits on display in Victoria, B.C. on Nov. 20, 2018 as B.C. Premier John Horgan announces the province’s plan to introduce a zero-emission vehicle mandate. B.C. Government Photo
Talks between the federal and provincial governments appear to have sputtered on launching a national electric vehicle strategy.
A joint agreement addressing vehicle electrification is expected to be unveiled Monday when transport and highway safety ministers meet in Montreal for their annual meeting.
Transportation accounts for roughly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, and the federal climate plan calls for expanding the number of zero-emission vehicles on the roads. Yet, while plug-in electric sales in 2018 more than doubled from 2017, they still only represent 2.2 per cent of all new cars sold.
Sources say Ottawa wants to put something aggressive on the table. That could take the form of an electric vehicle (EV) sales mandate requiring a percentage of sales to be vehicles that don’t emit carbon pollution linked to climate change, or rebates that help lessen the burden of new EV costs for Canadians. MORE