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USA Congress supports Department of Defense policy for action on climate change

46 Republicans buck party to help Democrats take down anti-climate action amendment

In a battle over military’s approach to climate change, the military and preparedness won. 

Forty-six House Republicans, including almost all of the GOP members of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, joined Democrats late Thursday to defeat a bill amendment that would have prevented the Department of Defense from analyzing and addressing climate change.

Introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), the amendment would have blocked a provision in the current version of the National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA) that requires a study into the 20-year impacts of climate change on the military. The amendment also would have removed language from the NDAA that recognizes climate change as a “direct threat” to the national security of the United States.

The House voted 185–234 against the amendment. No Democrat voted to support it, and Rep. Peter King (NY) was the only Republican member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus to vote in favor of the amendment. Rep. Rodney Davis (IL), another Republican member of the caucus, did not vote.

The other 22 Republican members of the caucus, including Rep. Darrell Issa (CA), joined their Democratic colleagues to help defeat the amendment. Issa has a 4 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters and is viewed by many climate activists as a long-time climate science denier.

The Climate Solutions Caucus was formed in early 2016 to bring Republicans and Democrats together to advance meaningful climate change legislation. The caucus uses what has come to be known as the “Noah’s Ark approach” to membership: No one can join without a member of the other party coming on board at the same time.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), co-chairman of the climate caucus, described the vote as proof that there is a “bipartisan majority in Congress of members who understand that climate change is a real threat to our communities, our economy, and our military readiness.”

“I hope my House colleagues were watching closely; denying climate change is no longer a winning strategy,” Deutch said in a statement.

Thursday’s vote not only backed climate action, it also backed the military. For more than a decade, the Department of Defense has warned that climate change poses a critical national security threat. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has stated that climate change is real and a threat to the military’s assets and activities — a position at odds with the views of President Donald Trump and many in his administration. Mattis also believes the U.S. military needs to cut its dependence on fossil fuels and use renewable energy where it makes sense.

“The Pentagon has long warned that climate change is a grave threat to our national security, and the Secretary of Defense says climate change threatens our military readiness today,” Sara Jordan, legislative representative for the League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement issued Thursday in response to the defeat of the amendment. “Now even a bipartisan majority of Congress agrees — showing just how out of step President Trump and his polluter allies are in their efforts to put polluter profits ahead of our health and national security.”

In late June, the House Armed Services Committee, in a bipartisan vote, passed an amendment, introduced by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), to the annual defense authorization bill that directs the Defense Department to assess the vulnerabilities of the 10 bases in each service most threatened by the effects of climate change. Perry’s amendment would have undercut Langevin’s amendment and other policies at the Defense Department to account for climate change.

During a House floor debate on Thursday, Perry said he introduced the amendment because climate change should not be a priority for military leaders and that lawmakers should not tell the military on what matters to focus. “Literally litanies of other federal agencies deal with environmental issues including climate change,” Perry said.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a member of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, spoke out against her fellow Republican’s amendment. “We would be remiss in our efforts to protect our national security to not fully account for the risk climate change poses to our bases, our readiness, and to the fulfillment of our armed forces’ mission,” Stefanik said on the House floor.

Rep. Stefanik Speaks on Climate Change During NDAA Floor Debate

In her remarks, Stefanik was echoing the statements made by Richard Spencer, Trump’s Navy secretary nominee, to a Senate committee on Tuesday. Spencer said climate change represents a real threat to the military, Politico reported. “The Navy, from my briefings to date, is totally aware of rising water issues, storm issues, etc.,” he said.

In a statement released Thursday, the American Security Project, a nonpartisan national security educational group, commended the House for striking down Perry’s amendment. “The American Security Project strongly supports addressing climate change as a national security priority. The science around climate change is strong enough to take action,” the group said.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change is killing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

The uncomfortable truth: The Great Barrier Reef is doomed, Independent Australia  Dr Geoff Davies 14 July 2017 The Great Barrier Reef is unlikely to survive as more than a small, sad remnant of its past glory.

The reason is straightforward. It is well known in climate science that, even if we stopped harmful emissions tomorrow, global warming would not peak for another several decades. By then, most of the Reef will be long gone.

This is not pleasant news and clearly many would prefer it was not said, but there it is, the argument is simple and the conclusion is difficult to avoid.

The recent decision by the United Nations World Heritage Committee not to list the Reef as “in danger” is, of course, farcical. It reflects the crudest of politics, including the blinkered claim that Australia is not reponsible for global warming. Yet Australian governments, state and federal, do everything they can to spruik the coal mining that would ensure the death of the Reef and threaten to tip us into catastrophic warming.

Most news reports of global warming use only words and try for spurious he-said-she-said “balance”, so you don’t get a very clear impression of what is really going on. A good graph is worth millions of such waffle words.

[lengthy explanation given here with graphs]……

Suppose the world suddenly got sane and we set about the emergency reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as scientists have been urging for several decades now. Even if emissions drop precipitously, there’s still too much already in the atmosphere. It takes a long time for the gases to be absorbed back into the land and ocean. In the meantime, warming will continue for 20 to 40 years — or even longer (the uncertainty is because we don’t know to what depth the oceans carry the extra heat they absorb)…….

Some scientists think corals have some chance of adapting and reversing a portion of the die-off if temperatures peak at “only” 1.5°C, but the corals’ diversity would be greatly reduced. If the peak is above 1.5°C, there is no chance of recovery.

If people like Donald Trump and Tony Abbott continue to be influential then global warming could even accelerate, as we pump out ever-more fossil fuel exhausts. Or natural reinforcings might already be kicking in and tipping the system into runaway. In that case, we would have to forget the Reef and worry about the survival of civilisation.

On the other hand, there is far more we can do to reduce emissions, reduce them quickly and live well as we do it. Leaders like William McDonough and Amory Lovins have long noted our wastefulness and the huge potential of good design and a cycling industrial system. Regenerative agriculture can not only reduce emissions but recapture and store greenhouse gases, all with abundant yields.

The Great Barrier Reef is not just a pretty decoration and earner of tourist dollars. Thousands of ocean species depend on it for food, shelter and breeding — even species that spend most of their lives far away. The effects of the present death will already be reverberating through ocean ecosystems. We depend heavily on the oceans to maintain a habitable planet.

There is a silence about the Reef. The massive bleachings have been prominent in the news, but nothing happens. We know it’s happening, but we don’t want to mention it. Why are we silent?

If our media were functioning properly, this dire prospect could have been widely understood before it became acute. The problem is not just the Murdoch media, which actively obfuscate and lie about global warming.

The media’s interpretation of ‘balance’ is so superficial as to seriously misrepresent the world. For example, paraphrasing a recent report: Much of the northern Great Barrier Reef is dead. But the good news is the southern parts are still mostly healthy. There is no good news. Such a report might reasonably have said, instead: The GBR has begun its death throes………

might there also be shame? We are the generation, out of all of the long history of humanity, that is allowing the glories of a planet to be destroyed. Oh dear, I’m not supposed to make my readers uncomfortable, they might switch off.

The question stares us in the face anyway. How will we face our grandchildren?

Dr Geoff Davies is an author, commentator and scientist.  He is a retired geophysicist at the Australian National University and the author of Desperately Seeking the Fair Go (2017). He blogs at BetterNature and tweets at @BetterNatureOz,10501

July 15, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Climate change must be thrust to the centre of UK politics – Labour is urged

Labour Must Put More Focus On Climate Change, Morning Star, 12 July 17 

Though the election didn’t focus much on the environment, the Labour Party must now thrust it into the political arena, argues IAN SINCLAIR

THERE is a tendency in Britain to look contemptuously upon the US political system. And nowhere are the deficiencies of the “shining city on a hill” more glaring than its sidelining of climate change — “the missing issue” of the 2016 US presidential campaign, reported the Guardian. According to the US writer Bryan Farrell, the topic was discussed for just 82 seconds during the 2016 televised presidential debates, which was actually an improvement on the 2012 debates, when it wasn’t mentioned at all.

Tragically, this omission was mirrored in the recent general election here. “The issue of #climatechange was completely marginalised during the #GE2017 media coverage,” Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture tweeted about its election analysis.

This absence, the media watchdog Media Lens noted, is “the great insanity of our time.” Why? Because climate change is arguably the most serious threat the world faces today.

In January 2017 writer Andrew Simms surveyed over a dozen leading climate scientists and analysts and found none of them thought global temperatures would stay below 2°C — the figure world leaders agree we cannot exceed if we wish to stop dangerous climate change.

Last year, top climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson told the Morning Star the pledges made by nations at the 2015 Paris climate summit would likely lead to a 3-4°C rise in global temperatures. Frighteningly he also told the author George Marshall that it’s hard to find any scientist who considers four degrees “as anything other than catastrophic for both human society and ecosystems.”

Surveying the environmental policies of the main parties just before June 8, Friends of the Earth scored the Green Party top with 46 points, followed by Labour on 34, the Liberal Democrats on 32 and the Conservatives trailing last with a poor 11.

The environment and climate change did not play a significant role in the Labour Party’s hugely successful election campaign. And though Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn himself rarely mentioned the topic on the campaign trail, the manifesto was a pleasant surprise to many.

“I’ve been really encouraged by Corbyn’s commitment to safeguarding our environment,” Nancy Strang, the women’s officer in Brent Central Labour, tells me. “The 2017 manifesto pledges to increase renewable energy production and investment, to tackle our air quality with a Clean Air Act, to protect Britain’s wildlife, and to ban fracking are all huge steps in the right direction … these pledges go beyond those in any previous Labour Party manifesto that I remember.”

The Green Party’s Dr Rupert Read agrees. “Corbyn’s Labour have some good environmental policies,” he tells me. “For example, their new-found opposition to fracking is much to be welcomed.”

However, he highlights a “fundamental problem” with Labour’s manifesto. “It is their unreconstructed insistence on ‘faster economic growth’,” Read argues.

The environment and climate change did not play a significant role in the Labour Party’s hugely successful election campaign. And though Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn himself rarely mentioned the topic on the campaign trail, the manifesto was a pleasant surprise to many.

“I’ve been really encouraged by Corbyn’s commitment to safeguarding our environment,” Nancy Strang, the women’s officer in Brent Central Labour, tells me. “The 2017 manifesto pledges to increase renewable energy production and investment, to tackle our air quality with a Clean Air Act, to protect Britain’s wildlife, and to ban fracking are all huge steps in the right direction … these pledges go beyond those in any previous Labour Party manifesto that I remember.”

The Green Party’s Dr Rupert Read agrees. “Corbyn’s Labour have some good environmental policies,” he tells me. “For example, their new-found opposition to fracking is much to be welcomed.”

it is clear external political pressure from the Green Party — “they have led where others were not so bold,” says Van Coevorden — also has an essential role to play in pushing Corbyn’s Labour in the right direction on green issues. It should also be noted that Corbyn personally opposes some of the environmentally damaging policies the broader Labour Party currently supports, such as Heathrow expansion and Trident renewal.
So, arguably, increased backing for the Labour leader and sidelining his neoliberal opponents within the party will likely improve Labour’s environmental policies.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. First, because against all the odds Corbyn now has a realistic chance of becoming Prime Minister — YouGov’s latest poll has Labour on 46 per cent and the Tories on 38 per cent. And second, because climate change continues to be an existential threat to humanity, with the Guardian reporting “scientists said they feared for their children” after hearing of US President Donald Trump’s vow to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

It is, therefore, essential the environment and climate change are thrust to the centre of the national political debate as soon as possible — something Green Party and Labour Party members can both agree on, surely?

It is, therefore, essential the environment and climate change are thrust to the centre of the national political debate as soon as possible — something Green Party and Labour Party members can both agree on, surely?



July 15, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Climate drowning islands north of Australia – eventually to cause climate refugees

‘The island is being eaten’: how climate change is threatening the Torres Strait
In Boigu, part of Australia but just six kilometres from Papua New Guinea, roads are being washed into the sea, 
Guardian, Ben Doherty and Michael Slezak, 13 July 17, Torres Strait residents face being forced from their homes by climate change, as their islands are lost to rising seas.

On Boigu Island, the most northerly inhabited island in Australia, just six kilometres from Papua New Guinea, the community’s cemetery faces inundation and roads are being washed into the sea. A seawall installed to protect the community is already failing.

Boigu elder Dennis Gibuma says the situation is worsening every season.

“Our seawall is no longer any good,” he says. “When the high tide and strong winds come together, it breaks. We pray we don’t lose our homes. We don’t want to leave this place.”

Masig Island, to the south-east of Boigu, is less than three kilometres long, and just 800m across at its widest point. Also known as Yorke Island, the low-lying coral cay is steadily being lost to the waves.

 “The island is being eaten,” says Songhi Billy, an engineering officer on Masig. “This is a big issue. I kind of feel hopeless in a sense. Our land is part of us.

“In the short term, we can do what we can. We can’t stop the erosion, our hope is to slow it down.”

But he says he has to face the possibility that his people may have to abandon their ancestral home.

“Long term, we may have to evacuate the island,” he says. “But I am not going. Slowly, I see Masig Island getting out of something I can control.”………

The precise sea level rise around the Torres Strait, and the projected inundation, has not been calculated but low-lying islands are expected to experience a much greater flooding risk than mainland Australia. The department identifies the remote islands of the Torres Strait as some of the most vulnerable, as does the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns communities they may be forced to relocate………

Displacement caused by climate change is forecast to be a driver of massive forced migration movements in the 21st century.

Low-lying islands in the Pacific – and Torres Strait islands like Masig and Boigu – are likely to be at the forefront of forced displacement but large and densely populated countries such as Bangladesh also face widespread inundation.

Some forecasts have predicted up to 150 million people could be forcibly displaced by climate change by 2040 – larger than the record number of people already forced from their homes globally.

The US and other militaries have said that climate change poses the greatest security threat to the Asia-Pacific.

But the global legal framework for resettling people displaced from their homes lost to natural disasters or climate change is unclear. The refugee convention – established in 1951 to regularise the resettlement of those displaced by the second world war – does not recognise someone forced from their home by rising seas, or natural disaster, as requiring protection.

Already, more than a dozen Pacific Islanders have attempted to claim refugee status in New Zealand on the grounds that their homes are uninhabitable because of rising seas or climate-related disaster. All have had their claims rejected.

On Masig Island, Hilda Mosby says climate change is already affecting the marine ecosystems on which communities depend for their livelihoods. Climate changeis already affecting her community “big time”, she says.

But the greater existential threat for her home lies ahead….

July 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Huge iceberg breaks away from Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica

Larsen C: Giant iceberg breaks away from ice shelf in Antarctica, One of the biggest icebergs on record has broken away from Antarctica, scientists have said, creating an extra hazard for ships around the continent as it breaks up. What happens now Antarctica’s ice shelf has cracked?

A massive crack in one of Antarctica’s largest ice shelves creates an iceberg bigger than Kangaroo Island. So, what impact will it have?

The 1-trillion-tonne iceberg, measuring 5,800 square kilometres, calved away from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica sometime between July 10 and 12, scientists at the University of Swansea and the British Antarctic Survey said.

The iceberg has been close to breaking off for a few months. Throughout the Antarctic winter, scientists monitored the progress of the rift in the ice shelf using the European Space Agency satellites.

“The iceberg is one of the largest recorded and its future progress is difficult to predict,” said Adrian Luckman, professor at Swansea University and lead investigator of Project MIDAS, which has been monitoring the ice shelf for years.

“It may remain in one piece but is more likely to break into fragments. Some of the ice may remain in the area for decades, while parts of the iceberg may drift north into warmer waters,” he added.

The ice will add to risks for ships now it has broken off.

The peninsula is outside major trade routes but is the main destination for cruise ships visiting from South America.

In 2009, more than 150 passengers and crew were evacuated after the MTV Explorer sank after striking an iceberg off the Antarctic peninsula.

The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, was already floating before it broke away so there is no immediate impact on sea levels, but the calving has left the Larsen C ice shelf reduced in area by more than 12 per cent.

The Larsen A and B ice shelves, which were situated further north on the Antarctic Peninsula, collapsed in 1995 and 2002, respectively.

“This resulted in the dramatic acceleration of the glaciers behind them, with larger volumes of ice entering the ocean and contributing to sea-level rise,” said David Vaughan, glaciologist and director of science at British Antarctic Survey.

“If Larsen C now starts to retreat significantly and eventually collapses, then we will see another contribution to sea level rise,” he added. Big icebergs break off Antarctica naturally, meaning scientists are not linking the rift to manmade climate change.

The ice, however, is a part of the Antarctic peninsula that has warmed quickly in recent decades.

“In the ensuing months and years, the ice shelf could either gradually regrow, or may suffer further calving events which may eventually lead to collapse — opinions in the scientific community are divided,” Professor Luckman said.

“Our models say it will be less stable, but any future collapse remains years or decades away.”

July 14, 2017 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change: clear split between USA and everyone else at G20

When it Comes to Climate Change, It’s G19 vs the United States, Slate, By Daniel Politi  8 Jul 17 The annual Group of 20 meeting is supposed to be one of those boring gatherings where world economic powers get together to slap each other on the back and utter platitudes about things they all agree on. This year though, the conflicts were clear and the divisions were stark. No split was more evident than climate change, where President Donald Trump was left isolated as as every other world leader signed up to the final compromise agreement that declared the Paris accord “irreversible.” They also vowed that the deal would be implemented “swiftly” and without exceptions.

Global leaders didn’t hide their anger at Trump’s intractable position. British Prime Minister Theresa May, for example, said she was “dismayed at the U.S decision to pull out” of the Paris accord and had personally urged Trump to reconsider. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also was careful to highlight the points of disagreement with the United States. “Wherever there is no consensus that can be achieved, disagreement has to be made clear,” Merkel said at the end of the summit. “Unfortunately—and I deplore this—the United States of America left the climate agreement.”

For some the global meeting marked yet another example of how the United States is moving against the current when it comes to the crucial issue—a decision that allies of the former administration say could cost the U.S. economy dearly. “This is a clear indication that the U.S. has isolated itself on climate change once again, and is falling back while all other major economies step up and compete in the clean energy marketplace created by the Paris Agreement estimated to be worth over 20 trillion dollars,” said Andrew Light, a senior climate change adviser at the State Department under President Barack Obama…….

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, politics international | Leave a comment

Climate change affecting huge numbers of children in Africa

Climate change’s brutal toll on Africanewsroom, 9 Jul 17   United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund The vast majority of child migrants uprooted by violence, poverty and climate change remain in Africa, write UNICEF’s Lachlan Forsyth and Patrick Rose

The vast majority of child migrants uprooted by violence, poverty and climate change remain in Africa, according to a new report by child rights organisation UNICEF.

It is a bitter irony that the countries that have done the least to cause climate change are going to suffer the most. Countries that have minuscule carbon footprints are going to be the first to suffer the consequences of flooding, drought and displacement.

In West and Central Africa, the impact of climate change will be especially severe, with the region set to experience a 3 to 4 degree rise in temperature this century – more than one and a half times higher than anywhere else on the planet.

For the millions of people living in this vast region, longer droughts and intense storms will make farming and herding more difficult, and people will be forced to seek a better life.

Already, children account for more than half of the 12 million West and Central African people on the move each year. Contrary to many opinions, 75 percent of them remain in sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer than one in five heading to Europe.

This current wave of migrants is just the start of a swelling humanitarian crisis. Migration involving children and young people is likely to increase due to rapid population growth and urbanisation, climate change, inequitable economic development, and persistent conflict.

Poverty is a powerful driver of migration in West and Central Africa. Countries with high levels of poverty are more likely to be a source of migration as people look to improve their lot in life. In interviews conducted by UNICEF, migrants describe the feeling of ‘having nothing to lose,’ aware that by migrating they are taking a risk, but it is a gamble that might pay off.

Helene is one of them. She is 14 years old, holding a sign saying “I am a child, and not a commodity.”……..

With drought and temperatures intensifying in West and Central Africa, tensions in accessing scarce resources for cattle are also increasing hostilities in many rural areas, pushing greater numbers of people towards cities. But with more than 100 million people living in coastal cities less than one metre above sea level, even conservative estimates of a sea-level rise could result in the forced displacement of millions of climate refugees as people seek safety for their families and children.

For organisations like UNICEF, the challenges are enormous and complex. Aid money can only fix so much, when monumental societal changes are required also. Until the root causes of poverty are addressed, and solutions provided in the form of economic opportunities, access to health care and access to quality education, people are likely to continue to take dangerous risks migrating for better opportunities.

Unless the long-term planning of governments and civil society is equipped to anticipate these climate shocks and subsequent migration, the unmitigated impact of these forces will create detrimental outcomes for children across the region.

To read the full UNICEF report, click  here

July 10, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, children, climate change | Leave a comment

USA States, cities, counties, universities, corporations, businesses, manufacturers, and social and religious organizations have climate action plans to lower emissions

Why America is still on the right path for climate change, By Kalpana Sutaria – American Statesman, 9 Jul 17  “…… States, cities, counties, universities, corporations, businesses, manufacturers, and social and religious organizations have climate action plans to lower emissions. I worked on the city of Austin’s Climate Action Plan and experienced positive environmental impacts. Many leaders around the country have affirmed their conviction to continue with the goals of Paris accord, which included national pledges to reduce emissions.

It may seem difficult to see how we get there when the leaders at the top do not accept that human activities are major contributor to climate change. In the absence of the federal government’s support, cities, states, corporations and manufacturing companies are determined to work towards meeting those temperature targets. Seven states have bills filed on carbon pricing.

Texas has been a leader in producing renewable energy and has its institutions and workforce moving forward with innovative, low-carbon technologies. Texans want that. Some other recent developments in the U.S. are encouraging:

The Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House is a bipartisan group that will address the impacts, causes and challenges of our changing climate. “The caucus will serve as an organization to educate members on economically viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety,” according to an announcement from the Committee on House Administration. It has 42 members: 21 Republicans and 21 Democrats. They must join in pairs.

. Climate Leadership Council was formed this year by conservative Republican leaders and others who make a case for carbon dividends and how a new climate strategy can strengthen our economy, reduce regulation, help working-class Americans, shrink government and promote national security.

• More than six in 10 Trump voters support taxing or regulating the pollution that causes global warming, according to national survey of Trump voters done shortly after the election by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. They support variety of clean energy policies.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby has a proposal of a carbon fee and dividend that is studied and supported by prominent economists. It is a market-based solution that will reflect true cost of carbon to the society, steer the economy away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and create millions of jobs while protecting the environment. Market will be a key element in spurring innovations. With the dividend, most low-income and middle-income families would come out ahead.

Every year, thousands of Citizens’ Climate Lobby members gather in Washington, D.C., to meet with representatives in the House and Senate to ask for their support of a carbon fee and dividend. Anyone concerned about global warming should ask their lawmakers to join the Climate Solutions Caucus.

Sutaria is an architect and project manager for the city of Austin.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Solar power at Azraq refugee camp- provided by UNHCR and Jordan govt

Historic First: Solar Plant Illuminates Syrian Refugee Camp, Vastly Improving Quality of Life, (EnviroNews World News) by Julia Travers  May 27, 2017  — Azraq, Jordan — The newly activated two-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant at the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan is the first refugee camp in the world to be powered by a renewable energy facility. The plant started running May 17, 2017, and will provide free energy to about 20,000 of the 36,000 refugees in the area – all victims of the Syrian conflict, now in its seventh year.


There are close to 15 million refugees in the world, and the integration of free renewable energy into their stressful lives is invaluable. “Lighting up the camp is not only a symbolic achievement; it provides a safer environment for all camp residents, opens up [livelihood] opportunities, and gives children the chance to study after dark. Above all, it allows all residents of the camps to lead more dignified lives,” said United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Deputy High Commissioner, Kelly T. Clements.

“Before this, when we cooked a meal we had to throw the leftovers away because there was no safe way to store food. When we got too hot, we had to pour water on our clothes to keep cool. Now we can listen to music or have a cold glass of water, and daily life no longer ends when the sun sets,” Fatima, a 52-year-old from Damascus who lives in the camp with her two adult sons, told the UNHCR.

UNHCR partnered with the Government of Jordan, Jordanian solar company Mustakbal, and IKEA to build this camp. The IKEA Foundation is UNHCR’s largest private sector partner and fully funded the solar installation through their “#BrighterLives4Refugees” campaign. The endeavor raised $9.6 million for the cause by donating a portion of IKEA’s LED light sales in 2015.

20,000 of the individuals now living in the desert camp have had some access to non-renewable electricity since January 2017, and they now receive additional power from the sun. The new solar station is connected to Jordan’s grid and is intended to provide electricity to the remaining 16,000 refugees at Azraq by early 2018. The solar initiative will save UNHCR $1.5 million a year, which it can devote to other refugee services, while reducing annual CO2 emissions by roughly 2,370 tons.

The 500 new solar LED streetlights make the camp safer at night, which was especially concerning for women and girls, UNHCR relayed. Mustakbal also provided training and employment to over 50 refugees. “I wasn’t able to finish my education because of the war and then exile, but this has given me a practical skill that I can hopefully use in the future. If we return to Syria, the infrastructure is all destroyed, but this is a technology that we could use to rebuild,” said Mohammad, 20, who was forced to leave school at age 14.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Jordan, renewable | Leave a comment

USA’s Trump administration will be bypassed, as California leads in global talks on climate change

Last month, Brown discussed climate change with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, an unusual level of engagement between the Chinese head of state and a governor. (Energy Secretary Rick Perry, by contrast, did not meet with Xi in a recent trip to China).

“He wants to make clear that if you can’t look to Washington, you can look to California on progressive environmental policy,” said Ann Carlson, professor of environmental law at UCLA

Gov. Brown unveils plan for global climate summit, further undercutting Trump’s agenda, Melanie MasonEvan Halper and Patrick McGreevyContact Reporters, 6 Jul 17, In a rebuke to President Trump’s disengagement from worldwide climate change efforts, Gov. Jerry Brown told an international audience Thursday the president “doesn’t speak for the rest of us” and unveiled plans for a global environmental summit in San Francisco next year.

The announcement, at a convening of climate activists in Hamburg, Germany, coinciding with Trump’s arrival there for the G-20 summit of world leaders, signals once more how Brown and other American leaders aim to galvanize continued efforts against climate change, even as the federal government moves in the opposite direction.

“It’s hard to grasp the mortal danger that climate change represents,” Brown said in an interview with The Times. “I believe that California, New York, France and Germany and the other countries — we have to get our act together, strengthen our commitment and bring as many nations along as we can.”

Whether Brown and his American cohorts, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcettiand former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will ultimately be able to take sufficient action to curb global warming is uncertain, but they are already succeeding in undercutting the authority of the White House to set the U.S. agenda on climate. Since Trump quit the Paris accord on climate change, California and a dozen other states have vowed to not only stick with the agreement, but also step up their emission reduction efforts to push the rest of the country along. A coalition of cities committed to the climate action outlined in Paris — led by Garcetti — has swollen from a few dozen members to 331 in the last few weeks.

Brown and other American climate crusaders see the G-20 meeting as a crucial moment. Several world leaders who will attend the summit have already signaled that they will confront Trump on climate issues during its proceedings, and a move is afoot to conclude the meeting with a written reaffirmation of commitment to the Paris guidelines that would ostensibly be signed by every G-20 every nation except the U.S. — underscoring how far out of alignment with the rest of the world Trump is on the issue.

But even before the summit began, unity among the other countries was already starting to fray. While Western European leaders vowed to push the issue, countries such as Russia, Indonesia and Turkey were expressing less bombast. Saudi Arabia — which is still bullish on climate action but is also eager to remain in good diplomatic standing with the U.S. amid its dispute with fellow American ally Qatar — is also hedging.

With his video announcement Thursday to attendees of the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Brown aimed to shore up opposition to Trump’s climate moves and send a signal that the U.S. can maintain a leadership role despite the president.

“It’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change,” Brown said in his video, appearing in a leafy setting with a blazer and no tie. “Yes, I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America…. We in California and in states all across America believe it’s time to act, it’s time to join together and that’s why at this climate action summit we’re going to get it done.”

Host of next United Nations climate conference turns to California in the global warming battle »

Brown’s message was projected into the arena, and the audience burst out in applause when the governor said Trump doesn’t speak for the rest of the U.S.

Trump was not invited to speak at the festival because his policies don’t align with its goal of supporting global health, climate and gender equality, said a source involved in organizing the festival. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri and other leaders took the stage to speak about climate change and education to the crowd of 12,000.

The planned 2018 California summit, Brown told The Times, would signify “the biggest state in the union is the venue for a worldwide convocation of states, regions and entrepreneurs and others who want to do something serious about climate change.”……

Last month, Brown discussed climate change with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, an unusual level of engagement between the Chinese head of state and a governor. (Energy Secretary Rick Perry, by contrast, did not meet with Xi in a recent trip to China).

“He wants to make clear that if you can’t look to Washington, you can look to California on progressive environmental policy,” said Ann Carlson, professor of environmental law at UCLA………

July 8, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

New survey on American attitudes to climate change: majority agree on human caused changes

New Survey Shows Majority Of Americans Believe Climate Change Is Real And Caused By Human Activity  By Farron Cousins • Thursday, July 6, 2017 The current leadership in the United States — the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House — have a hostile relationship with climate change science. Not only has current President Donald Trump suggested that the entire concept is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, but the Legislative Branch of government is populated with a majority of representatives who do not accept the scientific consensus regarding climate change. Not only are these views dangerous for the future of the planet, but a new poll shows that these views are entirely out of sync with a majority of the U.S. population.

According to a new report by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, a majority of people in the United States believe that climate change is real and that it is mostly the result of human activities. The survey shows that 58% of the public now accepts that climate change is mostly caused by human activity, which is the highest level ever recorded of public acceptance of the human role in climate change since Yale began conducting these studies in 2008.

Here are a few key findings from the new report:

Over half of Americans (58%) understand that global warming is mostly human caused, the highest level since our surveys began in November 2008. By contrast, three in ten (30%) say it is due mostly to natural changes in the environment – the lowest level recorded since 2008.

Only about one in eight Americans (13%) understand that nearly all climate scientists (more than 90%) are convinced that human-caused global warming is happening.

Over half of Americans (57%) say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming. About one in six (17%) are “very worried” about it.

About one in three Americans (35%) think people in the U.S. are being harmed by global warming “right now.”

By a large margin, Americans say that schools should teach children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming (78% agree vs. 21% who disagree).

One particularly intriguing finding from the Yale report is that the majority believe that the threats of climate change are things that will either happen in the distant future, or that they will not happen to the individuals polled or their families:

Most Americans think global warming is a relatively distant threat – they are most likely to think that it will harm future generations of people (71%), plant and animal species (71%), the Earth (70%), people in developing countries (62%), or the world’s poor (62%). They are less likely to think it will harm people in the U.S. (58%), their own grandchildren (56%) or children (50%), people in their community (48%), their family (47%), themselves (43%), or members of their extended family living outside the U.S. (41%).

The fact that most Americans either believe the threat is something that will happen in the distant future or that it won’t happen to them is one possible reason so many people are willing to vote for politicians who either outright deny the existence of climate change or who refuse to act on the issue. Currently, a majority of members of both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate fall into one of those categories, with 53 out of 100 U.S. Senators counted as climate change deniers and 232 out of 435 House members listed as deniers.

But the truth is that climate change is not a far-off threat for Americans. Rising sea levels are already threatening drinking water in South Florida, as salt water is seeping into aquifers. Elsewhere, rising temperatures, rising sea levels, changes in precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events that have been linked to climate change are wreaking havoc. So one of the main focuses of climate science advocates needs to be educating people about the timeline so they stop viewing climate change as a problem that can be put on the back burner. It is happening right now.

Nevertheless, the fact that a majority of U.S. citizens understand the realities of climate change while our elected leaders refuse to accept the science indicates that they have become too far removed from the values, desires, and concerns of their constituents. That’s likely due in part to the massive amounts of money that fossil fuel companies spend on lobbying and direct campaign contributions which totaled $120+ million and $103 million in 2016, respectively.


July 8, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

G20 nations provide four times more public financing to fossil fuels than to renewable energy

Guardian 5th July 2017,The G20 nations provide four times more public financing to fossil fuels
than to renewable energy, a report has revealed ahead of their summit in
Hamburg, where Angela Merkel has said climate change will be at the heart
of the agenda.

The authors of the report accuse the G20 of “talking out of
both sides of their mouths” and the summit faces the challenge of a
sceptical US administration after Donald Trump pulled out of the global
Paris agreement

The public finance comes in the form of soft loans and
guarantees from governments, and, along with huge fossil fuel subsidies,
makes coal, oil and gas plants cheaper and locks in carbon emissions for
decades to come.

But scientists calculate that to keep global warming below 2C, most fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground, requiring a major shift of investment to clean energy. The new report by a coalition of NGOs
found that the G20 countries provided $71.8bn of public finance for fossil-fuel projects between 2013-2015, compared with just $18.7bn for renewable energy. Japan provided the most at $16.5bn, which was six times
more than it allotted for renewables.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

With Brexit, Britain about to dump its Paris climate commitments?

Morning Star 1st July 2017, A BUNGLING Brexit bureaucrat has blown the lid on the government’s
“shocking attitude towards climate change,” official documents seen by
the Star reveal today. The files were part of a bundle of “sensitive”
papers seen by a Star reporter travelling on the Eurostar to Brussels on
Thursday morning.

They revealed how negotiators “have not yet engaged
with the EU Commission” on climate change and indicated that agreed
targets to reduce carbon emissions could be used as “political and
bureaucratic capital for bigger issues in the exit negotiations.”

GreenMP Caroline Lucas said the documents “appear to reveal a shocking
attitude towards climate change at the heart of government” and warned
that the government’s failure to take the issue seriously was a “dark
stain on their already tainted record.”

The papers suggest that on Britain’s exit, should Britain decide to no longer act jointly with the
EU on climate change, the EU will be faced with a decision of either
meeting the Paris Agreement by increasing remaining members’ targets or
setting a lower target overall — “both of which are politically

July 5, 2017 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Forest fire near Chernobyl Nuclear Plant

Ukrainian Firefighters Battle Forest Fire Near Chernobyl Nuclear Plant,   June 30, 2017   RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, Ukrainian firefighters are battling to contain a forest fire inside the irradiated exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, officials say.

The fire erupted around midday on June 29 during tree cutting works at the Lubyanskoye Forestry and spread to an area of some 25 hectares by early June 30, the emergency services said.

More than 100 firefighters and scores of trucks and aircraft were dispatched to the area, a statement said.

It is not the first wildfire to break out near the site of the 1986 reactor explosion and fire, the world’s worst civilian nuclear disaster. In 2015 alone, fires engulfed some 400 hectares of forests in the exclusion zone.

July 1, 2017 Posted by | climate change, safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Where will climate refugees find shelter and food?

Climate refugees will search hard for homes, June 30, 2017, by Tim Radford, Where can the climate refugees go, if 2 billion are driven away by rising tides, and the interior available becomes ever more inhospitable?

By 2060, around 1.4 bn people could be climate refugees, driven from low-lying coastal cities by sea level rise. By 2100, as the global population may have reached 11bn, there could be 2bn climate refugees.

To feed those 9 to 11 bn people expected in the second half of the century, farmers will have to grow as much food in 40 years as they have grown in the last 8,000 or so.

And in a world of accelerating sea level rise and climate change, in which farmland is being degraded and turned to desert, in which ever more land is set aside for carbon storage in the form of forest, and in which the strains of survival increase social divisions and social conflict, there is a new challenge: where will the 2bn climate refugees find new homes?

“The colliding forces of human fertility, submerging coastal zones, residential retreat, and impediments to inland resettlement are a huge problem,” said Charles Geisler, professor emeritus of development sociology at Cornell University, in New York state.

“We offer preliminary estimates of the lands unlikely to support new waves of climate refugees due to the residues of war, exhausted natural resources, declining net primary productivity, desertification, urban sprawl, land concentration, ‘paving the planet’ with roads, and greenhouse gas storage zones offsetting permafrost melt.”

Although reclaiming land from oceans has been an important human project for millennia, it seems that oceans are now ‘reclaiming’ the land”

In any concerted attempts to contain climate change and limit global warming, climate scientists have to consider two big things. One is: how to drastically reduce fossil fuel use. The other is: how to use the land surface so that it takes up atmospheric carbon dioxide most efficiently.

Professor Geisler and his co-author Ben Currens, an earth and environmental scientist at the University of Kentucky, look at the big picture of land use in the long term.

They report in the journal Land Use Policy that they considered the implications of an ever faster rate of global sea level rise, as atmospheric temperatures warm and glaciers melt.

A study in Nature Climate Change has just confirmed that the seas that in the last century were rising by on average 2.2mm a year are now rising by 3.3mm a year. “Although reclaiming land from oceans has been an important human project for millennia,” write Geisler and Currens in their study, “it seems that oceans are now ‘reclaiming’ the land.”

They start from the premise that global mean sea level rise will continue beyond 2100, and from the prediction that for every 1°C of climate warming, humans should expect an eventual 2.3 metre rise in sea levels.

Losing land

In 2000, around 630 million people lived in low-lying coastal zones. By 2060, this number could have risen to 1.4bn. In the worst case scenario, the two scientists reason, almost all who dwell on the low-lying coasts will become climate refugees.

But the land that could be used to resettle those refugees is dwindling: between 1981 and 2003, around 35 million square kilometres of the planet became “degraded” and now make up almost one fourth of the world’s drylands.

Permafrost, described in the study as “a vast and cost-free warehouse” for greenhouse gases, is thawing: as it melts, it could double the current levels of atmospheric carbon and feed back into ever-faster climate change.

Were global forests to be planted in a bid to absorb this extra carbon, they would take up more than 42 million sq km or 28% of the planet’s land surface.

No entry

The two scientists then considered the barriers that climate refugees could face as they moved from the coasts. They defined what they called depletion zones – drylands, thawing permafrost and degraded land – that would be unlikely to support human existence. They identified what they call “win-lose” zones that because of urban sprawl, landfill needs and mushrooming roadways could help in some ways but not in others.

And they listed a set of what they call “no trespass zones”, from which refugees would be excluded either legally, or by violence, or by the risk of landmines or radioactive pollution.

They considered case studies, in China and in Florida in the US, where state officials have begun to plan for weather-induced population shifts.

And, although President Trump has declared climate change a hoax and is to take the US out of the Paris Agreement of 2015 in which the world’s nations undertook to reduce fossil fuel use and contain global warming to less than 2°C, the two authors think there is no other answer.

“The pressure is on us to contain greenhouse gas emissions at present levels. It’s the best ‘future proofing’ against climate change, sea level rise and the catastrophic consequences likely to play out on coasts, as well as inland, in the future,” said Professor Geisler. – Climate News Network

July 1, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment