Now there is a new way to force action on climate change – the courts

Taken from Greenpeace – Energy Desk

Today, something incredible happened in the Netherlands. In a landmark court case, in which NGO Urgenda along with 900 concerned Dutch citizens sued the government for failing act on climate change, the Dutch court ruled in their favour. It was a brave and necessary verdict.

The Netherlands is widely known for being progressive on social issues (gay marriage, soft drugs etc) but we are unfortunately far from that when it comes to tackling climate change. The wet and soggy lowlands have been lagging behind on renewables, with only 4% — one of the lowest in Europe.

But today’s verdict is a game-changer in the fight against climate change. The Dutch court ruling is clear: The government has a legal duty to protect its people against the threat of climate change. Litigation against governments who fail to take climate change seriously will spread around the world.

The implications will be felt for years to come. The Hague Court ordered the government to cut CO2 emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020. That is an additional 10% CO2 reduction in the next five years.

The Netherlands is not the only country failing to take the necessary measures to tackle dangerous climate change. The arguments made in this landmark ruling are applicable to other countries, and in the run-up to the Paris climate conference, governments around the world should take note.

And this is just the beginning. There is a case being brought in Belgium, and Greenpeace hopes to bring about a similar action in the Philippines, which suffered terribly from Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Greenpeace, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement and other local NGOs are requesting the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines to open a critical investigation into the responsibility of big carbon polluters for human rights violations that have or will result from the impacts of climate change.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia launched the demand for the investigation on World Environment Day by asking Filipinos and others to show their support for the investigation by signing on to this petition.

What is it that keeps us trapped in a world of greed and scarcity?

Any of us worrying about climate change will, at some point, find ourselves thinking, “Why can’t people take it all more seriously? Why can’t they (or more honestly, we,) simply adopt a different perspective that means we don’t need to grab more and more of the world’s resources? Why is it so difficult to accept the Earth and its riches as a gift to be shared?”

I believe we are caught in frameworks that are reinforced daily by our experience of economics. At its simplest level, economics is the relationship between human beings and the stuff that keeps them alive. But it has become infinitely complex and hard to understand and hard to see how the way we handle “stuff” and particularly that magic stuff, money, is giving us perverse messages, instructions and incentives. A single kind of debt-based, interest-bearing money has come to dominate the world — a money that tells its users that wealth is scarce, a money that creates obscure relationships between debtors and creditors, a money that drives us blindly and helplessly because we do not understand it.

If the planet is to be saved by new perspectives and new motivations, then better understanding of our pernicious, enslaving economics is the place to begin. There are other ways of doing it and other kinds of money.

Try looking up Charles Eisenstein, (especially Sacred Economics), David Graeber (Debt: the first 5000 years) or the Ubuntu movement for inspiration.

Lucy Faulkner-Gawlinski

Shell accused of strategy risking catastrophic climate change

Royal Dutch Shell has been accused of pursuing a strategy that would lead to potentially catastrophic climate change after an internal document acknowledged a global temperature rise of 4C, twice the level considered safe for the planet.

ShellA paper used for guiding future business planning at the Anglo-Dutch multinational assumes that carbon dioxide emissions will fail to limit temperature increases to 2C, the internationally agreed threshold to prevent widespread flooding, famine and desertification.

nstead, the New Lens Scenarios document refers to a forecast by the independent International Energy Agency (IEA) that points to a temperature rise of up to 4C in the short term, rising later to 6C.

The revelations come ahead of the annual general meeting of Shell shareholders in the Netherlands on Tuesday, where the group has accepted a shareholder resolution demanding more transparency about the group’s impact on climate change.

Read more here

Carbon storage hopes rise again

Carbon capture and storage, if it proved possible, would help to make the main greenhouse gas harmless. American scientists say they are making progress.

LONDON, 20th April, 2015 — Two groups of US scientists are exploring new ways of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One technology mimics the tree by using artificial photosynthesis. The other exploits a membrane that is a thousand times more efficient than any tree.

Although the nations of the world agreed in 2009 to attempt to limit the global warming temperature rise this century to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, colossal quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide are still being emitted into the atmosphere.

So some researchers have been exploring the technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS): ways of trapping CO2 as it leaves the power station chimney or machinery exhaust and storing it for burial or reuse. Others have proposed “artificial trees” that could remove the gas from the atmosphere.

Renewable resources

Nanotechnology — engineering at precisions of a millionth of a millimetre — exploits a “forest” of light-capturing “nanowire arrays” dosed with selected populations of a bacterium called Sporomusa ovala to filter the flue gases for carbon dioxide. This inventive double act of silicon and a carbon-based life form then performs a conjuring trick called photo-electrochemistry: from the captured gas it delivers acetic acid, and it can go on doing so for about 200 hours.

A second bacterium — genetically engineered Escherichia coli — can then get to work on the product and turn it into acetyl co-enzyme A as the starting point for a range of valuable chemical products. These could range from a precursor to the anti-malarial drug artemisinin to the fuel butanol.

Storage problem

Klaus Lackner of Arizona State University’s Centre for Negative Carbon Emissions and colleagues are testing a synthetic membrane that can capture carbon dioxide from the air that passes through it.

The technology is based on a resin that works in dry atmospheres (in humid environments it actually releases the carbon dioxide, so it wouldn’t work everywhere). Prototype collectors trap between 10% and 50% of all the carbon dioxide that blows through the membrane.

“I believe we have reached a point where it is really paramount for substantive public research and development of direct air capture,” he told the American Physical Society meeting in Maryland. “The Centre for Negative Carbon Emissions cannot do it alone.” — Climate News Network

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