And Action! How the climate movement is changing the world this week

• January 24, 2013
Courtesy: Greenpeace International, 2013

Courtesy: Greenpeace International, 2013

Reports, actions and campaigns are launching fast and furiously as 2013 kicks into high gear. From launching reports on ‘carbon bombs’, to bringing giant whales and 350 blue drops to pipeline hearings in Vancouver, and mobilizing thousands to march on the White House for President’s Day, these fine organizations pack more than your daily recommended dose of inspiration.

Greenpeace’s new report tracks 14 global ‘Carbon Bombs’

Investment in renewable technology continued growing in 2012, but all of that progress could be for nothing if governments and companies don’t put a stop to the 14 massive fossil fuel infrastructure projects that could ‘break’ our global carbon budget. That’s according to ‘Point of No Return’ a new report from Greenpeace International that outlines the major fossil fuel development projects that would increase global emissions by 20%—nearly ⅓ of the carbon budget that can’t be breached if warming is to be kept below 2 degrees C.

If all of the projects are cancelled, Greenpeace analysts predict a 75% chance that emissions would stay below 2 degrees C, with emissions peaking in 2015 and falling by 5% annually afterward.

“If these projects aren’t wound back, we’re looking at an extra 300bn tonnes of CO2 by 2050, which will make it very difficult to meet the 2 degrees C target. Countries which have agreed [at UN climate talks] that the 2 degrees C tipping point can’t be passed should not allow these projects to go ahead.” – Georgina Woods, lead campaigner for Greenpeace Australia

Read more: Greenpeace International >>

Oxfam volunteers dressed as Robin Hood

Creative Commons: Oxfam International, 2011

An epic windfall for the Robin Hood Tax!

In a landmark vote on Tuesday, EU ministers have given the go ahead for eleven Eurozone members to impose a Financial Transaction Tax (or as it is popularly known, the ‘Robin Hood Tax’) on the financial industry in these countries. Participants include Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Economists estimate that this tiny tax on internal financial transactions could raise as much as €35bn a year for the 11 countries participating. It’s not clear yet where the money raised will go, but campaigners are pressing hard for funding social programs like education, poverty eradication and climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

This is an incredible victory for organizations across Europe who have campaigned tirelessly for more than 3 years to make this moment happen. Congratulations to ActionAid, ChristianAid, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, ONE International, Oxfam, People and Planet, Practical Action, Tearfund and the 105,000 EU citizens who joined the campaign supporting the adoption of this landmark tax.

Learn more: Robin Hood Tax >>

Uberdrop Demo, Vancouver

Courtesy: Zach Embree, 2013

Facing off against the ‘other Tar Sands pipeline’ in Vancouver, Canada

While the future of the Keystone XL pipeline waits on Barack Obama and the US State Department, the fight against one of the other major Tar Sands expansion projects descended on Vancouver, BC last week. The Vancouver hearings for Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline were part of the environmental impact assessment and used to be a way for the public to engage in the approval process. Unfortunately, new federal legislation bars any observers from attending. Instead, interested persons can watch the proceedings via a closed circuit television link at a hotel 2km away.

Organizers from Rising Tide, Idle No More, Tanker Free BC, Forest Ethics and others held multiple public demonstrations to protest both the pipeline and its review process. Hundreds of Vancouverites braved snow and sleet for a noisy demonstration and march, others risked arrest to disrupt the hearings, and local artists joined in by creating a 25 foot long whale named ‘Hope’ and an ‘uberdrop’ aerial art performance.

At the end of five days of hearings, the message from Vancouver was unanimous. All 178 speakers were opposed. To share your opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers on the British Columbia coast, sign this petition from the Dogwood Initiative.

Hydrodam in China

Creative Commons: Phil Chambers

Educating the public on extreme heat and record pollution

For the past week, Australians have made headlines as they sweltered through a record-breaking heatwave and unprecedented wildfires. According to the National Bureau of Meteorology, the country recorded its hottest ever average maximum temperature on Monday, January 13th when temperatures reached a record 40.33 degrees. Parts of Australia are so hot, meteorologists have been forced to create a new colour gradient for extreme heat. To help raise awareness about the climate-related causes of this heatwave, our allies at Get Up Australia created this excellent infographic which went viral last week:

New Normal for Australia infographic

Courtesy: GetUp Australia, 2013

At the same time, residents of China’s largest metropolis were suffering through unprecedented air pollution.  On Saturday January 12, air quality monitoring centres recorded levels of PM2.5 above 600 micrograms per cubic metre. (PM2.5, also known as tiny pollution particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter  are some of the most dangerous airborne pollutants, causing thousands of deaths each year.) On Sunday, independent sources recorded PM2.5 pollution levels of micro particulate in excess of 950 mcg in Tongzhou, Beijing. If those figures can be officially confirmed, they will be the highest level ever reported or recorded, anywhere in the world.

The experts at Greenpeace East Asia used the crisis—and the global media frenzy it created—to release a report on how deadly air pollution is for China’s urban residents. From the report:

An estimated 8,572 premature deaths occurred in four major Chinese cities in 2012, due to high levels of PM2.5 pollution, a joint study by Greenpeace East Asia and Peking University’s School of Public Health has concluded. The report also estimates PM2.5 pollution caused the cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Beijing to suffer a combined total of US$1.08 billion in economic losses over the past year. Greenpeace is calling for an urgent policy adjustment, including capping regional coal consumption, De-NOx retrofitting for existing coal-fired power plants, and shutting down inefficient coal-fired industrial boilers.

The report “PM2.5: Measuring the human health and economic impacts on China’s largest cities” states that if these cities can effectively lower their PM2.5 levels to meet the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guidelines, it would lower death rates by 81% and shrink economic losses by $868M.

Read more: Greenpeace East Asia >> 

Creative Commons: Emma Cassidy, 2011

Creative Commons: Emma Cassidy, 2011

Taking climate action FORWARD on President’s Day

Just over a year ago, 15 000 people encircled the White House twice to demand that President Obama deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. This year, for President’s Day, they’re doing it again. Via

“At Noon on Sunday, February 17, thousands of Americans will head to Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Join this historic event to make your voice heard and help the president start his second term with strong climate action.”

After a year of devastating wildfires, crippling drought, extreme heat and massive damage from Superstorm Sandy, climate change is back on the US political agenda. President Obama said addressing climate change would be one of his top priorities for his second term, and this rally will help push him to prove he has the courage of his convictions. As organizers say on the event website: “The first step to putting our country on the path to addressing the climate crisis is for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. His legacy as President will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in solving the climate crisis.”

See video from the November 6, 2011 rally below, and sign up to attend this year’s rally right here.

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