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Updated: 18 hours 59 min ago

Federal Judge Rejects Trump’s Approval of Keystone XL Pipeline

November 9, 2018 - 7:15pm

Last night, a federal judge invalidated Trump’s “presidential permit” for Keystone XL, ruling that the Administration violated key laws when it approved the pipeline.

This momentous ruling is a major delay that sends the Trump administration and TransCanada back to the drawing board on Keystone XL. While Trump suggested plans to appeal, we are ready to resist every step of the way.

A federal judge late Thursday blocked construction of the disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying the Trump administration “simply discarded” the effect the project would have on climate change https://t.co/BD0eEC4ZBU

— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 9, 2018

TransCanada is on the ropes. If thousands of us pledge to resist Keystone XL, it could be enough to convince them that this project isn’t worth pursuing. Sign the Promise to Protect now.

 

This decision confirms what we’ve known all along — that Trump’s executive order and environmental review process were a sham. Big Oil may have the money to push policy and politicians in favor of their profits, but we have morality, science, and the law on our side.

This case was filed by seven groups including Indigenous Environmental Network and the Northern Plains Resource Council. The judge stated that the Trump Administration “simply discarded” the effect the project would have on climate change. This means that no work can go forward until the government more fully reviews the pipeline’s environmental impact.

From the plains of Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota to Capitol Hill, we won’t stop until Keystone XL is gone forever. 

For over a decade, Indigenous peoples, farmers and ranchers, and their allies around the world have been fighting to stop this pipeline. Despite every obstacle thrown our way, the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground has kept Keystone XL from being built.

And we’re just getting started. There are over 17,000 people who have already committed to take peaceful direct action to stop this pipeline and any project that threatens our climate and communities. Let’s double that number.

Read the full statement from the Promise to Protect coalition here. 

Categories: International News

Global protests Saturday to save the Sundarbans from coal

November 9, 2018 - 4:48am

If built the Rampal power station in Bangladesh will spew 8 million tonnes of Co2 emissions into the atmosphere contributing to rising temperatures and irreversible climate change. We know this isn’t compatible with the scientific mandate to keep global heating under 1.5˚C. What’s more, the proposed plant is situated in one of the world’s most vulnerable areas to climate change impacts.

So on Saturday November 10th, #SaveSundarbans protests will take place in many cities around the world. These include London (Facebook event), Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Toronto (Facebook event), Calgary and Dhaka (Facebook event).

Take part in the action

If you can’t join a local action, you can still show support by sending photos or videos of yourself and messages of solidarity on social media with #SaveSundarbans.

Standing with people in Bangladesh and all those taking action this Saturday to #SaveSundarbans from #rampal coal plant #endcoal pic.twitter.com/Ba1p3I3BWq

— Nicole Leonard (@nikileonard) November 9, 2018

Every year Bangladesh suffers from climate related disasters including floods, droughts and salinization of freshwater supplies leading to the displacement of 100,000’s of people. There are over 40 million people living in highly vulnerable conditions on the banks of the Delta and the Sundarbans provide a vital buffer zone against the frequent cyclones and storms that pound the Bangladeshi coast.

The 10,000 square-kilometer Sundarban mangrove forest in Bangladesh is itself home to around 500,000 people who are dependent on the mangroves for their livelihoods which include growing rice, fishing and tourism. As well as the impacts of building the power station on the climate, the facility will also emit ashes, sulphur dioxide and damage fragile ecosystems affecting health and well-being of nearby residents.

Campaigners have published an alternative plan for power generation that demonstrates there is no need to take the disastrous path of coal mining and coal power plants to meet power demand in Bangladesh. The plan outlines how cheaper, environment-friendly and sustainable solutions are possible for Bangladesh.

“There are many alternatives for power generation but there is no alternative for the Sundarban. We urge the governments of Bangladesh and India to cancel all commercial projects including Rampal power plant to protect Sundarban that is the biggest safeguard for people in the region to fight climate change,” explained Debasish Sarker, NCBD (National Committee to Protect Oil Gas Mineral, Resources Power and Ports, Bangladesh).

Currently Bangladesh produces very little of its electricity from coal. Whilst many other countries in the world are looking to transition away from coal, the Bangladesh government is planning to massively expand energy production through coal. A slew of mega projects are planned with backing from Chinese, Japanese and Indian banks and contractors.

Bangladesh has a huge abundance of natural resources such as sun and wind, the potential for renewable energy is enormous. As of 2017 over 30 million people are directly benefiting from solar energy and there is so much more potential with wind, and biogas.

The construction of any new coal power plant is inconceivable given the findings of the IPCC report released this October. Every ton of coal burned makes an immediate contribution to the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere causing long term and irreversible climate change. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground now to ensure that we stay below 1,5 degrees in order to avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown, ” said Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Director, 350.org.

Local and national protests against the Rampal power plant have been met by brutal repression, and activists on the ground and around the country say it is now difficult for them to campaign against the plant, which is now under construction.

“In Rampal all means are being used to terrorise people including fabricating false cases, death threats, arrests, beatings and indiscriminate attacks on activists. This is why the global mobilization taking place today is so important,” said Debasish Sarker, NCBD.

You can help spread the word for this global day of action by sharing this article, and sending messages of solidarity on social media using the hashtag #SaveSundarbans. You can join the Global Facebook event to get in touch with others organizing.

 

Categories: International News

Coal has no borders

November 7, 2018 - 4:16pm

Coal pollution has no borders — no matter where it is burned, its pollution affects us all. It starts with local destruction but eventually it spreads across land and air until it reaches our atmosphere, making our planet’s climate warmer and more dangerous.

The power plants in Muğla, Turkey are no exception and have been causing destruction to local communities for decades, in addition to polluting our planet. But last week, the people of Muğla made their will very clear: they want to be free from fossil fuels:

Villagers near Yatağan coal complex in Muğla had their photos projected in front of one of the local coal plants

The struggle in Muğla is one that we all are part of. Stand in solidarity with the people of Muğla who are bravely resisting coal and fighting for climate justice — send them a message of support.

The symbolic action in front of the coal plant in Muğla is dramatic for two reasons: for one, the villagers came together to send a message after the Turkish governments decided to extend the license for the coal plants to operate for another 30 years.  Secondly, the fossil fuel industry has a record of intimidating people standing in its way. So rather than standing physically at the coal facility, the villagers decided to get creative and projected their photos and their call for a #FossilFree Muğla.

Their message came just a few days before a comprehensive report on coal impacts in Muğla was released, highlighting facts that the villagers know only too well: coal poisons the soil and air, makes people sick with irreversible conditions and makes it impossible for people to live off the land — in the case of Muğla, villagers have watched their centenary olive trees die off every year.

But the report also provides shocking data on how extracting, transporting and burning coal is making it harder for us to stay below 1.5 degrees in order to avoid catastrophic planetary breakdown. With the life of the coal plants in Muğla being extended for another 30 years, the villagers are not only at risk of displacement and serious health impacts, but our planet is at stake too.

The struggle in Muğla against coal is one that belongs to us all. Send a solidarity message to the villagers and show your support. We’ll be delivering these solidarity messages to the people of Muğla early next month.

None of us is alone in fighting climate change. This planet is our only home, and its climate struggles are our own.

Categories: International News

The Escazú Agreement changes what’s possible for environmental & climate protection

November 6, 2018 - 9:01pm

Political elites, corrupt government agencies and unaccountable corporations do not hesitate to use threats or violence to protect their capital and power. Whether it is defending tribal lands or forests from land grabbing by fracking or mining corporations, or being a city-based activist challenging the power of the fossil fuel industry, climate and environmental activists face an unprecedented level of violence and threat directed at them by these vested interests.

Against this confronting backdrop, some hope is on the horizon, and it is worth knowing about this one: The Escazú Agreement.

The Escazú Agreement is a ground breaking multilateral agreement signed by 16 Latin America and Caribbean nations at the end of September, that could – if implemented successfully – be a crucial tool for climate and environmental protection in the years to come. The negotiation sessions, held from May 2015 to March 2018, of this legally binding agreement engaged 24 out of the 33 countries of the region.

The Escazú Agreement obliges states to protect the people and groups that defend the environment. It means everyone will be able to:

  • Access information on the state of the environment and how a particular project might affect it
  • Be consulted and participate in decisions that could affect our environment
  • Seek reparations in the courts if our environment is adversely affected or if our views are not taken into account.

On September 8th, 2018, in Pasto, capital city of Nariño, at the southwest of Colombia, dozens of peasant, artistic, academic, indigenous and social organizations gathered to reclaim and defend their territories from extractive activities like fracking, which risks the water sources and the biodiversity. Photo by David Moreno-Galeano | Survival Media Agency

These are huge wins for communities and the environment in a region that has the highest rates of murder and threats for environmental defenders.

Signed by Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia , Bolivia and Uruguay, the Agreement breaks new ground, being:

  • The first multilateral agreement to include specific recognition and pledges of protection of the rights of Environmental Defenders
  • The first environmental treaty for the Latin America and Caribbean region
  • The first treaty to have emerged from the Rio+20 process
  • It joins only one other regional treaty on environmental democracy: Europe’s Aarhus Convention.

The agreement wasn’t developed by governments alone – it was the result of years of work by civil society and community groups. I spoke with Rubens Born, who has been working on protection for environmental defenders for over 20 years across Latin America, and is now working with 350.org in the region. He participated in the development of the Escazú Agreement as a civil society representative.

The process

It was a unique process, quite different from other agreements. In many high level meetings like this, sometimes civil society organisations can deliver a 2 or 3 minute speech at the end of the day. But here for the Escazú, our representatives could sit at the table where diplomats were sitting. If at least one country supported our proposal, then it would be drafted into the text. That is exactly how the Environment Defenders article ended up in the agreement.

The agreement carries great hope and looks strong on paper, but it comes at a calamitous time; you have to wonder how effective it will be. I asked Rubens about what will be needed for effective implementation:

Implementation is key

We have to study the opportunities Escazú provides us, to identify implementation steps for each country that has signed on, and turn the generic, UN-level language of the agreement into specific policies at the national level. We need to make sure there is enforcement capacity for those policies and that the guarantee of protection for environmental defenders is implemented in practice. That is a huge challenge. We need to push domestic interpretations of the agreement to recognise that it’s not just humans we are protecting, but the forests, animals, waterways, climate and land too.

The Escazú Agreement isn’t just significant for those in Latin America and the Caribbean – in this time marred by increasing authoritarianism, shrinking space for civic participation and disregard for human and environmental rights, it can be a beacon for all of us to support, and learn from. That support can be solidarity when it comes to calls for domestic implementation, and the learning can inspire a new wave of protection for environmental defenders in other parts of the world. With an incredibly narrow window of time to limit climate change catastrophe, we need many more people standing up to protect our environment and climate from fossil fuel extraction — and we need to keep each other safe while doing so.

More information:

The Escazú Agreement text is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese at https://www.cepal.org/en/escazuagreement

Full text in English – here: https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/43583/1/S1800428_en.pdf

A hub of information for participation and justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean : https://www.cepal.org/en/publications/43302-access-information-participation-and-justice-environmental-matters-latin-america

Categories: International News

Déjà Vu: Flooding in Trinidad

November 5, 2018 - 1:19pm

Guest post by Maurice Mitchell – National Director Working Families Party

Late last month, my mother’s homeland of Trinidad and Tobago faced its worst flooding in years. Massive rainfall forced towns to evacuate, as cars and homes were completely submerged and whole communities were cut off from the rest of the island. People saw their houses wrecked by massive mudslides.

Although I was raised in the United States, my family gave me a strong sense of Caribbean identity. And I saw my parents’ uncommon resilience and ingenuity reflected in the videos and reports of people wading through water, desperately processing loss, but rising to the occasion through optimism and fortitude.

It also gave me a powerful sense of deja vu.

Photo: Trinidad Express

In 2012, I and my family became storm refugees when Hurricane Sandy wiped away our home and all our possessions. We had to lean on that resilient current within us. It was traumatic and disorienting, but we had each other. We endured, and we rebuilt.

As I watched the flooding in Trinidad and Tobago, all the emotions from Sandy came rushing back. Not just the sense of loss, but the anger. Because even though they took place six years apart, the hurricane that devastated our Long Island home and the deluge in my mother’s homeland were linked. They are each the the violent product of a political and existential crisis — climate change.

Ariel video of mass #flooding across #Trinidad due to heavy rainfall. What would be left if there was a storm or hurricane!#climatechange @CARICOMorg @CARICOMClimate @UNTrinidadTobag pic.twitter.com/r5oD5htK9k

— Nesha Abiraj (@AbirajNesha) October 20, 2018

Environmentalism is often framed as niche issue for the privileged. We tend to think of nature and ecology as abstract concepts outside of our day to day lives. What we rarely sit in is the fact that we are of nature, that we are part of the ecological balance, and that these crises devastate human lives.

What’s more, the lives that are most impacted by environmental crisis are those of people of color, poor, and working class people, both in the U.S. and in developing countries around the world.

Floods in Trinidad, October 2018. Photo: Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government

 

What’s clear to me is that organized capital has taken advantage of the dysfunctional political system in the United States to and set us on a path that put short-term profit ahead of people. While the rest of the world attempts to address these global concerns, big oil and other multinational corporations have captured our political system and commandeered the immense capacities of the U.S. government to subvert efforts to fight climate change, even as climate change destroys lives and devastates communities around the world.

The impact of this sabotage is deadly, and it’s people of color, poor people, and others around the world that feel the brunt of it. What makes this approach more maddening is that this climate disaster will eventually take the names of more and more people across class, race, and region.  

#flooding has worsened with continued rainfall in #Trinidad. All hands on deck needed to render #humanitarianaid. Kudos to people of all walks of life stepping in to assist. #climatechange perhaps even sooner than we thought. pic.twitter.com/C4x4jSicVU

— Nesha Abiraj (@AbirajNesha) October 23, 2018

But in the face of this crisis of political will and corporate irresponsibility I continue to rely on the resilience and hope of my Caribbean immigrant upbringing. We can interrupt this insanity through collective action. We have the tools to dismantle the two-party system that corporations keep in their pockets. Join us by voting, organizing, and building the multiracial populist mass-movement that will overcome the narrow interests of organized capital.  

We can do this. And for our families, here and abroad, we must.

 

Categories: International News

The Climate Trial of the Century

November 2, 2018 - 9:31am

The lawsuit brought forth by the 21 youth, Juliana v Gov., was scheduled to go to trial on October 29th in Eugene, Oregon. The youth and their legal team fought long and hard to reach this milestone to finally be given the chance to present their case and have their day in court.

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration got a last minute temporary “stay” order from the Supreme Court to delay the trial.  This came after years of delays and a recent flurry of desperate legal motions by Trump Administration lawyers to delay the trial. Yet, that didn’t stop people from gathering in their communities at over 90 actions to show their support for the #TrialoftheCentury.

On Monday, October 29th, 1500 people rallied in Eugene, Oregon, in front of the courthouse where the trial was set to begin, to hear from the youth plaintiffs, their legal team, and dozens of local faith and community leaders about the importance of this case and its potential to define our climate legacy.

With @350Eugene & https://t.co/eaUABx9ALP‘s David Solnit, we created a timeline at the October 29 rally in Eugene to show what the government has known about #climatechange every year, yet disregarded as it continues to promote fossil fuels. (

Categories: International News

Fossil Free News #7: Science, delivered.

October 19, 2018 - 10:48am

This issue of Fossil Free News was first published as an email on October 18. Sign up here for future editions. 

Galvanized by the UN report on 1.5˚C, tens of thousands around the world seized this moment of public attention on climate change to make our demands clear: a 1.5˚C world is possible, but it requires sweeping change to end the fossil fuel age, right now.

In France, where I’m writing from, over 100,000 mobilized for the second time in over two months, this time in 86 cities and towns across the country. They were joined by people on the frontlines of climate change in Bangladesh, groups of family and friends delivering copies of the report to local MPs across Australia, and many others over the last week.

We don’t expect it to slow down. This is the beginning of a renewed push to bring the three Fossil Free demands home, wherever we live: 1) no fossil fuel projects, 2) not a penny more in financial support for the industry, and 3) an accelerated shift to a 100% renewable energy economy that works for everyone. In this moment when our leaders seem so out of touch with the reality communities are facing, we have to engage on an entirely new level. It’s up to us to provide the leadership.

Take a look at what local campaigns around the world have been doing in the last 2 weeks, and find some inspiration for your campaigns (or click below to start one where you live.)

Thank you,
Nicole

Last week, as people around the world reacted to the UN’s news that we’re currently nowhere close to hitting the 1.5˚C target that is a redline for so many communities, people were organising. In Switzerland, 7,000 marched straight to the banks funding climate chaos to deliver the report. In Australia, a distributed method saw many small groups meeting with local MPs to urge them to take a Fossil Free approach. And in the Philippines, communities organized consultations on what the report means for them and their organising. Read the roundup here of the different tactics people are using – and expect more actions to come.

More progress on divestment: Just after Asian movements published a letter urging the World Bank to be more stringent on coal funding, the World Bank has officially ended its support for the last coal mine on their books, in Kosovo. Interestingly, they cited the lower cost of renewables as their rationale. And in California, the city of Fremont passed a resolution on divestment, while a San Francisco pension fund is using the tactic to force companies to change their investment behavior. In New York, new evidence has been published that each pensioner would be almost $20,000 richer had the state fund divested from fossil fuels 10 years ago. That makes them $22 billion poorer altogether.

Amidst all the mainstream media focus and number-heavy reporting swirling last week around the 1.5˚C report, you might have missed the People’s Dossier on 1.5˚C. It gathers 13 impressive stories of frontline fossil fuel resistance around the globe, centering the human stories behind the struggle to keep the climate crisis in check. A longer but highly recommended read — these communities’ leadership, even in the face of direct impacts from climate change, is truly inspiring.


Last weekend, 20 local climate activists from 10 US-based local 350 groups gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee for the inaugural weekend of the first Heart and Muscle Cohort. Over the next year, Heart and Muscle Cohort members will receive individualized coaching, training and support to help them run effective and inclusive campaigns to combat climate change at the local level.

With representatives from Juneau, Alaska to East Chicago, Indiana and New Orleans, the Heart and Muscle Cohort represents a broad swath of local communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel industry destruction and climate impacts. Over the weekend, they received training on narrative strategy, coalition building and goal-setting for their campaigns over the next year. The training was held at the historic Highlander Research and Education Center — the same place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks received activist training before the launch of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Cohort members had an opportunity to soak in the history of Highlander and locate themselves within a legacy of broad struggle for racial, gender, labor and climate justice.

Activists in Brazil have translated this impressive video showcasing their actions outside an oil and gas auction in Rio. It details the threats that local communities, including many indigenous communities, will face if extraction in these areas goes ahead.

 

Galvanized by last week’s report, thousands of you took action around the world to deliver the UN’s report on 1.5C to leaders in power. It’s only the beginning. Watch and share this video of the actions – and how we can channel frustration on slow progress into tangible demands to keep us below 1.5˚C. And if you didn’t take part and deliver a copy of the report to your local leaders, it’s never too late to organise a simple delivery action. An in-person meeting is so much more powerful than simply calling your local representative – and there’s a host of downloadable posters and creative suggestions for making an even bigger impact.

 

Categories: International News