Tag Archives: United Nations Climate Change Conference

Pope Francis joins other religious leaders in challenging world to clean up its filth

Repost from KSL.com
[Editor: Although welcome, the Pope’s encyclical is not new in religious circles.  He joins with previous popes and a substantial number of protestant Christian communities who have been calling for action on climate change over the past 20 years or more.  See Interfaith Power and LightInterfaith Moral Action on Climate, World Council of Churches,  and Climate Change: Who Speaks for Christianity?  – RS]

Pope urges revolution to save earth, fix ‘perverse’ economy

By Nicole Winfield, Rachel Zoll and Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, June 18th, 2015 @ 9:36am

PopeFrancisEncyclical2015-06VATICAN CITY (AP) — In a sweeping environmental manifesto aimed at spurring concrete action, Pope Francis called Thursday for a bold cultural revolution to correct what he described as a “structurally perverse” economic system where the rich exploit the poor, turning Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

Francis framed climate change as an urgent moral issue in his eagerly anticipated encyclical, blaming global warming on an unfair, fossil fuel-based industrial model that harms the poor most.

Citing Scripture, his predecessors and bishops from around the world, the pope urged people of every faith and even no faith to undergo an awakening to save God’s creation for future generations.

The document released Thursday was a stinging indictment of big business and climate doubters alike, meant to encourage courageous changes at U.N. climate negotiations later this year, in domestic politics and in everyday life.

“It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress,” he writes. “Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress.”

Environmental scientists said the first-ever encyclical, or teaching document, on the environment could have a dramatic effect on the climate debate, lending the moral authority of the immensely popular Francis to an issue that has long been cast in purely political, economic or scientific terms.

“This clarion call should guide the world toward a strong and durable universal climate agreement in Paris at the end of this year,” said Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s top climate official. “Coupled with the economic imperative, the moral imperative leaves no doubt that we must act on climate change now.”

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist, said the encyclical is a “game-changer in making people think about this.”

“It’s not politics anymore,” he said, adding that science is often difficult to understand but that people respond to arguments framed by morality and ethics.

The energy lobby was quick to criticize the encyclical’s anti-fossil fuel message.

“The simple reality is that energy is the essential building block of the modern world,” said Thomas Pyle of the Institute of Energy Research, a conservative free-market group. “The application of affordable energy makes everything we do – food production, manufacturing, health care, transportation, heating and air conditioning – better.”

Francis said he hoped his effort would lead ordinary people in their daily lives and decision-makers at the Paris U.N. climate meetings to a wholesale change of mind and heart, saying “both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor” must now be heard.

“This vision of `might is right’ has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all,” he writes. “Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace as proposed by Jesus.”

The encyclical “Laudato Si,” (Praise Be) is 191 pages of pure Francis.

It’s a blunt, readable booklet full of zingers that will make many conservatives and climate doubters squirm, including in the U.S. Congress, where Francis will deliver the first-ever papal address in September. It has already put several U.S. presidential candidates on the hot seat since some Republicans, Catholics among them, doubt the science behind global warming and have said the pope should stay out of the debate.

“I don’t think we should politicize our faith,” U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, a Catholic convert, said on the eve of the encyclical’s release. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

Yet one of Francis’ core points is that there really is no distinction between human beings, their faith and the environment.

“Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth,” he writes.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, whose office wrote the first draft of the encyclical, acknowledged that the pope was no expert in science, although he did work as a chemist before entering the seminary. But he said Francis was fully justified in speaking out about an important issue and had consulted widely. He asked if politicians would refrain from talking about science just because they’re not scientific experts.

Francis accepts as fact that the world is getting warmer and that human activity is mostly to blame.

“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he writes.

Citing the deforestation of the Amazon, the melting of Arctic glaciers and the deaths of coral reefs, he rebukes “obstructionist” climate doubters who “seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms.” And he blames politicians for listening more to oil industry interests than Scripture or common sense.

He praises a “less is more” lifestyle, one that shuns air conditioners and gated communities in favor of car pools, recycling and being in close touch with the poor and marginalized. He calls for courageous, radical and farsighted policies to transition the world’s energy supply from fossil fuels to renewable sources, saying mitigation schemes like the buying and selling of carbon credits won’t solve the problem and are just a “ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”

What is needed, he says, is a “bold cultural revolution.”

“Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur,” Francis writes.

Some have dismissed the Argentine pope as pushing what they call Latin American-style socialism, but he answered those critics just this week, saying it was not a sign of communism to care for the poor.

Within the church, many conservative Catholics have questioned the pope’s heavy emphasis on the environment and climate change over other issues such as abortion and marriage.

Francis does address abortion and population issues briefly in the encyclical, criticizing those in the environmental movement who show concern for preserving nature but not human lives. The Catholic Church has long been at odds with environmentalists over how much population growth degrades the environment.

John Schellnhuber, the scientist credited with coming up with the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F), says it’s a “myth” that a growing population is responsible for environmental decay.

“It’s not poverty that destroys the environment,” he told the press conference launching the document. “It’s wealth, consumption and waste. And this is reflected in the encyclical.”

Zoll and Borenstein reported from New York. Associated Press writers Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden, and Daniela Petroff in Vatican City contributed to this report.

    PETITION: Kick Big Polluters out of Climate Policy

    Repost from Oil Change International

    Help kick Big Oil out of climate policy!

    Sign the petition to the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

    “We call on you to take immediate action to protect COP21 and all future negotiations from the influence of big polluters. Given the fossil fuel industry’s years of interference intended to block progress, push false solutions, and continue the disastrous status quo, the time has come to stop treating big polluters as legitimate “stakeholders” and to remove them from climate policymaking.”

    Today, we are facing the prospect of the destruction of life as we know it and irreversible damage to our planet due to climate change. Scientists are telling us with ever more urgency that we must act quickly to stop extracting fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the world’s largest polluters have prevented progress on bold climate action for far too long.

    We call on the Parties to the UNFCCC to protect the UN climate talks and climate policymaking around the world from the influence of big polluters. The world is looking to the next round of negotiations – in Paris this December – for decisive action on climate. This is a pivotal moment to create real solutions. We need a strong outcome from the Paris talks in order to seize the momentum of a growing global movement, and to urge leaders to take bolder action to address the climate crisis.

    But the fossil fuel industry and other transnational corporations that have a vested interest in stopping progress continue to delay, weaken, and block climate policy at every level. From the World Coal Association hosting a summit on “clean coal” around COP19 to Shell aggressively lobbying in the European Union for weak renewable energy goals while promoting gas – these big polluters are peddling false solutions to protect their profits while driving the climate crisis closer to the brink.

    A decade ago, the international community took on another behemoth industry – Big Tobacco – and created a precedent-setting treaty mechanism that removed the tobacco industry from public health policy. This can happen again here.

    Corporate Accountability International will deliver this message and the list of signatures at the climate talks in Bonn, Germany, the first week of June. We will do another delivery by the end of COP21 in Paris this December.

    Participating organizations:

    350.org
    Amazon Watch
    Chesapeake Climate Action Network
    Climate Action Network International
    Corporate Accountability International
    CREDO Action
    Daily Kos
    Environmental Action
    Food & Water Watch
    Federation of Young European Greens
    Forecast the Facts
    Greenpeace USA
    League of Conservation Voters
    Oil Change International
    People for the American Way
    Rainforest Action Network
    RH Reality Check
    SumOfUs
    The Natural History Museum
    CC: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
    Outgoing COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal
    Incoming COP21 President Laurent Fabius

      California governor orders aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030

      Repost from Reuters
      [Editor:  See also local coverage in The Contra Costa Times.  – RS]

      California governor orders aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030

      By Rory Carroll, Apr 29, 2015 11:28pm IST 
      California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
      California Governor Jerry Brown looks on during a news conference at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

      (Reuters) – California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order on Wednesday to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, a move he said was necessary to combat the growing threat of climate change.

      The targeted reduction was tied to 1990 levels and is “the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions,” Brown said in a statement.

      California operates the nation’s largest carbon cap and trade system. The state sets an overall limit on carbon emissions and allows businesses to hand in tradeable permits to meet their obligations.

      Achieving the new target will require reductions from sectors including industry, agriculture, energy and state and local governments, Brown said.

      “I’ve set a very high bar, but it’s a bar we must meet,” Brown told a carbon market conference in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday.

      Brown said the new target will position California as a leader in combating climate change in the United States and internationally.

      Brown said he has spoken to leaders in Oregon, Washington and Northeastern states about collaborating with California to cut their output of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Those states could potentially link to California’s carbon market in future years.

      He said he has had similar discussions with leaders in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, as well as in Germany, China and Mexico.

      Quebec is already linked to the California market. Leaders in Ontario this month signaled their intention to join the program.

      “This will be a local policy but it will be globally focused,” Brown told reporters on the sidelines of the conference.

      United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the news and encouraged other states and cities around the world to also take action, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

      “California’s bold commitment to tackling climate change is a strong example to states and regions all over the world that they can join their national governments in taking ownership of this critical issue and in showing leadership,” Haq said.

      The plan for how California will achieve the 2030 target will be hammered out over the next year by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), which oversees the cap-and-trade program.

      “With this bold action by the governor, California extends its leadership role and joins the community of states and nations that are committed to slash carbon pollution through 2030 and beyond,” said Mary Nichols, chair of the ARB.

      (Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Susan Heavey and David Gregorio)