Tag Archives: Paris Agreement

175 Nations to Agree on ‘Historic’ Plastic Pollution Treaty

The treaty will be “an insurance policy for this generation and future ones, so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it,” said one official.

By Julia Conley.  Published 3-2-2022 by Common Dreams

Plastic bottles and other garbage washed up on a beach in the county of cork, Ireland. Photo: Science Photo Library/CC

The vast majority of the world’s countries agreed Wednesday to forge a legally-binding global treaty restricting plastic pollution, in a move one official said demonstrated “multilateral cooperation at its best.”

Negotiators representing 175 nations met over the past week in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss a joint proposal originally presented by Rwandan and Peruvian representatives. Continue reading

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UN Chief: IPCC Report a ‘Damning Indictment of Failed Climate Leadership’

“The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

By Jake Johnson.  Published 2-28-2022 by Common Dreams

The Holy Fire At Lake Elsinore, California August 9, 2018 Photo: slworking2/flickr/CC

A landmark scientific report published Monday warns that the human-caused climate crisis is driving a “dangerous and widespread disruption in nature” and impacting billions of lives across the globe, emergencies that can only be redressed by immediate and sweeping action that world leaders have thus far failed to take.

The product of years of collaborative research by scientists from around the world, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report “emphasizes the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC. Continue reading

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What is COP26? Here’s how global climate negotiations work and what’s expected from the Glasgow summit

U.N. climate summits bring together representatives of almost every country.
UNFCCC

Shelley Inglis, University of Dayton

Over two weeks in November, world leaders and national negotiators will meet in Scotland to discuss what to do about climate change. It’s a complex process that can be hard to make sense of from the outside, but it’s how international law and institutions help solve problems that no single country can fix on its own.

I worked for the United Nations for several years as a law and policy adviser and have been involved in international negotiations. Here’s what’s happening behind closed doors and why people are concerned that COP26 might not meet its goals. Continue reading

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‘Embarrassing’: US Absent as World Joins Together to Protect Biodiversity

“It reinforces the notion that the U.S. is a fair-weather partner when it comes to environmental conservation, including issues of climate change,” said one critic.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 10-15-2021

Monarch butterfly on swamp milkweed in Michigan. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS

As the United Nations Biodiversity Conference wrapped up Friday, critics are once again pointing to the glaring absence of the United States from negotiations to strengthen an international treaty to restore and protect the variety of life on Earth that has been ratified by every country except the U.S.

The U.S. did send a team to this week’s meeting, which was hosted by China and attended in-person and virtually because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—a crisis that has highlighted the need to reform humanity’s relationship with nature. Continue reading

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155 More Arrested for ‘People Vs. Fossil Fuels’ Protest at White House

“We’re coming every day of this week to tell Biden: Stop this madness.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-12-2021

Throughout the week, Indigenous leaders and climate activists are leading protests outside the White House to demand that President Joe Biden stop fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. Photo: Patrick Young/Twitter

At least 155 more protesters were arrested outside the White House Tuesday as part of a weeklong action pressuring President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and end all new fossil fuel projects.

Guided by the theme “fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis,” the latest demonstration followed over 100 arrests on Monday, when protesters marked Indigenous Peoples’ Day and drew attention to polluting operations including Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands project and the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Continue reading

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House Dems Unveil Bill to Stop Wall Street From Destroying the Planet

“The Federal Reserve’s role is not to surrender our planet to corporate polluters and shepherd our financial system to its destruction,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, among the Democrats urging the Fed to end fossil fuel financing.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-15-2021

The Marathon Oil refinery in St. Paul Park, MN. Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia/CC

Progressives on Wednesday applauded Democratic Reps. Mondaire Jones, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib for unveiling a bill that would prevent Wall Street from continuing to bankroll fossil fuels, the primary driver of the climate emergency.

The Fossil Free Finance Act (pdf) would require the Federal Reserve to mandate, via regulation or guidance, that all banks and other financial insitutions with more than $50 billion in assets phase out the funding of coal, oil, and gas extraction as well as industries linked to deforestation, in accordance with science-based targets for slashing carbon pollution. Continue reading

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Climate Emergency May Displace 216 Million Within Countries by 2050: World Bank

“The Groundswell report is a stark reminder of the human toll of climate change, particularly on the world’s poorest—those who are contributing the least to its causes.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-13-2021

Floods in Himachal Pradesh, India, July 2021, Photo: NDRF/FloodList

Underscoring the necessity of immediate and sweeping action to take on the climate emergency, a World Bank report revealed Monday that 216 million people across six global regions could be forced to move within their countries by midcentury.

Groundswell Part 2: Acting on Internal Climate Migration includes analyses for East Asia and the Pacific, North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, building on a modeling approach from a 2018 report that covered Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. Continue reading

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‘Unimaginably Catastrophic’: Researchers Fear Gulf Stream System Could Collapse

“Scientists say we cannot allow this to happen. People in power stand in our way.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 8-5-2021

The Gulf Stream is an ocean current that carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean. (Image: NASA)

While heatwaves, fires, and floods produce warnings that “we are living in a climate emergency, here and now,” a scientific study suggested Thursday that a crucial Atlantic Ocean current system could collapse, which “would have severe impacts on the global climate system.”

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, focuses on the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which includes the Gulf Stream. As the United Kingdom’s Met Office explains, it is “a large system of ocean currents that carry warm water from the tropics northwards into the North Atlantic,” like a conveyor belt. Continue reading

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Leaving Parts of Trump’s Pro-Polluter Legacy Intact, Biden Gets C- on Environmental Report Card

Biden’s “limited achievements must be put in context of what both science and justice require to avoid the worst impacts of the climate and extinction crises,” said the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-2021

Photo: Eric Haynes/CC

Expressing alarm over President Joe Biden’s support for a number of pipeline projects and his failure to reverse the vast majority of environmental regulatory rollbacks introduced by his predecessor, the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund on Tuesday gave the president a grade of C-minus and said he “needs improvement” on its Environmental Report Card.

Six months into his presidency, Biden has fully met five out of 25 “concrete and achievable environmental promises” he made on the campaign trail, and has only reversed three of former President Donald Trump’s rollbacks.

CBD Action Fund noted in the report card (pdf) that the president signed an “unprecedented” 17 executive orders on his first day in office in January, including three that fulfilled “Day One” promises he had made: “formally beginning the reentry process to the Paris climate agreement, permanently rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, and directing all federal agencies to elevate addressing environmental justice to protect frontline communities.”

The group emphasized, however, that during Biden’s first six months in office the U.S. has experienced an unprecedented drought” and “record-shattering heatwaves” which climate scientists have long warned about.

“Thus, even as his administration is evaluated at the six-month mark, its limited achievements must be put in context of what both science and justice require to avoid the worst impacts of the climate and extinction crises,” the report card reads.

“President Biden got off to a strong start right when he took office, but his environmental agenda appears to be stalling out,” said Brett Hartl, chief political strategist at the CBD Action Fund. “He has to light a fire under his Cabinet and the federal agencies to complete his campaign promises without foot-dragging, because the climate and extinction crises are getting more urgent every day.”

Overall, the group credited Biden with fulfilling five campaign promises so far, including holding a global climate summit in his first 100 days in office and reinstating federal flood-protection standards that assess climate change risks.

The administration has taken steps to fulfill 13 other campaign pledges, including:
  • Ending financing for overseas coal projects;
  • Installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations; and
  • Requiring that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of benefits from climate spending.

“For other campaign promises, the Biden administration has yet to initiate efforts to achieve them,” the report card says. “For example, Biden spoke numerous times during the campaign about addressing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. He proposed a $20 billion conservation fund to address deforestation. However, this initiative was not part of his fiscal year 2022 budget proposal, and it is unclear what other steps the administration will take to address deforestation.”

CBD Action Fund identified just three Trump-era environmental rollbacks that Biden has reversed, including the so-called “secret science” rule restricting data the EPA can use to enact regulations; eliminating the use of the “social cost of carbon” in environmental reviews; and curtailing categories of industrial polluters subjected to greenhouse gas regulations.

Biden was also credited with taking steps to restore protections to the Tongass National Forest and the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, and with announcing recently that officials will “begin the process of undoing additional Trump-era rollbacks,” the report reads.

“The timeline and scope of these efforts is unclear,” said the CBD Action Fund. “For example, the Department of the Interior announced in June that it would ‘revisit’ the Trump-era rollback of the regulations guiding consultations under the Endangered Species Act.”

“But the department signaled that it would only reverse one of over 20 changes made by the previous administration to the regulations—specifically restoring the earlier definition of ‘indirect effects’—and stated that this effort would not even begin until December 2021 at the earliest,” the group continued.

In addition to more than two dozen Trump-era rollbacks the administration has taken no action to reverse, the group expressed indignation at Biden’s decision to support some of Trump’s attacks on the environment.

The president has declined to block the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota or shut down operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as approving nearly 2,500 new drilling permits on public lands and waters—”roughly the same amount that the Trump administration approved during its first entire year in office,” the report card reads.

“Biden’s bold vision during the campaign won’t be met if his administration leaves large chunks of Trump’s pro-polluter legacy intact,” said Hartl.

Biden has also supported Trump’s weakened protections from pesticides for endangered species, an increased limit for Atrazine pollution in waterways, and the expanded use of antibiotics on citrus crops.

“If President Biden does not act boldly, right now, the impacts of climate change will be severe enough to make large swaths of our planet nearly uninhabitable,” CBD Action Fund said.

After a promising start, the group added, “complacency and inertia could stymy further progress on his climate and environmental goals. Without a continued and sustained effort in the next 12 to 18 months, any potential environmental legacy could easily be erased.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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UN Chief Warns World on ‘Verge of the Abyss’ as WMO Releases Climate Report

The warning came alongside the release of the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Global Climate in 2020, which said it was one of the three warmest years on record.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-19-2021

The CZU lightning complex fire burns along Butano Ridge and in Pescadero Creek Park, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. This fire would later grow to over 85,000 acres and destroy over 900 structures. Photo: Inklein/Wikimedia Commons

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday that humanity stands “on the verge of the abyss” as the climate crisis pushes the world “dangerously close” to hitting the 1.5 degree Celsius target limit of warming.

Guterres delivered the ominous remarks at the launch of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) State of the Global Climate report—a publication he said “should alarm us all.” Continue reading

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