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Pope Calls for Swift Actions to Save the Planet from Environmental Ruin

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“The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophe”.
Pope Francis, June 18, 2015

In his long-awaited encyclical on the environment and climate change publicly released last week, Pope Francis called for swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin, urging world leaders to hear “the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.” He called for a change of lifestyle in rich countries steeped in a “throwaway” consumer culture, and an end to “obstructionist attitudes” that sometimes put profit before the common good. Pope Francis said protecting the planet is a moral and ethical “imperative” for believers and nonbelievers alike that should supersede political and economic interests.

A major theme of the encyclical is the disparity between rich and poor. “We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their supposed superiority and leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, would destroy the planet,” he said.

“Our house is going to ruin, and that harms everyone, especially the poorest. Mine is therefore an appeal for responsibility, based on the task that God has given to man in creation: “till and keep the garden” in which he was placed. I invite everyone to accept with open hearts this document, which follows the church’s social doctrine”, the pope said.

In a transcript of the pope’s encyclical on the DemocracyNow.org website, Pope Francis said protecting the planet is a moral and ethical imperative, for believers and nonbelievers alike, that should supersede political and economic interests. He also dismissed those who argue that technology will solve all environmental problems and that global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.

A major theme of the encyclical is the disparity between rich and poor. “We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their supposed superiority and leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, we destroy the planet.”

Climate change is already happening, and its effects have already been disastrous on the poorest countries and the poorest people, who don’t have the means to defend themselves from it. They are also part of the human population who have the least responsibility for what is happening, being that they consume less fossil fuels.

Author Naomi Klein said on Democracy Now Thursday that “this encyclical, we can’t overstate the importance of it, the impact that it will have. It’s hard to respond to a document that runs close to 200 pages, when it was just released in non-draft form a few hours ago. We’re all still digesting it, Amy. But it is very clear that a door has just been opened, and a gust of wind is blowing through, where it is now possible to say some very powerful truths about the real implications of climate change, really the root causes.”

“And I think a lot of the discussion about the encyclical in the U.S. media cycle has focused and will continue to focus on the impact on Republicans and on climate deniers, many of whom are Catholic. And it is certainly a challenge to that demographic in the United States, because the pope is coming out so clearly on the side of climate science in saying this is real and this is happening. But I think that it’s too easy to say that this is just a challenge to Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush. Frankly, it is also a challenge to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and to large parts of the green movement, because it is a rebuke of slow action. It very specifically says that climate denial is not just about denying the science, it’s also about denying the urgency of the science. The document is very strong in condemning delays, half-measures, so-called market solutions. It very specifically criticizes carbon markets, the carbon offsetting, as an inadequate measure that will encourage speculation and rampant consumption.

“And I think probably the most significant part of it, the big picture, is the foregrounding of the culture of frenetic consumption in the wealthy world and among the wealthy. And this is really significant, because I think large parts of the climate change discussion tries to have it all ways and say, “No, we’ll just have green growth. We’ll just have—we’ll consume green products.” And, you know, this goes a lot deeper than that and says, no, we need to get at the underlying values that are feeding this culture of frenetic consumption that is entirely unsustainable.”

In the encyclical, the pope states that: “In a corrupt culture, we can’t believe that laws will be enough to change behaviors that affect the environment.” Naomi Kline responds: Well, I think, when he’s referring to corruption, I believe he’s referring to the influence of polluting companies, of multinational corporations, which he also goes after in the encyclical. And I think this is one of the most significant things about the document. One might expect of a religious document about climate change to erase difference, right? to say, “Well, we’re all in this together,” and certainly it talks about the Earth as our common home. But it also recognizes explicitly the power dynamics in capitalism, which is to say that there are forces within the system that are actively working against change. And that is probably what he’s referring to when he’s talking about how there may be laws, but the laws aren’t enforced. And, you know, indeed the laws are also inadequate, which is also addressed in the document, and it has some very specific calls for another level of environmental law, which is a part of the document that I haven’t been able to look at, you know, closely enough.

And another thing I have to say is, you know, I am—I have accepted this invitation to speak at a conference which is about digging more deeply into the document, because there’s an understanding that it does take time to digest a document of this length, this multilayered, and it requires that kind of deeper analysis. And I think that this intervention, five months ahead of U.N. climate conference in Paris, is tremendously significant. It’s going to push political leaders to go further. It’s going to be a tool for social movements.

A lot of the language of the climate justice movement has just been adopted by the pope—I mean, even of phrases like “ecological debt.” The pope is talking about the debt that the wealthy world owes to the poor. I mean, this is a framing that comes originally from Ecuador, from the movement against drilling in the Amazon. And, you know, this is a phrase that was never heard in mainstream circles until just now, actually. I mean, I’ve never seen such a mainstream use of that term.

So, it is very important in that way. But, I mean, I have to say, on a personal level, that as thrilled as I am that the Vatican is leading in this way and that this pope is leading in this way and bringing together the fight against poverty with the fight to act on climate change, that doesn’t mean that there’s a complete merger between the climate justice movement and the Vatican here. I mean, obviously there are huge differences that remain over issues like marriage equality, reproductive rights and freedom, to name just a few.”

Nathan Schneider, columnist with the Catholic weekly, America, who has been covering Catholic engagement with climate change, talks about what the encyclical means for the Catholic community and the number of languages it’s been released in and how large the document is: “Well, this is really the first Third World encyclical. You know, this is coming from a pope who was shaped in really significant ways by economic crises during the Cold War in Argentina and being in the middle of a battleground between the First and Second World powers. It was drafted by a cardinal from Ghana. So this is coming from the side of the world that we don’t normally hear from. And it’s very much in line with things that popes have been saying for decades, you know, going back to Paul VI, then John Paul II, Benedict XVI. So, a lot of the content is actually not so new for Catholics, but the emphasis and that—the language of climate debt, the language—the recognition that there is a divide here between the rich countries and the poor. And this is a cry from the developing world, from what has been labeled the Third World, for change.”

“The pope is calling here for us to change how we live, how we—what we do with our resources. You know, this is not just moving from one kind of consumerism to another. This is a kind of spiritual renewal and also a material renewal, that—in which we turn ourselves toward an economy that’s sustainable, that’s life-giving, both for humanity and the rest of the world.”

Source: Democracynow.org

Saint Francis of Assisi

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Pope Francis is expected to take a provocative stance on global climate change Thursday, releasing an encyclical — a teaching letter addressed to Catholic bishops — that not only affirms the reality of man-made warming but issues a moral call for changes in lifestyle, consumption and policy to stave off environmental disaster.

The pope appears to have chosen the name “Francis” – after Saint Francis of Assisi – for good reason: Saint Francis of Assisi is not only known as the patron saint of animals and the environment; he also changed his own lifestyle from a life of wealth and over consumption to a life of bare subsistence in service of the poor.

His father was Pietro di Bernardone, a prosperous silk merchant. Francis lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier for Assisi. While going off to war in 1204, Francis had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the poor in begging at St. Peter’s Basilica. The experience moved him to live in poverty.Francis returned home, began preaching on the streets, and soon gathered followers.

Francis preached the teaching of the Catholic Church, that the world was created good and beautiful by God but suffers a need for redemption because of the primordial sin of man. He preached to man and beast the universal ability and duty of all creatures to praise God (a common theme in the Psalms) and the duty of men to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God’s creation and as creatures ourselves. On November 29, 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis the Patron Saint of Ecology. Many of the stories that surround the life of St. Francis say that he had a great love for animals and the environment.

Perhaps the most famous incident that illustrates the Saint’s humility towards nature is recounted in the “Fioretti” (“Little Flowers”), a collection of legends and folklore that sprang up after the Saint’s death. It is said that, one day, while Francis was travelling with some companions, they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to “wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds.” The birds surrounded him, intrigued by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. He is often portrayed with a bird, typically in his hand.

Another legend from the Fioretti tells that in the city of Gubbio, where Francis lived for some time, was a wolf “terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals.” Francis had compassion upon the townsfolk, and so he went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon, fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, though the saint pressed on. When he found the wolf, he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one. Miraculously the wolf closed his jaws and lay down at the feet of St. Francis.

“Brother Wolf, you do much harm in these parts and you have done great evil,” said Francis. “All these people accuse you and curse you…But brother wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people.” Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had “done evil out of hunger, the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly. In return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator. Francis even made a pact on behalf of the town dogs, that they would not bother the wolf again. Finally, to show the townspeople that they would not be harmed, Francis blessed the wolf.

Then during the World Environment Day 1982, John Paul II said that St. Francis’ love and care for creation was a challenge for contemporary Catholics and a reminder “not to behave like dissident predators where nature is concerned, but to assume responsibility for it, taking all care so that everything stays healthy and integrated, so as to offer a welcoming and friendly environment even to those who succeed us.” The same Pope wrote on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 1990, the saint of Assisi “offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation…” He went on to make the point that: “As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.”

Pope John Paul II concluded that section of the document with these words, “It is my hope that the inspiration of Saint Francis will help us to keep ever alive a sense of ‘fraternity’ with all those good and beautiful things which Almighty God has created.”

Juneteenth Day Celebration in Madison this Weekend

June 19, 2015, will mark the 150 Anniversary of Juneteenth Day Celebration in American History. The weekend’s activities begin Friday, June 19, 2015 with a Praise Celebration at Fountain of Life Church, 633 W Badger Rd, Madison, at 7:00 pm, featuring Marquis Hunt, renowned saxophonist and psalmist.

Saturday’s Celebration will kick-off with the Fifteenth Annual Parade at 11:00 am. (Expo Way–at Willow Park–to John Nolen – Olin Turville Pkwy) and the outdoor festivities will follow at Olin Turville Park, starting at Noon on June 20, 2015.

Juneteenth is the one event that is totally dedicated to the African American experience here in Madison and across the nation. We are aware of the challenges that impact African Americans living in Madison and Dane County but adversity is not new to African American community. For it was in the midst of slavery that our American experience was formed; while plowing fields and picking cotton “soul music” was born as an outward expression of hope in the midst of despair. It is the freedom from what physically binds us that is celebrated every Juneteenth Day. In 1865, it was slavery and today it is racial disparity.

Celebrate Black Lives at Juneteenth

‘Green The Church’ Seeks To Mobilize Black Churches On Climate Change

Van Jones

Van Jones, founder of Green for All, is one of the leaders of a new effort to help organize black churches for action on climate change. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Leaders of the “Green The Church” movement launched a new effort this week to help 1,000 African-American congregations take action on climate change.

Green The Church, its organizers said, “aims to bring the benefits of sustainability directly to black communities.” It includes a partnership between Green For All, the California-based environment and social justice organization, and the U.S. Green Building Council, which will work with churches on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. It also seeks to “tap into the power of the African-American church as a moral leader and a force for social change,” through education and outreach to millions of black church-goers across the country.

“The black church has always joined hands with other faith traditions and stood on the front lines, as they did on ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Selma 50 years ago,” the Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll, a California-based pastor who founded Green The Church, said in a call with reporters Thursday. “So they must with climate change.”

Carroll said a lot of progress, such as efficiency retrofits and urban farming initiatives, can be made at the churches themselves. “We may not own a lot of real estate, but we do own church buildings,” he said.

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, the senior pastor at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, said his church has already purchased 27 acres of land on which to build a new urban farm, housing, and health, education, and wellness centers. “It will be green from the ground up,” he said, adding that they want to promote the message that it’s “not only, ‘Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud,’ but, ‘Say it loud, I’m green and I’m proud.'”

Green For All said it found in recent polling that three-quarters of minority voters expressed an interest in climate change and wanted to know more about it. Sixty-eight percent said they thought climate change threatens their communities.

“We get hit first and worst by everything negative in the pollution-based economy,” said Van Jones, the founder of Green For All and a current CNN contributor. Green The Church will advocate for “equal protection from the worst, and access to the best.”

By: kate.sheppard@huffingtonpost.com

Pope Speaks Out Against Global Warming

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NBC News reports that Pope Francis is convinced that global warming is “mostly” man-made and that he hopes his upcoming encyclical on the environment will encourage negotiators at a climate change meeting in Paris to make “courageous” decisions to protect God’s creation. He explained the basis for his conclusion while en route to the Philippine Islands, where he is meeting this weekend with survivors of the 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan, which the government has said was an example of the extreme weather conditions that global warming has wrought. Pope Francis, who has spoken out often about the “culture of waste” that has imperiled our environment, said “I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,” he said. “We have in a sense taken over nature”, he exclaimed.

“I think we have exploited nature too much,” the Pope said, citing deforestation and monoculture among the many human instigated causes. “Thanks be to God that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about it”, Francis said, adding that he pledged on the day of his installation as pope to make the environment a priority.

The Pope is the head of the Catholic Church which numbers 1.2 billion people around the world over. Catholics believe the Pope is infallible in his authority to make decisions for the Church, meaning he is incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.

Pope Francis is expected to public release his encyclical on ecology by June or July, 2015. He said he wanted it out in plenty of time to be read and absorbed before the next and final set of Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change negotiations which opens in Paris in November 2015, especially considering that the last round of meeting in Lima, Peru, failed to reach an agreement.

The ultimate goal of U.N. climate negotiations is to stabilize greenhouse gases at a level that keeps global warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 F), compared with pre-industrial times.

A Guide to the Lima Climate Change Talks

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Representatives from more than 190 nations are meeting for talks in Lima, Peru (Dec. 1 – Dec. 14) to hammer out the draft of the first truly global pact to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The ultimate goal: signing a treaty a year from now in Paris. If successful, it would be the world’s most complex and encompassing treaty ever devised. The last attempt was in 2009 at the Copenhagen climate talks.

We already face significant and widespread climate change risks from the carbon pollution that has been accumulating in our atmosphere and oceans since the Industrial Revolution. Thanks largely to emissions from burning fossil fuels, the Earth is on pace to have its hottest year ever recorded, and warming of at least 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is already locked in, according to a new World Bank report. Countries agreed to limit warming to 2 degrees, a level assumed to be relatively safe. Without steep cuts in fossil fuel use, people around the world will likely face catastrophic and irreversible repercussions by 2030 or 2040. In human terms, that’s about when today’s babies finish college.

Key Dates:
Dec 1–12, 2014—Negotiations in Lima, Peru

March 31, 2015—The target date for countries to present their plans for curbing climate change.

Nov. 30 – Dec. 11, 2015—Negotiations in Paris, where countries hope to sign an historic climate treaty.

The United States, China and the European Union are responsible for about half of the world’s climate changing emissions, so their actions have a huge impact.

India, as a rapidly growing source of harmful emissions, has to make a quicker shift to low-emission energy for any climate treaty to work. The country has not announced what it’s willing to do as part of the climate accord.

The developing countries bloc (LMDC) represents half the world’s population and most of the world’s poor. It’s a powerful counter-force to the United States and other wealthy nations. The group, which includes China, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and more than 20 others, has pushed the U.S. and Europe to make much larger emissions cuts and to provide substantial funding and technological assistance to its member nations.

The big-money crowd, which includes global corporations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions, will be influential because they hold sway over many economies and the global flow of cash. That makes them key players in financing the global energy transition and in funneling aid to poor countries that need help adapting to climate change.

The World Resources Institute, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and many other major environmental and social justice groups are important non-institutionalized voices and some are deeply involved in trying to shape a balanced and workable treaty.

A growing contingent of investment groups, foundations and major corporations, all of them with substantial funds at their disposal, is pushing for unequivocal action on climate change and making the argument that climate action is an opportunity not economic punishment.

For years, a split between rich and poor nations dimmed hopes at UN climate talks. Broadly put: Poorer countries want wealthier ones to promise deeper cuts in carbon emissions, and they want sufficient cash to kick start climate action they can’t afford. At Lima, it’s the same story. Here are the big issues countries must solve:

What’s a fair way to divide the costs and investments needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions and help countries adapt to climate change? Emission reductions and climate aid contributions are meant to be based on relative responsibility for climate change—but views differ on how to translate a “fair share” approach into concrete pledges from individual countries. There’s also ongoing tension over whether the treaty should increase its focus on adaptation, possibly by including pledges of financial and technological aid to help nations adapt to climate change effects that can’t be avoided.

How should island and poorer nations be compensated for the devastation they are already experiencing from climate change caused by other nations? The Philippines and many others want such “loss and damage” funds to be provided for in the treaty, while the U.S. and others have objected to that.

Should the climate treaty commitments be binding or voluntary? The United States, for example, wants the pact to be non-binding, while the Europe Union and developing countries want an enforceable treaty.

Should the world put a price on carbon through an international carbon-trading system to create a stronger incentive to shift away from fossil fuels.

The talks gained momentum after the United States, China and the European Union—all major polluters —made encouraging emission-reduction pledges ahead of the Lima talks. Some saw the fact that the U.S. and China announced their actions together as a sign that the two countries would not end up in a face-off during negotiations.

Others also found hope in the almost $10 billion in initial pledges for the Green Climate Fund, considered a critical factor in convincing developing nations to offer ambitious emission limits.

India could render the treaty ineffective if it opts to make an uninspired pledge toward limiting carbon emissions, or if it continues its aggressive build-out of new coal-fired power plants.

Countries rich in fossil fuels—Australia, OPEC nations, Russia and Canada—could block any effort that would reduce demand for their oil, gas and coal.

Least-developed nations or the Like-Minded Developing Countries could lose faith in the treaty talks, especially if they believe their needs and views are being given short shrift by developed nations, or if they think wealthy nations are not making commitments commensurate with their role in causing climate change. If that happens, the Lima conference could end with major issues unresolved, putting a Paris accord in jeopardy.

Fast for the Climate—A global demonstration on the first day of every month where people refuse to eat as a show of solidarity for people affected by climate change. On Dec. 1, the first day of climate talks in Lima, it was declared the world’s largest fast for the climate. Pacific Islanders—who face widespread destruction from rising seas—were heavily represented, with most residents of tiny Tuvalu participating, organizers said. Dec. 1 also marked the beginning of a tag-team fast, where climate leaders around the world take turns fasting for a day until the Paris talks next December.

Fossil of the Day—This shaming award from Climate Action Network International, first presented at climate talks in 1999, is bestowed on countries deemed to have done their “best” to block progress during negotiations. In Lima so far, the award has thus far been given to Australia, Austria, Belgium and Ireland for not contributing to the Green Climate Fund to help poorer nations; to Japan, for using climate funds to build coal plants in developing countries; to Switzerland for opposing legally binding finance commitments and warning that the issue could derail the treaty; to Australia, for opposing separate compensation for climate-related loss and damage (from extra-fierce typhoons, for example).

People’s Summit on Climate Change—A parallel event from Dec. 1-12 to remind negotiators that a global climate accord must respect the rights and wishes of citizens and social organizations. It’s a forum focused on climate justice, deforestation, social movements, farming, climate finance and other topics.

Light for Lima prayer vigil—A global, multi-faith prayer vigil illuminated by solar lamps to remind negotiators that the people are watching and praying for action on climate change. Digital vigil began Dec. 1, worldwide.

People’s March—A Dec. 10 protest march organized by the activist group Avaaz through the streets of Lima for “International Climatic Justice and Defense of Life Day.” The day is also International Human Rights Day.
Source: Elizabeth Douglass, Inside Climate News, Dec 6, 2014

Governments from Around the World Meeting in Lima, Peru to Lay Foundation for Addressing Climate Change, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Sends U.S. EPA Letter Opposing Climate Change Regulations

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Building on the groundswell of worldwide climate action, and in preparation for concluding its Framework Convention of Climate Change in Paris in 2015, the United Nations and its participating governments from around the world have begun meeting 1 December, 2014 in Lima, Peru, and scheduled to close on 12 December, 2014, to lay the foundation for an effective new, universal climate change agreement in Paris in 2015 while also raising immediate ambition to act on climate change in advance of the agreement coming into effect in 2020.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has this year warned against rising sea levels, storms and droughts as a result of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, and highlighted the many opportunities of taking climate action.

Last week, the UN Environment Programme underscored the need for global emissions to peak within the decade and then to rapidly decline so that the world can reach climate neutrality – also termed zero net emissions – in the second half of the century.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Convention said:

“Never before have the risks of climate change been so obvious and the impacts so visible. Never before have we seen such a desire at all levels of society to take climate action. Never before has society had all the smart policy and technology resources to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience. All of this means we can be confident we will have a productive meeting in Lima, which will lead to an effective outcome in Paris next year.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker submitted comments this week in opposition of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which proposes increased regulations aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emission from Wisconsin’s power plants in Wisconsin. Walker’s letter claims that the proposed regulations would have a detrimental effect on Wisconsin’s manufacturing-based economy, as well as household ratepayers.

Walker says the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Public Service Commission of Wisconsin have spent months reviewing the rule and seeking input from those who would be affected since its proposal in June of this year.

Governor Walker has asked the EPA to reconsider the rule based on the impact the rule will have on the cost and reliability of electricity, not only to Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector and the 455,000 people it employs, but on every ratepayer in the state and the nation.

In Lima, governments meeting under the “Ad Hoc Work Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” (ADP) need to define the scope and the type of contributions they will provide to the Paris agreement, along with clarity on how finance, technology and capacity building will be handled.

Countries will put forward what they plan to contribute to the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015, well in advance of the Paris conference in December of next year.

The Lima conference needs to provide final clarity on what the INDCs need to contain, including for developing countries who are likely to have a range of options from, for example, sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals.

Ms. Figueres welcomed the leadership of the EU, the US and China, who have publically announced their post-2020 climate targets and visions.

“It is hugely encouraging that well ahead of next year’s first quarter deadline, countries have already been outlining what they intend to contribute to the Paris agreement. This is also a clear sign that countries are determined to find common ground and maximize the potential of international cooperation,” she said.

“Countries are working hard to increase emission reductions before 2020, when the Paris agreement is set to enter into effect. Pathways on how to accomplish this will also be a key issue before nations in Lima,” she added.

Governments need to work towards streamlining elements of a draft agreement for Paris 2015 and explore common ground on unresolved issues in order to achieve a balanced, well-structured, coherent draft for the next round of work on the text in February next year.

In addition to progress made to date towards a Paris agreement, the political will of countries to provide climate finance is increasingly coming to the fore.

At a recent pledging conference held in Berlin, Germany, countries made pledges towards the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund totaling nearly $ 9.3 billion USD. Subsequent pledges took this figure to $ 9.6 billion, so that the $ 10 billion milestone is within reach.

“This shows that countries are determined to build trust and to provide the finance that developing countries need to move forward towards decarbonizing their economies and building resilience”, Ms. Figueres said.

In the course of the 2014, governments have been exploring how to raise immediate climate ambition in areas with the greatest potential to curb emissions, ranging from renewable energy to cities.

As part of the “Lima Action Agenda”, countries will decide how to maintain and accelerate cooperation on climate change by all actors, including those flowing from the Climate Summit in September, where many climate action pledges were made.

“We have seen an amazing groundswell of momentum building this year. One of the main deliverables of the Lima conference will be ways to build on this momentum and further mobilize action across all levels of society. Society-wide action in concert with government contributions to the Paris agreement are crucial to meet the agreed goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius, and to safeguard this and future generations,” Ms. Figueres said.

As climate change impacts worsen and impact the poor and most vulnerable, governments urgently need to scale up adaptation to climate change. The conference needs to agree on how National Adaptation Plans of developing countries will be funded and turned into reality on the ground. Countries will also work to agree a work program for the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, and elect the members of its Executive Committee.

Governments will work to scale up and coordinate the delivery of climate finance and of the various existing funds. A focus will be on identifying ways to accelerate finance for adaptation to climate change. Governments will also recognize the initial capitalization of the GCF, which is expected to reach USD $ 10 billion by the close of the Lima conference.

Countries meeting in Lima will further work to provide support to avoid deforestation. Several developing countries are expected to submit information which would make it possible for them to obtain funding for forest protection.

Governments meeting in Lima are expected to clarify the role of carbon markets in the 2015 global agreement and set a work program for next year to design and develop operations for implementing new market mechanisms.

As part of the efforts by countries to accelerate pre-2020 climate action, the secretariat is organizing a fair 5, 8 and 9 December in Lima to showcase how action is being scaled up and how many countries and non-state actors are taking action and setting an example.

IPCC Releases Final Report on Global Warming and Climate Change

IPCClast

In a word: “dire” – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The window of opportunity for doing something positive about it – closing. The time to start action on quickly reducing human causes releases of greenhouse gases – NOW!

From the Huffington Post (November 3, 2014):

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Climate change is happening, it’s almost entirely man’s fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the U.N.’s panel on climate science said Sunday.

The fourth and final volume of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s giant climate assessment offered no surprises, nor was it expected to since it combined the findings of three reports released in the past 13 months.

But it underlined the scope of the climate challenge in stark terms. Emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, may need to drop to zero by the end of this century for the world to have a decent chance of keeping the temperature rise below a level that many consider dangerous.

The IPCC didn’t say exactly what such a world would look like but it would likely require a massive shift to renewable sources to power homes, cars and industries combined with new technologies to suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The report warned that failure to reduce emissions could lock the world on a trajectory with “irreversible” impact on people and the environment. Some impacts already being observed included rising sea levels, a warmer and more acidic ocean, melting glaciers and Arctic sea ice and more frequent and intense heat waves.

The science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the report’s launch in Copenhagen.

Amid its grim projections, the report said the tools are there to set the world on a low-emissions path and break the addiction to burning oil, coal and gas which pollute the atmosphere with heat-trapping CO2, the chief greenhouse gas.

“All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said.

The IPCC was set up in 1988 to assess global warming and its impacts. The report released Sunday caps its latest assessment, a mega-review of 30,000 climate change studies that establishes with 95-percent certainty that most of the warming seen since the 1950s is man-made. The IPCC’s best estimate is that just about all of it is man-made, but it can’t say that with the same degree of certainty.

Today only a small minority of scientists challenge the mainstream conclusion that climate change is linked to human activity.

Global Climate Change, a NASA website, says 97 percent of climate scientists agree that warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.

The American public isn’t as convinced. A year-old survey by Pew Research showed 67 percent of Americans believed global warming is occurring and 44 percent said the earth is warming mostly because of human activity. More recently, a New York Times poll said 42 percent of Republicans say global warming won’t have a serious impact, a view held by 12 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of independents.

Sleep-deprived delegates approved the final documents Saturday after a weeklong line-by-line review that underscored that the IPCC process is not just about science. The reports must be approved both by scientists and governments, which means political issues from U.N. climate negotiations, which are nearing a 2015 deadline for a global agreement, inevitably affect the outcome.

The rift between developed and developing countries in the U.N. talks opened up in Copenhagen over a passage on what levels of warming could be considered dangerous. After a protracted battle, the text was dropped from a key summary for policy-makers — to the disappointment of some scientists.

“If the governments are going to expect the IPCC to do their job,” said Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, a lead author of the IPCC’s second report, they shouldn’t “get caught up in fights that have nothing to do with the IPCC.”

The omission meant the word “dangerous” disappeared from the summary altogether. It appeared only twice in a longer underlying report compared to seven times in a draft produced before the Copenhagen session. The less loaded word “risk” was mentioned 65 times in the final 40-page summary.

“Rising rates and magnitudes of warming and other changes in the climate system, accompanied by ocean acidification, increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and in some cases irreversible detrimental impacts,” the report said.

World governments in 2009 set a goal of keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees C (3.6 F) compared to before the industrial revolution. Temperatures have gone up about 0.8 C (1.4 F) since the 19th century.

Emissions have risen so fast in recent years that the world has used up two-thirds of its carbon budget, the maximum amount of CO2 that can be emitted to have a likely chance of avoiding 2 degrees of warming, the IPCC report said.

“This report makes it clear that if you are serious about the 2-degree goal … there is nowhere to hide,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group. “You can’t wait several decades to address this issue.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the report demands “ambitious, decisive and immediate action.”

“Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science so clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us and for our kids and grandkids,” Kerry said in a statement.

The IPCC said the cost of actions such as shifting to solar and wind power and other renewable sources and improving energy efficiency would reduce economic growth only by 0.06 percent annually.

Pachauri said that should be measured against the implications of doing nothing, putting “all species that live on this planet” at peril.

The report is meant as a scientific roadmap for the U.N. climate negotiations, which continue next month in Lima, Peru. That’s the last major conference before a summit in Paris next year, where a global agreement on climate action is supposed to be adopted.

The biggest hurdle is deciding who should do what. Rich countries are calling on China and other major developing countries to set ambitious targets; developing countries saying the rich have a historical responsibility to lead the fight against warming and to help poorer nations cope with its impacts. The IPCC avoided taking sides, saying the risks of climate change “are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development.”

AP: By KARL RITTER
Posted: 11/02/2014 7:35 am EST Updated: 11/03/2014 12:59 pm EST

IPCC Sounds Fresh Alarm as Fossil Fuel Interests Tighten Grip on Congress

The contrast between the increasingly partisan American political divide and the increasingly solid international scientific consensus couldn’t be starker.

By John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News   November 3, 2014   Inside Climate

The leading international network of climate scientists is urging a rapid shift away from fossil fuels, just as allies of coal, oil and natural gas industries in the United States appear poised to tighten their grip on Congress—where opposition to cleaner energy is already entrenched.

That outcome of Tuesday’s midterm election would spell trouble for advocates of a strong international climate accord. Treaty negotiations are supposed to pick up in the next few months and culminate in Paris just over a year from now.

This weekend, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a synthesis report that sums up its years-long review of the climate crisis and what to do about it. The report called for the near-complete elimination of fossil fuel-burning by the end of the century. This, it said, is what is needed to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the most severe risks of man-made changes to the world’s climate.

Nothing could be further from the agenda of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the coal-state Republican who on the eve of the election appears to have significantly better than even odds of becoming the next majority leader. (Though, as the IPCC might put it, until the last votes are tallied any forecast of which party will prevail deserves only “medium confidence.”)

Even if the Republicans don’t gain a majority in the Senate on Nov. 4, they are likely to gain strength in that chamber as well as in the House—an election outcome that would undermine President Obama’s entire climate agenda, not just his influence in the Paris talks.

From the Keystone XL pipeline decision and so-called “war on coal,” to a carbon tax and the very foundations of climate science, Congressional Republicans have opposed Obama on anything having to do with global warming from his first days in office.

Just last year, on the day the IPCC released one of three exhaustive treatments that formed the basis of this week’s synthesis report, McConnell co-sponsored an amendment to block the EPA from regulating fossil fuels in electric power plants, the largest single source of carbon emissions in this country.

His co-sponsor, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, offered another amendment at the same time. It would have prohibited the administration from participating in international climate negotiations “unless the U.S. offers an addendum to the latest IPCC report stating that anthropogenic climate change is a scientifically unproven theory.” Inhofe, who reportedly aspires to be chairman of the environment committee in a Republican Senate, calls the whole IPCC enterprisea “conspiracy” and “a hoax.”

Their ascent would alarm participants in the climate talks who agree with IPCC chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, that the climate crisis could be solved if action is quick and decisive. “All we need,” Pachauri said as he released the new synthesis report, “is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.”

Emissions must fall by 40 to 70 percent between 2010 and 2050, and then to zero by 2100, he explained at a news conference.

Those are fighting words to anyone committed to defending the coal industry in Kentucky, the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma, or campaigning in any fossil fuel stronghold—from the Marcellus shale to the Bakken light oil play. And it helps explain why the politics of carbon are a feature of so many swing elections in states like West Virginia, Colorado, Louisiana and Alaska.

The contrast between this increasingly partisan American political divide and the increasingly solid international scientific consensus could hardly be starker.

“The scientists have done their jobs and then some,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who has tracked the negotiations for decades. “Politicians can either dramatically reduce emissions or they can spend the rest of their careers running from climate disaster to climate disaster.”

Other environmental advocates, too, issued statements emphasizing that the synthesis report—including its summary for policymakers, expressly designed to guide them toward early action —was as significant politically as it was scientifically.

“The report is alarming and should be a wake-up call to government leaders,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a group that encourages businesses to show leadership on climate issues. Her statement called on them to “ramp up the pressure…especially in Washington.”

“The critical missing link is the oil and gas industry, which is doing its best to thwart concrete action,” she said.

The Sierra Club’s Michael Brune aimed a jibe at the Koch brothers and their favored candidates, saying that “we don’t have any more time to coddle fossil fuel billionaires or politicians who will eschew responsibility at every corner.”

Big environmental groups have spent heavily in this campaign, too—$85 million on state and federal races, according to Daniel Weiss of the League of Conservation Voters, including $40 million on just six key Senate races. And in the closing days, they were knocking on millions of doors to bring out a green vote.

The organizations released results from a Hart Research Associates poll taken in late October in swing states suggesting that the climate issue could break in their favor.

“The survey suggests that Republican candidates are losing ground as a result of their climate science denial and opposition to climate pollution reductions,” Hart reported. “This is true among independent swing voters, and particularly among women and younger voters.”

But only about 40 percent of those surveyed said they had heard much of candidates’ views on climate. A majority had heard about energy issues, but far more about abortion, jobs and Obamacare.

Earth’s About to Lose What Little Chance It Had – Unless We Act Now!

Who’s Gonna Stand Up
Neil Young’s Who’s Gonna Stand Up (and Save the Earth)
Protect the wild, tomorrow’s child
Protect the land from the greed of man
Take down the dams, stand up to oil
Protect the plants, and renew the soil

Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
This all starts with you and me

Damn the dams, save the rivers
Starve the takers and feed the givers
Build a dream, save the world
We’re the people know as earth

Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
This all starts with you and me

Ban fossil fuel, draw the line
Before we build, one more pipeline
Ban fracking now, save the waters
And build a life, for our sons and daughters

Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
Who’s gonna say that she’s had enough?
Who’s gonna take on the big machine?
Who’s gonna stand up and save the earth?
This all starts with you and me

Who’s gonna stand up
Who’s gonna stand up
Who’s gonna stand up
Who’s gonna stand up
Who’s gonna stand up

Who’s Gonna Stand Up (and Save the Earth)?
(full orchestra & choir version)
Start here. Sign “Conserve NOW Petition to President Obama, U.S. Congress, Wisconsin Governor Walker and Wisconsin Legislature to Enact and Fund Climate Change Legislation” (September 16th post on this blog) or;

I’ve also started the petition “U.S. Congress: Enact and Fund Legislation to Pay Families and Individuals who Use Less Fossil Fuel Energy Annually on Changeorg

Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here’s the link:

http://www.change.org/p/u-s-congress-enact-and-fund-legislation-to-pay-families-and-individuals-who-use-less-fossil-fuel-energy-annually-conserve-now-please-see-www-allthingsenvironmental-com-for-details

Here’s why it’s important:

Using money that now goes to subsidize the fossil fuel industries (coal, oil, natural gas), instead offer that money to those who limit their driving, flying and household use of fossil fuel devived energy. This would helpslow global warming and sea level rises and would negate the need for raising the minimum wage and foodstamps.

You can sign my petition by clicking here.
.

Thanks

Conserve, NOW! Planet Earth Needs Our Help Now More Than Ever

images

On this Labor Day (September 1, 2014) Community Radio Station WORT-FM, 89.9 will broadcast a special program on its weekly show “The Access Hour”, from 7:00 to 8:00 PM. The Labor Day show is called: “Planet Earth: It Needs Our Help Now More Than Ever!”. The show can be heard live on radio in the listening area – south central Wisconsin including Madison, Wisconsin where it originates. The show can also be listened to anywhere in the world at http://www.wortfm.org. All earthlings are invited to listen in then, or on the archive of the WORTFM.org website at their convenience.

The program will consist of both music and dialog, appropriate to issues that confront many of us and those important to all of us and future generations.

Accordingly, I have initiated a petition drive to demand our federal and state legislative leaders to take immediate and major actions that will jointly confront these issues. If you wish to read and sign the petition, please do so. It’s sorely needed. Please send me an email to MTNeuman@gmail.com requesting it and I’ll forward the link to use for signing the petition.

The program being advanced advocating is designed to minimize our fossil burning before it’s too late, by telling our government to establish a program that provides positive financial incentives – supplemental income – for all individuals and families who burn less fuel annually: (1) by driving less or no miles (more $ for not at all); (2) by not flying in that year; and (3) by using less fossil fuel derived energy in heating, cooling and using electricity derived from burning fossil fuel in the year than the average household in a year. Money can be earned by doing (1), more by doing (2) and even more by doing (3), yearly,

Money used to finance this program could come from a number sources:

1) Money the U.S. Department of Transportation and states SAVE (billions of dollars) by not paving even more lanes of highways and bridges on the landscape with cement and asphalt (both require fossil fuel burning) to accommodate more driving of motor vehicles;

2) Money the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration would SAVE (more billions of dollars) by requiring the commercial airlines pay air flight controllers, instead of the federal government (U.S. citizens) providing these employees for the exclusive financial interests of commercial airlines and aviation fuel suppliers.

3) Money from levying a tax on all carbon emitted by electrical power generation plants in the U.S. which burn fossil fuels (more billions of dollars), and emitted by the transportation sector (jets, cars, motorcycles, trucks, trains and buses, work vehicles and fossil fueled equipment, and recreational vehicles, including but not limited to ATVs, motor boats, snowmobiles, jet skis). 

4) Money from other extravagant federal expenditures, such as the billions of dollars paid to private defense contractors, at home and abroad, and also the billions of dollars of subsidies the U.S. government (American taxpayers) presently awards to the fossil fuel industry (coal, oil, natural gas) operating in the U.S..

Only individuals and families in the U.S. who conserve energy (emit fewer greenhouse gases) by driving less (or no) miles; by not flying; and by using less fossil fuel derived energy in their home during a year would earn the REWARDS.

More detailed information on this proposal can be viewed on the Conserve, NOW! post of August 16. 2014.