7 months ago

Gore compares climate complacency to allowing creep of fascism in the 1930s

GLASGOW, Scotland — Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has compared the world’s complacency on climate change to the way it failed to take seriously the threat of fascism during the 1930s.

Invoking Winston Churchill’s famous warning that “the era of procrastination (…) is coming to its close,” Gore told the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow that the impacts of global warming would soon spur momentum for action.

“We are now experiencing the consequences of the climate crisis in every part of our world,” he said Friday, echoing Churchill. “The scientists warned us that these consequences were coming.”

7 months ago

Why climate-driven extreme weather doesn’t usually motivate Americans to move

Southern California Wildfires Forces Thousands to Evacuate

A couple in Montecito, California, comfort each other as the 2017 Thomas fire burns in the background. File photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Nearly one in three Americans have been personally affected by an extreme weather event in the last two years, according to a recent poll from the PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist. Weather events like hurricanes, floods and wildfires are expected to increase in severity and frequency worldwide as the planet continues to warm due to climate change. Communities of color, low-income communities and other marginalized groups are most vulnerable to these potentially devastating events.

For many, the question is not as simple as choosing to pack up and move away from a place to escape the threat of extreme weather, or the devastation left in its wake. It’s also true that every part of the country will continue to be affected by climate change to varying degrees. Some people view that reality as an indication that there’s no point in trying to avoid areas that are already seeing those dramatic effects on a regular basis.

7 months ago

Majority of young Americans think worst effects of climate change are preventable

optimism horiz

Graphic by Megan McGrew/ PBS NewsHour

A majority of young people in the United States are optimistic that it’s still possible to prevent the worst long-term effects of climate change, according to a new poll among 13- to 29-year-olds from the PBS NewsHour and Generation Lab, even as many of them point to the multiple ways they believe climate change will affect their personal lives in the future.

The feeling that we just don’t know yet whether the global community will succeed at COP26 — and in the larger task of combatting climate change — may be reflected in this poll, which found that around a quarter of people are unsure as to whether there’s enough time to turn things around.

Among the other findings:

  • A majority of people said that the reality of climate change will influence where they decide to live, how they use transportation or how much they travel and what they buy as consumers.
  • 15 percent said they did not think climate change will influence their future at all.

7 months ago

Kerry says U.S. having meaningful talks with Russia, China

GLASGOW, Scotland — U.S. climate envoy John Kerry says American climate negotiators are having meaningful talks with their Russian and Chinese counterparts at the U.N. summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

That’s despite Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping skipping world leaders’ current rounds of climate talks, a decision that sparked complaints from U.S. President Joe Biden when he attended a few days ago.

Kerry told reporters he came late to a Friday press conference because Americans had been talking with Russian officials at the summit on efforts to reduce pollution from methane, a potent climate-damaging gas.

“We were talking about how we might deal with methane, possibly work together,” Kerry said of Russians.

Read more here.

7 months ago

Friday is youth day at COP26. They fear they’re not being heard

Climate Protest Takes Place In London During COP26

Supporters of the United Kingdom Student Climate Network (UKSCN) march through Westminster during a climate protest as the UK hosts COP26, on Nov. 05, 2021 in London, England. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — The generation of young people who will inherit a warmer future is telling the generation that caused carbon pollution to clean up its mess — from both inside and outside United Nations climate talks.

There are more young people than ever roaming the halls at the talks. That’s in addition to the thousands of mostly young protesters carrying signs outside at a Fridays For Future rally some blocks from the fenced-off pavilion. Young people are being seen and celebrated in Glasgow. But they fear they’re not being heard.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and numerous other leaders have credited youth activism for reinvigorating the world’s fight to curb climate change. The UN’s theme Friday, in fact, was youth involvement, with leaders talking about how important young people are in the battle to keep the world from getting too hot and wild from extreme weather.

But even on a day dedicated to young people, the midday highlights were a speech by 73-year-old former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and a news conference by 77-year-old John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy.

7 months ago

Activists give Poland ‘Fossil of the Day’ award

COP26 in Glasgow

An installation called "Climate Justice Scales" is seen during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 4, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

GLASGOW, Scotland — Environmental campaigners have awarded their ‘Fossil of the Day’ award to the Polish government for giving — and then apparently backtracking on — a pledge to speed up its phaseout of coal power.

Climate Action Network, an umbrella group representing hundreds of non-governmental organizations, blasted Poland Thursday for committing at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow to end coal use, but then declaring itself a poor country and sticking to its previous deadline of 2049.

The little-coveted award went to the United States on Wednesday, for what climate activists say was a new measure that benefits mainly industrial agriculture companies rather than ordinary farmers.

The U.S. shared the prize with France for its efforts to get natural gas and nuclear power plants classified as sustainable forms of energy by the European Union, and with the International Emissions Trading Association for representing oil majors such as Chevron and Shell at the Oct. 31-Nov. 12 talks.

7 months ago

6 clean energy priorities that could make a difference in lowering emissions

To match Special Report CARBON-CALIFORNIA/

The sun rises behind windmills at a wind farm in Palm Springs, California. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Days into the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, a growing number of countries have made pledges or issued earlier deadlines to phase out their use of coal power in the coming decades.

Concurrently, world leaders are needing to scale up clean energy efforts, while they commit to reducing fossil fuel emissions. Here are six priorities that can help create a path forward toward lowering emissions:

1. Deploy carbon pricing and markets more widely
A price on carbon, one that is high enough to push polluters to cut their emissions, captures the cost of harms caused by greenhouse gas emissions that companies don’t currently pay for, such as climate change, damage to crops and rising health care costs.

2. Focus attention on the hard-to-decarbonize sectors
Shipping, road freight and industries like aluminum, cement and steel are all difficult places for cutting emissions, in part because they don’t yet have tested, affordable replacements for fossil fuels.

3. Get China and other emerging economies on board
Given that more than half of global coal is consumed in China, its actions stand out, although other emerging economies such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam are also critical.

4. Focus on innovation
Support for innovation has brought cutting-edge renewable power and electric vehicles much faster than anticipated. More is possible.

5. Prioritize green financing
More than 160 banks and investment groups are involved in a coalition that has agreed to put pressure on high-emissions industries by tying lending decisions to the goal of global net-zero emissions by 2050.

6. Reduce short-lived greenhouse gases
Methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide, doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long, so stopping emissions can have faster climate benefits while carbon emissions are reduced.

READ MORE: 6 clean energy priorities that could deliver COP26 breakthroughs

7 months ago

Poland’s position on coal disappoints activists

COP26 in Glasgow

Delegates gather for a meeting during the Cop26 conference in Glasgow. Photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

GLASGOW, Scotland — The British government says pledges of new or earlier deadlines for ending coal use have come from more than 20 countries including Ukraine, Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia and Chile.

Meanwhile, Poland, the second-biggest user of coal in Europe after Germany, appeared to backtrack on any ambitious new commitments within hours of the announcement at the ongoing U.N. climate conference.

“Energy security and the assurances of jobs is a priority for us,” Anna Moskwa, Poland’s minister for climate and environment, said in a tweet, citing the government’s existing plan which “provides for a departure from hard coal by 2049.”

Earlier in the day, it had seemed that Poland might bring that deadline forward by at least a decade.

Campaigners reacted angrily to the apparent U-turn.

“Moskwa has underscored that her government cannot be trusted to sign a postcard, let alone a responsible climate pledge,” said Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director of the group Europe Beyond Coal.

READ MORE: 6 clean energy priorities that could deliver COP26 breakthroughs

Meanwhile, the United States, Canada, Denmark and several other nations signed a different pledge to “prioritize” funding clean energy over fossil fuel projects abroad.

7 months ago

Finland’s capital city to go mostly meat-free to reduce carbon footprint

COP26 in Glasgow

A member of the media works at the media center during the COP26 conference in Glasgow. Photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

HELSINKI — Finland’s capital city says it will no longer serve meat dishes at seminars, staff meetings, receptions and other events to reduce Helsinki’s carbon footprint.

Instead, the city government plans to offer vegetarian food and sustainable local fish.

Liisa Kivela, Helsinki’s communications director, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the change takes effect in January and excludes school and workplace cafeterias run by the city of about 650,000 residents.

Kivisto said the the policy adopted by the City Council also allows deviations for certain “high-level visits or similar events” organized by Helsinki Mayor Juhana Vartiainen or the city’s senior managers.

The policy also stipulates that coffee, tea, oat milk and items like bananas offered at events will have to be sourced from fair trade producers. In addition, snacks and refreshments no longer can be served in single-use containers.

The local government said in a statement that the measure is part of a broader effort “which aims to reduce the climate impact of food and reduce the amount of natural resources used by the city.”

The mayor, who assumed Helsinki’s top post in August, said he was glad the city retains the option of serving meat on some occasions.

“For example, should the king of Sweden arrive for a visit, then domestic game can be offered. Or some group for whom it would be natural to offer meat, then there must be discretion and common sense,” Vartiainen told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.

7 months ago

Astronaut describes climate change from space

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet speaking about a recent mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in Cologne, Germany, 6 June 2017. Photo by Oliver Berg via Getty Images

PARIS — French astronaut Thomas Pesquet used a video call from space to describe the view from the International Space Station of global warming’s repercussions.

Pesquet told French President Emmanuel Macron during the call on Thursday that the space station’s portholes revealed the haunting fragility of humanity’s only home.

“We see the pollution of rivers, atmospheric pollution, things like that,” the astronaut said. “What really shocked me on this mission were extreme weather or climate phenomena.”

“We saw entire regions burning from the space station, in Canada, in California,” he continued. “We saw all of California covered by a cloud of smoke and flames with the naked eye from 400 kilometers (250 miles) up.”

READ MORE: Countries pledge to phase out coal on climate summit sidelines

This is Pesquet’s second mission to the space station. He also spent 197 days in orbit in 2016-2017. The destructive effects of human activity have become increasingly visible in the interim, he said.

Macron said the goal for negotiators at the U.N. climate conference in Scotland must be to speed up humanity’s response.

“There is still a huge job ahead of us, and I think we are all aware of that,” the French leader said.