Category Archives: Youth Strikes for Climate movement

Student Climate Strike, Trump Budget, FOX Climate Denier, Oil Trains & more

Repost from DeSmog newsletter email
[Editor: I’m posting the entire email here.  See below the introductory note for several important articles.  DeSmog is always a good read and a great resource.  – R.S.]

Message From the DESMOG Editor

On Friday, March 15, droves of students showed world leaders they were fed up with the status quo on climate change and skipped class to call for climate action.

DeSmog’s Julie Dermansky captured the images and spirit of a small but resolute crew of students and supporters who were striking in New Orleans, Louisiana, a state already facing dire climate impacts but continuing to invest in fossil fuels as if there were no tomorrow.

In a move that is the opposite of what these students were calling for, earlier this week, President Trump released his proposed 2020 budget, which slashed funding for renewables and energy efficiency programs by a whopping 70 percent. That may sound shocking until you hear that the head of those programs, Daniel Simmons, is a former Koch insider whose one-time employer suggested eliminating entirely the office Simmons now leads.

What’s also not terribly surprising is that Trump, rather than relying on the thousands of federal scientists, has turned to climate science denier and industry consultant Patrick Moore for information about climate change, despite Moore’s total lack of professional expertise on the subject.

This is 2019, folks!

Have a story tip or feedback? Get in touch: editor@desmogblog.com.

Thanks,
Brendan DeMelle
Executive Director


New Orleans Student on Global Climate Strike: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Anywhere Else’

By Julie Dermansky (8 min. read)

On March 15 droves of students around the world walked out of school to protest politicians’ inaction on climate change, with approximately one million people participating in the strikes, according to organizers. From Sydney to Stockholm, students had planned more than 1,600 school strikes in over 100 countries, inspired by the weekly Friday climate protests of Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

And in New Orleans, Louisiana, a small but resolute group of students and supporters gathered a few blocks from Lusher Middle and High School, on St. Charles Avenue, one of the city’s most famous thoroughfares, to confront their state’s heightened urgency to stop climate change or face losing the land they are standing on. Read more.

Trump Budget for Renewables Slashed 70% Under Former Koch Insider’s Leadership

By Ben Jervey (4 min. read)

When President Trump nominated long-time Koch network insider and renewable energy antagonist Daniel Simmons to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the administration’s priorities for federal energy programs were made abundantly clear. Simmons had, after all, been serving at the time of his nomination as Vice President for Policy at a Koch-funded think tank that had, in 2015, called for the outright elimination of the very office he was tapped to lead.

The Trump administration budget proposal released this week, for fiscal year 2020, goes a long way toward delivering this wish to the Koch network, calling for a 70 percent reduction in funding for the EERE and scrapping entirely the Department of Energy’s loan programs. Read more.

What President Trump, Fox and Breitbart Are Not Saying About Climate Science Denier Patrick Moore

By Graham Readfearn (7 min. read)

What does it take to become a legitimate spokesperson on climate change science and energy policy in the eyes of President Donald Trump and partisan conservative media like Fox News and Breitbart?

If the current worshipping of non-expert and climate science denier Patrick Moore is anything to go by, the only qualification you need is the ability to call first-term Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “pompous little twit” on Twitter. Read more.

Despite Risks, Canada’s Tar Sands Industry Is Betting Big on Oil Trains

By Justin Mikulka (6 min. read)

Last year, Canada exported a record amount of tar sands oil to the U.S., despite low oil prices leading to major losses once again for the struggling tar sands industry. That achievement required a big bump in hauling oil by rail, with those daily volumes in late 2018 more than double the previous record in 2014 during the first oil-by-rail boom.

Canada’s oil industry essentially has reached its limit for exporting oil into the U.S. through pipelines. That’s why it’s turning to rail to export more and more oil, but as an ever-increasing number of oil trains hit the tracks of North America, expect more accidents and oil spills to follow. Read more.

Massachusetts Hired Energy Industry Execs to ‘Independently’ Review State’s Gas System

By Itai Vardi (5 min. read)

A private contractor employed by the state of Massachusetts to conduct a statewide safety review of its gas distribution companies hired gas industry executives for the project, documents obtained by DeSmog show. They include two former executives of National Grid —  one of the companies under review — and Enbridge, a main supplier of gas in the state.

One of the former National Grid executives was removed from the review once the state learned a family member of his currently works for the company. Read more.

Fracking 2.0 Was a Financial Disaster, Will Fracking 3.0 Be Different?

By Justin Mikulka (8 min. read)

Two years ago, the U.S. fracking industry was trying to recover from the crash in the price of oil. Shale companies were promoting the idea that fracking was viable even at low oil prices (despite losing money when oil prices were high). At the time, no one was making money fracking with the business-as-usual approach, but then the Wall Street Journal published a story claiming all of this was about to change because the industry had a trump card — and that was technology.

Today, frackers are again relying on technology as a financial savior, but this time, they are looking to Microsoft. Read more.

Toyota Is Losing the Electric Car Race, So It Pretends Hybrids Are Better

By Ben Jervey (3 min. read)

There are at least 12 car companies currently selling an all-electric vehicle in the United States, and Toyota isn’t one of them. Despite admitting recently that the Tesla Model 3 alone is responsible for half of Toyota’s customer defections in North America — as Prius drivers transition to all-electric — the company has been an outspoken laggard in the race to electrification.

Now, the company is using questionable logic to attempt to justify its inaction on electrification, claiming that its limited battery capacity better serves the planet by producing gasoline-electric hybrids. Read more.

Exclusive: Rhode Island Governor Nixed Agency Critiques of LNG Facility, Silencing Health and Justice Concerns

By Itai Vardi (5 min. read)

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, squashed a letter by her own state health agency, which raised serious concerns about a proposed liquefied natural gas facility in a densely populated Providence neighborhood. Documents obtained by DeSmog show that last summer Raimondo nixed a letter by the Rhode Island Department of Health critical of National Grid’s Fields Point Liquefaction project right before it was to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

FERC approved the project three months later. Read more.

The 2020 Democrats of the ‘Anti-Green New Deal Coalition’

By Kendra Chamberlain (6 min. read)

Support for the ambitious Green New Deal proposal has uncovered widening rifts within the Democratic Party as presidential candidates begin fleshing out their 2020 platforms. To date, the Green New Deal resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has attracted 68 co-sponsors from Democratic congressmembers.

However, according to a recent report from Public Accountability Initiative, centrist Democrats and party leadership are part of what it calls an “anti-Green New Deal coalition” that could seriously impede the Green New Deal’s goal to transition the country to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Read more.

From the Climate Disinformation Database: Daniel Simmons

Daniel Simmons is a former fossil fuel lobbyist with a history of attacking renewables now leading the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which Trump’s 2020 budget proposed slashing funding for by 70 percent. Before his appointment to the Energy Department, Simmons worked with several Koch-affiliated think tanks, including the Institute for Energy Research, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Mercatus Center.

Read the full profile and browse other individuals and organizations in our research database.

    Report and photos – School climate strikes around the globe today

    Repost from the Washington Post

    School climate strikes draw thousands to the streets in cities around the globe

    By Griff Witte , Luisa Beck , Brady Dennis and Sarah Kaplan, March 15, 2019 at 12:11 PM
    Thousands of students demonstrate in Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of the global climate strikes on Friday. (Jean-Christophe Bott/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

    BERLIN — A movement that began with a single teenager distributing homemade fliers outside the Swedish parliament last summer became a global phenomenon on Friday, as students worldwide skipped school and took to the streets to urgently demand that adults combat the perils of climate change.

    Starting in the South Pacific and moving west with the sun, the protests blanketed grand city centers and humble village squares. Organizers said they were expecting demonstrations in at least 112 countries, in more than 1,700 locations.

    The coordinated demonstrations were planned as the largest manifestation to date of the Fridays for Future movement, in which students forgo classes each week in favor of something they have said is more important: pleading for action on an issue that will affect every person on the planet, but young people most of all.

    Young people raise their fists during the protests in Berlin. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)

    “You’re stealing our future!” an estimated 20,000 demonstrators chanted outside the German government ministry in Berlin that sets energy policy.

    The adults most responsible for the ravages of climate change “are going to be gone soon enough,” said 14-year-old Ashton Assa, who was on the streets of Sydney on Friday with an estimated 30,000 other Australians. “It is up to us kids to make a difference.”

    Cassa held a placard reading “Stop the Fossil Fools” — a reflection of the contempt protesters have shown for the grown-ups who call the shots, and who are widely seen as having reacted with complacency and caprice to the world’s gravest threat.

    ‘We are afraid for our future’: Thousands of students join global climate strike

    From Sydney to London, thousands of students walked out of classes March 15 in a global strike to protest government inaction on climate change. 

    Despite their frustration, the protesters have been consistently peaceful — as was the case on Friday. Their message has been delivered respectfully, but also with an exasperation and urgency that reflect the stakes.

    U.N. researchers have said the world has only the next dozen years to halt the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. These effects, they say, include rising seas that inundate cities, crop failures that spawn famines and more severe and frequent weather-related disasters that ravage communities and cause billions of dollars in damage. But politicians remain far off track in their efforts to address the issue.

    Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, who inspired the strikes, takes part in the demonstration in Stockholm. (Henrik Montgomery/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

    Students hold up a placard depicting Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg in Barcelona. (Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

    “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago,” Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen who launched the movement, told a U.N. climate gathering in December in a speech that, with equal parts clarity and audacity, rocketed her to fame.

    “I don’t want your hope,” Thunberg, her hair braided in pigtails, told the world’s elite at Davos a month later. “I want you to panic.”

    The 16-year-old, who started protesting by herself in Stockholm, has inspired young people around the world to follow her example. Protests have been especially large in European capitals, but Friday’s demonstrations were expected to include large gatherings on every inhabited continent.

    “The first day I sat, I was all alone,” Thunberg has said. Now, “it’s amazing to talk to these people who are doing the same thing and fighting for the same cause . . . all around the world.”

    Students on Friday were joined by parents, educators and other concerned adults. But the demonstrations were dominated by youth of high school age and younger, who planned, organized and led the rallies, marching on the front lines, bullhorns in hand.

    An estimated 150,000 people turned out in dozens of demonstrations across Australia. Protests were also held in cities across Asia, but were comparatively smaller.

    In Europe, capitals such as Berlin, Paris and London were filled with placard-wielding students who had packed into trains and subways to reach the demonstrations. Tens of thousands of people were estimated to have turned out in each of those cities.

    “I can’t learn if I’m dead,” read one among a sea of handmade cardboard signs that the demonstrators brought in Berlin.

    “Make the earth cool again,” read another.

    The protesters overflowed a park that was set aside for the occasion and marched for hours through the city under overcast late-winter skies.

    Students call for climate action in Kampala, Uganda. (Isaac Kasamani/AFP/Getty Images)

    Indian students and members of different nongovernmental organizations protest in Bangalore. (Jagadeesh Nv/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

    Children hold placards as part of the climate strikes in Manila. (Mark R Cristino/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

    Some said the demonstrations have become so popular that to be in school on a Friday during a protest was the exception, not the norm.

    “The last time, only four people were left in class, and I didn’t want to be one of them,” said 18-year-old Berlin resident Enrico Csonka.

    In Paris, the march started at the symbolic Place du Panthéon, the site of the French Republic’s mausoleum for its most cherished citizens.

    The students climbed atop bus stations, hung onto streetlights and chanted: “One, two, three degrees. It’s a crime against humanity.”

     “There’s no point taking the bac if we have to graduate into a world that’s on fire,” said 15-year-old Maelis Clain, referring to the baccalauréat, the French prerequisite for finishing high school.

    A large, boisterous crowd — chanting, “Solutions, not pollution” — marched through central London, weaving by landmarks such as Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.

    Amelie Ashton, 15, held aloft a sign that read: “I can’t swim.”

    “There are people who will be underwater in the next 50 years, and we’re acting like there’s not a problem,” she said. “This is huge. This is now and we need to make a change.”

    As the protests in Europe wound down, they ramped up in the United States. The planned strikes spanned the country, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Bellingham, Wash.

    Friday marked 13-year-old Alexandria Villasenor’s 14th week striking in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York. Since December, she had sat there alone through rain, snow and the polar vortex to demand aggressive action against climate change.

    But on Friday morning, roughly 50 middle and high school students were protesting with her.

    Last month, as the Fridays for the Future protests ballooned into a weekly event in Europe, Villasenor had lamented the relative lack of climate activism in the United States. She expressed anger at President Trump’s decision to withdraw the country from the Paris climate accord and frustration with her peers’ seeming lack of concern about the issue.

    But with 12-year-old Haven Coleman and 15-year-old Isra Hirsi, Villasenor helped orchestrate protests in all 50 states on Friday. There were 10 planned for New York alone, with a culminating rally at Columbus Circle.

    “Today, we are declaring the era of American climate change denialism over,” she declared to the morning’s crowd at the United Nations, reading a speech she had handwritten on loose-leaf paper.
    For all the urgency and fever among the young people filling streets, descending on capital buildings and protesting outside the offices of local and national leaders, real questions remain about whether their protests will spur action from policymakers.

    Thunberg and others have said they were inspired by students from Parkland High School who became activists after last year’s deadly shooting at their school. But those efforts, along with a massive youth-led demonstration last year in favor of stronger gun laws, known as March for Our Lives, have not yet led to legislation.

    Polish students take part in a demonstration in Warsaw. (Jakub Kaminski/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

    Young people rally in Brisbane, Australia. (Stringer/Reuters)

    One of Friday’s first planned demonstrations — in Christchurch, New Zealand — had to be cut short when a heavily armed gunman attacked a mosque. The massacre of at least 49 people brought together two scourges that have been the ominous background to young people’s lives worldwide: mass shootings and a warming planet.

    Many young climate advocates in the United States have said they want to see the so-called Green New Deal — or pieces of it — embraced by lawmakers. But so far, Democrats themselves have remained divided over the ambitious proposals, and many Republicans, including President Trump, have mocked them as absurdly expensive while also deriding the idea of man-made climate change as “a hoax.”

    Still, the teens have won the backing of many leading environmental groups, including Greenpeace, the Sunrise Movement and 350.org. This month, more than 250 scientists released a letter of support for the school strikes.

    Penn State climate researcher Michael Mann, who helped coordinate the letter, said it would be a “moral failing” if adults did not bolster the young activists’ message.

    “These kids are putting themselves out there, on the line, risking so much, because they know better than any of us what the stakes are: nothing less than the future of human civilization,” he said.

    Students stage a protest in front of the Duomo Gothic cathedral, in Milan, Italy. (Luca Bruno/AP)

    Students take part in a demonstration in Paris. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

    Portuguese students protest in Lisbon. (Rafael Marchante/Reuters)

    In Europe, where the climate strikes have been filling plazas in capital cities for months, leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel have endorsed the movement.

    But other politicians have mocked it. Christian Lindner, leader of a pro-business party in Germany, urged students to stay in school and dismissively offered that “politics is for professionals.”

    Across Germany on Friday, more than 180 individual strikes were planned, according to 22-year-old organizer Luisa Neubauer. On Friday, she and thousands of others gathered in a park in front of the country’s Economics and Energy Ministry. Neubauer said their aim was to pressure politicians to meet the country’s carbon reduction targets — targets that Germany is now on track to miss.

    “It doesn’t make sense to put out targets and not move anywhere near them,” said Neubauer.

    Climate strikes have a long history in Germany, most notably contributing to the rise in the 1980s of the country’s Green party, which is now a major force in German politics.

    But this is the first time a climate movement is being led by people who are not even yet eligible to vote, according to Sabrina Zajak, a youth researcher at the German Center for Integration and Migration Research.

    The movement has already had an impact on the way politicians discuss climate politics, Zajak said. In negotiations, she said she has noticed them increasingly wield a new rallying cry: “We need to do it for the youth.”

    Students take part in a global protest for climate change in Cambridge, England. (Stefan Rousseau/AP)

    Dennis reported from Washington and Kaplan from New York. A. Odysseus Patrick in Sydney, James McAuley in Paris and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.

      The climate change generation wants to be heard – ‘I’m fighting for my future.’

      Repost from High Country News

      The climate change generation wants to be heard – ‘I’m fighting for my future.’

      By Rebecca Leber, March 15, 2019

      This article was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

      In 2040, Haven Coleman will be 33 years old. Having grown up in Colorado, she may have left the state to attend college or start her career, but wherever she goes will be a stunningly different world from the one she inhabits today.

      The planet will have already warmed past one scary threshold — 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial averages — and will be fast approaching the even more frightening mark of 2 degrees Celsius, long considered a catastrophic marker by the global community. Even at 1.5 degrees, there will likely be tens of millions of climate refugees from regions that have become uninhabitable because of heat, flooding, or extreme weather; fragile coral reefs may be nearly decimated; while recurrent flooding, excessive heat, and a constant risk of wildfires will pose an everyday threat to stability in some of the world’s biggest cities.

      Not quite yet 13 years old, Coleman is painfully aware of what awaits her generation should there be continued government and social inaction in addressing the perils of a warming planet. “I’ve grown up with climate change,” Coleman told me. “I’ve grown up listening and hearing about climate change. I’m fighting for my future.”

      She is one of the school-age protesters who will be skipping classes Friday to join in protests in more than 1,600 school strikes across 100 countries. Students are joining in, inspired by the example of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager, who has been striking most Fridays since 2018 to demand political leaders’ attention. The hashtag, #FridaysForFuture has caught on in other countries, like Australia where 200 young people demonstrated in November.

      Greta Thunberg inspired thousands of students in Hamburg to skip school in protest over the lack of action on climate change.

      In the U.S., the movement, which is made up of mostly teenage girls, has expanded from a few lone protesters missing school on some Fridays to a nationwide, all-day Youth Climate Strike.  Coleman teamed up with 16-year-old Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Minnesota Rep. Imar Oman, and 13-year-old Alexandria Villasenor of New York City. Their demands are for the U.S. to embrace the principles underlying the Green New Deal, provide better education on climate change, and connect all government decisions to scientific research.

      These young people comprise the first generation who bear little responsibility for the 410 parts per million concentration of carbon in the atmosphere but will face most of the consequences from it. They’re coming of age when the window to ward off this nightmare scenario is rapidly shrinking. Many older adults have been warning for decades that “future generations” will suffer for our selfishness and inertia from continued inaction. Now, those so-called future victims are finding their voice to try and shape the agenda.

      “The climate change generation is a generation of young people born into a warming world, who will be alive to see which climate model scenario plays out, and who have spent — and will spend — essentially our entire adult lives fighting for a just and stable future,” says Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow, scientist and activist who has organized to persuade Harvard and MIT to divest from fossil fuels. “Many of my younger peers in the climate change generation will literally outlive the climate projections that scientists run through 2100.”

      The youngest activists in the U.S. have found new entry points in the debate by joining the Sunrise Movement and demanding a Green New Deal. The Sunrise Movement is mostly comprised of millennial activists, a portion of whom, like Supran, learned the basics of organizing from the fossil fuel divestment movement on college campuses. Many of those 20-something organizers were concerned about climate change already, but found agency through concrete action like divestment.

      Whether intuitively or from having witnessed and learned history, the younger activists understand that climate change encompasses not only the environment but also racial discrimination and economic inequality.

      Even in the past, the environmental movement has been more expansive than other single-issue concerns, says Georgetown historian Michael Kazin, an expert in the radical left. He explains that in the sixties and seventies, environmentalism began as an anti-pollution movement that grew out of opposition to the Vietnam War and demands for a better quality of life. “What any movement needs to survive is infrastructure,” Kazin notes, “and to find through-lines to other issues people are about.”

      Sunrise is one of the groups that is fast building up that infrastructure and has closely connected the climate fight to racial justice. Rose Strauss from Sunrise is a college freshman, who attended one of the group’s trainings last year and saw the need to recognize its growing number of activists at the high school level. Sunrise does not have hard numbers for its under-20 division, but counts 275 students who are active on their Slack channel. The group, working with a high school-focused climate group called iMatter, has been working to advance Green New Deal resolutions in places like Marin County, California, and Sante Fe, New Mexico. Having a vision, like the Green New Deal, to rally around has drawn new activists to their ranks.

      “I’ve been trying to become active for a long time but there wasn’t a solution addressing the problem on the scale that needs to be addressed,” Strauss says. “Having a tangible solution like the Green New Deal to get behind puts a much more positive spin on it than ‘this is terrible we need to stop it.’ That kind of shift in messaging has got a lot more people involved.”

      Climate activists across the generations are counting on these new messengers to bring more salience to their arguments. “Politicians and pundits have talked for decades about ‘our children and grandchildren’ who will face the perils of climate change,” Supran says. “But guess what: They’re here, they’re alive, they’re marching in the streets right now.”

      Rebecca Leber is a reporter in Mother Jones’ D.C. bureau, where she covers environmental politics and policy. Email High Country News at editor@hcn.org or submit a letter to the editor.