8 Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Climate Movement in 2015
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is a 14-year-old Indigenous Eco Hip-hop Activist that has been speaking out to protect the Earth since he was six years old. Since then he has spoken at more than 100 schools, conferences, at the United Nations on numerous occasions and other high profile events to educate and inspire his generation into positive, concerted action to protect their future.
I have a feeling 2015 is going to be huge for the climate movement. Here are my top eight reasons to get excited about what we are building together.
1. Frontline Communities are Leading
The People's Climate March in New York City last September was among the most diverse actions I've ever been to. An estimated 400,000 people joined the march and frontline communities were front and center. People of color have long occupied the frontlines in confronting climate change, but now it seems climate justice advocates are receiving long overdo recognition as movement leaders. Low income youth of color will be the most affected by the changing climate, so it’s about time our climate movement embraces more frontline voices. We still have long way to go in the struggle for climate justice, but I believe in 2015 we’ll see another big leap forward in the support of frontline leadership.
2. Pope Francis will issue an edict on climate change
The world has 1.2 billion Catholics, about four times as many people as the population of the entire U.S., so the leader of the Catholic Church taking on climate change is a big deal. The impact on Catholics is just a fraction of the potential from the Pope’s climate actions. The Pope also plans to call a world summit of religious leaders to discuss the issue, framing climate change as a moral issue. As one of the billions of young people tired of citizens continually become frustrated with politicians playing games with our future, this act of leadership from the Catholic Church could not have come soon enough.
3. Success of divestment movement
The student-led movement, to cleanse universities and other institutions of its fossil fuel investments, is taking the country by storm. With more than 400 campus campaigns, 181 divested institutions/campuses representing some $50 billion, 2014 was a huge year for divest from fossil fuel movement. All the success is leading to thousands of conversations about the morality of investing in fossil fuels. Perhaps that’s why the fossil fuel industry has started pushing back so hard. Real change can often occur when a critical mass starts questioning ‘is this right?’ But, all of this feels like just the beginning. On Feb. 13 and 14 more than 450 events were organized in more than 60 countries in honor of Global Divestment Day. Big Oil an Gas can run, but they can’t hide.
4. New York Banned fracking
Since the film Gasland was released in 2010, the oil an gas drilling method hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has been associated with flaming faucets, but just as scary is what you can’t see. A recent study published in National Geographic found levels of the carcinogen benzene up to 12,000 times the safe exposure limit. When fracking was proposed in New York State an amazing grassroots movement was formed to protect public health from these dangers. The call for a ban on fracking was heard from farmers, doctors, scientists, teachers, students and small business owners, everyday people who wanted to protect the health of their families and their businesses. After more than five years, the people succeeded. Governor Cuomo cited health reasons for the ban, but there is also a huge climate impact. The ban on fracking will keep at least 273 million tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted equivalent to 57 million passenger cars on the road. This shows us that if we work together to build our movement we can accomplish anything.
5. The Year We Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline
While the Keystone XL pipeline passed both chambers of Congress, the Obama administration has publicly stated that the President will veto the bill. Obama himself said that the pipeline would only serve our national interest if the pipeline “does not significantly exacerbate the climate problem.” Any question in his mind should be erased after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released comments estimating that the pipeline could release an additional 1.37 billion tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. However, the movement to oppose this dangerous pipeline is what pushed Obama to fully evaluate the disastrous impacts, and it’s that movement that gives me hope. It’s the Idle No More indigenous movement that has been engaging in tar sands resistance from Alberta, Canada down through the Great Plains and the thousands of people arrested or demonstrated from DC to Nebraska. Indigenous people and youth have the most at stake and are at the front lines of this pipeline fight, and it violates our basic human rights to clean water, air, land and health. This movement is strong and it’s growing and I know we will step up now that it’s crunch time. Our futures are on the line, so we are drawing the line! #NoKXL
6. Kids Putting Climate Change on Trial
Youth from all 50 states have joined Our Children’s Trust in state and federal lawsuits to cap emissions and enact climate recovery plans. The lawsuits are based on the Public Trust doctrine, which protects common resources like the atmosphere and water resources. In Colorado myself and six other Earth Guardians are suing the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for not upholding their mission to protect public health and safety. It’s one of many similar state cases that will be heard in court in 2015. There is something so powerful about taking the government to court to demand a safe, healthy future and it will be inspiring to see how these cases play out in 2015 as our voices are heard.
7. Building toward Paris
The UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this December may be our best opportunity to solve the climate crisis before it’s too late. In Lima last year, countries agreed to non-binding targets with the understanding of reaching a possible comprehensive agreement on mitigating climate change during the Paris. However, it is not just world leaders who need to stand up: it’s we the people. We need to show that we are committed to climate solutions and are willing to work toward them. That is why my 11 year-old little brother Itzcuauhtli went on a 45-day silent strike and created a Silence Into Action pledge to be a climate leader. We will deliver these pledges to world leaders in Paris. Youth organizers are aiming to collect one million signatures. Sign here and spread the word.
It’s not just our signatures; it’s our actions that will make the difference. All over the world communities are having the discussion about what they can do reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Burlington, Vermont recently transitioned to 100 percent renewable electricity and if they can do it, it can be done anywhere. I am working with an amazing council of young solutionaries from across the nation to help make this shift happen. Our project is called RYSE (Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth) and it is building the youth-led, movement toward climate solutions. In communities across the U.S., RYSE will be hosting climate solution activation sessions and implementing projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Join the Earth Guardians in creating this change. You can support the project by clicking here.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
- Annual Whale Slaughter Still a Tradition on the Faroe Islands ... ›
- Hundreds of Pilot Whales Die in Devastating Mass Stranding in New ... ›
- Green Group Tests Facebook With Ad Claiming Conservatives Back ... ›
- Illegal Wildlife Trade Thrives on Facebook, Internet Forums ... ›
- Facebook Loophole Allows Climate Deniers to Spread Misinformation ›
- Facebook Hires Koch-Funded Climate Deniers for 'Fact-Checking ... ›
By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
- Sweden to Become One of World's First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation s ... ›
- These Countries Are Leading the Transition to Sustainable Energy ... ›
- Sweden Shuts Down Its Last Coal Plant Two Years Early - EcoWatch ›
By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- Oxford Endowment Ditches Fossil Fuels in 'Historic' Decision ... ›
- Fossil Fuel Divestment Debates on Campus Spotlight Societal Role ... ›
- London and New York Mayors Call on Other World Cities to Divest ... ›