I have 600 grandchildren. Well, they’re not exactly related to me (although I have plenty who are!) – but I grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and continued working in the Marcus Garvey houses for 33 years. A lot of the young people I lived with there ended up calling me “Grandpa” and I consider them my family.
On Monday, April 23, I was thinking about my family when I marched with over 1,500 New Yorkers from all over the state to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to walk the talk on climate action. Will you watch the inspiring video below and sign up to demand the same of your local elected officials on May 14?
We marched to demand that Governor Cuomo go beyond lip service and commit to a Fossil Free world through three steps:
- Stop all fracking infrastructure.
- Move New York to 100% renewable energy.
- Make polluters pay for their damage.
I thought about my family in Red Hook, Brooklyn, who were forced to leave their homes during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and returned – only to find out that repairing public housing wasn’t really a priority for those in charge. The damage, like black mold, has made plenty of people sick.
My family’s story shows climate change is a housing issue and an issue of economic and racial justice. I have family all over the city who were affected by Sandy, and everywhere the story is the same – six years later, we haven’t been able to fully recover. Six years! Can you believe it? That was just one storm, and climate change tells us we have more storms coming.
Fossil fuel companies make billions of dollars, yet our Governor keeps their interests in mind while people are dying in his own state. If I met Governor Cuomo, I would want to ask him, “Will you stand for life? Can I live? Can my kids live?” This is how serious this is. And that’s why it’s up to all of us, everywhere, to act now and demand change from our elected officials.
On May 14th, communities across America are rising together to demand real climate action in the Spring Forward to #FossilFree day of action. Find a Spring Forward action in your hometown, or sign-up to host one!
These times are sad and scary, but on Monday, the passion of the people encouraged me to think that one day we’ll have clean air, clean water, and clean food.
When we were marching, I felt so energized as a grandfather and great-grandfather. That’s why I’m 66 but getting myself on the bus at 5AM and marching around the New York Capitol. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Stop fossil fuels!” and I felt great.
That’s why it’s important to me and NYCC that we’re part of NY Renews, a statewide coalition of over 140 organizations building power to win a transition to 100% renewable energy and hold big polluters accountable. I truly believe that chant – “The people united will never be defeated.”
Member, New York Communities for Change
Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) has put in motion a groundbreaking climate court case against Shell, to force the company to bring its policy in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
We are completely behind them, and if you are too, here are two ways you can support the case:
- If you’re a Dutch citizen, you can become a co-plaintiff, which means that Milieudefensie would be bringing the case to court in your name (plus 7000+ others)
- If you’re not a citizen of the Netherlands, you can add your voice by signing this petition
The next years will be decisive in terms of keeping the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – and the 1.5 degree warming limit that climate justice demands – within reach. Yet Shell keeps extracting more and more fossil fuels. Only 1% of Shell’s investments go to renewable energy. Milieudefensie demands that if Shell doesn’t stop causing catastrophic climate change, it must be held accountable in court.
Through recently released internal memos, reports and even a video it’s clear that Shell has been aware of the risks of climate change and its own role for more than thirty years. And they did nothing. In a report released in 1998, Shell already showed concerns about the legal consequences of its actions. Another Shell report from that same year predicted that in 2010, after a series of devastating storms on the West Coast of the USA, citizen-led campaigns and actions against fossil companies would escalate. Public opinion, according to the report, would turn against the fossil industry in a similar way as had happened to the tobacco industry.
The document, discovered by journalist Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent, also predicted that several NGOs would start a lawsuit against the company and the US government because they “ignore what scientists (including their own researchers) have been saying for years: that something needs to be done.”
Their prediction was accurate. In 2017, climate court cases were started against governments or companies in 24 different countries, with 654 cases in America and 230 cases in the rest of the world (you can find a recent overview of global climate court cases here). For example, the American cities of San Francisco and Oakland demanded financial compensation from oil companies for damages due to the rising sea levels. The city of New York has filed a lawsuit against various fossil companies because of climate damage, and Paris is also exploring possibilities to start a climate court case.
With this global wave of climate litigation, people are making it clear that they are simply not willing to stand by and let the irresponsible, climate-wrecking behaviour we’ve seen from fossil fuel companies in the past few decades continue unchecked. Institutions and corporations must be held accountable for the decisions they make causing irreversible climate impacts, and we’ve got the power to make sure it happens.
In the Netherlands Milieudefensie announced at the beginning of April that it is starting a lawsuit against Shell. This particular climate court case is unique in the world because Milieudefensie is not asking for financial compensation, but instead for a change in policy. The organization demands that Shell stops causing disastrous climate change, and bring its policy in line with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
Why did Milieudefensie start a lawsuit against Shell?
Despite being aware of the risks for more than thirty years, Shell decided to mislead the public and actively counteract climate policy. The company emits twice as much greenhouse gas as the whole of the Netherlands!
“Given the urgency of the climate crisis, we should try all ways to stop the fossil fuel industry, including by going to court. Our government, city councils, research institutions and even schools still value a good relationship with Shell over a livable future. Hopefully this court case will open their eyes. We are proud to be co-plaintiffs!”
To become a co-plaintiff, you’ll need to leave your details and pay €1, so Milieudefensie can check your identity. This way, you can show that Milieudefensie is starting this case on your behalf.
On Saturday 28 April, Milieudefensie is organizing an interactive day of trainings in Amsterdam. On this day you can participate in workshops on how to effective outreach. You can get more details about the event here.
French President Emmanuel Macron talked extensively about climate change in a speech to Congress today, saying the U.S. will one day return to the Paris climate agreement because climate change is a long-term problem that won't go away. Watch the speech, posted by ABC News.Read original story
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed a new regulation to restrict the scientific evidence that can be used in writing EPA rules. Scientists say it could rule out the use of major health studies that support pollution regulations because they promised the participants confidentiality.Read original story
A judge has recommended Minnesota regulators use an existing route for a proposed tar sands oil pipeline that cuts through two Indian reservations, rather than the developer's preferred route. The decision elevates the concerns of Native Americans who oppose the pipeline.Read original story
America's coastal cities are preparing for legal battles tied to who owns real estate that becomes submerged because of climate change. Under current law in some states, waterways are public property and so is the land beneath them.Read original story
A new study in Science magazine shows that Florida and Texas would each lose about $100 billion in gross domestic product because of climate change. California's losses come in third at $59.6 billion. The researchers looked at extreme events, including sea level rise, severe storms, droughts and wildfires.Read original story
"We're talking about poisoning groundwater," one mayor told the agency Tuesday at the only public EPA hearing planned on Administrator Scott Pruitt's proposal to change federal coal ash rules. The changes were proposed by the utility industry.Read original story
Duke Energy will pay $156,000 for polluting waters with coal ash waste near three power plants. The fine, imposed by a state environmental agency, is described as a "paltry sum" by the Sierra Club.Read original story
Burning coal is a part of daily life in Poland. As a result, the country has some of the most polluted air in the European Union, and 33 of the EU's 50 dirtiest cities. The New York Times describes the scene in photos.Read original story