Posts tagged: Climate and Energy

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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View Martin Wagner's blog posts
15 December 2009, 4:00 PM
Nobel winner Desmond Tutu speaks in Copenhagen

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference.)

I took a moment out of the negotiation madness this morning to sit in on an event sponsored by Oxfam International in which Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu participated. I had been in the same room as Archbishop Tutu once before, and wanted another opportunity to experience his incredible energy.

The event presented the testimony of a number of people, from all over the world, who are already being harmed by the effects of climate change. People who faced death and hunger after an unprecedented drought and flood; cyclone and hurricane survivors; a farmer suffering water shortages and hunger due to glacier melting.

Archbishop Tutu spoke passionately about these tragedies, and brought a special message to the people in the room working to solve climate change. I believe his message applies just as much to everyone working anywhere to stop climate change, or for peace, justice, human health or environmental protection. Some of his words follow, but if you have 15 minutes, you can experience his spirit as well by watching here.

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View Lisa Renstrom's blog posts
15 December 2009, 1:33 PM
People's message to world nations: We want a real deal

(Editor's note: Earthjustice trustee Lisa Renstrom is blogging from the Copenhagen climate change conference)

We have the technology. We have the resources. Addressing climate change is doable and desirable. It could establish energy independence, jump start a green based economy, make our cities more livable, improve our health and reestablish our moral compass. All good things.

The Message: We Want a Real Deal
The Timeframe: The next 48 hours
Atmosphere: Palatable tension
Missing: Leadership and political will.

In times of great need, one needs to speak truth to power. It is time for our president to again speak truth on climate, to power, to the American people, as he has on race and war. Keep your fingers crossed, say prayers, send offerings, send grace, do what ever you do to increase the likelihood of a real deal here in Copenhagen.

View Lisa Renstrom's blog posts
15 December 2009, 10:01 AM
Could this be the most important gathering in history?

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice board member Lisa Renstrom is at the Copenhagen climate change conference and will be blogging from it. Here is her first report.)

What a privilege it is to be here.

My friend Steve English described COP 15 as, "The most important conference/gathering in the history of the planet. We must ALL pray, dance, laugh, love, open, cry, cajole, think, and inspire our deepest, most-connected souls into the depths of possibility and into grief, anxiety, fear, anger, and vulnerability, and, then to emerge with our fullest heart-centered life-nourishing centers, throw caution to the winds, be bold, courageous, and unbelievably articulate, as well as 'just short of crazy' with our collective awakening, blessed unrest, and life-supporting intention!"

That sums it up. Chaos and urgency mingling with the long view.

This is my 3rd COP. Last year at COP 14 in Poznan, Poland everyone hoped that Copenhagen would engage finance ministers and heads of state. We got our wish. So many of both are expected to arrive Thursday and Friday that the traditional role of the environmental ministers and negotiators will be rewritten.

Thursday, the big guns begin arriving. Stay tuned.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
15 December 2009, 8:19 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 15

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 15, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: In a report released at the conference, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture says climate change is already affecting America and "poses significant threats and challenges for farmers, ranchers, and those who make a living off the land, which will have a serious impact on our ability to feed the people of the United States and the world."

President Obama is literally calling on world leaders to make a climate deal in Copenhagen. According to The Los Angeles Times, the president, who is coming to the conference Friday, is making round-the-world phone calls, hoping to solidify some kind of agreement.

A worldwide grassroots green revolution is needed to attack the climate change crisis, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says in a speech today in Copenhagen. The governor, who once boasted of owning five gas-guzzling Hummers, said his state's clean energy initiatives should be emulated by the nation and the world. <Update>: A Grist columnist describes the governor's speech as "a shockingly defeatist speech tricked out with sunny language about private-sector innovation."

With only a few day before the world's leaders arrive in Copenhagen, it's time for things to start happening at the conference, says the U.N. climate chief. Progress is "too slow."

The pope today weighed in on the climate crisis, calling it a moral issue that the world's nations must urgently address.

Check out The Copenhagen News Collaborative for a variety of blog reports from Copenhagen.

View Martin Wagner's blog posts
15 December 2009, 8:07 AM
Conference organizers put tight limits on observer participation

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Martin)

There is no shortage of irony in Copenhagen this month.

I wrote previously about the efforts of some countries to avoid recognizing that the planet has rights. The conference organizers delivered Monday's dose when they announced severe restrictions on access of non-governmental organization observers (that's what we are officially called) to the conference center over the next several days.

Today and Wednesday, only a portion of any non-governmental organization's delegation can enter the building. Thursday, only 1,000 will be permitted in total (the building holds 15,000). Friday, we're limited to 90.

The irony is that one of the main objectives of negotiations is defining the governments' shared vision for long-term cooperative action to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. (The emphasis is mine; the governments seem unable so far to find much they can agree on, and have closed so many negotiating sessions that it's clear they're not interested in sharing with others either.)

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
14 December 2009, 8:24 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 14

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 14, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: As we head into the conference's final week, The New York Times gives a quick review of what's happened so far, what to expect over the next few days, the real issues at stake, and who are the key players.

Climate change negotiations came to a sudden halt today as a bloc of developing nations led by China withdrew in protest of what they called the Danish government's tilt toward the interests of developing countries. <Update>: Talks have resumed, according to reports.

Mayors from around the world are holding their own climate conference in Copenhagen, based on the premise that since cities produce two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions they should be on the front line of controlling them. <Update>: California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak at the mayor's conference tomorrow to push his theme that local government action is essential for planetary success.

CO2 is the bogeyman in Copenhagen for good reason—it accounts for half of global warming. But how about that other half? wonders The Los Angeles Times. We're talking about methane, black carbon (soot) and other emissions that could be reined in more easily, more quickly, and at much less cost than carbon dioxide.

<Update>: For a mix of reports from environmental journalists, check out the "Copenhagen News Collaborative" reports. The collaborative comprises Mother Jones, Grist, The Nation, Treehugger, The Uptake, ForaTV, Pulitzer Center, Discover, and OnEarth. 

View Martin Wagner's blog posts
13 December 2009, 7:41 PM
Bolivia leads movement to respect all natural beings

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Martin)

What makes these negotiations so important, of course, is that human activities are changing our planet's systems of self-regulation. Global warming pollution from human activities is altering those systems faster than many ecosystems and species—including humans—can keep up with.

In recognition of this, a number of countries, led by Bolivia, are advocating for the final Copenhagen agreement to "take into account not only the right of human beings, but also the right of Mother Earth and its natural beings."

When countries object to proposals in the formal negotiations, they do so by insisting that the problematic proposal be surrounded by brackets in the formal negotiating documents. The brackets indicate that the proposal is not a consensus position, and thus remains subject to further discussion. In negotiations late last night, the United States and a number of other developed countries insisted that any reference to the rights of the earth be bracketed.

Given what is at stake here, it is frightening to think that Mother Earth might remain in brackets.

 

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
12 December 2009, 4:54 PM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 12

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 12, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

It may seem contradictory, but business interests are among the strongest supporters of climate change action in Copenhagen, reports The Los Angeles Times. The growing international market in alternative energy will really boom if nations turn away from fossil fuels.

Thousands of people and hundreds of organizations across the planet participated today in "Global Day of Climate Action," but Copenhagen is where the real action happened, where some 1,000 protesters were arrested.

View Martin Wagner's blog posts
12 December 2009, 12:38 PM
While U.S. fritters, Tuvalu could disappear underwater

I was in a plenary session of the Copenhagen climate meeting this morning, when Ian Fry, the representative of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu made an impassioned statement to the assembled government representatives.

He noted that nearly everyone in Tuvalu lives less than 7 feet above sea level, which puts them at risk of rising sea levels and increased storm intensity. He called for governments to adopt a legally binding agreement to cut carbon emissions, and expressed his frustration that "[i]t appears we are waiting for some senators in the US Congress to conclude before we can determine what will happen to the rest of the world."

On the verge of tears, he concluded by saying, "I woke up this morning and I was crying, which is not easy for a grown man to admit. Madame President,…the fate of my country is in your hands."

View Erika Rosenthal's blog posts
11 December 2009, 4:57 PM
Nightmare of drought and drowning is no dream scenario

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging live from the Copenhagen climate change conference. This is today's post by Erika).

The Copenhagen talks opened with nightmare images of catastrophic climate crisis. The first session included an apocalyptic video in which a Danish girl dreams a parade of climate horrors—first she's walking through endless drought-stricken land, then she's clinging for dear life as the sea rises around her.

New research indicates that both these nightmare scenarios could come to pass far sooner than scientists dreamt even a few years ago.

Global warming is accelerating snow and ice melt around the world. When Arctic glaciers like the Greenland Ice Sheet melt it shrinks the planet's cooling ice cap and sea causing sea level to rise. When high mountain glaciers melt, like the massive "third pole" in the Himalayas, it threatens drought for more than a quarter of the world's population.