Climate Justice for Coastal Communities

 

As sea level rises, low-lying coastal communities around the world are facing the prospect of relocation.

Some of these communities are on remote islands that many have never heard of. Others may be familiar to Americans from the west coast of Alaska and Washington State, and from the bayous of Louisiana.

Many of these communities are home to families that have been there for hundreds or even thousands of years…families that cannot imagine living elsewhere. Many of these communities are not what we would consider “developed” and have contributed little to greenhouse gas emissions.

What does this have to do with Paris?

A few people from these communities have managed to come to Paris to be heard. They call for climate justice, meaning that those who have the most responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions and sea level rise help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change and move forward with low carbon development.

Climate justice also means that vulnerable communities have a voice in decision-making regarding climate change adaptation and mitigation. Migration and adaptation have only just begun to draw international attention, as we realize that adaptive efforts will be needed even if we suddenly stop all greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this week I heard a presentation on “Climate Change and Migration” from European social science researchers looking at the causes of migration, the role of inequality, and what kind of policies we need to manage human mobility and climate change.

The conversation continued yesterday, December 5, with “Climate Induced Migrants: Question on Rights and Responsibilities” and “Human Mobility and Climate Change,” presented by United Nations officials, on December 10. Of course, only high-level representatives from accredited entities will be able to attend these events, but getting recognition of these issues from a “top-down” perspective is important.

Because right now there just isn’t much in the way of “top-down” policy and assistance for people faced with the prospect of climate change relocation. There is no climate change adaptation agency or law in my state of Alaska, much less my country of the United States. Alaska’s indigenous shoreline communities watch their traditional lands erode into the water while politicians deny that humans have any sort of role in climate change.

Perhaps the seeds of change will come from the bottom-up. In Alaska, communities are cooperating with universities to figure out how they can be more resilient, and how they can learn from each other. The Alaska Native Village of Newtok formed its own collaborative partnership with dozens of state and federal agencies to plan its own relocation. Tribes and municipalities are coming up with climate change adaptation plans.

The Alaska Native community of Newtok whose territory is eroding into the adjacent river. PHOTO: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

This bottom-up movement is even taking shape at the international level. Countries came to Paris with their own voluntary commitments to cut emissions. Will they be enough to stop the rising tide and avoid the relocation of vulnerable communities?

Probably not, which is why we cannot lose sight of climate justice. Let’s all mitigate climate change, but let’s also help make sure everyone has a home.

 

Posted in Alaska, Arctic, Bering Sea, Capacity-Building, Civil Society, Climate Change, Communities, Global, Grassroots Activism, Marine, Oceans, Policy, Sustainable Development | Comments Off on Climate Justice for Coastal Communities

The Elephant in the Room in Paris

 

It’s no small irony that many of the small island nations most at risk from rising sea levels such as the Marshall Islands are also some of the foremost countries for ship registries.

Called by some the “elephant in the room,” meaningful commitments to reduce emissions from shipping are critical to containing climate change.

Shipping accounts for 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Real reductions in international shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions are possible and necessary, but the Paris climate agreement must send a strong signal to the International Maritime Organization that targets are required.

Even the shipping industry is coming around. Just in advance of the Paris climate talks, many of the world’s top shippers issued a statement encouraging the International Maritime Organization to “act urgently in establishing the timely and progressive frameworks required that will deliver a carbon strategy which enables shipping to confidently and effectively play its part in achieving the UNFCCC global CO2 reduction targets.”

Current international rules are insufficient to reduce emissions enough to meet goals of fending off climate change. The shippers further found that, “Climate change is one of the biggest risks to the future of global trade and the shipping industry; the SSI believes that it is not commercially, environmentally or socially sustainable for the shipping industry to continue on a Business As Usual carbon emissions pathway.”

Far from the tropical island states, the Arctic is another region with heightened risk from shipping and climate change.

Just this week a Russian tanker ran aground and is now spilling oil into Arctic waters. The region’s governor has called it an “ecological disaster.”

Sea Birds Sakhalin

A Russian tanker stuck on a reef near Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East is contaminating local wildlife and even affecting some Alaskan species. Photo by Sakhalin Environment Watch and Club Boomerang

Vanishing sea ice is making way for increased shipping in Arctic waters, including ships carrying oil. Pacific Environment is focused on creating both domestic and international rules to protect Arctic marine environments that are so crucial to local communities.

Earlier this year, the International Maritime Organization approved the Polar Code, putting many important rules in place, including prohibitions on dumping garbage and protections for whales and other marine mammals.

But, top threats to the Arctic remain unaddressed, including the risk for oil spills, which are nearly impossible to clean up in icy Arctic waters.

In fact, the Arctic Council identified a spill of heavy fuel as the top threat associated with Arctic shipping. Black carbon emissions caused by ships burning heavy fuel oil also accelerate sea ice melting.

Heavy fuel oil was banned in Antarctic waters in 2010, but remains to be banned in Arctic waters. Pacific Environment is advocating that the U.S. Coast Guard and IMO create Arctic shipping measures that avoid and minimize dangers from oil spills, including a ban on heavy fuel oil and establishment of protected areas.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Arctic, Civil Society, Climate Change, Grassroots Activism, Marine, Oceans, Policy, Russia, Russian Far East, Sakhalin, Shipping | Comments Off on The Elephant in the Room in Paris

The People Speak in Paris: Climate Art and Action

 

I grew up attending environmental and peace rallies with my family.

So as the closed door negotiations of the Paris climate talks begin, I find myself particularly interested in how folks on the ground are creatively expressing the truth about what needs to happen in the talks.

Banner-KrisKrueg-848x400

Mass gatherings in Paris aren’t allowed, but people are finding many other ways to express the need for profound commitments and actions to address the climate change challenge.

Here are some examples that inspired me:

 

These actions remind us that the world is not just watching in Paris. So many of us across the globe are already taking a stand, making hard choices, and putting our passions into saving ourselves from climate change. And we expect something more than empty promises, more than just doing what is comfortable and safe and supports the status quo.

As negotiators begin the challenge of turning promises into real, actionable steps forward, we stand in solidarity with the passionate individual who have come to Paris to be heard – and all of those around the globe doing our part for the climate.

 

Posted in Civil Society, Climate Change, Coal, Communities, Global, Grassroots Activism, Policy | Comments Off on The People Speak in Paris: Climate Art and Action

#GivingTuesday: Help Us Amplify Grassroots Voices in Paris

 

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day for giving back!

That’s why I’m writing from the U.N. climate conference in Paris, asking supporters like you to make a donation right now to help us reach our #GivingTuesday goal of raising $1,000 in 24 hours.

I’ve spent the past two months organizing “The Cost of Coal,” a film festival showcasing award-winning documentaries about the terrible impacts of coal and pollution on local communities in China, Russia, Australia, South Africa, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

While government representatives are negotiating a new climate deal, we want to bring attention to those who are directly, and daily, affected by the causes and consequences of climate change.

But I need your help to amplify the voices of grassroots activists in Paris. Your gift will make a huge difference to a small organization like Pacific Environment.

Coal Popcorn

So please join me, my colleagues, and the brave grassroots activists we are bringing to Paris to take a stand against climate change and coal—the worst of all climate-changing fossil fuels.

You can help make this our most successful #GivingTuesday yet!

Make a gift now to help us reach our goal of raising $1,000 in 24 hours!

Posted in Civil Society, Climate Change, Coal, Communities, Global, Grassroots Activism | Comments Off on #GivingTuesday: Help Us Amplify Grassroots Voices in Paris

“Monsieur, there’s coal in my popcorn!”

 

Today is the first day of the U.N. climate change conference. Thousands of people are coming to Paris to be heard. The metro is free today, streets are crowded.

With 180 countries participating in the negotiations, everyone seems hopeful that this climate summit will be the one where an agreement on a global reduction of carbon dioxide emissions will be reached.

As world leaders are trying to craft an agreement that will begin to curve the trajectory of global greenhouse gases back to a level that will save the planet from devastating consequences, Pacific Environment is amplifying peoples’ voices.

On December 7, we are hosting “The Cost of Coal,” an international film festival that examines the harmful effects of the coal industry on human health—and gives local communities an opportunity to tell THEIR stories at the Paris climate conference.

Coal Popcorn

While government representatives are negotiating a new climate deal, we want to bring attention to those who are directly, and daily, affected by the causes and consequences of climate change.

One film tells the story of a South African community in the Mpumalanga Highveld region, which is home to 12 (!) of the world’s largest power stations. Almost all the people featured in the film have health issues, many suffer from asthma. Yet they keep burning coal in their homes because it’s their only source of energy.

Another film tells the story of indigenous peoples in Russia who lost their land to the coal industry to mine the worst of all climate-changing fossil fuels.

The Philippines, among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, is home to numerous coal-fired power plants that sicken communities. As the festival entry shows, the negative health effects of coal aren’t stopping people from saying “No” to the coal industry and demanding a full switch to renewable energy.

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets to call on world leaders to scale up action to achieve 100% renewable energy and protect people from worsening climate change impacts.

Solidarity and unity are some of the big themes of this summit—and of our film festival, which brings together participants from five continents and many different countries, including China, Russia, Australia, South Africa, Colombia, Turkey, and the Philippines.

Most of us have never met in person. But we are coming together because we all share one goal—to stop harmful coal production and prevent a climate catastrophe.

Posted in Civil Society, Climate Change, Coal, Communities, Global, Grassroots Activism, Policy, Sustainable Development | Comments Off on “Monsieur, there’s coal in my popcorn!”

Will Human Rights Prevail Again in Paris?

 

Arriving in Paris amid intensive security, over 40,000 people are anticipated to attend the international climate summit this week and next. The attendees include 10,000 delegates from 195 countries, in addition to thousands of journalists, NGOs, scientists, and activists.

This will be the biggest diplomatic event to be held in France since the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was signed here in 1948.  Following the atrocities of World War II, the Declaration was the first global definition of the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled.

Eleanor Roosevelt with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (November 1949)

Eleanor Roosevelt with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (November 1949)

Dealing with climate change impacts also implicates human rights. That’s why a U.S. court in Washington State recently ruled in favor of a group of children who had sued the state for failing to protect them from climate emission-caused harms.

The judge agreed with the children’s assertion that the state has an obligation to protect natural resources—such as rivers and lakes and the atmosphere—because these resources are held for all in a “public trust.” The judge found that, “[the youths’] very survival depends upon the will of their elders to act now, decisively and unequivocally, to stem the tide of global warming…before doing so becomes first too costly and then too late.”

Pacific Environment will be in Paris to help make this connection between climate change and human rights. We’ll host a film festival that showcases the harm coal is causing to communities in several of the world’s most important coal-producing and consuming countries. These films, and the panel discussion following, will allow local leaders to bring their stories forward to the government delegates and the world.

Will the agreement reached in Paris this time make history, too?

Posted in Civil Society, Climate Change, Coal, Communities, Global, Grassroots Activism | Comments Off on Will Human Rights Prevail Again in Paris?

I’m Grateful Children Are Using Courts to Challenge Climate Change

 

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

There are days when I find myself doubting the truth of that wisdom, popularized by Martin Luther King Jr. But a distinguishing characteristic of environmentalists is our persistent optimism that we can overcome even the largest obstacles and persevere.

And there’s a lot I’m feeling grateful for right now:

 

  • As we head in to the world’s climate summit in Paris, this round of talks has been preceded by a slew of important steps by major nations to build momentum. The United Kingdom announced a complete phase-out of coal over the next decade. The United States put in place a nationwide Clean Power Plan; killed the XL Keystone pipeline; and signed a bilateral agreement with the world’s other largest greenhouse gas emitter, China, to cut carbon emissions. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an umbrella group of most of the world’s developed nations, agreed this month to restrict their financing of coal plants in other countries, which has been a major driver of wrongheaded coal plant construction in developing nations. And the government of Norway, owner of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, decided to sell of its coal-related investments.

 

 

None of these events I’m grateful for would have occurred without the optimism and activism of people like you.

In every instance, the national action described above followed years of steady, hard-driving, persistent, strategically applied pressure by non-governmental organizations and grassroots activists.

Thank you to all who stood with us and our allies and community partners in 2015.

 

Posted in Arctic, Civil Society, Climate Change, Global, Grassroots Activism | Comments Off on I’m Grateful Children Are Using Courts to Challenge Climate Change

Communities Tell Their Stories at the Paris Climate Talks

With the Paris climate conference only a month away, the world is getting into gear to address many serious global issues on an international scale.

During the climate talks, Pacific Environment will be hosting The Cost of Coal, a film festival that highlights the negative environmental, health, and social impacts caused by the world’s ravenous appetite for fossil fuels.

From 2000 to 2012, coal provided nearly half the world’s energy. And, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility, “coal pollution damages human health at every stage.” It has been demonstrably linked to respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological defects. In The Cost of Coal, award-winning filmmakers examine this extremely harmful industry and its effects on our planet and our health.

If you are in Paris, join us on December 7 at 5PM at Galerie JOSEPH Braque, located at 4-6 rue de Braque, 75003 Paris, France.

We will be showing six films from five countries, produced by environmentalists and journalists working alongside communities and individuals from China, the Philippines, South Africa, Australia and Russia.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and community activists featured in the films.

Wine, cheese, and popcorn will be served.

Smog Journeys: Produced by celebrated Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke and commissioned by Greenpeace East Asia, “Smog Journeys” documents the effects of air pollution on Chinese families. The film calls for drastic action to solve the Chinese air pollution crisis, since the Chinese government has utterly failed to limit the amount of pollution released in its cities.

Smog Journeys: “Clean air is a basic necessity for healthy living…Bringing back clean air needs to be a priority and it requires urgent action. Greenpeace calls on the government to take immediate steps to safeguard the health of its citizens, cut coal and shift towards cleaner renewable energy.” -Yan Li, Head of Climate and Energy at Greenpeace Asia

Coal: The True Culprit Behind Air Pollution: Also commissioned by Greenpeace East Asia, this documentary was part of a larger effort to quantify the pollution caused by the Chinese coal industry.

Condemned: Produced by Ecodefense, a Russian environmental group, “Condemned” is a documentary detailing the harmful impacts of the coal industry on indigenous communities in Siberia. The film will be accompanied by a presentation of Ecodefense’s latest study on the impacts of the Russian coal industry.

The Human Cost of Power: Directed by award-winning science journalist Alexandra de Blas and produced by the Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director of the Climate and Health Alliance, “The Human Cost of Power” examines the explosive growth of coal and gas extraction in Australia. This film was shown at the Global Climate and Health Summit alongside the Warsaw United Nations climate talks in November of 2014.

The Human Cost of Power: The mining and production of Australian coal and coal seam gas is expanding at an unprecedented rate and scale and with it the risk to human health.

The Bliss of Ignorance: Co-produced by Friends of the Earth, the largest environmental grassroots organization in the world, and groundwork, a South African environmental justice group, “The Bliss of Ignorance” investigates South Africa’s deep-rooted involvement with coal mining and energy production. This film has already won awards from the International Film Festival and the World Film Awards.

Co-hosted by:

Greenpeace East Asia

Health Care Without Harm 

Ecodefense 

groundWork

The Climate and Health Alliance

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Communities Tell Their Stories at the Paris Climate Talks

Tightening the Environmental Standards of International Investment Banks

The past few years have been critical in the fight to establish sane, sustainable regulations on the impacts the coal industry has on our biosphere. Alongside our efforts to establish global conservation efforts with local organizations, Pacific Environment has been working hard to influence the paths taken by some of the most powerful financial institutions in the world, ensuring that these major players are aware of the effect they have on the health and resources of our planet. Our input has been sought by the International Energy Agency, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Ex-Im Bank Advisory Committee, and several other government agencies and media outlets. Our work is crucial, and people are listening.

One of our major victories has been on the policies of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the agency tasked with apportioning United States investment in the developing world. Through years of hard work and lobbying, Pacific Environment and other organizations like us have succeeded in changing the course of OPIC’s policies. In 2013 OPIC committed over a billion dollars to renewable energy projects. That’s 30% of its total financing, compared to less than 3% in 2009.

OPIC has committed $400 million in support of the Redstone Concentrating Solar Power plant in South Africa. This project is a major milestone in President Obama's Power Africa initiative, which aims to increase energy infrastructure across the African continent.  Photo source: http://www.evwind.es/

OPIC has committed $400 million in support of the Redstone Concentrating Solar Power plant in South Africa. This project is a major milestone in President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, which aims to increase energy infrastructure across the African continent.
Photo source: http://www.evwind.es/

This year, we worked with Indian civil society groups to publish two reports on the ongoing human rights and environmental violations committed by the Sasan coal project, funded by Ex-Im Bank, another financial giant. One report, titled Export Credit and Human Rights: Failure to Protect, was presented at a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva in December 2014.

We scored another huge victory in Africa thanks to our dedicated campaigning work. President Obama’s Power Africa program, designed to increase energy infrastructure in Africa, was introduced in 2013. Originally, its lack of explicit funding for renewable energy projects was worrying, and some thought that Power Africa was a thinly-veiled springboard for the coal industry to dig its claws into Africa. However, in the two years since the program was launched, neither Ex-Im nor OPIC have made use of the lenient fossil fuel allowances granted by the program, instead contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to more than 30 renewable energy initiatives. This shift in attitude is due partially to the contributions of Pacific Environment and allies, who have been slowly pushing Ex-Im and OPIC towards more sustainable institutional cultures and business models.

After its charter expired this June, Ex-Im Bank faced a potential shutdown. On October 29th, the House of Representatives voted 313-118 to reinstate it, extending its charter through 2019.  Photo source: http://blogs.ft.com/

After its charter expired this June, Ex-Im Bank faced a potential shutdown. On October 29th, the House of Representatives voted 313-118 to reinstate it, extending its charter through 2019.
Photo source: http://blogs.ft.com

With our partners, we have changed the way these organizations think, as well as made sure the media covers these changes in attitude and gets the word out to the public. But the fight isn’t over. OPIC is still considering funding two oil-fueled power plants in Africa. The World Banks’ new safeguard framework, introduced in 2014, has weakened transparency, due diligence and accountability while removing provisions for the rights of communities affected by energy projects. There is still much work to be done. But, with the help of our many allies in NGOs, nonprofits, civil society organizations and the world community of environmental advocates, we are confident that the necessary steps will be taken. With your help, we will succeed.

Posted in Civil Society, Climate Change, Coal, Communities, Energy, Export Credit Agencies, Featured, Finance, Global, Grassroots Activism, Issues, offshore drilling, Policy, Regions, Responsible Finance, Sustainable Development | Comments Off on Tightening the Environmental Standards of International Investment Banks

Big Win: President Obama Stops Arctic Drilling

 

In a stunning development this week, President Obama announced that he is cancelling upcoming oil and gas lease sales for Arctic waters off the coast of Alaska. And, in a companion move, the Department of the Interior denied requests by Shell and Statoil to extend the leases they already hold in the Arctic Ocean.

These are huge wins for America’s Arctic and the global climate. And it’s the voices of people like you who spoke out against dangerous offshore drilling in the Arctic that helped make this happen. Thank you!

What a difference a month can make. Just in September, Pacific Environment and allies went to court —again; this time to force the Department of the Interior to ban Shell from drilling in one of the Arctic’s most ecologically significant areas that sustains walrus populations in Alaska and Russia.

Walrus2012Awith Kid

At the time it looked like Shell might actually be allowed to pursue its reckless drilling program. Until, in a surprise move a couple of weeks ago, Shell announced that it would abandon Arctic offshore drilling for the time being and ask the Obama administration to extend its leases until some future date. But with its denial of the requested lease extensions President Obama’s administration finally killed oil and gas drilling off the coast of Alaska—at least for a couple of years.

Shell’s departure is great news for the Arctic Ocean, and President Obama’s follow-up decisions are making history. Let’s take a moment to savor this win and to thank the President for protecting the Arctic and keeping dirty fossil fuels in the ground.

But this is no time to rest. We are absolutely certain that when oil prices rise again and administrations change, Big Oil will be back. And we will be prepared. Stay tuned for our Five-Point-Plan to protect the Arctic for future generations.

Posted in Alaska, Arctic, Climate Change, Energy, Grassroots Activism, Marine, Oceans, offshore drilling | Comments Off on Big Win: President Obama Stops Arctic Drilling

UGG Australia Bailey Bling Button Boot Nobis Cartel Men Bomber Light Grey UGG Australia Hyland Mid Calf Fringe Boot Nobis Ricky Bobby M?n Midweight Vest UGG Australia Bixbee Leopard Print Terry Cloth Bootie Nobis Sir Salvador Mens Overcoat UGG Australia Scuffette Shearling Slide Slipper New Discount Man Canada Goose Mountaineer Jacket 2016 BARBOUR BOWER QUILTED JACKET UGG Australia Akadia Back Laced Fur Lined Boot Nobis Linden Insulated Jacka Svart Nobis Stanford Midweight M?n Bomber Jacka Svart Nobis Paavo Homme Reversible Quilted Vest Discount Woman Canada Goose New Discount Woman Canada Goose Trillium Parka 2016 New Discount Man Canada Goose Selkirk Parka New Discount Woman Canada Goose Expedition Parka 2016 New Discount Man Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody 2016 New Discount Man Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Jacket 2016 New Discount Man Canada Goose Snow Mantra Parka 2016 New Discount Man Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber 2016 New Discount Woman Canada Goose Victoria Parka 2016 New Discount Man Canada Goose Coastal Shell Black 2016
Nobis Linden Insulated Jacka Svart Nobis Stanford Midweight M?n Bomber Jacka Svart Nobis Paavo Homme Reversible Quilted Vest
?>
Moose Knuckles Ladies Snow-Job Ski Jacket Mens Nike LunarGlide 6 Running Shoes Mens Moose Knuckles Canada Parka Mens BARBOUR SAPPER WAXED JACKET Moose Knuckles Ladies Snow-Job Ski Jacket Cheap Nike Air Max 1 Mid Deluxe Mens Shoes Women Moose Knuckles Stirling ParkaOutlet Online BARBOUR CHAPELDALE JACKET For Women Mens Moose Knuckles Gold Series Bomber Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Essential Womens Shoes Cheap Mens Moose Knuckles Ballistic Bomber Mens Nike Air Max 95 Shoes Mens Moose Knuckles 3 4 Jacket Sale Online Barbour REFLECTOR JACKET For Women Moose Knuckles Beaver Jacket Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Mens Running Shoes Barbour FIREBLADE RIBBED QUILTED JACKET For Women Mens Moose Knuckles Taylor Quilted Hoodie Mens Moose Knuckles Canuck Jacket Mens Nike Air Zoom Elite 7 Running Shoes Cheap Mens Moose Knuckles Ballistic Bomber Nike LunarGlide 6 Running Shoes For Women