Tag Archives: Pollution

Global Climate Movement Warns Nations Have Just 6 Months to End Fossil Fuel Finance

“The pandemic has shown that governments can rapidly mobilize massive sums of public money,” says one campaigner. “This is the moment to do it, and accelerate the transition.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-19-2022 by Common Dreams

Clean energy advocates march in an anti-fossil fuel protest in San Francisco. (Photo: Greenbelt Alliance/flickr/cc)

More than 120 civil society groups from around the world on Thursday warned that nations have only six months left to meet a collective commitment made at last year’s United Nations Climate Conference to end public financing of fossil fuels.

The organizations detailed steps nations must take as soon as possible to comply with their obligations under the Glasgow Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition, a product of last year’s COP26 summit. Continue reading

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‘We Are Fighting Back’: Global Black Friday Strikes and Protests Seek to #MakeAmazonPay

“We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 11-25-2021 by Common Dreams

Workers at the FRA3 Amazon datacenter in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: Amazon Workers International/Twitter

On Black Friday, more than 70 labor unions and progressive advocacy groups shut down workplaces and hit the streets in cities around the globe to demand—on Amazon’s most profitable day of the year—that the sprawling tech and logistics corporation pay a living wage to its employees and a fair share of taxes to compensate the societies in which it operates.

“From oil refineries, to factories, to warehouses, to data centers, to corporate offices in countries across the world, workers and activists are rising up in strikes, protests, and actions to Make Amazon Pay,” reads the campaign’s website. While the international coalition held its first Black Friday day of action 12 months ago, opposition to Amazon’s abuses has only grown since then, and work stoppages and rallies targeting the e-commerce giant were expected in at least 20 countries on every inhabited continent this year.

According to the Make Amazon Pay coalition, planned actions include:

  • In Kathmandu, Nepal, organizers from the UNICOME Nepal and UNI Nepal Liaison Council will protest in defense of Amazon suppliers and their rights to decent conditions;
  • In Berlin, Germany, warehouse workers will march on the site of Amazon’s HQ to launch the Amazon Workers Against Surveillance;
  • In Toronto, Canada, postal workers and the Warehouse Worker Resource Center will march on the Brampton Amazon facility to demand better wages;
  • In Buenos Aires, Argentina, activists will take action at the Axion oil refinery against Amazon’s services to fossil fuel corporations like BP; and
  • In Warsaw, Poland, a broad coalition of unions and environmentalists will take to the streets to protest Amazon’s worker repression and arbitrary firings at its warehouses.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said Friday that people worldwide are demonstrating “to end corporate impunity, to end the scandal of [Amazon’s] monopoly power.”

“They pay little or no tax, yet their obscene wealth is actually untrammeled,” Burrow continued. She emphasized the need to “stan[d] with Amazon workers every day” and thanked unions for their solidarity.

Amazon is headquartered in the United States, but its reach is global—with a massive workforce of roughly 1.3 million people, excluding countless others employed by the company’s subcontractors, and a carbon footprint larger than two-thirds of the world’s countries. Resistance to one of the most powerful corporate empires in history—founded by Jeff Bezos, currently the second-richest person on the planet—is also transnational.

“Amazon is everywhere, involved in almost every step of the global economy, but we are too,” explains the coalition, which includes Progressive International, UNI Global Union, Amazon Workers International, and dozens of other trade unions and civil society organizations working to stamp out inequality, tax evasion, and climate injustice.

“At every link in this chain of abuse, we are fighting back,” the coalition says. “We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet.”

Campaigners from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Bangladesh, Germany, Cambodia, and Poland described how “Amazon just doesn’t give a shit”—exploiting workers and consumers, despoiling the environment, dodging taxes, and using its ill-gotten gains to wield enormous, anti-democratic influence over lawmakers.

The Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, “has exposed how Amazon places profits ahead of workers, society, and our planet,” the Make Amazon Pay coalition notes on its website.

Last year, for instance, Amazon became a trillion-dollar corporation. According to a video on the coalition’s website, “Amazon’s wealth has increased so much during the pandemic that its owners could pay all 1.3 million of its employees a $690,000 Covid bonus and still be as rich as they were in 2020.”

Bezos—who paid a 1.1% true tax rate between 2006 and 2018, according to a June report from ProPublica—also became the first individual to amass a personal fortune of more than $200 billion. He surpassed that figure in August 2020, just a few months after he eliminated the short-lived hazard pay of Amazon employees, who have continued toiling at great risk to their own health.

In addition, Amazon’s union-busting tactics were on full display earlier this year in Bessemer, Alabama during a drive organized by the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

Union organizers at the Bessemer warehouse came up short in the April election, but an official at the National Labor Relations Board has recommended invalidating those results and mandating a new vote after RWDSU filed nearly two dozen complaints alleging that Amazon illegally threatened employees with loss of pay and benefits, installed and surveilled an unlawful ballot collection box, and expelled pro-union workers from so-called “captive audience” meetings during which management argued against unionization.

In addition to ruthlessly squashing unionization efforts, Amazon denies governments revenue “through its world-beating efforts at tax dodging,” says the Make Amazon Pay Coalition.

“Like all major corporations, Amazon’s success would be impossible without the public institutions that citizens built together over generations,” the coalition stresses. “But instead of giving back to the societies that helped it grow,” the e-commerce giant “paid just 1.2% tax in the U.S.” in 2019, “up from 0% the two previous years.”

As far as pollution goes, the coalition points out, “Amazon’s growing delivery and cloud computer businesses are accelerating global climate breakdown.”

Bezos, meanwhile, said in July—immediately following his first suborbital flight, which he admitted was paid for by Amazon workers—that he thinks it would be a good idea to relocate industrial production to outer space, threatening, however unrealistically, to push capitalism’s detrimental impacts beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

A study published earlier this month found that “the emissions from a single billionaire spaceflight would exceed the lifetime emissions of someone in the poorest billion people” in the world.

Highlighting Amazon’s environmental destruction here on planet Earth, Extinction Rebellion blocked a total of 15 fulfillment centers throughout Europe on Black Friday, in solidarity with striking workers.

In its list of demands, the Make Amazon Pay coalition says that it is fighting for better pay for Amazon’s workers—”in line with the increasing wealth of the corporation, including hazard pay and premium pay for peak times”—as well as improved working conditions and benefits, such as paid sick leave “so that no worker has to choose between their health or their job.”

The coalition also seeks to protect Amazon workers’ rights to organize as well as unions’ rights to promote the interests of employees—without fear of surveillance and retaliation, throughout the company’s global supply chains.

In addition, the campaign is pushing for Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030 and to eliminate “tax abuse through profit shifting, loopholes, and the use of tax havens,” among other demands to safeguard consumers’ data.

“Amazon is not alone in these bad practices,” the coalition acknowledges, “but it sits at the heart of a failed system that drives the inequality, climate breakdown, and democratic decay that scar our age.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
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New Bill Would Require Biden to Declare Wildlife Extinction Crisis a National Emergency

“Declaring the extinction crisis to be a national emergency would unlock key presidential powers that will halt the unraveling of the planet’s life-support systems.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-25-2021

A black footed ferret at the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Photo: USFWS Mountain-Prairie/flickr/CC

Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation Friday that would require President Joe Biden to declare the wildlife extinction crisis a “national emergency,” a move advocates say would allow the president to use specific executive powers to stem the destruction of habitats and protect species imperiled by human activity.

Led by Reps. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), the Extinction Crisis Emergency Act would “require all federal agencies to prioritize building back healthy wildlife populations, protect critical habitat, and integrate climate change concerns into the recovery of endangered species.” Continue reading

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Bye Bye, Big Oil? BP Admits Demand May Have Already Peaked, Predicts Growth of Renewable Energy

Welcoming news that oil demand may never recover to pre-pandemic levels, Greenpeace noted that “a #GreenRecovery will hasten its demise.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-14-2020

BP’s annual report on the future of energy, released Monday, says demand for oil may have peaked last year and projects significant growth in renewables over the next three decades. (Photo: tolkien1914/flickr/cc)

As communities worldwide face off against and file suit over the devastating impacts of a climate crisis notably driven by fossil fuel giants, BP on Monday gave just the latest signal that the dirty energy industry is dying—admitting that global demand for oil may have already peaked while projecting significant growth in renewables over the next few decades.

The new edition of BP’s annual Energy Outlook features three potential transition scenarios to 2050, the year by which the British firm says it intends to deliver its net-zero ambition. The forecast, Reuters reported, “underpins chief executive Bernard Looney’s new strategy to ‘reinvent’ the 111-year old oil and gas company by shifting renewables and power.” Continue reading

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Activists Demand Bolder Efforts to Address Pollution After Scientists Find Microplastics in Human Organs

“The best way to tackle the problem is to massively reduce the amount of plastic that’s being made and used.”

By Krissy Waite, editorial intern for Common Dreams. Published 8-17-2020

Underneath the floating debris in the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: NOAA – Marine Debris Program)

Bolstering activists’ demands to reduce plastic pollution worldwide, Arizona State University scientists on Monday presented their research on finding micro- and nanoplastics in human organs to the American Chemical Society.

Greenpeace U.K. responded to the reporting on the study by calling to “massively” reduce the amount of plastic produced and used worldwide. Continue reading

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Group Demands to Know: Who at Trump’s EPA Decided to Slash Funds Used to Protect Children From Toxic Poisoning?

“This latest assault on children’s health is the opposite of what millions of Americans want, which is a safe environment for their kids.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-29-2019

The Environmental Working Group is demanding information about the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to no longer for children’s health centers, which have conducted “groundbreaking research.” (Photo: Isabelle Acatauassú Alves Almeida /flickr/cc)

Exactly what led President Donald Trump’s EPA to stop funding research centers tasked with probing environmental health threats to children?

One advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), wants answers.

EWG said in a press statement Wednesday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents, including electronic records and minutes of meetings, about the decision. Continue reading

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‘What Could Be More Important?’: World Leaders, Media Ignore Biodiversity Report Detailing Mass Extinction Event Now Underway

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-23-2019

Scientists at the UN’s Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction earlier this month—but the report was largely ignored by the corporate news media. (Photo: Danny Perez Photography/flickr/cc)

Scientists at the United Nations’ intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species—but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Deutsche Welle reported Thursday that partially because the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its report on what it called nature’s “unprecedented” decline on the same day that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had their first child, news reports on the study’s grave implications were few and far between. Continue reading

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‘Ominous’ UN Report Warns Human Activity Has Pushed One Million Plant and Animal Species to Brink of Extinction

“Nature is collapsing around us and it’s a real wake-up call to humanity.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-6-2019

A United Nations report on biodiversity released Monday found that human activity is responsible for “accelerating” species extinction rates. Photo: Murky [CC-BY-SA 2.0]

United Nations report described as the most authoritative and comprehensive assessment of global biodiversity ever published found that human exploitation of the natural world has pushed a million plant and animal species to the brink of extinction—with potentially devastating implications for the future of civilization.

Conducted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and released Monday, the report warned that species extinction rates are “accelerating” at an “unprecedented” rate due to the human-caused climate crisis and economic activity. Continue reading

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Making ‘Fringe’ Scientist Who Argues Exposure Good for People a Key Witness, Trump’s EPA Moves to Roll Back Radiation Safety Rules

“The agency is ignoring scientific evidence by instead claiming a little radiation is good for you. This is clearly an attempt to save industry money at the expense of women and children’s health.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-3-2018

The Monticello, MN nuclear power plant, 30 miles northwest of Minneapolis on the Mississippi River. Photo: NRC/flickr

Provoking outrage among environmentalists, Trump’s EPA sent toxicologist Edward Calabrese—who has argued that loosening radiation regulations could have positive health effects on humans, as well as saving money for businesses that currently work to limit exposure—as its lead witness to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The EPA sent toxicologist Edward Calabrese, who has argued that loosening radiation regulations could have positive health effects on humans, as well as saving money for businesses that currently work to limit exposure, as its lead witness to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Continue reading

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Relaxed environmental regulations heighten risk during natural disasters

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Environmental regulations generally improve communities’ preparedness and resilience during disasters. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Brian J. Gerber, Arizona State University and Melanie Gall, Arizona State University

Heavy rains following Hurricane Florence have raised concerns over the release of toxic materials. Ash from coal-fired power plants stored at a landfill has spilled out and the state of North Carolina has said dozens of sites have released hog waste or are at risk of doing so.

These types of events not only highlight the potential of harm to humans and the environment due to this type of uncontrolled pollution, but also the linkage between environmental regulations and the risks communities face when natural disasters occur. Continue reading

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