As Obama Signals Surrender to TransCanada, It's Time to Focus on Keystone XL’s Southern Leg
Why aren’t all Keystone XL opponents loudly demanding that President Obama stop construction of the pipeline’s 485-mile southern leg that is destroying the lives of our fellow Americans in Texas and Oklahoma? This is a classic case of something being hidden in plain view.
By approving construction of Keystone XL’s southern leg last spring, our “I’m all for pipelines” president not only sold out the people of Texas and Oklahoma, he is currently lighting the fuse to the tar sands “carbon bomb.”
I ask in the name of loving justice: why isn’t blocking the actual construction of Keystone XL’s southern leg being met with the same level of outrage by everyone as blocking the potential construction of the pipeline’s northern leg?
Let me state clearly that I honor and respect the hard work and personal sacrifice of everyone who is engaged in the fight against Keystone XL. As a former presidential campaign operative, I understood–but vehemently disagreed with (along with many others)–the decision by Obama’s political allies to shield their candidate from Keystone XL criticisms during the 2012 election, but there can be no excuse for protecting him now. The campaign is over and Obama can’t run again, so he no longer needs political cover.
With the knowledge that completion of Keystone XL’s southern leg would open the floodgates to Canadian tar sands exploitation comes a moral obligation—to our children, to future generations and to all the other beings with whom we share this miraculous planet—to stop its construction.
TIME’s senior national correspondent, Michael Grunwald, recently wrote:
“Keystone isn’t a perfect battlefield, but neither was Selma or Stonewall. In a war, you don’t always get to choose where to fight. You still have to show you’re willing to fight.”
To extend the analogy a bit further, Texas and Oklahoma may not be where everyone wants to fight, but they are the front lines of this war right now. Obviously, we must do everything in our power to ensure that the president also rejects TransCanada’s permit for the northern leg, but “stopping Keystone XL” means stopping the construction of the southern leg that is already halfway completed and on track to begin pumping tar sands slurry from Alberta’s mine fields to Gulf Coast refineries by the end of this year.
We need to show this corporate bully what the American people are made of by using every creative and nonviolent means at our disposal to terminate Keystone XL. Here are a few of the opportunities to take a stand against this tar sands monstrosity in the coming weeks. Participate in the Tar Sands Blockade’s March Week of Action from now through March 23. Join the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate on March 21 for a nonviolent civil disobedience at the White House. Contribute to the legal defense of Marine veteran Michael Bishop and other brave landowners who are fighting Keystone XL in court. Sign the petition demanding that Obama stop Keystone XL in its entirety. Or come up with an action of your own.
Last Friday, White House officials briefing reporters on Air Force One strongly indicated that President Obama would approve the northern leg of Keystone XL, while downplaying the pipeline’s dangerous climate impacts. This should not really come as a surprise, given the president’s earlier approval of the southern leg, but it is a slap in the face to everyone who has literally demonstrated our expectations of this White House.
Humanity is in a climate fight for survival. Pinning our hopes on compromised politicians to save us is futile. It is up to We the People to demand justice, for our fellow Americans in Texas and Oklahoma, and for all life on Earth. Together, we must end the tyranny of fossil fuel pushers and put America back to work leading a green industrial revolution before the clock runs out on us all.
Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.
By Jessica Corbett
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By Ajit Niranjan
World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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