Ignored and ridiculed. 16 years old climate warrior demanding #ClimateAction in China an inspiration to all of us. #ClimateEmergency #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #FundOurFutureNotGas

Her parents, both university lecturers, didn’t approve, but she was determined to try to make a difference — all the more challenging in China, where people trying to make a difference often evoke suspicion. Or worse.

In the two years since, she has waged a lonely, often frustrating campaign to raise awareness of the perils of a warming planet. She has joined international “climate strikes,” planted trees in her hometown in southern China, Guilin, and mounted a flurry of one-woman protests.

Greta Thunberg Children of the Revolution

She has been called the Greta Thunberg of China, a nod to the Swedish activist who is only a few weeks younger. Thunberg, though, has been feted for her activism. She speaks at Davos and the United Nations. Time magazine named her its person of the year in 2019.

In China, where any kind of activism amounts to a challenge to the ruling Communist Party, Ou has been ignored, ridiculed and ostracised as well as harassed by school officials and the police.

When she joined the Global Climate Strike on Sept 25 in Shanghai, an international event that attracted thousands of protesters at more than 3,500 locations, she was detained and questioned for several hours by the police. The officers scolded her.

“They thought what we were doing was meaningless,” she said.

China has had a poor environmental record, prioritising its breakneck economic transformation over the past four decades. Now there are signs it has begun to consider the consequences of unchecked development like choking pollution, contaminated waterways and unusually heavy flooding that was attributed to climate change. The country’s leader, Xi Jinping, recently committed to making the sort of bold steps that activists like Ou have been calling for. He pledged that China’s emissions would peak by 2030 and that the country would reach “carbon neutrality” — the point where emissions are balanced with carbon offsets or removal — by 2060.

Xi’s promises have been welcomed by many but also greeted with wary skepticism, since meeting those goals will require significant changes to economic policy. Ou, who does not consider herself a critic of the government, demurred when asked about the goals.

“It is for scientists to assess how strong it is,” she said.

She then cited a recent report by three prominent climate researchers warning that China needed to meet those targets much sooner — peak emissions by 2025 and carbon neutrality by 2050 — if the world hoped to avoid catastrophic damage from global warming.

“Everyone should realise that the climate crisis is already the biggest existential crisis facing mankind,” she said.

People needed to read about the crisis, to understand it and talk to their friends and family about it.

“When they really read and understand it, they will know what they should do,” Ou said.

Ou, who turns 18 on Dec 11, was born in Guilin and grew up on a college campus in a city renowned for its natural beauty. In one of several telephone interviews, she described hikes in the parks and mountains that surround the city. Nature was, she felt, “injected into my blood and bone.”

She liked school. She played soccer, although few other girls did. As a hobby, she drew and painted watercolors and later comics. Now she feels hobbies are indulgences.

“In the face of such a big problem at this moment, at every moment, when life is being maimed and tortured, what excuses do we have to entertain for our own desires?” she said.

Her ecological awakening, she said, began with a dream she had in January 2018. In it, she went to a restaurant where customers were presented with a bucket of fish and a knife. Each patron had to catch and kill a fish or not eat. When she was about to kill hers, “the fish turned to look at me,” she said.

“I still remember the extremely fearful look in its eyes,” she said. “I haven’t eaten any meat since then.”

Soon after, she read an article in a National Geographic magazine borrowed from the library. It detailed the devastating effects that the excessive use of plastics was having on marine life. Her first direct action was a failed effort to persuade her school cafeteria’s director to stop using plastic utensils.

“He thought that plastic disposable tableware was very hygienic,” she said. “I think his reason was that the cost would increase.”

At first, watching Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth” convinced her that she should attend Harvard as he did. She decided instead to postpone the idea of college altogether and has devoted herself to independently studying the science of climate change.

When she heard of Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement in 2019, she was chagrined to learn there were none of the same sort of protests in China to draw attention to the issue of climate change. In May of that year, she held China’s first, standing alone with a picket in front of the Guilin municipal government building for six days.

On the sixth, the police took her in for questioning, calling in her parents and asking them to make her stop.

“Not everyone’s feedback is positive,” she said.

Still, the map of strikes around the world on Fridays for Future’s website now has a dot for Guilin. And a handful of new ones have spread to cities like Nanjing and Shanghai, perhaps inspired by her example.

Ou brushes off comparisons to her more famous climate counterpart.

“I feel that Greta’s knowledge of the climate crisis and her deep understanding and care for the world is something that I do not have yet,” she said.

Ou said her activism has strained her relationship with her parents, who still hope to see her attend college. Yet they became vegetarians, too, and still provide material and moral support. She spent much of the past two years trying — unsuccessfully — to build alliances with other activists in China.

China has environmental organisations, though they, like all nongovernmental groups, are under strict scrutiny from authorities and generally shy away from direct protest or criticism. When she tried to volunteer at the annual summit of the China Youth Climate Action Network in Shenzhen last year, organizers turned her away.

Hu Jingwei, an officer with the network, expressed admiration for Ou’s devotion, calling her “quite active and quite courageous.” She also said she was not sure that Ou “meets the qualification standards” to join the organisation but declined to explain why.

Ou’s latest protest happened spontaneously, during a trip with her parents to Guangzhou, a booming southern city near Hong Kong. Her parents had booked her a hotel room, which she felt was wasteful.

Angry with her parents, she decided to hold an overnight vigil outside the hotel.

“All of us know that in the hotel industry, the bedding for guests and other disposable items the hotel provides waste a lot of water resources and emit a lot of carbon dioxide,” she said.

She huddled inside her hooded sweatshirt through the cold night, surrounded by hastily made flyers with messages like “Vigil for Climate.”

She has also posted messages on social media, including Twitter, where she uses her English name, Howey.

“Wake people’s conscience through noncooperation with hotel industry capitalism,” she wrote in red ink in one of the several manifestoes “Challenge the system in an open, pleasant and fair way.”

Hotel workers invited her inside to warm up. Delivery drivers brought takeout food.

“I also told them why I do this,” she explained.

By morning, office workers were passing by, although few paid any attention to her signs. She ended her vigil just before 9 am, after more than 10 hours, undaunted.

“It’s like a lonesome spiritual exercise every single time,” she said.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

bdnews24.com/people/2020/12/05/ignored-and-ridiculed-she-wages-a-lonesome-climate-crusade

Climate change is wreaking havoc on Australians’ health. What’s our plan to fix things? – ABC News #auspol #qldpol #AirPollution is killing us! #ClimateEmergency Demand #ClimateAction #FundOurFutureNotGas

A growing number of Australians are experiencing devastating health problems arising from climate change. Could a coordinated national health strategy help?

Sydney blanketed by smoke on December 2, 2019 due to bushfires.(ABC News)

For many Australians who have grown up in our “sunburnt country”, last week’s nation-wide heatwave may have felt like business as usual. It’s almost summer, after all.

But if you dig into the statistics, the picture that emerges is deeply alarming, especially when considered in light of last year’s devastating bushfires: We’ve just experienced Australia’s warmest November on record. 

The hottest year on record was 2019, and 2020 continues to track in the same direction. Back-to-back days of 40 degrees-plus in Sydney last week occurred for only the second time in 162 years.

But it’s not just the environment that’s suffering. Growing numbers of Australians are experiencing health probMedical Journal of Australia/Lancet Countdown on health and climate changelems, and even an increased risk of death, as a result of a rapidly changing climate.

The this week argued urgent action is needed to prevent human health being further affected. 

The health impact of climate change has already led to a 53.7 per cent global increase in heat-related mortality between 2010 and 2018, mainly affecting Japan, China, central Europe and northern India. 

In Australia, in the same timeframe we’ve seen a 22 per cent increase in the annual average number of days of population exposure to bushfires, which killed 41 people last summer and exposed “much of Australia’s population to hazardous air quality for a prolonged period of time”. 

Exposure to mosquito-born diseases including malaria and dengue fever has also increased along with the threat from zoonotic disease, graphically demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Food security took a hit, too, implying associated malnutrition.

So what is being done to improve the health outcomes of Australians in the face of accelerating climate change? And which foreign nations should Australia be looking to as leaders?

Australia has experienced record-breaking hot weather in recent years.(ABC News: Shelley Lloyd)

Who is responsible?

Australia’s federal system makes healthcare a state responsibility — we have seen this play out during the coronavirus pandemic.

Because of this state-based approach, not all states and territories are on the same page when it comes to strategies linking health and climate.

Western Australia is preparing to release the results of its Climate Health WA Inquiry, which will emphasise connections between climate change and physical and mental health, vulnerability and resilience. Victoria and Queensland have similar documents.

But there are growing calls for Australia to develop a national plan of action that considers the widening impact of global warming on health as a problem in its own right, not tied to progress on climate change policy.

“I think a national approach is absolutely essential, particularly when we get to the emergency management of these things,” says Andrew Gissing, a risk and resilience expert from Risk Frontiers. 

Gissing argues the importance of a national approach is obvious in areas like warning systems for extreme heat, which can’t be coordinated effectively with a state-by-state approach. Heatwave warning systems is an area the Bureau of Meteorology is working on.

Richard Yin, a Perth GP and member of Doctors for the Environment, has been arguing for a national health and climate change plan for years.

Australia does not have such a strategy, he says, and according to the MJA/Lancet report, only about 50 of 100 countries in the survey do, with less than 4 per cent of those that are in place considered effective.

“Australia needs to prepare for climate change impacts on health and that means actually mapping what’s going on and being able to predict what’s going on,” Yin says. “There’s a complexity to the task and a number of indicators that we’re going to need to try to track.”

Yin says that because he’s in Perth, his patients seem to be avoiding the worst health affects of climate change. But he is seeing more patients coming to him with what he describes as “eco-anxiety”.

Yin’s colleagues working in regional WA are regularly treating patients for heat-related health conditions, he adds, and in some cases people have had to move because of the impact of smoke from bushfires.

“The health impacts from smoke can be can be horrific,” Yin says, noting some people with asthma or lung disease have been in and out of hospital emergency departments until deciding to leave the place they’re living, “because it’s life threatening”.

Georgia Behrens, Chair of the Australian Medical Students’ Association’s global health committee, agrees COVID-19 has proven how effectively Australia can manage national health emergencies by using a coordinated approach.

“With a shared set of goals and principles we can work consistently across the country,” she says. “[The pandemic] has given us some early indications of a way that model could potentially work to tackle this shared health emergency.”

Which countries are doing it best?

From cooling rooms in France to England’s heatwave plan, addressing the health impacts of climate change is a rapidly developing sector.

But Yin struggles to single out one country he feels has achieved the right approach to this problem. He notes the UK has made progress, but he believes its strategy “doesn’t really capture all of the issues and the planning was very general”.

And even if another country did show leadership, he says, it wouldn’t necessarily act as a blueprint for Australia because climate is so regionally specific. One area may be prone to extreme heat, but another faces flooding. Mosquito-borne diseases may be escalating in one place, while bushfire smoke affects another.

— Read on www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-05/climate-change-wreaking-havoc-australians-health-national-plan/12950018

Spring Heats Up Down Under #ClimateCrisis #Australia demand #ClimateAction #Heatwave #Bushfires #Drought made worse by #ClimateChange #StopAdani #TellTheTruth listen to the scientists! #auspol #qldpol

The country endured its hottest spring and November on record.

Australia has experienced its warmest spring on record, hitting a mean temperature of 24.53°C (76.15°F), which was 2.03°C above the long-term average. The season began with record warm daily maximum and minimum temperatures in early September and finished with an intense heat wave at the end of November. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) declared November 2020 the warmest November on record.

The map above shows air temperatures across Australia for November 30, 2020. The map was derived from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) model and depicts air temperatures at 2 meters (about 6.5 feet) above the ground. The darkest red areas are where the model shows temperatures surpassing 40°C (104°F). The GEOS model, like all weather and climate models, uses mathematical equations that represent physical processes (such as precipitation and cloud processes) to calculate what the atmosphere will do. Actual measurements of physical properties, like temperature, moisture, and winds, are routinely folded into the model to keep the simulation as close to observed reality as possible.

Temperatures were warm throughout November and then broke records during an intense heat wave from November 28-30. At least 20 ground stations across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland recorded their hottest November days in three decades. Thargomindah Airport in Queensland broke November records hitting 46°C (114°F) on November 30. Temperatures in the town of Andamooka, South Australia, reached an all-time high for the spring at 48°C (118°F) on November 28. Temperatures in Smithville hit 46.9°C (116°F) on November 28, which was the highest spring temperature ever recorded in New South Wales. Sydney also experienced back-to-back days with temperatures above 40°C (104°F)—only the second time that has happened in the city in November in 162 years.

The BOM reported that the heat wave was a result of warm air getting pushed from the middle of the continent into southeastern and eastern Australia as frontal systems combined with a heat trough over central Australia. Several locations also experienced record-breaking warm nighttime temperatures, which exacerbated the heat wave. The nighttime heat prevented areas from cooling off and bringing the average temperature down; this also made it easier for temperatures to climb the next day. Average nighttime temperatures in New South Wales were 1.99°C (3.58°F) above the state mean minimum temperature—the warmest since 1914.

Spring rainfall was also about 8 percent below average for the country as a whole, although the anomalies varied through the season. For instance, October was wetter-than-normal due to La Niña strengthening in the tropical Pacific Ocean. According to the BOM, La Niña typically brings cooler, cloudier, and wetter than average conditions for the country. During November, the La Niña conditions temporarily weakened in the region. The BOM expects the pattern to strengthen again and bring cooler temperatures and more rainfall for the summer.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Officeat NASA GSFC. Story by Kasha Patel.

— Read on earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147619/spring-heats-up-down-under

The Great Barrier Reef now critical and deteriorating! #ClimateEmergency #auspol #qldpol Demand #ClimateAction #StopAdani #FundOurFutureNotGas

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The health of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem, is in a critical state and deteriorating as climate change warms up the waters in which it lies, an international conservation group said.

The World Heritage-listed site off Australia’s northeastern coast has lost more than half its coral in the past three decades. 

Coral-bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020 has further damaged it health and affected its animal, bird and marine population, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a report.

Such bleaching occurs when hotter water destroys the algae which the coral feeds on, causing it to turn white.

The union moved the reef’s status to critical and deteriorating on its watchlist.

Some activities which threaten it, like fishing and coastal development, can be tackled by the management authorities, the union said. 

“Other pressures cannot be addressed at the site level, such as climate change, which is recognized as the greatest threat,” it said.

Progress towards safeguarding the reef under a long-term sustainability plan through to 2050 has been slow and it has not been possible to stop its deterioration, it said.

The turtle populations – including loggerhead, hawksbill and northern green – as well as the scalloped hammerhead shark, many seabird populations and possibly some dolphin species are declining. 

Efforts to safeguard the reef are rising, however. HSBC and the Queensland government said in October they would buy “Reef Credits”, a tradable unit that quantifies and values the work undertaken to improve water quality flowing onto the reef.

Similar to the carbon offset market which incentivises the reduction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the scheme pays landholders for improved water quality.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

www.msn.com/en-au/news/us/australia-s-great-barrier-reef-status-lowered-to-critical-and-deteriorating/ar-BB1bAPbV

Join the #RaceToZero emissions, and why the world depends on it | | UN News #auspol #qldpol #TellTheTruth demand #ClimateAction #StopAdani #FundOurFutureNotGas #ClimateEmergency

A host of countries have recently announced major commitments to significantly cut their carbon emissions, promising to reach “net zero” in the coming years.

The term is becoming a global rallying cry, frequently cited as a necessary step to successfully beat back climate change, and the devastation it is causing. |

What is net zero and why is it important?

Put simply, net zero means we are not adding new emissions to the atmosphere. Emissions will continue, but will be balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

Practically every country has joined the Paris Agreement on climate change, which calls for keeping the global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial era levels. If we continue to pump out the emissions that cause climate change, however, temperatures will continue to rise well beyond 1.5, to levels that threaten the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere.

This is why a growing number of countries are making commitments to achieve carbon neutrality, or “net zero” emissions within the next few decades. It’s a big task, requiring ambitious actions starting right now.

Net zero by 2050 is the goal. But countries also need to demonstrate how they will get there. Efforts to reach net-zero must be complemented with adaptation and resilience measures, and the mobilization of climate financing for developing countries.

So how can the world move toward net zero?

The good news is that the technology exists to reach net zero – and it is affordable.

A key element is powering economies with clean energy, replacing polluting coal – and gas and oil-fired power stations – with renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar farms. This would dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Plus, renewable energy is now not only cleaner, but often cheaper than fossil fuels.

A wholesale switch to electric transport, powered by renewable energy, would also play a huge role in lowering emissions, with the added bonus of slashing air pollution in the world’s major cities. Electric vehicles are rapidly becoming cheaper and more efficient, and many countries, including those committed to net zero, have proposed plans to phase out the sale of fossil-fuel powered cars.

Other harmful emissions come from agriculture (livestock produce significant levels of methane, a greenhouse gas). These could be reduced drastically if we eat less meat and more plant-based foods. Here again, the signs are promising, such as the rising popularity of “plant-based meats” now being sold in major international fast-food chains.

What will happen to remaining emissions?

Reducing emissions is extremely important. To get to net zero, we also need to find ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Here again, solutions are at hand. The most important have existed in nature for thousands of years.

— Read on news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1078612

2020 may be third hottest year on record, world could hit climate change milestone by 2024 | | UN News #auspol #qldpol #ClimateEmergency demand #ClimateAction #SDGs #TellTheTruth

Global pressure on wages from COVID-19 will not stop with the arrival of a vaccine, the head of the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned on Wednesday, coinciding with a major report showing how the pandemic had slowed or reversed a trend of rising wages across the world, hitting women workers and the low-paid hardest.   |

This year is on track to be one of the three hottest on record, completing a run of six years that were all hotter than any year ever measured before, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday.  

The relentless rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere – a phenomenon that has continued despite a travel lull during the pandemic – will fuel temperature rise for decades to come. 

“The average global temperature in 2020 is set to be about 1.2 °C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. There is at least a one in five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C by 2024”, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement. 

Unwelcome threshold 

The 1.5 degree threshold represents a milestone the world is trying not to reach: the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, backed by almost every country on earth, calls for keeping the global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial era levels.  

To slow temperature rises, the world needs radical action. Countries must decrease production of fossil fuels by 6 per cent per year between 2020 and 2030 if the world is to avert “catastrophic” global temperature rise, according to the UN-backed Production Gap Reportreleased on Wednesday. 

In a landmark speech in New York on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the fight against the climate crisis was the top priority for the 21st Century. 

Climate records have fallen like dominos in the past decade, so notching up merely the third hottest year on record may seem to suggest some respite. But that would be a false conclusion, because 2020’s heat rose in a year when the world was experiencing a La Niña weather pattern, which normally means lower temperatures. 

Counter-intuitive 

“Record warm years have usually coincided with a strong El Niño event, as was the case in 2016. We are now experiencing a La Niña, which has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but has not been sufficient to put a brake on this year’s heat. Despite the current La Niña conditions, this year has already shown near record heat comparable to the previous record of 2016,” said Prof. Taalas. 

“We saw new extreme temperatures on land, sea and especially in the Arctic. Wildfires consumed vast areas in Australia, Siberia, the US West Coast and South America, sending plumes of smoke circumnavigating the globe”, he added.  

“We saw a record number of hurricanes in the Atlantic, including unprecedented back-to-back category 4 hurricanes in Central America in November. Flooding in parts of Africa and South East Asia led to massive population displacement and undermined food security for millions.” 

The 2020 temperature report is provisional until a final report is published in March 2021, the WMO said. 

— Read on news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1079042

Caught in the Crossfire – George Monbiot Capitalism’s Civil War #Brexit #auspol #qldpol #Democracy under attack. Political donations are corrupting political leadership. #ICAC #ClimateCrisis #TellTheTruth

Caught in the Crossfire – George Monbiot

Brexit isn’t about Europe, and isn’t about the UK. It’s the outcome of a civil war within capitalism.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 25th November 2020

Where there is chaos, the government will multiply it. Where people are pushed to the brink, it will shove them over. Boris Johnson ignored the pleas of businesses and politicians across the UK – especially in Northern Ireland – to extend the Brexit transition process. Never mind the pandemic, never mind unemployment, poverty and insecurity – nothing must prevent our experiment in unassisted flight. We will leap from the white cliffs on 1 January, come what may.

Perhaps, after so much macho bluster, the government will take the last of its last chances and strike a deal this week. If so, with scarcely any time for refinement, the agreement is likely to be rushed and bodged. In any event, pain will follow. Disruption at the border is likely to be felt across the nation.

So it is worth repeating the big question: why are we doing this to ourselves? I believe the answer is that Brexit is the outcome of a civil war within capitalism.

Broadly speaking, there are two dominant forms of capitalist enterprise. The first could be described as housetrained capitalism. It seeks an accommodation with the administrative state, and benefits from stability, predictability and the regulations that exclude dirtier and rougher competitors. It can coexist with a tame and feeble form of democracy.

The second could be described as warlord capitalism. This sees all restraints on accumulation – including taxes, regulations and the public ownership of essential services – as illegitimate. Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of profit-making. Its justifying ideology was formulated by Friedrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty and by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged. These books sweep away social complexity and other people’s interests. They fetishise something they call “liberty”, which turns out to mean total freedom for plutocrats, at society’s expense.

In unguarded moments, the warlords and their supporters go all the way. Hayek, for example, on a visit to Pinochet’s Chile, said he preferred a “liberal dictatorship” to “a democratic government devoid of liberalism”. Peter Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal and Palantir, confessed: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” Last month, Mike Lee, senior Republican senator for Utah, claimed that “democracy isn’t the objective” of the US political system, “liberty, peace, and prosperity are”.

Brexit represents an astonishing opportunity for warlord capitalism. It is a chance not just to rip up specific rules, which it overtly aims to do, but also to tear down the uneasy truce between capitalism and democracy under which public protections in general are created and enforced. In Steve Bannon’s words, it enables “the deconstruction of the administrative state”. Chaos is not a threat but an opportunity for money’s warlords. Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire who donated £3.2m to the Leave.EU campaign, explained that after Brexit: “We will get out there and we will become incredibly successful because we will be insecure again. And insecurity is fantastic.”

The chaos it is likely to cause will be used as its own justification: times are tough, so we must slash regulations and liberate business to make us rich again. Johnson’s government will seek to use a no-deal or thin-deal Brexit to destroy at least some of the constraints on the most brutal forms of capitalism.

Housetrained capitalists are horrified by Brexit. Not only does it dampen economic activity in general, but it threatens to destroy the market advantage for businesses that play by the rules. Without regulatory constraints, the warlords would wipe them out. Like other august institutions of capital, the Confederation of British Industry warned that leaving Europe would cause a major economic shock. In response to these concerns, Johnson, while he was foreign secretary, made a remark that might previously have seemed unthinkable, coming from the mouth of a senior Conservative, “fuck business”.

Johnson’s government is what warlord money buys. It could be seen as the perfect expression of the Pollution Paradox, a concept that I think is essential to understanding our politics. What this means is that the dirtier or more damaging an enterprise is, the more money it must spend on politics to ensure it’s not regulated out of existence. As a result, political funding comes to be dominated by the most harmful companies and oligarchs, which then wield the greatest political influence. They crowd out their more accommodating rivals.

It isn’t just about pollution. Damaging enterprises with an interest in buying political results include banks developing exotic financial instruments; property developers who resent the planning laws; junk food companies; bosses seeking to destroy employment rights; and plutocrats hoping to avoid tax. It’s why we’ll never have a healthy democracy without a radical reform of campaign finance.

Understood in this light, Brexit is scarcely about the UK at all. Oligarchs who have shown great interest in the subject tend to have weak or incomplete ties to this country. According to Andy Wigmore of Leave.EU, the campaign was assisted by the US billionaire Robert Mercer. By far the biggest individual donors to the Brexit party are Christopher Harborne, who is based in Thailand, and Jeremy Hosking, who has businesses listed in Dublin and Delaware. The newspaper owners who went to such lengths to make Brexit happen are domiciled offshore. For people like Rupert Murdoch, I believe, the UK is a beachhead among the richest and most powerful nations. Turning Chile or Indonesia into a giant free port is one thing. The UK is a much bigger prize.

None of this is what we were told we were voting for. I see Nigel Farage and similar blowhards as little more than smoke bombs, creating a camouflaging cloud of xenophobia and culture wars. The persistent trick of modern politics – that appears to fool us repeatedly – is to disguise economic and political interests as cultural movements. Throughout this saga, the media has reported the smokescreen, not the manoeuvres.

This, perhaps, was the remain campaign’s greatest failure. It largely refrained from calling out the oligarchs whose money helped to persuade us to leave the EU. Any such charge would have rebounded on a campaign funded by the likes of David Sainsbury, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. When Dominic Cummings and others in the leave campaign claimed they were fighting “the elites”, they were partly right. In terms of funding, this was a battle between competing elites. So the remainers, fatally compromised by the money they had taken, instead became locked in a culture war they were bound to lose, confronting xenophobia with bromides about the benefits of integration. They failed to strike at the heart of the matter.

Brexit, treading on the heels of the pandemic, is likely to harm the lives and freedoms of millions of people in the UK. But it’s not about us. We are just caught in the crossfire of capitalism’s civil war.

http://www.monbiot.com

— Read on www.monbiot.com/2020/11/27/caught-in-the-crossfire/

New Zealand declares #ClimateEmergency meanwhile Australia burns #auspol #qldpol demand #ClimateAction are we going to let the Kiwis win the #RaceToZero

By Phil Taylor

New Zealand has declared a climate change emergency and committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025, in what the prime minister Jacinda Ardern called “one of the greatest challenges of our time”.

A motion tabled in parliament on Wednesday recognised “the devastating impact that volatile and extreme weather will have on New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, on our primary industries, water availability, and public health through flooding, sea level rise, and wildfire”.

Thoughts and Prayers aren’t climate solutions!

Thirty-two other nations have formally acknowledged the global crisis by declaring a climate emergency.

The motion acknowledged the “alarming trend in species decline and global biodiversity” including the decline in New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity. 
The declaration of a climate emergency was supported by the Green Party and Māori Party and opposed by the National and Act parties.

Speaking in parliament after its introduction, Ardern said the country must “act with urgency”.

Meanwhile Australian parliament shamefully ignores the Climate Crisis

“This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now,” she said.

“It is up to us to make sure we demonstrate a plan for action, and a reason for hope.”

Ardern said the government sector will be required to buy only electric or hybrid vehicles, the fleet will be reduced over time by 20% and all 200 coal-fired boilers used in the public service’s buildings will be phased out.

We know what to do. We just need the political will!

The motion also calls for recognition of the “significant progress on meeting the challenge” by the country through signing the Paris Agreement and passing the Zero Carbon Act 2019, which commits New Zealand to reducing emissions.

That legislation – which sets up a Climate Change Commission tasked with putting the country on a path to net zero emissions by 2050 – made New Zealand one of few countries to have a zero-emissions goal enshrined in law.

But experts says the country is well behind on changes needed. The lack of action was “embarrassing” and had become “untenable”, University of Canterbury political science professor Bronwyn Hayward said last week. “The irony is, even under [President] Trump, the US is going to have made better per-capita reductions than we have.”

Writing in The Conversation, Robert McLachlan, a professor of applied mathematics at Massey University, said New Zealand was yet to make emissions reductions. Of 43 industrialised countries, New Zealand is among 12 that have seen net emissions increase between 1990 and 2018.

This is despite strong statements from the prime minister, such as this when the Zero Carbon Act was passed in November last year: “[New Zealand is] on the right side of history. I absolutely believe and continue to stand by the statement that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time.”

Wednesday’s declaration also said the government will “demonstrate what is possible to other sectors of the economy by reducing the government’s own emissions and becoming a carbon-neutral government by 2025”.

But opposition parties have described the move as a publicity stunt, with the National Party leader, Judith Collins, calling it “virtue signalling”.

“We think it’s all very well to declare an emergency but there’s no proper plan in place as to how to deal with it,” Collins told Radio New Zealand.

As an example, she pointed to the government’s fleet of more than 15,000 vehicles, of which only about 10% are electric.

New Zealand contributes just 0.17% of global emissions but that is high for its size, placing it 17th out of 32 OECD countries. Its net emissions have risen by 60% in the past two decades.

The nation’s biggest source of CO2 emissions is road transport but most greenhouse gases stem from agriculture.

New Zealand’s pledges have been seen internationally as less than required and the second-term Labour government is yet to introduce carbon-cutting policies that would put the country on track to meet its emission targets.

www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/02/new-zealand-declares-a-climate-change-emergency

Global update: Paris Agreement Turning Point | Climate Action Tracker #ClimateAction #SDG13 #COP26 #RaceToZero #auspol #qldpol #TellTheTruth listen to the scientists! #ClimateCrisis

Global update: Paris Agreement Turning Point | Climate Action Tracker

The recent wave of net zero targets has put the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C within striking distance.

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has calculated that global warming by 2100 could be as low as 2.1°C as a result of all the net zero pledges announced as of November 2020.

Included in our new modelling is the announcement by China in September 2020 that it intends to reach carbon neutrality before 2060, which reduces the CAT end of century warming estimate by 0.2 to 0.3°C alone.

Assuming carbon neutrality in the USA by 2050, as proposed by President-Elect Biden, would reduce warming by another 0.1°C. South Africa, Japan, South Korea and Canada have also recently announced net-zero targets. In total, 127 countries responsible for around 63% of emissions are considering or have adopted net zero targets.

Net zero targets are not enough, governments must adopt stronger 2030 targets

While 2050 net zero targets are commendable, governments must now adopt stronger 2030 targets (nationally determined contributions or NDCs) to deliver on their net zero goals, and close the remaining emissions gap to 1.5°C.

Thoughts and prayers not enough, we need real climate action.

The end of 2020 deadline to submit new and updated NDCs is fast approaching. These strengthened NDCs are critical to ensuring governments can meet their mid-century net zero targets. Governments must also develop detailed implementation plans to support these targets.

However, there remains little positive movement by governments to improve their 2030 NDC targets since Paris in 2015.

As of November 2020, no large emitter had submitted a substantially updated NDC since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. 

Moreover, governments’ current policies put them on a warming trajectory of 0.8°C higher than our optimistic net zero target assessment.

Paris is driving action

It is clear the Paris Agreement is driving climate action. On the eve of its five-year anniversary, a survey of past Climate Action Tracker assessments shows that the temperature estimates for end-of-century warming have been falling for both the targets and real-world emissions projections.

— Read on climateactiontracker.org/publications/global-update-paris-agreement-turning-point/

We know what needs to be done! Demand #ClimateAction #SDG13 #TellTheTruth listen to the scientists! #ClimateCrisis join the #RaceToZero Put a price on #AirPollution

LONDON – World leaders should commit to a climate-smart recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, recognize a new human right to a healthy environment and make the deliberate destruction of nature a crime, youth climate activists urged on Tuesday.

“Every moment of inaction makes things worse for our generation” as climate change impacts and nature losses surge, young representatives of more than 140 countries warned in a statement negotiated during two weeks of online talks.

The youth-led “Mock COP” event was organized after the COP26 U.N. climate negotiations, due to be held in Glasgow last month, were delayed a year by the pandemic, with young people vowing to push ahead to develop climate policy if adults could not.

“We know what needs to be done. What is lacking is political will to do it,” said Kelo Uchendu, 24, a Nigerian engineering student and delegate at the conference.

As the talks ended Tuesday, researchers with the independent Climate Action Tracker reported that if all national governments met the 2050 net-zero emissions targets they have set or are considering, global warming goals remained within reach.

Thoughts and Prayers aren’t enough

Those targets include U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge of carbon-neutrality by 2060.

With net-zero or similar aims now planned or in place in 127 countries, planetary heating could be limited to 2.1 degrees Celsius, putting the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping it to “well below” 2C far closer than before, Climate Action Tracker said.

But the world would still exceed the lower Paris aim of 1.5C of warming since pre-industrial times, which scientists say is key to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

And interim emissions reduction targets that would drive rapid action are insufficient, analysts said.

“Long-term goals are good but it’s clear that governments need to act more quickly in the short term,” said Kat Kramer, charity Christian Aid’s climate change lead, in a statement.

She urged “a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, ending ecosystem destruction and building resilience of communities vulnerable to climate impacts.”

In a final statement like those produced at U.N. talks — and similarly issued in the form of a legal treaty that could be formally adopted by countries — young “Mock COP” delegates said all national climate plans should be aligned with the 1.5C goal.

Delegates also called for 30% of land and oceans to be conserved, more safeguards for Indigenous people and for every country to ensure clean air through stronger regulation.

Other demands included a stronger youth voice in decision-making, better education on climate change and more mental health services for youth struggling with “eco-anxiety.”

Nigel Topping, Britain’s high-level climate action champion for the postponed COP26 talks who received the statement, said government leaders had been pressed into faster action on climate threats largely because of youth campaigning.

“You’re sending a loud signal — and a very professional one — of expecting more from leaders around the world. Never underestimate how significant that is,” he told delegates.

Participants said they would push their home governments to turn some of the statement’s language into new laws, particularly now that responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have made clear that big, rapid policy shifts are possible.

“Getting countries to adopt this treaty would make a huge impact,” Uchendu, from Nigeria, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an online interview.

David R. Boyd, a U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said new policies would be crucial to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, from growing hunger and poverty to more extreme weather and rising seas.

“We know conclusively that we are on the precipice … and this has terrible consequences for people’s human rights,” he said.

www.voanews.com/europe/we-know-what-needs-be-done-young-mock-cop-delegates-deliver-climate-vision