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Is meat’s climate impact too hot for politicians?

Just a week after scientists said huge cuts in carbon emissions were needed to protect the climate, a UK minister has shown just how hard that will be.

Media captionFive things we can do to help prevent global temperatures rising more than 1.5C

Scientists say we ought to eat much less meat because the meat industry causes so many carbon emissions.

But the climate minister Claire Perry has told BBC News it is not the government’s job to advise people on a climate-friendly diet.

She would not even say whether she herself would eat less meat.

Ms Perry has been accused by Friends of the Earth of a dereliction of duty. They say ministers must show leadership on this difficult issue.

But the minister – who is personally convinced about the need to tackle climate change – is anxious to avoid accusations of finger-wagging.

Why Ms Perry wants to protect steak and chips

She said: “I like lots of local meat. I don’t think we should be in the business of prescribing to people how they should run their diets.”

When asked whether the Cabinet should set an example by eating less beef (which has most climate impact), she said: “I think you’re describing the worst sort of Nanny State ever.

“Who would I be to sit there advising people in the country coming home after a hard day of work to not have steak and chips?… Please…”

Ms Perry refused even to say whether she agreed with scientists’ conclusions that meat consumption needed to fall.

A dereliction of duty?

Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth responded: “The evidence is now very clear that eating less meat could be one of the quickest ways to reduce climate pollution.

“Reducing meat consumption will also be good for people’s health and will free up agricultural land to make space for nature.

“It’s a complete no-brainer, and it’s a dereliction of duty for government to leave the job of persuading people to eat less meat to the green groups.”

He said the government could launch information campaigns, change diets in schools and hospitals, or offer financial incentives.

Ms Perry said: “What I do think we need to do is look at the whole issue of agricultural emissions and do a lot more tree planting.

“But if you and I eat less meat, with all the flatulent sheep in Switzerland and flatulent cows in the Netherlands – that will just be wiped out in a moment. Let’s work on the technology to solve these problems at scale.”

She said instead of cutting down on meat, we could use (hugely expensive) equipment that sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere.

Supper with the Perry family

Ms Perry said later that her own typical family meal is not steak and chips, but a stir-fry, which brings the taste and texture of meat into a dish dominated by vegetables. But she did not want to say this on camera.

She agreed it was appropriate for the government to advise people on healthy diets because the obesity epidemic is costing taxpayers more in health bills, but implied that this principle did not apply when considering the health of the planet.

Her fear of being condemned in the media as a bossy politician highlights the difficulty of the next phase of climate change reductions.

Until now, 75% of CO2 reductions in the UK have come from cleaning up the electricity sector. Many people have barely noticed the change.

Will the climate battle get personal?

Experts generally agree that for healthy lives and a healthy planet, the battle over climate change will have to get personal.

That could mean people driving smaller cars, walking and cycling more, flying less, buying less fast fashion, wearing a sweater in winter… and eating less meat.

People will still live good lives, they say, but they’ll have to make a cultural shift.

If governments do not feel able to back those messages, they say, the near impossible task of holding global temperature rise to 1.5C will become even more difficult.

Ms Perry’s comments came as she launched Green GB week, which aims to show how the UK can increase the economy while also cutting emissions.

She will formally ask advisers how Britain can cut emissions to zero.

See full article here………

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Don’t despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is

The Guardian by  / October 14, 2018

After the panicky IPCC report on climate change, it’s easy for pessimism to set in – but that would be conceding defeat.

Illustration: Nathalie Lees
 ‘Climate change is an inescapable present and future reality, but the point of the IPCC report is that there is still a chance to seize the best-case scenario rather than surrender to the worst.’

In response to Monday’s release of the IPCC report on the climate crisis – which warned that “unprecedented” changes were needed if global warming increases 1.5C beyond the pre-industrial period – a standup comic I know posted this plaintive request on her Facebook: “Damn this latest report about climate change is just terrifying. People that know a lot about this stuff, is there anything to be potentially optimistic about? I think this week I feel even worse than Nov 2016 and I’m really trying to find some hope here.”

A bunch of her friends posted variations on “we’re doomed” and “it’s hopeless”, which perhaps made them feel that they were in charge of one thing in this overwhelming situation, the facts. They weren’t, of course. They were letting understandable grief at the news morph into an assumption that they know just how the future is going to turn out. They don’t.

The future hasn’t already been decided. That is, climate change is an inescapable present and future reality, but the point of the IPCC report is that there is still a chance to seize the best-case scenario rather than surrender to the worst. Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a gulag for his work with Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, recalls his mentor saying: “They want us to believe there’s no chance of success. But whether or not there’s hope for change is not the question. If you want to be a free person, you don’t stand up for human rights because it will work, but because it is right. We must continue living as decent people.” Right now living as decent people means every one of us with resources taking serious climate action, or stepping up what we’re already doing.

Climate action is human rights, because climate change affects the most vulnerable first and hardest – it already has, with droughts, fires, floods, crop failures. It affects the myriad species and habitats that make this earth such an intricately beautiful place, from the coral reefs to the caribou herds. What we’re deciding now is what life will be like for the kids born this year who will be 82 in 2100, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s grandchildren. They will curse the era that devastated the planet, and perhaps they’ll bless the memory of those who tried to limit this destruction. The report says we need to drop fossil fuel consumption by 45% by 2030, when these kids will be 12. That’s a difficult but not impossible proposition.

Taking action is the best way to live in conditions of crisis and violation, for your spirit and your conscience as well as for society. It’s entirely compatible with grief and horror; you can work to elect climate heroes while being sad. There are no guarantees – but just as Sakharov and Sharansky probably didn’t imagine that the Soviet Union would dissolve itself in the early 1990s, so we can anticipate that we don’t exactly know what will happen and how our actions will help shape the future.

The histories of change that have made me hopeful are often about small groups that seem at the outset unrealistic in their ambition. Whether they were taking on slavery in antebellum USA or human rights in the Soviet bloc, these movements grew exponentially and changed consciousness and then toppled institutions or regimes. We also don’t know what technological breakthroughs, large-scale social changes, or catastrophic ecological feedback loops will shape the next 20 years. Knowing that we don’t know isn’t grounds for confidence, but it is fuel against despair, which is a form of certainty. This future is as uncertain as it’s ever been.

There have been countless encouraging developments in the global climate movement. The movement was small, fragmented, mild a dozen years ago, and the climate recommendations then were mostly polite, with too much change-your-lightbulbs focus on personal virtue. But personal virtue only matters if it scales up (and even individual acts depend on collective decisions – I have, for example, 100% renewable electricity at home because other citizens pushed our amoral power company to evolve, and it’s more feasible for me to ride a bike because there are now bike lanes all over my city).

The other thing I find most encouraging and even a little awe-inspiring is how profoundly the global energy landscape has already changed in this century. At the beginning of the 21st century, renewables were expensive, inefficient, infant technologies incapable of meeting our energy needs. In a revolution at least as profound as the industrial revolution, wind and solar engineering and manufacturing have changed everything; we now have the technological capacity to largely leave fossil fuel behind. It was not possible then; it is now. That is stunning. And encouraging.

A child in the flood-affected area of Lalmonirhat, Bangladesh, in 2017. What we’re deciding now is what life will be like for the kids born this year who will be 82 in the year 2100.
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 A child in flood-affected Bangladesh in 2017. What we’re deciding now is what life will be like for the kids born this year who will be 82 in 2100. Photograph: Zakir Chowdhury/Barcroft Images

Astoundingly, 98% of the energy Costa Rica generates is from non-fossil fuel sources. Scotland closed its last coal-fired power plant two years ago and overall emissions there are half what they were in 1990. Texas is getting more of its energy from wind than from coal – about a quarter on good days and half on a great day recently. Iowa already gets more than a third of its energy from wind because wind is already more cost-effective than fossil fuel, and more turbines are being set up. Cities and states in the USA and elsewhere are setting ambitious goals to reduce fossil fuel consumption or go entirely renewable. Last month California committed to make its electricity 100% carbon-free by 2045. There are stories like this from all over the world that tell us a transition is already under way. They need to scale up and speed up, but we are not starting from scratch today.

The major obstacles to this withdrawal are political, the fossil fuel and energy corporations and the governments obscenely intertwined with them. I called up Steve Kretzmann, the longtime director of the climate policy-and-action group Oil Change International (on whose board I sit), and he reflected on the two approaches to climate action – changing consumption and changing production.

Going after production often gets neglected, and places like Alberta, Canada, like to boast about their virtuous energy consumption projects while their energy production – in Alberta’s case, the tar sands – threatens the future of the planet. Addressing production means going after some of the most powerful and ruthless corporations on earth and the regimes that protect them and are rewarded by them – or, as with Russia and Saudi Arabia and to some extent the US are indistinguishable from them.

Five countries – Belize, Ireland, New Zealand, France and Costa Rica – are already working on bans on new exploration and extraction. Steve told me: “We have to be real about this: this is the oil industry and wars are fought over it. There’s a lot of political power here and there’s a lot of people defending that power.” But he also noted: “The moment it’s clear it’s inexorably on the wane, it will pop.” You can hasten the popping by cutting the enormous subsidies, and by divesting from fossil fuel corporations – to date the once-mocked divestment movement has gotten $6tn withdrawn. As Damien Carrington reported for the Guardian last month, “Major oil companies such as Shell have this year cited divestment as a material risk to its business.”

We also need to shut down production directly, with a just transition for workers in those sectors. Five countries – Belize, Ireland, New Zealand, France and Costa Rica – are already working on bans on new exploration and extraction, and the World Bank sent shockwaves around the world last December when it announced that after 2019 it would no longer finance oil and gas extraction.

Given that the clean energy comes with lots of jobs – and jobs that don’t give people black lung and don’t poison surrounding communities – there’s a lot of ancillary benefit. Fossil fuel is, even aside from the carbon it pumps into the atmosphere, literally poison, from the mercury that contaminates the air when coal is burned and the mountains of coal ash residue to the toxic emissions and water contamination of fracking and the sinister chemicals emitted by refineries to the smog from cars. “Giving up” is often how fossil fuel is talked about, as though it’s pure loss, but renouncing poison doesn’t have to be framed as sacrifice.

Part of the work we need to do is to imagine not only the devastation of climate change, and the immense difference between 2 or 3 degrees of warming and 1.5 degrees, but the benefits of making a transition from fossil fuel. The fading away of the malevolent power of the oil companies would be a profound transformation, politically as well as ecologically.

I don’t know exactly if or how we’ll get to where we need to go, but I know that we must set out better options with all the passion, power and intelligence we have. A revolution is what we need, and we can begin by imagining and demanding it and doing what we can to try to realize it. Rather than waiting to see what happens, we can be what happens. And by the way, the comedian I mentioned: she’s already organizing fundraisers for climate groups.

See article here……


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As the fracking protesters show, a people’s rebellion is the only way to fight climate breakdown

The Guardian by George Monbiot / October 18, 2018

Our politicians, under the influence of big business, have failed us. As they take the planet to the brink, it’s time for disruptive, nonviolent disobedience.

It is hard to believe today, but the prevailing ethos among the educated elite was once public service. As the historian Tony Judt documented in Ill Fares the Land, the foremost ambition among graduates in the 1950s and 60s was, through government or the liberal professions, to serve their country. Their approach might have been patrician and often blinkered, but their intentions were mostly public and civic, not private and pecuniary.

Today, the notion of public service seems as quaint as a local post office. We expect those who govern us to grab what they can, permitting predatory banks and corporations to fleece the public realm, then collect their reward in the form of lucrative directorships. As the Edelman Corporation’s Trust Barometer survey reveals, trust worldwide has collapsed in all major institutions, and government is less trusted than any other.

As for the economic elite, as the consequences of their own greed and self-interest emerge, they seek, like the Roman oligarchs fleeing the collapse of the western empire, only to secure their survival against the indignant mob. An essay by the visionary author Douglas Rushkoff this summer, documenting his discussion with some of the world’s richest people, reveals that their most pressing concern is to find a refuge from climate breakdown, and economic and societal collapse. Should they move to New Zealand or Alaska? How will they pay their security guards once money is worthless? Could they upload their minds on to supercomputers? Survival Condo, the company turning former missile silos in Kansas into fortified bunkers, has so far sold every completed unit.

Trust, the Edelman Corporation observes, “is now the deciding factor in whether a society can function”. Unfortunately, our mistrust is fully justified. Those who have destroyed belief in governments exploit its collapse, railing against a liberal elite (by which they mean people still engaged in public service) while working for the real and illiberal elite. As the political economist William Davies points out, “sovereignty” is used as a code for rejecting the very notion of governing as “a complex, modern, fact-based set of activities that requires technical expertise and permanent officials”.

Nowhere is the gulf between public and private interests more obvious than in governments’ response to the climate crisis. On Monday, UK energy minister Claire Perry announced that she had asked her advisers to produce a roadmap to a zero-carbon economy. On the same day, fracking commencedat Preston New Road in Lancashire, enabled by the permission Perry sneaked through parliament on the last day before the summer recess.

The minister has justified fracking on the grounds that it helps the country affect a “transition to a lower-carbon economy”. But fracked gas has net emissions similar to, or worse than, those released by burning coal. As we are already emerging from the coal era in the UK without any help from fracking, this is in reality a transition away from renewables and back into fossil fuels. The government has promoted the transition by effectively banning onshore wind farms, while overriding local decisions to impose fracking by central diktat. Now, to prevent people from taking back control, it intends to grant blanket planning permission for frackers to operate.

None of it makes sense, until you remember the intimate relationship between the fossil fuel industry, the City (where Perry made her fortune) and the Tory party, oiled by the political donations flowing from both sectors into the party’s coffers. These people are not serving the nation. They are serving each other.

In Germany, the government that claimed to be undergoing a great green energy transition instead pours public money into the coal industry, and deploys an army of police to evict protesters from an ancient forest to clear it for a lignite mine. On behalf of both polluting power companies and the car industry, it has sabotaged the EU’s attempt to improve its carbon emissions target. Before she was re-elected, I argued that Angela Merkel was the world’s leading eco-vandal. She might also be the world’s most effective spin doctor: she can mislead, cheat and destroy, and people still call her Mutti.

Other governments shamelessly flaunt their service to private interests, as they evade censure by owning their corruption. A US government report on fuel efficiency published in July concedes, unusually, that global temperatures are likely to rise by 4C this century. It then uses this forecast to argue that there is no point in producing cleaner cars, because the disaster will happen anyway. Elsewhere, all talk of climate breakdown within government is censored. Any agency seeking to avert it is captured and redirected.

If Jair Bolsonaro takes office in Brazil, their annihilistic actions will seem mild by comparison. He claims climate breakdown is a fable invented by a “globalist conspiracy”, and seeks to withdraw from the Paris agreement, abolish the environment ministry, put the congressional beef caucus (representing the murderous and destructive ranching industry) in charge of agriculture, open the Amazon Basin for clearance and dismantle almost all environmental and indigenous protections.

On 31 October, I will speak at the launch of Extinction Rebellion in Parliament Square. This is a movement devoted to disruptive, nonviolent disobedience in protest against ecological collapse. The three heroes jailed for trying to stop fracking last month, whose outrageous sentences have just been overturned, are likely to be the first of hundreds. The intention is to turn this national rising into an international one.

This preparedness for sacrifice, a long history of political and religious revolt suggests, is essential to motivate and mobilise people to join an existential struggle. It is among such people that you find the public and civic sense now lacking in government. That we have to take such drastic action to defend the common realm shows how badly we have been abandoned.

See article here……..

 


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Rise For Climate – Build Our Future Not a Pipeline! Event

RISE FOR CLIMATE – International Day of Action

Vancouver March & Rally
4pm
Vancouver Art Gallery
Georgia & Howe

BUILD OUR FUTURE – NOT A PIPELINE!

The forests are on fire and the air is thick with smoke. The water is polluted and the planet is being destroyed. Yet Prime Minister Trudeau continues to be hell-bent on wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on buying one ageing Tar Sands pipeline and trying to build another.

Join hundreds of thousands mobilizing around the world on September 8. We are putting forward a vision for a sustainable future We are working together to show the alternatives, and we are growing!

Bring your friends, family and co-workers as we gather to demonstrate and reaffirm our commitment to fighting for climate justice and a better world. We are working to build our future, not a pipeline. We demand the government of Canada do the same.

Fund Housing, Healthcare, Education & Green Energy – NOT PIPELINES!

Sponsors: Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver, UBC 350, Vancouver 350

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This event takes place on the traditional, unceded, occupied territories of the səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

More information on “Rise for Climate” International Day of Action: https://riseforclimate.org/

“On 8 September we will rise together in our neighbourhoods to take action, telling the story of the communities we want, and showing governments how to follow our lead. We’ll connect all our local efforts globally to help make an unstoppable wave of people’s climate leadership – from our town halls, to our schools, and places of worship.”

For more information: climateconvergence604@gmail.com / 778-889-7664


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Rise for Climate!!! International Day of Action Event

https://www.facebook.com/events/328347781240170/

RISE FOR CLIMATE – International Day of Action

Vancouver March & Rally
September 8th @ 4:00 pm
Vancouver Art Gallery
Georgia & Howe

BUILD OUR FUTURE – NOT A PIPELINE!

The forests are on fire and the air is thick with smoke. The water is polluted and the planet is being destroyed. Yet Prime Minister Trudeau continues to be hell-bent on wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on buying one ageing Tar Sands pipeline and trying to build another.

Join hundreds of thousands mobilizing around the world on September 8. We are putting forward a vision for a sustainable future We are working together to show the alternatives, and we are growing!

Bring your friends, family and co-workers as we gather to demonstrate and reaffirm our commitment to fighting for climate justice and a better world. We are working to build our future, not a pipeline. We demand the government of Canada do the same.

Fund Housing, Healthcare, Education & Green Energy – NOT PIPELINES!

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This event takes place on the traditional, unceded, occupied territories of the səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

More information on “Rise for Climate” International Day of Action: https://riseforclimate.org/

“On 8 September we will rise together in our neighbourhoods to take action, telling the story of the communities we want, and showing governments how to follow our lead. We’ll connect all our local efforts globally to help make an unstoppable wave of people’s climate leadership – from our town halls, to our schools, and places of worship.”

For more information: climateconvergence604@gmail.com / 778-889-7664


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Important Event – Shut Down Federal Liberal Fundraiser: Stop the Pipeline Buyout

https://www.facebook.com/events/1796954137079075/

 

Fundraising while 600 wildfires burn and climate chaos intensifies while pushing a climate-busting pipeline — the priorities of Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals are clear.

Thursday August 23 in downtown Vancouver, Liberal MP Hedy Fry is hosting Finance Minister Bill Morneau for a $500 a plate fundraising dinner at a fancy hotel in downtown Vancouver. Nanaimo will host an unwelcome party for Justin Trudeau and his cabinet on August 22, and there’s a decent chance Trudeau will make the trip to raise cash for the 2019 election.

Let’s shut them down.

Date: Thursday August 23
Time: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Location: Outside Century Century Plaza Hotel Downtown Vancouver
Address: 1015 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC
Map link: https://goo.gl/maps/sGqhwofXPPK2

RSVP: http://eepurl.com/dDenpz

Join us to remind MP Fry that the people of the West Coast do not accept the stubborn federal Liberal push to build a pipeline while wildfires burn and climate change chaos intensifies.

RSVP: http://eepurl.com/dDenpz