Keep it in the ground


Last November the International Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, published its calculations that globally we must keep 62% of our fossil fuels in the ground if we are to have any chance of keeping climate change to 2 degrees.

It’s clear that fossil fuel companies, which prioritise their profits, are bad for our Earth’s future but they are becoming bad news for their investors’ pockets too. If countries are bound to meet their carbon budgets, many of the companies’ assets will become unusable.

Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian retired at the end of June after giving his last six months to a passionate campaign on climate change, focussing particularly on the need to divest from fossil fuel companies on both ethical and financial grounds. People across the country have been calling on their pension funds and on high profile philanthropic trusts, such as The Gates Foundation and The Welcome Trust, to divest. Lots more needs to be done but it has been an exciting campaign which has provided a lot of information. It’s worth looking at one of the introductory Guardian articles:


Great turn out at Disruption – What next?

There was a great turn out at the Disruption film on Tuesday 23rd June, between sixty and seventy people.  Some people found it too distressing and lacking in ideas for individual and local action. A couple of young people have gone away with ideas of making their own short films with a local slant. Someone else has suggested a campaign to persuade town centre shops not to have open doors, especially in the winter. we are planning a ‘teach-in’ in the early autumn.

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.

VICTORY! Seriously, G7 Says Goodbye to Fossil Fuels!

13/6 I had this email from Avaaz yesterday. Something to celebrate!

Many told us it was a pipe dream, but the G7 Summit of leading world powers just committed to getting the global economy off fossil fuels forever!!!

Even the normally cynical media is raving that this is a huge deal.

And it’s one giant step closer to a huge win at the Paris summit in December — where the entire world could unite behind the same goal of a world without fossil fuels — the only way to save us all from catastrophic climate change.

For 2 years our community has led global public mobilisation for this goal, including:

  • spearheading the gigantic, momentum-changing, 700,000 strong climate march last year
  • a 2.7 million person petition for 100% clean/0 carbon delivered to dozens of key leaders
  • scores of rallies, high-level lobbying meetings, opinion polls, and ad campaigns, all funded by our community
  • a 3 month all-out push for the G7 summit leadership, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to put this on the agenda and agree to this goal

Our work is far from done, but it’s a day to celebrate — click here to read more and say congratulations to everyone else in this incredibly wonderful community!!

“TheWe spearheaded the largest climate march in history – nearly 700,000 strong and a game-changer for political momentum.

Just last year climate change seemed to many of us like a behemoth that was dooming our species to a significant probability of extinction due to our own stupidity and corruption.

But with hope, and good strategy, (the Avaaz effect:)), and the efforts of many leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Pope Francis, and organisations like our friends at 350 and the Guardian newspaper’s work on fossil fuel divestment, as well as killer research from groups like the World Resources Institute, most experts now believe the tide is turning, and momentum is building to get a global deal in Paris this year that will set the world on course to a solution. It will be a long fight, we cannot afford to drop our guard, but today, we celebrate a battle won!!!

With gratitude and joy,

Ricken, Alice, Emma, Iain, and the whole Avaaz team

PS: the G7 declaration is just a commitment, and we need to hold them accountable, but commitments matter – sending an immediate signal to dirty and clean energy investors that will help accelerate the clean-energy boom we desperately need. There’s more info on the summit and how we helped win this on our celebration page:

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

Are the churches speaking out at all?

“Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity,” says the declaration at the end of the early May Vatican summit, The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, . “In this core moral space, the world’s religions play a very vital role.”

Vatican watchers and climate experts say the meeting shows that Pope Francis is − in marked contrast to his predecessors − keen for the Catholic church to be more involved in the climate change issue, and is also urging other religions to become more actively engaged.

The papal encyclical on the environment is due to be published this summer. It is said to be complete and is in the process of translation. Pope Francis has said over the two years since his election that he believes climate change is caused by human action. So It is expected that the encyclical will call for much stronger environmental protection, including limits on greenhouse gas emissions. A poll carried out on behalf of CAFOD (the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England/Wales) found that between 72 and 80 percent of Catholics feel that we should care for God’s creation and that we have a moral obligation to protect the world’s poorest people (many of whom are, or will be impacted by climate change). The papal encyclical will be published ahead of the December meeting in Paris of global leaders and hopefully will have an impact on the decisions agreed there.

Christopher Lindley