Greta Thunberg Kicks Off Third Year of Fridays for Future Protests
By Jessica Corbett
Swedish climate leader Greta Thunberg donned a mask and joined a socially distanced Fridays for Future protest in Berlin just a day after she and three other youth activists met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government took over the European Council presidency in July, to discuss the planetary emergency.
Thunberg—along with Luisa Neubauer of Germany and Anuna de Wever van der Heyden and Adélaïde Charlier, both of Belgium—met with Merkel on Thursday exactly two years after the first school strike for the climate took place, which the four activists noted in an op-ed for the Guardian Wednesday that detailed their plans to share with her an open letter from July, now signed by over 125,000 people, calling on European Union and global leaders to #FaceTheClimateEmergency.
About 100 activists reiterated that demand with their Friday demonstration in the German capital. Tweeting about the meeting with the chancellor, Fridays for Future Berlin wrote that "conversations must be followed by deeds—that's why we take to the streets together!"
School strike week 105. We’re back, social distant. Berlin! #climatestrike #fridaysforfuture #schoolstrike4climate… https://t.co/jcY5vVtahZ— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1598003937.0
BREAKING: Nach dem Gespräch mit Merkel gestern haben heute 100 Aktivist:innen von #FridaysForFuture zusammen mit… https://t.co/e2UwCuZtNA— Fridays for Future Berlin (@Fridays for Future Berlin)1598000400.0
After the 90-minute meeting with Merkel, Thunberg told reporters that "we want leaders to step up, take responsibility, and treat the climate crisis like a crisis."
The Swedish teenager added that the Fridays for Future activists want world leaders "to dare to step out of their comfort zones, to prioritize the future ahead of us now, and to be brave enough to think long-term."
Citing a German government statement issued after the meeting, Politico reported that "the group discussed the climate priorities of the German E.U. Council presidency, the E.U.'s objective of becoming climate-neutral by 2050, and efforts to hike the bloc's 2030 emissions reduction targets."
According to Reuters:
The government spokesman said Merkel and the activists agreed that global warming posed a challenge for the world and that industrialized countries had a special responsibility to tackle it.
"The basis for this is the consistent implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement," the spokesman said.
The German government admitted earlier this week that it would have missed its climate target for 2020 if the economic havoc wrought by the coronavirus pandemic had not caused a large drop in greenhouse gas emissions.
Neubauer told journalists that Merkel "at least confirmed that she is willing to get stuff done during the [E.U.] presidency... Yet eventually, at the end of the day, it's about common budgets, it's about very clear targets, it's about numbers and figures and that we need action, more than really nice and big words."
"It became very clear that we look at the situation from different perspectives," Neubauer said of the climate crisis after the meeting. "As a physicist, [Merkel] does understand the science. As a politician, she well understands the political complexity behind that struggle. The question is now how to fill that gap."
The German activist added that "the interests of future generations have to be somehow balanced with interests of generations today—and that's a huge challenge and we're not denying that at all."
During the Corona crisis, the #FridaysForFuture demonstrations could not take place. Now #climate activists, includ… https://t.co/clnemnAEmp— Deutschland.de | Germany (@Deutschland.de | Germany)1598018404.0
Neubauer also shared that Fridays for Future is mobilizing another worldwide strike next month, while acknowledging challenges posed by the pandemic.
"We used to strike in masses on the streets which was for many weeks not thinkable during corona and is still a very challenging task," she noted. "We're listening to the science and we are adjusting. We're moving to spaces where we can strike safely—sometimes digitally, sometimes in smaller numbers on the streets."
"We have decided to strike again globally and safely, if possible on the streets... we're mobilizing right now for September 25," Neubauer said. "The climate crisis hasn't slowed, it's escalating. We need people to demand action and this is obviously what we keep doing."
The calls for urgent action in Berlin on Friday were echoed by other school strikers across the globe. Some participated in the weekly Fridays for Future protest digitally due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while others wore masks and took additional safety precautions like the strikers in Germany.
Week 36! #schoolstrike4climate from Kenya. let's stop talking and act!Action is better than words. We cannot eat co… https://t.co/WN3Nn5db4G— Dorcas Wakio (@Dorcas Wakio)1597992004.0
School has started again and we are back at the #ClimateStrike in front of the Swedish Parliament again! The strike… https://t.co/8X9zhEvlKz— Isabelle Axelsson🌍 (@Isabelle Axelsson🌍)1597990502.0
#ClimateStrikeOnline week17 危機感を持てば、行動せずにはいられません。 危機に気づくということは行動するということです。 ※私たちの"行動しないリーダー"はまだ気候危機の深刻さを理解していないのです。… https://t.co/l0fxBus5lN— Tenshin てんしん (@Tenshin てんしん)1597978589.0
#FridaysForFuture climate strike at Sydney Town Hall https://t.co/N6DByTMqGK— Fridays For Future Sydney (@Fridays For Future Sydney)1597989997.0
"This is week 80 of my #schoolstrike4climate but are you listening?" tweeted Leah Namugerwa, a 16-year-old in Uganda. "Whether you do or not I'll continue doing what is right for my and future generations."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Anne-Sophie Brändlin
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Victoria Masterson
Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.
Sustainable Homes<p>UN-Habitat says an <a href="https://unhabitat.org/un-habitat-aims-to-use-plastic-waste-to-support-housing-for-all" target="_blank">estimated 60% of people living in urban areas of Africa are in informal settlements</a>. At the same time, between 1990 and 2017, African countries imported around 230 metric tonnes of plastic, "which mostly ended up in dump sites creating a massive environmental challenge," the agency adds.</p><p>UN-Habitat deputy executive director, Victor Kisob, said the aim of the partnership with Othalo was to "promote adequate, sustainable and affordable housing for all."</p>
Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo<p>Othalo's process involves shredding plastic waste and mixing it with other elements, including non-flammable materials. Components are used to build up to four floors, with a home of 60 square metres using eight tons of recycled plastic. A factory with one production line can produce 2,800 housing units annually.</p><p>Following successful laboratory tests, Othalo's factory in Estonia has started producing components to build three demonstration homes for Kenya's capital, Nairobi; Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon and Dakar, the capital of Senegal.</p><p>Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti has been developing and testing the technology since 2016 in partnership with <a href="https://www.sintef.no/en/" target="_blank">SINTEF</a>, a 70-year-old independent research organization in Trondheim, Norway, and experts at Norway's <a href="https://en.uit.no/startsida" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">University of Tromsø</a>.</p>
Othalo founder Frank Cato Lahti. Othalo<p>Almost <a href="https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html" target="_blank">seven out of every 10 people in the world are expected to live in urban areas by 2050</a>. More than 90% of this growth will take place in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.</p><p>"In the absence of effective urban planning, the consequences of this rapid urbanization will be dramatic," UN-Habitat warns.</p><p>Lack of proper housing and growth of slums, inadequate and outdated infrastructure, escalating poverty and unemployment, and pollution and health issues, are just some of the effects.</p><p>Mindsets, policies, and approaches towards urbanization need to change for the growth of cities and urban areas to be turned into opportunities that will leave nobody behind, UN-Habitat says.</p>
Pioneers of Change<p>Reimagining cities and communities for greater resilience and sustainability was a key topic at the<a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/pioneers-of-change-summit-2020" target="_blank"> World Economic Forum's Pioneers of Change Summit 2020</a>.</p><p>The digital event brought together innovators and stakeholders from around the world to explore solutions to the challenges facing enterprises, governments and society.</p><p>Opening the summit, <a href="https://www.weforum.org/events/pioneers-of-change-summit-2020/sessions/opening-plenary-8f731cbc65" target="_blank">Stephan Mergenthaler, the Forum's Head of Strategic Intelligence and a member of the Executive Committee</a>, said: "We need to change the way we produce, the way we live and interact in our cities to make this transition to net-zero emissions a reality…</p><p>"And as this year has illustrated so dramatically, we need to make every effort that we keep populations healthy, if we want to avoid jeopardizing all this progress."</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/11/un-africa-recycled-plastic-housing/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649069252#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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