Fridays for Future launches weekly Talks for Future

Journalist, activist Naomi Klein, senior WHO official Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum to speak at climate movement’s first webinar

Fridays for Future launches weekly Talks for Future

Global climate protest group Fridays for Future launched a weekly Talks for Future initiative bringing the movement from the streets to the internet due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

“Starting this Friday the movement will hold weekly webinars and discussion rounds with scientists, journalists, and activists as well as other international high-level experts,” climate advocate group 350 said in a statement on Tuesday.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Fridays for Future has postponed all mass gatherings and called for a “climate strike online, a strike from home and on the Internet.”

“We’re taking this education in our own hands with our new project #TalksForFuture, so that even in these coming weeks, where we are flooded with news about the coronavirus, we won’t forget about the climate crisis,” Ariadne Papatheodorou, a 16-year old climate activist from Greece, said in the statement.

Journalist and activist Naomi Klein and Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, climate change and health team leader of the World Health Organization, will be this Friday’s guests in the webinar to be streamed live at 2 p.m. GMT on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Like many economic, sports and cultural events, climate demonstrations have been affected by COVID-19 outbreak but have not stopped all demonstrations.

Groups such as Extinction Rebellions, Fridays for Future and 350 urged protesters to prevent mass gatherings and continue with digital activism.

The movement led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg quickly became a global phenomenon and has sought to bring world governments into full compliance with the 2015 Paris climate accord. SOURCE


Supreme Court of the Netherlands, Urgenda

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled that the Dutch government must do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The judgment is final. Photo credit: urgenda / YouTube

Can ordinary citizens use the courts to force their leaders to fight climate change? In the most revolutionary climate ruling to date, the Supreme Court of The Netherlands delivered an emphatic “yes” on December 20, upholding a court order forcing the Dutch government to cut national carbon emissions.

In the wake of the decision, a group of children and young people in the US is hoping to gain traction in a similar legal battle (Juliana v. United States) as they claim the right to live in the same climate as previous generations.

Some 886 Dutch citizens — supported by the environmental group Urgenda — started their court battle against the government with a 2013 court summons for “knowingly contributing” to global warming and endangering their lives. They won their case, Urgenda v. the State of The Netherlandsin 2015. . Between 2015 and 2019, while the Dutch government tried to have a higher court overturn the landmark Urgenda ruling, global emissions of CO2 grew by 20 percent. They were the five hottest years ever recorded.

The 2015 Urgenda decision cited the scientific consensus on global warming and ordered the Dutch government to cut carbon emissions by at least 25 percent (below 1990 levels). It was based on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendation of a 25-40 percent reduction by developed countries to avoid a critical 2°C rise in global temperatures.

In upholding the unprecedented decision, the Dutch Supreme Court said its judgement was based on the universal duty to refrain from doing harm (Tort law), the European Convention on Human Rights — Articles 2 and 8, the right to life and the right to respect for private and family life — and the UN Climate Convention. The ruling that people have a fundamental right to protection from climate change victory could resonate profoundly in lawsuits over carbon emissions in many other countries.

Having exhausted all appeals, the Dutch government is expected to struggle to meet the emissions deadline. It has already closed one of the nation’s five coal-fired power plants and launched new subsidies for renewable energy. It will reduce the speed limit on highways from 130 kph (80 mph) to 100 kph (62 mph).

Time to Panic

Roger Cox, the attorney who represented Urgenda in its initial proceeding against the Dutch government in 2013, told WhoWhatWhy he believes the courts are our last chance because everything else has failed. The Netherlands is one of at least 28 countries where lawsuits seek to hold either governments — or fossil fuel companies — accountable for the effects of climate change.

In the absence of laws and policies to reduce carbon emissions, climate scientists are bluntly saying it’s time to panic.

“I hope this win, from a legal perspective, will create leverage in other cases around the world, not only in cases against countries’ governments but also oil majors,” said Cox, who is now leading a Friends of the Earth’s case against Shell Oil.

Ironically, the fact that a quarter of The Netherlands is below sea level does not seem to have  played an important role in the Dutch court’s deliberations.

According to Cox, the decision “is more about the global effects, and sea level rise is only one of them, along with the destruction of whole ecosystems, the melting of glaciers and the danger to food supply from extreme weather events. I think what worries the courts and our judges is the danger of tipping points that will irreversibly create dangers we can do nothing about anymore. The danger is there if we don’t reduce emissions ambitiously enough.”

In the absence of laws and policies to reduce carbon emissions, climate scientists are bluntly warning that it is time to panic. The latest United Nations climate report calls for “radical transformations” because planet-warming emissions, if not cut radically over the next decade (7.6 percent per year, something no country has ever achieved), will cause mass extinctions and make parts of the planet uninhabitable. If a serious effort had begun in 2010, it says, the cuts required to keep global warming below 2°C and 1.5°C, respectively,  would only have been 0.7 and 3.3 percent per year.

So far, commitments from states to cut carbon emissions have come in the form of international treaties, leading to decades of broken promises. The international community agreed, in the 2015 Paris climate accord, to hold global warming to “well below” 2°C (3.6°F) compared with pre-industrial levels. But the current rate of warming will raise the earth’s temperature by almost twice as much.

The Dutch Supreme Court shocker comes on the heels of failed negotiations on collective climate action at the latest UN Climate Summit (COP 25) in Madrid.

“The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,” said UN secretary general António Guterrez. “It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

He admitted that, after 25-plus years of negotiations, world leaders still do not have the “political will” to stop climate chaos.

Mike Bloomberg, COP 25

Michael Bloomberg at the failed UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid. Photo credit: Mike Bloomberg / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A Legal Youthquake

The mass resistance by young people against government-sanctioned climate change that took off last year caught the world by surprise. A global wave of school strikes culminated in the largest youth-led demonstrations in history during the week of September 20-27. Millions of people took to the streets in 150 countries. But it is as if “nothing has happened,” according to teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. “The crisis is still being ignored by those in power.”

With Thunberg, practically unknown last year, making the cover of Time magazine — the youngest Time “person of the year” ever — and the emergence of groups like Fridays for Future, the Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion Youth, Zero Hour and Youth v Apocalypse, climate change suddenly seems to be about intergenerational conflict.

But young people around the world have been confronting their governments for several years now — in court. Many of them were inspired by the landmark Urgenda case and/or Juliana v. United States, a federal lawsuit filed in 2015 in Eugene, Oregon, by a non-profit specializing in climate litigation, Our Children’s Trust. The 21 young plaintiffs, aged 8 to 19 at the time, are often referred to as the “climate kids.”  MORE

Greta Thunberg declines $67,000 environmental award, criticizes Nordic posturing

‘The Nordic countries have a great reputation when it comes to climate and environmental issues. There is no lack of bragging about this’

Greta Thunberg, renowned for her work inspiring a global movement for climate change, declined an environmental award by the Nordic Council. GRETA THUNBERG/INSTAGRAM

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg refused to accept a Swedish environmental award, saying that the Nordic countries do not suffer from “a lack of bragging” about their reputation despite doing “basically” nothing.

In an Instagram post Tuesday, Thunberg wrote that she had received the Nordic Council 2019 environmental award of 500,000 kronor — which roughly translates to a little more than $67,000.

“I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honour,” she wrote. “But the climate movement does not need any more awards.”

Thunberg went on to call out the Nordic countries for “basically do(ing) nothing” despite having the “possibility to do the most.”

“The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues. There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words,” she continued. “But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita … it’s a whole other story.”

She cited the Johan Sverdup oil field in the North Sea as an example of how Nordic Countries flout the warnings of climate change. “The gap between what the science says …. (and) the politics that run the Nordic countries is gigantic. And there are still no signs whatsoever of the changes required.”

Thunberg was also not present at the Stockholm ceremony held by the Nordic Council —  which encourages co-operation between parliaments in countries including Denmark, Finland and Sweden — due to travelling in California for the Youth Climate Strike in Los Angeles. Two fellow climate activists, Sofia and Isabella Axelsson spoke in her place at the ceremony on Tuesday and read a statement from the Thunberg, saying “what we need is for our rulers and politicians to listen to the research.”

According to their website, the organization had nominated Thunberg “for breathing new life into the debate surrounding the environment and climate at a critical moment in world history,” citing her efforts to inspire global action through FridaysForFuture, a movement she started in August 2018.

The council confirmed she did not accept the award in a news release.

“The prize was presented by Swedish environmental activist Noura Berrouba to Isabelle Axelsson and Sophia Axelsson of Fridays For Future, representing Greta at the awards ceremony which was broadcast live from the Stockhold Concert on Tuesday evening. Together they passed on Greta’s message, which included the statement that the environment doesn’t need any more prizes,” the news release said.

View this post on Instagram

I have received the Nordic Council’s environmental award 2019. I have decided to decline this prize. Here’s why: “I am currently traveling through California and therefore not able to be present with you today. I want to thank the Nordic Council for this award. It is a huge honour. But the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science. The Nordic countries have a great reputation around the world when it comes to climate and environmental issues. There is no lack of bragging about this. There is no lack of beautiful words. But when it comes to our actual emissions and our ecological footprints per capita – if we include our consumption, our imports as well as aviation and shipping – then it’s a whole other story. In Sweden we live as if we had about 4 planets according to WWF and Global Footprint Network. And roughly the same goes for the entire Nordic region. In Norway for instance, the government recently gave a record number of permits to look for new oil and gas. The newly opened oil and natural gas-field, ”Johan Sverdrup” is expected to produce oil and natural gas for 50 years; oil and gas that would generate global CO2 emissions of 1,3 billion tonnes. The gap between what the science says is needed to limit the increase of global temperature rise to below 1,5 or even 2 degrees – and politics that run the Nordic countries is gigantic. And there are still no signs whatsoever of the changes required. The Paris Agreement, which all of the Nordic countries have signed, is based on the aspect of equity, which means that richer countries must lead the way. We belong to the countries that have the possibility to do the most. And yet our countries still basically do nothing. So until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise below 1,5 degrees or even 2 degrees celsius, I – and Fridays For Future in Sweden – choose not to accept the Nordic Councils environmental award nor the prize money of 500 000 Swedish kronor. Best wishes Greta Thunberg”

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on



Major German union urges members to join climate protests

Greta Thunberg
In this photo taken on Friday, July 26, 2019, Greta Thunberg stands next to Swedish parliament in Stockholm. Thunberg, the Swedish teenager whose social media-savvy brand of eco-activism has inspired tens of thousands of students in Europe to skip classes and protest for faster action against climate change, said Monday, July 29, 2019 that she plans to take her message to America the old-fashioned way: by boat. (AP Photo/David Keyton)

One of Germany’s largest unions is calling on its members to join a worldwide protest calling for action on climate change next month.

Verdi head Frank Bsirske told the WAZ newspaper on Monday he was calling on the union’s 2 million members to take part in the Sept. 20 protest that’s being organized by the group “Fridays for Future.”

The group, which was inspired by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, has attracted thousands to its weekly protests in cities across Europe and elsewhere in the world over the past year.

Many are students who skip school to join the protests.

Bsirske says he’s not calling for union members to walk off work but to join in after their shifts are done.  SOURCE

Can the climate justice movement ground the fighter jets celebrated at air shows?

CF-18 flyover in Toronto. Photo: synestheticstrings/Wikimedia Commons

It’s air show season again.

A number of them are coming up soon: the Abbotsford International Airshow August 9 to 11; the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto August 31 to September 2; the Aero Gatineau-Ottawa Air Show September 6 to 8; and the Peterborough Air Show September 21 to 22.

All of them feature military aircraft.

Notably, the CBC reports, “The U.S. Air Force F-35 demonstration team will visit Ottawa in September on the eve of this fall’s federal election — just as the competition to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s starts heating up.”

“The stealth fighter is one of four warplanes in the $19-billion contest, which was formally launched with a request for proposals by the Liberal government on July 23,” the article adds.

The $19 billion that is to be spent on 88 jet fighters that burn copious amounts of fuel each second they are in flight is another waste of billions of dollars on top of the $4.5 billion spent on purchasing the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline (and the billions more it will take to expand that pipeline).

The Leap Manifesto calls for “cuts to military spending.”

The U.K.-based Campaign Against Arms Trade has an “arms to renewables” campaign that says money now spent on subsidizing the arms industry would be better spent on renewables and that in turn would be better for workers, the economy and world peace.

And Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies, has argued that a Green New Deal needs to fight U.S. militarism. She cautions, “Wars and the military render impossible the aspirations contained in the Green New Deal.”

People have protested against air shows as a symbol of militarism for years.

In September 2010, a Toronto Star headline read: Protesters want “outdated” air show grounded. That article noted the critique of the “antiquated event” highlighted that the air show “pollutes the environment, disturbs residents and promotes symbols of militarism.”

In a 2016 opinion piece in the same newspaper, Craig Damian Smith commented, “in a city with a large population of refugee newcomers and people who have experienced the trauma of war it is insulting, invasive, and violent.”

“In Toronto, people affected by war are not an insignificant minority. This includes newcomers who aren’t refugees, Canadians, and family members struggling with inter-generational trauma,” he wrote.

It is my hope that Extinction Rebellion, Our Time, Fridays for Future and other climate justice groups will also see the need to challenge air shows as relics that serve to promote the militarism that accelerates climate breakdown and misdirects public funds away from the priority of building a green economy. MORE

As Systems Collapse, People Rise: Seven Faces of an Emerging Global Movement

clockwise, from top left: Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg, Fridays for Future, Sunrise movement

There is a new global movement awakening across the planet. The Fridays For Future (FFF) movement inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has brought millions of high school students to the streets this year. The grassroots Extinction Rebellion (XR) founded in the UK last year aims to mobilize non-violent climate action worldwide. And in the United States, Sunrise, a youth-led movement that advocates political action on climate change, teamed up with U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) and effectively changed the conversation by proposing the Green New Deal. With the partial exception of Sunrise, most of these movements and their events have largely been ignored by the U.S. media. More important, hardly any of the reporting explicitly acknowledges these movements as expressions of a larger shift in consciousness globally, in particular among young people.

The emerging wave of youth movements in 2019 differs from the 1968 student movement in a variety of ways. One, the key figures are young women, not young men. Two, they are arguing for a change in consciousness, not just for a change in ideology. Three, they are intentionally collaborating with earlier generations, not just fighting against them. And four, they are using technology in intentional and new ways. In this column, I describe seven “faces” or aspects of this shift in global awareness and the youth-led movement that is taking shape now.

1. The Decline of the Far Right

The recent election of the EU parliament, which is the only directly elected supranational body in the world, was remarkable in a number of ways. In comparison with the 2014 election, voter turnout was up by a significant margin (following a steady drop over the previous two decades), and the widely anticipated success of the far-right parties in Europe was a no-show. All the far-right parties could muster was a 5% increase, from 20% to 25% of the votes. To be sure, 25% is still a lot. But it’s much less than projected in almost every country, including Hungary (where Viktor Orban failed to reach his declared objective of a two-thirds majority), and France (where Marine Le Pen won, but did not exceed a percentage in the low 20s). In Germany the AfD didn’t even manage to surpass 10%, remaining in the single digits in western Germany, though up significantly in the former East Germany — a region that has seen almost 60 years of totalitarian regimes since 1933.

2. The Rise of the Greens in Europe

However, the main story of the EU election revolves around something different: the rise of the Green Party. In Germany, the Greens took almost 21% overall. Among young voters in Germany, the Greens — the only party that clearly positions itself pro climate action, pro immigration, pro social justice, pro EU— are now by far the most popular party. Even among voters under age 60, the Green Party ranks first (but with a smaller margin than among the under-30 voters). Even though the Greens remain weak in Eastern and Southern Europe, they gained strength across the board in Western and Northern Europe (e.g., in France to 13.5%) and in Europe overall. MORE