The Lofoten Declaration: A New Bar for Climate Leadership
By Hannah McKinnon
For a good part of the past three decades, climate action has been planned, measured, judged and implemented based on tackling emissions where they come out of the chimney or the tailpipe.
Most countries have suites of policies designed to reduce their emissions: cue electrification of transportation, building efficiency codes, carbon pricing, etc. While these are important efforts, keeping emissions within climate limits will be extremely hard unless we also tackle the industry behind them.
The climate equation has two sides, and while great attention has been paid to the demand side ("How do we reduce fossil fuel consumption and emissions?"), much less has been paid to the supply side ("How do we rein in production of fossil fuels that the climate can't afford?") The climate movement knows this—look no further than fossil fuel infrastructure resistance around the world, with some communities that have been standing up to the sector for decades.
But politicians, by and large, either don't get it, or are choosing to ignore it.
The result is a dangerous imbalance. An imbalance that allows many fossil fuel producing countries (think Norway, Canada, the UK, etc.), to insist they are showing climate leadership while they continue to explore, expand and exploit massive fossil fuel reserves with no meaningful plan for how they are going to stop it in line with safe climate limits.
5 Nobel Peace Laureates Urge Norway PM Candidates to Show Climate Leadership https://t.co/CyFwxBnW2U @worldresources @climatesavers— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1504230308.0
In a world of unprecedented climate impacts, we need unprecedented climate leadership. Instead of passing the buck by ignoring the lock-in of massive new fossil fuel infrastructure that is designed to produce for decades to come, we need action, leadership and policy that plans for climate safety.
Today, in an unprecedented call, over 220 organizations from 55 countries are calling for just that. The Lofoten Declaration calls for a managed decline of the fossil fuel sector in line with the Paris climate goals. The declaration demands a just transition, it demands leadership in this phase-out from the countries that can afford it first, and it confirms that the movement to stand up to dangerous fossil fuel development must be led by those on the front lines.
The declaration is named after the Lofoten Islands of Norway, a region where the oil industry has been lobbying to drill for decades, but has thus far been blocked by a growing movement to protect the region and the climate.
The Lofoten Declaration also points out that the energy revolution is already well underway and that energy access and demand can be met by safer, cleaner, renewable energies.
In a time when clean energy is outpacing everyone's expectations, it seems incredibly obtuse to want to be a part of a competition where the "winners" are among the last fossil fuel producers in the world. It is akin to wanting to be the last person with huge investments in making fax machines, video tapes, or 8-tracks. The world is moving on and there are incredible risks for countries that chose to ignore it.
The declaration is being launched just a few days ahead of Norway's next national elections. Norway has all of the characteristics of a country that must be a first mover in the managed decline of its fossil fuel sector, and they are feeling the heat (see here, here, and here). Instead of being the world's seventh largest emissions exporter, Norway should join the small but growing list of countries (France and Costa Rica so far) that are planning a climate-defined end to their fossil fuel sectors.
This is the new bar for climate leadership and it's very clear: you can't call yourself a climate leader if you are ignoring half of the problem.
You can read and sign onto the declaration at www.LofotenDeclaration.org
By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
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As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
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