Swiss Judge Clears Climate Crisis Protestors, Says Actions Were ‘Necessary and Proportional’
A Swiss court on Monday cleared a dozen activists of wrongdoing and a hefty fine for a stunt they pulled in a Credit Suisse bank in November 2018.
The protestors had occupied the bank and played tennis to demand an end to fossil fuel funding and to ask tennis star, Roger Federer, to end his endorsement deal with the bank, as the AP reported.
The case went to court because the defendants refused to pay fines for protesting without a permit and resisting police. The protestors were charged with trespassing and ordered to pay 21,600 Swiss francs ($22,200). However, the judge in the appeal said the protestors had acted proportionately and waived the fine, as Reuters reported.
The judge, Philippe Colelough, said the protestors who wore completely white tennis outfits and wigs were justified because of the imminent threat posed by the climate crisis, according to Deutsche Welle.
"Because of the insufficient measures taken to date in Switzerland, whether they be economic or political, the average warming will not diminish nor even stabilize, it will increase," he said, noting Switzerland's melting glaciers, as Deutsche Welle reported.
"In view of this, the tribunal considers that the imminence of danger is established," the judge continued. "The act for which they were incriminated was a necessary and proportional means to achieve the goal they sought."
The packed courtroom, in a suburb of Lausanne, erupted in applause and gave a standing ovation to the judge's decision, as Reuters reported.
"I didn't think it was possible," said one of the accused individuals, Beate Thalmann, in tears of joy, according to Reuters. "If Switzerland did this, then maybe we have a chance."
An attorney, Laila Batou, representing one of the defendants, said the Judge Colelough accepted the argument that the activists had exhausted all other legitimate forms of protest like petition drives, sidewalk demonstrations and efforts with Swiss legislators, according to the AP.
"The lawyers, the clients, the audience cried," Batou said, as the AP reported. She said the "bombshell" from the judge was his acknowledgement that the climate emergency is "impossible" to block through other legal means.
Because of the heat-trapping effect of its many mountains, Switzerland is warming at twice the global average, according to Reuters. The country has pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The country, which is warming at twice the global average due to the heat-trapping effect of its mountains, has an target to cut net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 but activists with Lausanne Climate Action say that the country's biggest impact is via its financial industry, as Reuters reported.
The activists pointed out that Credit Suisse is one of the world's largest investors in fossil fuels, ponying up more than $7.8 billion to nearly four dozen companies that are "extreme" users of dirty fossil fuels. Lausanne Climate Action noted that the bank increased its financing for coal 16-fold from 2016 to 2017, as the AP reported.
However, last month, Credit Suisse announced that it will no longer invest in new coal-fired plants, according to the AP.
The protestors would like to see Swiss tennis star, Roger Federer, use his leverage to have Credit Suisse invest in sustainability or cut ties with the Zurich-based bank.
"If we get him to distance himself from the bank, we will empower our action," Batou said, as the AP reported.
Federer, for his part, sent a statement to Reuters in response to the criticism he has received from activists, especially a tweet from 350.org that was retweeted by Greta Thunberg."I appreciate reminders of my responsibility as a private individual, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur, and I'm committed to using this privileged position to dialogue on important issues with my sponsors," said in a statement, as Reuters reported. "I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bushfires."
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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