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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Scientists write to The Guardian about climate change

Following the recent report on climate change commissioned by the United Nations (see previous blog), many scientists feel alarmed and concerned at the lack of governmental response to it.  The report shows that climate change is happening more quickly than predicted and that an increase in global temperature of 1.5ºC from pre-industrial levels may not be achieved, even in a zero carbon emissions situation.

As a result, 94 professors and other scientists (including myself) wrote to the Guardian to emphasise how dire the situation is and to demand precipitate action.  The letter is shown below in its entirety:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/26/facts-about-our-ecological-crisis-are-incontrovertible-we-must-take-action

Facts about our ecological crisis are incontrovertible. We must take action

Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or science with impunity, say 94 signatories including Dr Alison Green and Molly Scott Cato MEP.

We the undersigned represent diverse academic disciplines, and the views expressed here are those of the signatories and not their organisations. While our academic perspectives and expertise may differ, we are united on one point: we will not tolerate the failure of this or any other government to take robust and emergency action in respect of the worsening ecological crisis. The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible, and it is unconscionable to us that our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of an unprecedented disaster of our own making.

We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or of science with impunity. If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is bleak.

When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The “social contract” has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the government’s inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.

We therefore declare our support for Extinction Rebellion, launching on 31 October 2018. We fully stand behind the demands for the government to tell the hard truth to its citizens. We call for a Citizens’ Assembly to work with scientists on the basis of the extant evidence and in accordance with the precautionary principle, to urgently develop a credible plan for rapid total decarbonisation of the economy.”
Dr Alison Green Pro vice-chancellor (academic), Arden University, National Director (UK) Scientists Warning
Professor Joy Carter Vice-chancellor, University of Winchester
Dr Rowan Williams
Danny Dorling Halford Mackinder professor of geography, University of Oxford
Jem Bendell Professor of sustainability leadership, University of Cumbria
Dr Ian Gibson Former Chair, House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee
Dr Susie Orbach Consultant psychoanalyst, The Balint Consultancy
David Drew MP, Shadow minister (environment, food and rural affairs)
Professor Molly Scott Cato MEP
Shahrar Ali PhD, Green Party home affairs spokesperson

Peter Belton Professor emeritus of chemistry, University of East Anglia
Dr Simon Boxley Centre for Climate Change Education & Communication, University of Winchester
Erik Buitenhuis Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia
Dave Humphreys Professor of environmental policy, Open University
Andrew Simms Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex; NEF
Arran Stibbe Professor of ecological linguistics, University of Gloucestershire
Dr Rupert Read Reader in philosophy, University of East Anglia
Richard House PhD (Env sci) Chartered psychologist, Stroud

Ronald Barnett Emeritus professor of higher education, University College London Institute of Education
Emeritus Professor Michael Bassey Nottingham Trent University
Professor Woody Caan Editor, Journal of Public Mental Health
Claire Callender, Professor of higher education, Birkbeck and UCL Institute of Education 
Simon Capewell MD DSc, Professor of clinical epidemiology, University of Liverpool
Professor Andrew Cooper Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust; University of East London
Emeritus Professor Tricia David
Windy Dryden Emeritus professor of psychotherapeutic studies, Goldsmiths University of London 
Suman Fernando Honorary professor, London Metropolitan University
Professor Mark Ford, University College London
Professor Gary Francione
Harvey Goldstein Professor of social statistics, University of Bristol
Jonathan Gosling Emeritus professor of leadership studies, University of Exeter
Paul Hoggett Emeritus professor of social policy, UWE, Bristol
Wendy Hollway Emeritus professor of psychology, Open University
Professor John Hughes University of Gloucestershire
Professor Simon Kelley University of Edinburgh
Adrian Kendry Visiting Chair in economics and security, University of Winchester
Karin Lesnik-Oberstein Professor of critical theory, University of Reading
Del Loewenthal Emeritus professor in psychotherapy, University of Roehampton
Professor Mark Maslin FRGS, FRSA University College London
Martin Milton Professor of counselling psychology, Regents University London
Professor Dany Nobus Brunel University London
Professor Jayne Osgood Middlesex University, mother, feminist, activist
Professor Ann Phoenix University of London
Richard Pring Emeritus professor, University of Oxford
Peter Reason Professor emeritus, University of Bath
Professor Diane Reay University of Cambridge
Lynne Segal Anniversary Professor of psychosocial studies, Birkbeck, University of London
Farzana Shain Professor of sociology of Education, Keele University
Prem Sikka Professor of accounting and finance, University of Sheffield
Professor Ernesto Spinelli ES Associates, London
Dr Guy Standing Professorial research associate, SOAS, University of London
Brian Thorne Emeritus professor (counselling), University of East Anglia
Frederick Toates Emeritus professor of biological psychology, Open University 
Dr Steve Tombs Professor of criminology, Open University 
Tony Watts OBE Emeritus professor of career development, University of Derby
Michael J. Wright Ph.D., Emeritus professor in cognitive neuroscience, London                   Dr Ruth Adams Senior lecturer in cultural & creative industries
Dr Meg-John Barker senior lecturer in psychology, Open University
Robert Basto Ph.D., software consultant, scientist, activist
Dr Teresa Belton author of Happier People, Healthier Planet
Dr Gail Bradbrook mother, NGO consultant 
Dr Onel Brooks Senior lecturer in psychotherapy, counselling and counselling psychology
Dr Dominique Chadwick independent researcher and film-maker, Cambridge
Dr Anne Chapman
Dr Red Chidgey Lecturer in gender and media, King’s College London
John Christensen Director and Chair of the Board Tax Justice Network
Dr Christopher D. Coath University of Bristol
Dr Mick Cooper Chartered psychologist, Brighton
Dr Virginia Crisp Lecturer in culture, media & creative industries, King’s College, London
Jonathan Dawson Coordinator of economics, Schumacher College
Richard Eke Ph.D., Associate lecturer, UWE, Bristol
Dr Peter Elfer Principal lecturer, Early Childhood Research Centre
Dr Jonathan Gross King’s College London
Andy Halewood CPsychol., Senior lecturer in counselling psychology, UWE, Bristol
Dr Wiebina Heesterman Ph.D. Law (human rights), activist
Dr Jason Hickel Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Abby Innes London School of Economics
Dr Nicholas James FASS, Open University
Peter Lipman Fellow, Cabot Institute for the Environment, Bristol University
Ed Lord Ph.D., RMN, RCBC Wales, Fellow, Swansea University
Rachel Lunnon PhD (mathematical logic), software engineer
Dr Michael McEachrane University College London; visiting researcher, Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Lund)
Dr Kate McMillan King’s College, London
Dr Gerry Mooney Open University in Scotland
Dr Calum Neill Associate professor of psychoanalysis & cultural theory, Edinburgh Napier University
Dr Eva Novotny retired, University of Cambridge
Dr Christine Parkinson Retired biologist, Scientists for Global Responsibility
Dr Volker Patent CPsychol, lecturer and coach
Dr Gerald Power PhD, management consultant
Dr Gillian Proctor CPsychol., Programme leader, MA in counselling and psychotherapy, University of Leeds
Dr Jay Watts Consultant clinical psychologist
Dr David Whitebread Retired senior member, Homerton College, Cambridge”



On the same day (26.10.18), The Guardian included an article about the Extinction Rebellion (see previous blog) and gave some biographical details about some of the signatories to the letter.  The article, entitled “We have a duty to act: hundreds ready to go to jail over climate crisis”, with a sub-heading ” Rowan Williams backs call for mass civil disobedience ‘to bypass the government’s inaction and defend life itself’ is included in the Climate Change section of the paper.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/26/we-have-a-duty-to-act-hundreds-ready-to-go-to-jail-over-climate-crisis

One of the founders of the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ campaign, Roger Hallam, said it was calling on the government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025 and establish a “citizens assembly” to devise an emergency plan of action similar to that seen during the second world war.

Another founder, Dr Gail Bradbrook, is calling on supporters of the campaign to join a sit-in on November 17th 2018 in Parliament Square 10.00-15.00.

bradbrook960

Dr Gail Bradbrook

She is concerned about future generations, our children and grandchildren, who will have to face the dire consequences of inaction.  She is quoted as saying, ‘If we fail you, it wasn’t for lack of effort.”



 


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Global Pact for the Environment

One of the things I discuss in my book is the need for global co-operation to implement the changes that are needed to reduce carbon emissions and global warming and to save the planet. A new initiative by a panel of international jurists seems to be taking the first steps to bring this about, by looking at the legal aspects of such co-operation.

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See: http://pactenvironment.org/



Text of a letter published in the Guardian on 9th October 2018 to draw attention to the pact:

The Time is now for a global pact for the Environment

“On 10 April 2018, the United Nations general assembly adopted a resolution that paved the way for negotiations on a global pact for the environment. This international treaty would combine the guiding legal principles for environmental action into one single and far-reaching text. In 2015, the adoption of the sustainable development goals and the Paris climate agreement represented major progress. However, environmental damage persists and is more serious than ever before. The years 2017 and 2018 have seen record-breaking temperatures. Biodiversity continues to decline at a rapid pace.

With the global pact for the environment, the international community would be equipped for the first time with a treaty of a general nature that covers all environmental areas. It would be the cornerstone of international environmental law, therefore overseeing the different existing sectoral agreements (climate, biodiversity, waste, pollution, etc), filling the gaps and facilitating their implementation.

The treaty would gather principles found in key national and international texts, giving them legal value. Each state legislator would find references to the adoption of more robust environmental laws. The supreme courts would draw from it as a common source of inspiration to build the foundations for global environmental law. Citizens and NGOs would see their environmental rights strengthened while businesses would benefit from the harmonisation of the rules of the game.

While we celebrate the 70-year anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the moment has come for a new chapter in the history of international law. We are calling for the adoption of a third pact, enshrining a new generation of fundamental commitments: the rights and duties of states, public and private entities, and individuals relating to environmental protection.”

131 Signatories to the letter:

List of signatories of the Jurists Call for a Global Environment Pact for the Environment (131 jurists) Paris October 9, 2018

Yann Aguila, President of the Environment Commission of the Club des juristes, Antonio Herman Benjamin, Justice at the National High Court of Brazil, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Laurent Fabius, former President of the COP 21, Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale Law School, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva, David Boyd, Professor of Law, Policy and Sustainable Development, University of British Columbia, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Lord Robert Carnwath, Justice UK Supreme Court, Parvez Hassan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan Chairman Emeritus IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Marie
Jacobsson, former Member of the UN International Law Commission and Special Rapporteur, Donald Kaniaru, former Director of Environmental Implementation at UNEP, Swatanter Kumar, former Judge at the Supreme Court of India, former Chairperson of the Indian National Green Tribunal, Luc Lavrysen, Judge at the Constitutional Court of Belgium, President of the European forum of Judges for the
Environment, Professor of Environmental Law, Ghent University, Pilar Moraga Sariego, Professor at Environmental Law Center of Faculty of Law, University of Chile, Head of the Human Dimension research line of the Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2, Tianbao Qin, Professor at the Wuhan University, Secretary General of Chinese Society of Environment and Resources Law, Nicholas A. Robinson, Professor at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University, Executive Governor, International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), Jorge E. Vinuales, Harold Samuel Chair of Law and
Environmental Policy Fellow of C-EENRG Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge, Chairman of the Compliance Committee of the UNECE/WHO-Europe Protocol on Water and Health, Margaret Young, Associate Professor, Melbourne Law School, Pauline Abadie, Lecturer, University Paris Saclay, Domenico Amirante, Full Professor of Comparative Law and Environmental Law, Director of the PhD School in Human Sciences, University “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Marisol Angles Hernandez, Full-time researcher
at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Institute for Legal Research, Dr. Virginie Barral, Associate Professor in International Law, University of Hertfordshire, Mishig Batsuuri, Presiding Justice of Chamber for Administrative Cases, The Supreme Court of Mongolia, Ben Boer, Distinguished Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University, Emeritus Professor, University of Sydney, former Deputy Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (2012-2016), Klaus
Bosselmann, Professor, University of Auckland, Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law Ethics Specialist Group, Chair, Ecological Law and Governance Association, Simone Borg, Legal Expert in International Law, President of the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Head of the Department of Environmental and Resources Law, Professor of International Law, University of
Malta, Ioana Botezatu, International Civilian – Environmental Safety, Michael Bothe, Professor Emeritus of Public Law, J.W. Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, former President, European Environmental Law Association, former Vice-Chair, IUCN Commission for Environmental Law, former Secretary General, German Society for Environmental Law, Thomas Boudreau, Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Professor Salisbury
University Maryland, Edith Brown Weiss, Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law, Georgetown Law, Soukaina Bouraoui, Director of the Centre of Arab Women for Training & Research, Stefano Burchi, Chairman of the Executive Council International Association for Water Law, Mingde Cao, Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, Joëlle Casanova, former Director of legal and administrative affairs, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Fernando Carillo Florez, Inspector Attorney General of Colombia, Nathalie Chalifour, Associate Professor, Center for
Environmental Law and Global Sustainability, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Leila
Chikhaoui, Professor of Public Law, University of Tunis, Member of the Tunisian provisional Constitutional court, Dino Bellorio Clabot, Dean of the University of Belgrano, Professor of Environmental Law, Sarah H. Cleveland, Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights, Columbia Law School, Marie-Anne Cohendet, Constitutional expert, Professor of Public Law, Sorbonne Law School, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Bradly Condon, Professor, Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), founding Director of the Centre of International Economic Law, Carina Costa De Oliveira, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Brasilia, Neil Craik, Associate Professor of Law, University of Waterloo, Luca D’Ambrosio, Research Fellow at the Collège de France, Peter Darak, President of the Curia of Hungary, Pierre D’Argent, Professor of international law, Catholic University of Louvain, Associate Member of the Institute of International Law, Carlos De Miguel Perales, Lawyer, Professor, Faculty of Law, Pontificia Comillas University (ICADE), Madrid, Olivier De Schutter, Professor, Catholic University of Louvain and the College of Europe, Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Dr. Bharat H. Desai, Professor of International Law, Chair in International Environmental Law, Chairman, Center for International Legal Studies,
University of Jawaharlal Nehru, Leila Devia, Professor of Environmental Law, Universities of Salvador and of Buenos Aires, Director of the Basel Regional Center in South America, Stéphane Doumbé-Billé, Professor, University of Jean-Moulin Lyon, Geneviève Dufour, Professor at the University of Sherbrooke, President of the Quebec International Law Society, President of the francophone network for International Law, Wolfgang Durner, Professor, Institute for Public Law, University of Bonn, LeslieAnne
Duvic Paoli, Lecturer, The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, Jonas Ebbesson, Professor of Environmental Law, Director Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre, Department of Law, Stockholm University, Daniel C. Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law & Policy, Yale University, Alexandre Faro, Lawyer at the Paris Bar, Michael Faure, Professor of Comparative and International Environmental Law, Maastricht University, Professor of Comparative Private Law and Economics, Institute of Law and Economics (RILE), Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Wahid
Ferchichi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Carthage, Rosario Ferrara, Professor, LUISS University, Roma, Liz Fisher, Professor of Environmental Law, Faculty of Law & Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, Dan Galpern, Attorney at law, Eugene, Oregon, Patrícia Galvão Teles, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Professor of International Law at the Autonomous University of Lisbon, Senior Legal Consultant on International Law at the Legal Department of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Gavouneli, Associate Professor of International Law, National &
Kapodistrian University of Athens, Jan Glazewski, Professor in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Law, University of Cape Town, former Advisor to the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo, member of the UN International Law Commission, Jenny Hall, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, Paule Halley, Professor, Lawyer, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, Laval University, Quebec, Delphine Hedary, former Head of
the preparation of the Environmental Charter, former President of the General Assembly for the Modernization of Environmental Law, Joel Hernandez, Member of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Isabel Hernandez San Juan, Professor of Administrative Law Carlos III de Madrid University, Davide Jr. Hilario G., former Chief Justice of the Philippines, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Angel Horna, Peruvian diplomat and public international lawyer, Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School, former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State (2009-2013), Océni Hounkpatin Amoussa, Jurist in
Environmental Law, President of the African Jurists for the Environment Association, Maria Ivanova, Associate Professor of Global Governance and Director, Center for Governance and Sustainability, John McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, Maria Magdalena Kenig-Witkowska, Professor of legal sciences, University of Warsaw, Yann Kerbrat, Professor, Sorbonne Law School, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Director of the Sorbonne Research Institute of International and European Law, Louis J. Kotze, Research Professor
North-West University, South Africa, Marie Curie Research Fellow, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom, Pascale Kromarek, Lawyer, Sophie Lavallée, Professor, Lawyer, Faculty of Law, Laval University, Quebec, Marja-Liisa Lehto, member of the UN International Law Commission, Special Rapporteur on Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, Qingbao Li, Professor, University of North China Electric Power, Ibrahima Ly, Associate Professor of Public Law and Political Science, Director of the Laboratory for Studies and Research in Politics, Environmental and Health Law,
Faculty of Juridical and Political Sciences, University Cheikh Anta Diop Dakar, Sébastien Mabile, Lawyer, Doctor of Law, President of the Law and Environmental Policies Commission of IUCN France, Luis Fernando Macias Gomez, Environmental Law Attorney, President of the Colombian Institute of Environmental Law and Sustainable Development, Sandrine Maljean-Dubois, Research Director at CNRS, Director of the mixed research unit International, Comparative and European Law, Professor of
International Law, University of Aix-Marseille, Gilles J. Martin, Professor Emeritus, University Côte d’Azur, CNRS, GREDEG, Benoit Mayer, Assistant Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mohamed Ali Mekouar, Vice-President of the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law, Shinya Murase, Member and Special Rapporteur of the UN International Law Commission, Bouchra Nadir, Professor, Mohammed V University of Rabat, Martin Ndende, Professor, University of Nantes,
Senior Legal Advisor at the UN, Laurent Neyret, Professor, University of Versailles Paris Saclay, Nilufer Oral, Professor, Faculty of Law, Istanbul Bilgi University, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Hermann E. Ott, Professor, Head of the ClientEarth Berlin Office, Hassan Ouazzani Chahdi, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Luciano Parejo Alfonso, Administrative Law Professor Emeritus Carlos III de Madrid University, Teresa Parejo Navajas, Associate Professor of Law Carlos III de Madrid University, Senior Advisor UN SDSN, Cymie Payne, Associate Professor, Rutgers
University, Alain Pellet, Professor Emeritus, University Paris Nanterre, former Chairperson, UN International Law Commission, President, French Society for International Law, Member, Institute of International Law, Michel Prieur, President of the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law, Fabienne Quillere Majzoub, Professor, IODE-CNRS UMR 6262, University of Rennes 1, Lavanya
Rajamani, Professor, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, Rama S. Rao, former Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Yvan Razafindratandra, Environmental Affairs Advisor, Vincent Reberyrol, Professor of Law, EM Lyon Business School, Eckard Rehbinder, Professor Emeritus of economic and environmental law, Research Centre for Environmental Law, Goethe University Frankfurt, former member and chair of the German Advisory Council on the Environment, former Regional Governor of the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), José Luis Rey Pérez, Ph. D. Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Carol Rose, Gordon Bradford Tweedy Professor Emeritus of Law and Organization, Professorial Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School, Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Law and Political Science, Emerita, Yale Law School, Montserrat Rovalo Otero, Professor of Environmental Law, National Autonomous University of
Mexico, Douglas A. Ruley, General Counsel, ClientEarth, Gilberto Saboia, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Lisa Sachs, Director, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Columbia Law School, James Salzman, Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, UCLA Law School, Borja Sánchez Barroso, Professor, University of Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Dr. Meinhard Schröder, Professor, Institute for Environmental and Technology Law, Trier University, Tullio Scovazzi,
Professor of International Law, University of Milan-Bicocca, Tim Stephens, Professor of International Law and ARC Future Fellow, University of Sydney Law School, Marcin Stoczkiewicz, Senior Lawyer, Head of Central & Eastern Europe, ClientEarth, Hennie Strydom, Professor, University of Johannesburg, President of the South African Branch of the International Law Association (ILA), Sophie Thériault, Associate Professor, Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa, Patrick Thieffry, Lawyer at the Paris and New York Bars, Associate Professor at the Sorbonne Law School, James Thornton, Founding CEO of
ClientEarth, Amado Jr. Tolentino, Professor of Environmental Law, Philippines, François-Guy Trebulle, Professor, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Director of the Sorbonne Law School, Eduardo Valencia Ospina, Chair, International Law Commission of the United Nations, Canfa Wang, Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, Director of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), Gerd Winter, Research Professor for Environmental Law Research Unit for European Environmental Law (FEU), University of Bremen, Guillerma Yanguas Montero, Spanish Judge, Doctor in Law, Jinfeng Zhou, Secretary General of China Biodiversity
Conservation and Green Development Foundation, Vice Chairman of World Green Design Organization.

Full details of a draft Global Environmental Pact for the Environment, written in ten different languages, can be found at: http://pactenvironment.org/

visuel-projet-en-220x300



There have been discussions about whether such a pact is workable, such as the following:

The Global Pact for the Environment continues to raise questions about ways to harmonize it with the current international rules, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, commenting on Russia’s decision to vote against a resolution to take steps toward establishing the pact.“The idea to draw up such a pact initially caused serious concern to us and a number of other countries, raising questions about ways to combine the new document with international law,” the statement reads. “In this regard, we called for adopting a balanced approach to the process of drawing up the document, refraining from hasty decisions and providing countries with an opportunity to make sure this initiative is feasible. Unfortunately, our concerns were not taken into consideration,” the Russian Foreign Ministry added.
At the same time, the statement emphasized Russia’s commitment to the implementation of international environmental agreements it took part in. “We believe that ensuring the timely and effective implementation of goals enshrined in relevant documents to be a top priority,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
France presented the Global Pact for the Environment to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017. The document calls for protecting nature and preserving it for the future generations.
The Global Pact particularly provides for liability for polluting environment, emphasizes the need to ensure access to necessary information about that and creating conditions for judicial procedures. However, the document does not define any mechanisms to achieve these goals, reports TASS.”

See: http://greenwatchbd.com/global-pact-for-environment-raises-questions-russian-foreign-ministry/

 



 


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Rising Up: Action begins for Extinction Rebellion

Many people across the globe recently joined the “Rise for Climate” demonstrations against climate change.  Now, a similar movement in the UK is calling upon people to do more.  They are organising a number of actions of non-violent civil disobedience over the next few months.

https://risingup.org.uk/XR/

Their website states the following reasons, as follows:

“HOPE DIES:ACTION BEGINS

We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Our children and our nation face grave risk.

The planet is in ecological crisis, we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event this planet has experienced. Scientists believe we may have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown.

The earth’s atmosphere is already over 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels. The chance of staying below the 2°C warming agreed upon in the Paris agreement are tiny.

Recent projections show we are on course for 3 degrees of warming and potentially much higher.

Children alive today in the UK will face unimaginable horrors as a result of floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failures and the inevitable breakdown of society when the pressures are so great.

We are unprepared for the danger our future holds.

The time for denial is over – we know the truth about climate change and we know the truth about current biological annihilation.

It’s time to act like that truth is real.

What does living with this truth call us to do? Will you die knowing you did all you were able to?

REBEL “

Joining the organisation provides details of the events that are being organised, many of them having similarities to the suffragettes campaigns a century ago.

Another statement on the website:

“From the 31 October citizens of this country will commit repeated acts of disruptive, non-violent civil disobedience. There will be mass arrests.

We demand the UK declares a state of emergency, takes action to create a zero carbon economy by 2025, and creates a national assembly of ordinary people to decide what our zero carbon future will look like.

We are willing to make personal sacrifices. We are prepared to be arrested and to go to prison. We will lead by example, to inspire similar actions around the world. This requires a global effort but we believe it must begin in the UK, today, where the industrial revolution began.

We will not be led quietly to annihilation by the elites and politicians. We will fight their genocidal behaviour with honour, resilience, and peace, in the spirit of all those who fought for our freedoms before us. We call on everyone, regardless of your political beliefs to join us in fighting for our nation and life on earth.”



On a similar note, George Monbiot has written an article condoning this approach, published in The Guardian on 17th October 2018 and entitled “Rebelling against Extinction”.  He gives the rationale behind the decision that now is the time for action. Governments have promised much on climate change but have done little, mainly because of vested interests in the fossil fuel industry.  His article can be read in full on his website:

https://www.monbiot.com/

Also on his website is an earlier piece, entitled “Deathly Silence” which starts:

“We’re getting there, aren’t we? We’re making the transition towards an all-electric future. We can now leave fossil fuels in the ground and thwart climate breakdown. Or so you might imagine if you follow the technology news.

So how come oil production, for the first time in history, is about to hit 100 million barrels per day? How come the oil industry expects demand to climb until the 2030s? How is it that in Germany, whose energy transition (Energiewende) was supposed to be a model for the world, protesters are being beaten up by police as they try to defend the 12,000-year-old Hambacher Forest from an opencast mine extracting lignite: the dirtiest form of coal? Why have investments in Canadian tar sands – the dirtiest source of oil – doubled in the past year?

The answer is growth. There might be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads but there are also more internal combustion engines…….”

https://www.monbiot.com/2018/10/01/deathly-silence/



Action has already begun in Stroud, Gloucestershire, as shown by the newspaper cutting below:

Stroud1a

Stroud2



Extinction Rebellion had a meeting in Parliament Square on 31st October to launch their movement.  There were some significant speakers there:

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP, Former leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, MP and George Monbiot, Guardian Journalist.  His speech can be seen here:


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New 2018 UN Report shows that climate change is worse than predicted

A new report, published by an international panel of climate scientists, describes the impact of global warming at 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels and compares the impact of global warming at 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. Basically, it is saying that 1.5ºC is the better target.  Indeed, a representative of the Marshall Islands is said to have reported that allowing global warming to reach 2º is genocide. But the report also points out how difficult it will be to keep warming below 1.5 degrees because of actions that have already been taken, so that too much carbon is already in the atmosphere.

There is now increasing use of the word anthropogenic, which means relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings, on nature”.

A summary of the report, which was commissioned by the United Nations IPCC, can be found at:

http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf

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Chair of the IPCC, Hoesung Lee (centre), speaks during a press conference on Oct 8 2018

Basically, the IPCC is now saying that the 1.5 ºC goal is technically and economically feasible, but it depends on political leadership to become reality.

The panel says capping global warming at 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

Earth’s average surface temperature has already gone up about one degree, which has been enough to unleash a surge of deadly extreme weather – but it is on track to rise another two or three degrees unless there is a sharp and sustained reduction in carbon pollution.  This is demonstrated by the graphic below:

Capture

 



Below is part of the summary document.


A. Understanding Global Warming of 1.5°C
A1. Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence) {1.2, Figure SPM.1}
A1.1. Reflecting the long-term warming trend since pre-industrial times, observed global mean surface temperature (GMST) for the decade 2006–2015 was 0.87°C (likely between 0.75°C and 0.99°C) higher than the average over the 1850–1900 period (very high confidence). Estimated anthropogenic global warming matches the level of observed warming to within ±20% (likely range). Estimated anthropogenic global warming is currently increasing at 0.2°C (likely between 0.1°C and 0.3°C) per decade due to past and ongoing emissions (high confidence). {1.2.1, Table 1.1, 1.2.4}
A1.2. Warming greater than the global annual average is being experienced in many land regions and seasons, including two to three times higher in the Arctic. Warming is generally higher over land than over the ocean. (high confidence) {1.2.1, 1.2.2, Figure 1.1, Figure 1.3, 3.3.1, 3.3.2}
A1.3. Trends in intensity and frequency of some climate and weather extremes have been detected over time spans during which about 0.5°C of global warming occurred (medium confidence). This assessment is based on several lines of evidence, including attribution studies for changes in extremes since 1950. {3.3.1, 3.3.2, 3.3.3}
A.2. Warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rise, with associated impacts (high confidence), but these emissions alone are unlikely to cause global warming of 1.5°C (medium confidence) {1.2, 3.3, Figure 1.5, Figure SPM.1}
A2.1. Anthropogenic emissions (including greenhouse gases, aerosols and their precursors) up to the present are unlikely to cause further warming of more than 0.5°C over the next two to three decades (high confidence) or on a century time scale (medium confidence). {1.2.4, Figure 1.5}                                                                                                    A2.2. Reaching and sustaining net-zero global anthropogenic CO2 emissions and declining net nonCO2 radiative forcing would halt anthropogenic global warming on multi-decadal timescales (high confidence). The maximum temperature reached is then determined by cumulative net global anthropogenic CO2 emissions up to the time of net zero CO2 emissions (high confidence) and the level of non-CO2 radiative forcing in the decades prior to the time that maximum temperatures are reached (medium confidence). On longer timescales, sustained net negative global anthropogenic
CO2 emissions and/or further reductions in non-CO2 radiative forcing may still be required to prevent further warming due to Earth system feedbacks and reverse ocean acidification (medium confidence) and will be required to minimise sea level rise (high confidence). {Cross-Chapter Box 2 in Chapter 1, 1.2.3, 1.2.4, Figure 1.4, 2.2.1, 2.2.2, 3.4.4.8, 3.4.5.1, 3.6.3.2}



It is obviously a very technical document so it may be best to direct the reader to other summaries of its text.  The first is very alarmist:

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/amp/2018/10/un-says-climate-genocide-coming-but-its-worse-than-that.html?__twitter_impression=true



The Fossil Free News has the following statement:

“A month on from the mass #RiseforClimate mobilizations around the world, we’re seeing public discourse turn back to climate change this week. A new United Nations report, detailing the dangers of a world above 1.5˚C of warming, has just been published – and it’s a tough wake up call. 

All over, people are speaking out about what the new report on 1.5 means – that science itself necessitates an end to fossil fuels as fast as we possibly can. 

This has the potential to be a turning point. People everywhere are waking up to the fact that a livable world is a Fossil Free world. Wherever you are, you can help deliver this urgent message to local leaders this weekend and encourage them to go Fossil Free.”

They also post this piece of video:


 


Friends of the Earth sent out the following statement:

“Today, the world’s leading panel of climate change experts released its latest report [1]. And it doesn’t make for cheerful reading.

The report lays bare how crucial it is that we keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. If we don’t stop burning coal, oil and gas, the damage to wildlife, ecosystems, and vulnerable communities around the globe will be almost unimaginable.  

But the UK government seems determined to do the opposite. As you know, it actually wants to make it easier for fracking companies to drill in search of gas. And thanks to its narrow-minded pursuit of fracking, later this week we could see the first fracking in this country since 2011 – when Cuadrilla’s operations near Blackpool were halted due to earth tremors.”  



The Guardian says the following:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/world-leaders-have-moral-obligation-to-act-after-un-climate-report?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0dyZWVuTGlnaHQtMTgxMDEy&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GreenLight&CMP=greenlight_email

The headline states the following:

World leaders ‘have moral obligation to act’ after UN climate report

Even half degree of extra warming will affect hundreds of millions of people, decimate corals and intensify heat extremes, report shows

The article goes on to state:

“But the muted response by Britain, Australia and other governments highlights the immense political challenges facing adoption of pathways to the relatively safe limit of 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures outlined on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

With the report set to be presented at a major climate summit in Poland in December, known as COP24, there is little time for squabbles. The report noted that emissions need to be cut by 45% by 2030 in order to keep warming within 1.5C. That means decisions have to be taken in the next two years to decommission coal power plants and replace them with renewables, because major investments usually have a lifecycle of at least a decade.”

 



Martin Wolf writing for the Financial Times on 23rd October 2018, in an article entitled “Inaction over climate change is shameful: we need to shift the world onto a different investment and growth path immediately”.  He starts his article with the words:

It is five minutes to midnight on climate change. We will have to alter our trajectory very quickly if we wish to have a good chance of limiting the global average temperature rise to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. That was a goal of the Paris agreement of 2015. Achieving it means drastic reductions in emissions from now. This is very unlikely to happen. That is no longer because it is technically impossible. It is because it is politically painful. We are instead set on running an irreversible bet on our ability to manage the consequences of a far bigger rise even than 2C. Our progeny will see this as a crime.”

He goes onto to provide graphical data demonstrating the reality of climate change, as well as suggestions for implementing a radical reduction in climate emissions. See:

https://www.ft.com/content/b1c35f36-d5fd-11e8-ab8e-6be0dcf18713?accessToken=zwAAAWalWQ5okdOxw1821f0R6NOrjmvg3PGHEw.MEQCIHrSnzLknveTTsC_gpNj8MSfIAypDMWaqbPtXV1e1jyWAiBhn-zEUulScTd0cRx3rzhLa_aSSb6WujzjV3YvfDzGQg&sharetype=gift

On the same page is an advertisement offering information about “Climate Change Investment”.

https://blogs.cfainstitute.org/marketintegrity/2018/03/16/esg-qa-principles-for-climate-conscious-investment/?s_cid=dsp_BRAND18_Smartology_FT_EMEA_300x600



Following on from Martin Wolf’s excellent Financial Times article, a reader sent in the following letter:

Climate change must be part of the FT’s reporting From Claire James, London, UK.  “Martin Wolf’s excellent article “The shameful inaction over climate change” (October 24) about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report sets out with brutal clarity what is at stake if we delay action on climate change. Will the Financial Times now move to acknowledge this in its wider news and business coverage, in particular for high-carbon sectors such as fossil fuel extraction or aviation? The climate impact of particular projects should be included as standard information for your readers. Unfortunately, investment in these industries’ continued expansion, rather than in sustainable alternatives, is precisely why a safe climate for future generations is now almost unachievable. Claire James London W5, UK.”



 


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“The neoliberal con trick” by Aditya Chakrabortty

Wednesday 17th October 2018.

This posting refers you to an excellent article in The Guardian, entitled “Britain fell for a neoliberal con trick, even the IMF says so”, published today:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/17/economic-lies-neoliberalism-taxpayers

Chakrabortty is a Guardian columnist and senior economics commentator.  He sets out what has been happening to Britain’s wealth since the Thatcher revolution, as follows:

“Thatcher loosed finance from its shackles and used our North Sea oil money to pay for swingeing tax cuts.  The result is an over financialised economy and a government that is £1tn worse off since the 2008 banking crash. Norway has similar north sea wealth, and a far smaller population, but also a sovereign wealth fund. Its net wealth has soared over the past decade.”

He goes on to explain how privatisation and austerity has increased the UK’s financial precariousness.  IMF research shows that the Westminster classes have been asset stripping Britain for decades, and storing up trouble for future generations, by giving unearned wealth to a select few.

cq5dam.web.1200.675 (2)

Aditya Chakraborrty

You may ask why I have included this citation on a website about climate change.  The reason is, as described in other pieces about the economy, and in my book, the issues of climate change, wealth and the economy all are inter-linked.

 


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Climate Change and Debt

September 30th 2018

This weekend, I attended a conference organised by the Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC): “Breaking the Chains: from 1998 to the present day”.  JDC was set up in the 1990s to pressure Governments to act to cancel the unpayable debts that many developing countries held.  The situation was likened to the Biblical principle of “Jubilee” or restitution, in which debts would be cancelled every 50 years, to give an opportunity for everybody to start again at square one; not to be over-burdened with debt hanging over them.  A man called Martin Dent, a university professor raised the challenge about whether we could set the millennium as a date when the debts of developing countries could be cancelled. In 1998, in response to his, and others, Jubilee2000 campaign, 70,000 people came to Birmingham, where the G8 summit was being held, and they formed a human chain around the city to protest that so many poor countries were being held to ransom by the banks. As a result of this pressure and many thousands of signatures to petitions and postcards that were sent, $130 billion of debts was cancelled.

Birmingham-1

The human chain around Birmingham in 1998

For the full story of this, see: 

https://jubileedebt.org.uk/blog/we-still-need-a-debt-jubilee-20-years-on-from-the-birmingham-human-chain

However, things did not go back to square one, as hoped. Due to the 2008 recession and the low-interest rates that were introduced in developed countries, to help them recover from the recession, banks looked again to the poorer countries to make money; they offered new loans to them with higher interest rates. Now, 31 of these countries are in debt again, unable to pay the high interest rates the banks have imposed, with another 82 countries on the brink of going into debt.  Some developing countries, such as Jamaica and Pakistan, never had their loans cancelled anyway, so are in double the difficulty.

In 1998, JDC had proposed the introduction of better controls over banks, to prevent them from offering loans to people who were unlikely to be able to repay them. Unfortunately, these controls were not introduced,  and so a similar situation has arisen again 20 years later.

Some relevant United Nations history:

At the 2009 UN Summit (COP 15), held in Copenhagen, it was recognised that some of the poorer countries were more vulnerable to climate change, as they did not have the resources to carry out preventative measures and some, such as island nations, were more prone to the disastrous effects of more devastating hurricanes, typhoons, as well as sea level rise.  So, it was agreed at the UN to set up a fund to help those countries which are vulnerable to climate change. It was called the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 2010 and the world’s richest countries were asked to make $100 billion available to the fund.  It was acknowledged that, as the richer countries were the ones who had caused climate change (through industrialisation and the use of fossil fuels), they had an obligation to help those countries who were suffering most from the effects of it, yet who had done nothing to bring it about.  Further details of this fund can be found at:

https://unfccc.int/process/bodies/funds-and-financial-entities/green-climate-fund

Yet by 2018, this fund has been largely ineffectual.  There have been complaints that there have been too many hoops to jump through to access the money, that the grants were too small, with loans (yet again) being preferred to grants. There is also further criticism of the embattled GCF, which has struggled with management dramas, including the resignation of its executive director and the collapse of a crucial board meeting over the summer. Rich and poor countries on the board are divided over framing new processes to raise funds, and donors have expressed private frustration at the slowness of its processes.  Now it would seem that recent applications to the GCF include applications for megadams and, from Bahrain (an oil-rich country) to clean up waste water from its oil and gas industry. Are these within the guidelines originally set up for the GCF?

In another blog, I have described the Climate Vulnerable Forum of 48 countries, which has been vocal in stating that the GCF is not doing what was promised.  Some of these countries also threatened to pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement unless there were more assurances on finance, technology and compensation (see page 184 in my book).

How is debt linked to climate change?

At the JDC conference last weekend, there was a workshop on Climate Debt led by Clare Waldon (JDC) and Leon Sealey-Huggins from Warwick University, the latter having carried out studies on Climate Change in the Caribbean.

https://novaramedia.com/2017/09/11/3-ways-inequality-is-at-the-heart-of-hurricane-irmas-destruction/

Also, in another blog on this site, “Why climate change puts the poorest most at risk”, I cite an article by Martin Wolf in The Financial Times. in which he provides data to show that the economic impact of weather extremes is felt most strongly in tropical countries, nearly all of which are low-income countries.

In his workshop last weekend, Leon Sealey-Huggins gave evidence that the GCF is not working and is not being used to help countries adapt to climate change. As well as this, with last year (2017) seeing several powerful hurricanes in succession in the Caribbean, some countries fell into the situation of not receiving help from the GCF to repair damage but were expected to continue to pay off the debts they already held.

In contrast, €16 billion were given to The Netherlands by the EU to help them to build flood defences. And some Caribbean islands are Dutch protectorates but they received nothing.

stmaartenhurricaneirmanewscred

Damage done in St. Maarten by Hurricane Irma in 2017

This situation is unjust and requires urgent action.  The world must see how the banks are exploiting these islands who are the victims of climate change not the perpetrators.

Yet, it would appear that the IMF is resisting a moratorium on debt repayments from Caribbean islands.  Instead they are asking for them to take out climate-risk insurance.  In other words, they are being asked to insure their debts, so that the banks still get their money if there is a disaster.

Sealey-Huggins introduced the idea of “debt swaps”, in which debt repayments could be used to finance local climate change projects.

Others are calling Western countries to make reparations for slavery, as it is felt that most of the developed countries’ wealth is rooted in the slave trade.

As regards reparation, the Jubilee Debt Campaign is demanding debt relief for hurricane-hit islands.  And new initiatives are being developed to raise the profile of what has been happening.



19.10.18

Push for all Lenders to Take Responsibility

Tim Jones, of the Jubilee Debt Campaign wrote, in response to a letter in the Financial Times:

Zeng Rong ( Letters, October 17) may have got her decimal points in the wrong place when saying that China accounts for 1.8 per cent of Africa’s foreign debts, and 1.5 per cent of Ghana’s. Our recent analysis suggests that China is responsible for 20 per cent of African governments’ foreign debt, and 9 per cent of Ghana’s. 
Ms Zeng is, of course, correct to point out that there are lots of lenders to African governments, and the private sector lends at higher interest rates. Anyone concerned about preventing debt crises needs to push for responsibility from all lenders, whether governments, multilateral institutions or the private sector. 
 A key first step by lenders is a commitment to publicly disclose details on loans to governments in one place, alongside regulations to ensure all lenders comply. People across the world have the right to know about the debt being taken out in their name. 
 Tim Jones Economist, Jubilee Debt Campaign”