Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The CLIMATE KIDS are Coming! Young People Fighting for Their Future

The Climate Kids are Coming
With a Green New Deal and Student Strikes for Climate, will young people save us yet?

 By Mark Hertsgaard | January 28, 2019 | The Nation

If you don’t know who Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg is, you can think of her as an international climate-change counterpart to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Like the rock-star congresswoman from New York, Thunberg is a charismatic young woman whose social-media savvy, moral clarity, and fearless speaking truth to power have inspired throngs of admirers to take to the streets for a better world and call out the politicians and CEOs who are standing in the way.

Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is known for championing the #GreenNewDeal and schooling right-wing haters on Twitter. Thunberg, 16, is known for launching the #SchoolStrike4Climate movement—tens of thousands of high-school students worldwide are skipping school on Fridays until their governments treat the climate crisis as an emergency—and for torching billionaires and heads of state at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

Demolishing the convenient notion that we are all to blame for climate change, Thunberg told a Davos panel that included president Trump’s former chief economics adviser Gary Cohn, “Some people, some companies, some decision makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money.” She paused before a final thrust of the knife: “I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”

Call them the Climate Kids. Like Ocasio-Cortez and Thunberg themselves, the grassroots activist movements they have roused are comprised almost exclusively of teenagers and twenty-somethings. These are not your father’s environmentalists: supplicant, “realistic,” and accepting of failure. These young people are angry about the increasingly dire climate future awaiting them and clear-eyed about who’s to blame and how to fix it. And they seem to have the bad guys worried.

Continue reading at The Nation

Below is a repost of my article posted at Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo (Dec.16, 2018) along with an UPDATE:

Young Activist Condemns World's Inaction on Climate Change at U.N. Summit

Greta Thunberg, a 15 year-old high school student from Sweden, realized at a young age the difference in what climate experts were saying needed to be done and the actions that were being taken in society.

She decided to take matters into her own hands.

With focus and poise beyond her years, Greta spoke truth to power in an audience of adults including U.N. officials and world government representatives at the recent Climate Summit (COP 24) in Poland. She cited inaction on climate change as a burden that adults are leaving on their children:
You say you love your children above all else, and yet you're stealing their future in front of their very eyes. Until you start focusing on what needs to be done, rather than its what is politically possible, there is no hope. 
Watch a short video of Greta's powerful and moving speech at the U.N. Climate Summit below:

On Hope: 
Elsewhere, in a TEDx Talk, Greta said, "Yes, we do need hope, of course we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere."

School Strike for the Climate:
The U.N. Summit speech was not Greta’s first climate action. Earlier this year, Greta demanded that her government in Sweden undertake a radical response to climate change. She protested for more than a month in Stockholm, sitting on the steps of the parliament building, every day during school hours for three weeks. She has returned to school for four days a week; she now spends her Fridays on the steps of parliament.  Read more about Greta and what makes her special in The New Yorker

UPDATE: Greta was invited to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Here is part of Greta's message to Davos before leaving by train from Stockholm to Switzerland:
“Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is just another convenient lie because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame.

Some people, some companies, and some decision-makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they are sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money.

I want to challenge those companies and those decision makers into real and bold climate action. To set their economic goals aside and to safeguard the future living conditions for humankind.”
Watch the video below and Listen to this articulate young human being:

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Greta's Speech at the World Economic Forum

Greta’s bottom line:
“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
Watch a short video of Greta’s speech and read the full text of her speech at The Guardian

School Strikes over Climate Change continue to Snowball:
Greta Thunberg, whose solo protest outside Sweden’s parliament has snowballed across the globe, will join a strike by Swiss school children in the Davos ski resort on Friday — the final day of the World Economic Forum.  Read the report at Grist

Youth Climate Strike Coming to U.S. Next Month

Lorraine Chow  | Feb. 04, 2019  | EcoWatch

ZeroHour Climate March in Pittsburgh. Mark Dixon / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
A sea of students are taking part in climate strikes around the world, and on March 15, young activists in the U.S. will add their voices to the escalating #FridaysForFuture movement.

Ever since 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg called for the first global climate strike last month, it has become a weekly routine for students to skip class on Fridays to march for their futures and those of future generations.

Now, kids, teens and young adults in the U.S. will take their own action with support from environmental groups such, Extinction Rebellion and the Sunrise Movement, Earther reported.

"If we're not going to have a future, then school won't matter any more," one of the organizers, 13-year-old New Yorker Alexandria Villasenor, told Earther about why American students should join the strike next month.

Villasenor has been part of the youth-led strike for months and endured sit-in last weekend in New York City as a polar vortex brought bone-chilling cold to the Big Apple.

"I prepared all week for this and realized climate change will force us to live differently and deal with more extreme weather. People are dying right now, and we need to #ActOnClimate!" she tweeted.

Climate strikes have taken place in cities around Europe, Australia and elsewhere. The fourth straight rally in Brussels on Jan. 31 drew as many as 35,000 student participants.

The youngsters are demanding their leaders and older generations take immediate climate action.

Teen climate activist Jamie Margolin, the founder of This is Zero Hour, said on Twitter that youth across the U.S. will be taking to the streets on March 15 "to show our legislators that we need a Green New Deal," referring to the insurgent policy proposal to fight climate change and to move the U.S. to a sustainable future.

Margolin also praised strike co-leaders such as Isra Hirsi and Haven Coleman for their work in bringing the climate revolution to American shores.

"This #ClimateStrike is being organized by amazing young women like @israhirsi & @havenruthie + so many more! Young girls are leading the climate movement!" she wrote.

According to Earther, strikers in Australia and Europe plan to join the U.S. contingent in solidarity, and action is also planned in Uganda and Thailand.

For those of you who are interested in striking or if you'd like to lead your hometown in a strike, check out this link.

Young Activist, Sohayla Eldeeb representing This Is Zero Hour, will Speak on Climate Justice in Buffalo this Saturday.

SATURDAY, February 9, COMMUNITY EVENT: WNY Climate Conversations - Discourse on creating a sustainable future in WNY. Distinguished speakers, Youth Activist & Climate Justice fellows. 1:00-4:00PM, Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo. Free & open to the public. [LINK]

Register for the event on Facebook and Invite Friends: Click here

Friday, January 25, 2019

Climate & Energy: Cuomo's 'Green New Deal' is not comprehensive, NY Renews says

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Gov targets 100% clean energy by ’40; Some say it’s not enough

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced his version of a “Green New Deal” to tackle climate change and ramp up clean energy.

Under his plan, 100 percent of the state’s electricity would be generated by clean power by 2040. This would be achieved by using a mix of energy sources like solar, wind, nuclear and hydropower.

A new Climate Action Council would develop a plan for carbon neutrality across the entire economy — meaning reducing the carbon footprint across industries and sources of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.

“We know it’s coming,” Cuomo said in his State of the State address on Jan. 15. “Let the economy be here.”

Cuomo’s “Green New Deal” also includes green technology development, a $1.5 billion investment in offshore wind projects, and a $70 million property-tax compensation fund to help communities transition when old power plants close.

“We want those old plants closed. We want more efficient plants,” Cuomo said. But the state should fund the transition, so “those communities don’t shoulder the burden themselves,” he said.

Cuomo’s announcement comes after years of planning by a coalition of community groups, NY Renews, that have pushed for their own version of a climate action plan. Their plan forms the basis of the current Climate and Community Protection Act, sponsored by state Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Steve Englebright.

That bill would have mandated the state’s electricity be generated by 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and that all industries eliminate 100 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The community-initiated bill passed three times in the Assembly but has languished in the Senate.

NY Renews welcomed Cuomo’s announcement, but criticized his failure to set a timeline for a transition to clean power economywide.

“For years, the Climate and Community Protection Act has represented a true climate-justice agenda for our state,” NY Renews said in a statement in response to Cuomo’s address. “It is heartening to see progress toward a fossil-fuel-free New York.”

However, the coalition added, a “truly comprehensive plan to tackle climate change needs more specific deadlines, planning processes and accountability for moving our whole economy off of fossil fuels than are currently included.”

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Cuomo must Act to turn Climate Promises into Enforceable Policies

State Capitol Protest March - Cuomo: Walk the Talk on Climate!
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Cuomo talks big about climate change. 
Now it’s time for New York to pass actual policies.

By Greta Moran | Grist | Dec 31, 2018

If you want to hear some fiery climate promises, just listen to a recent speech by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In the span of a couple minutes, he blasted the federal government’s inaction on climate change, vowed to “leave this planet better than we found it,” and promised to make New York’s electricity 100 percent carbon-neutral by 2040 — and eventually, completely eliminate the state’s carbon footprint.

Despite these strong words, some aren’t holding their breath until they see concrete steps from Cuomo (after all, this is the same governor who just in May headlined a gala funded by oil companies.) “It’s only a statement, and that’s not strong enough,” says Patrick Houston, an organizer with New York Communities for Change. “We urgently need bold climate goals to be written into the law.”

New York state has its best chance in years to pass progressive climate legislation in 2019, when Democrats will take control of the state Senate for the first time in a decade. (They already have a majority in the state House.) The midterm elections positioned many states to take bolder action, ushering climate champions to governorships and state legislatures in Colorado, Nevada, and Maine.

It’s good timing, because the federal government led by President Trump is dismantling environmental policies that are more critical than ever. And if we don’t act soon, climate change will bring a future of food shortages, mass extinctions, and natural disasters like we’ve never seen, as the United Nations’ IPCC report laid out in October.

“The IPCC report is harrowing,” says Kevin Smiley, a professor of environmental sociology at the University of Buffalo. “This is a time when a few states or cities have the opportunity to make a big stamp.”

Cuomo hasn’t released the details of his climate proposal yet, so we’ll have to wait and see if his promises carry weight. In the meantime, it’s worth asking: What would an ideal state climate plan look like, anyway? And how can states make sure their pledges are more than empty promises? I spoke with climate organizers and policy experts about what the states — New York as well as the other 49 — need to do to meet the very real, ever-knocking demands of climate change.

Think beyond electricity

Electricity accounts for only 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in New York, according to the state’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, last updated in 2015. That’s a sizable chunk, but to take on that other 70 percent, Cuomo’s plan would need to consider every sector of the economy. That means all sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including buildings, transportation, and all forms of infrastructure, says Ann Carlson, a UCLA law professor who focuses on climate change and policy.

States can work together on their emissions targets, like the coalition of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that agreed on regional transportation goals, and the other state-based coalition that has set shared caps on greenhouse gas emissions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. “We have a lot of small states that collectively can make a big difference,“ Carlson says.

Put the people most affected by climate change first

“Across the state, we can see that there are communities that have existing inequalities that are exacerbated by climate change,” says Adrien Salazar, a lead organizer with New York Renews, a coalition of more than 100 climate and labor groups. “When think about putting our economy on a path to 100 percent renewable energy, we want to make sure that those communities are invested in.”

New York state’s current energy plan doesn’t include explicit protections for these communities. New York Renews has been working to change this and pass the Climate and Community Protection Act, which would put the state on the path to running solely on renewable energy. It requires 40 percent of clean energy projects to be in communities impacted by climate change. The act would also give those communities ownership over these projects and ensure fair labor standards are in place.

Make it a law, not a suggestion

A New Year’s Message About Climate Change - Act Quickly

Bill McKibben Has A New Year’s Message About Climate Change — Act Quickly

January 1st, 2019 by Steve Hanley | Clean Technica

Bill McKibben has been writing about climate change for 30 years. Along the way, he has been arrested multiple times, spat on, had his life threatened, and been spied on by minions working for fossil fuel companies. Oh, he also founded, whose stated mission is to keep the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million. The world blew by that benchmark some time ago and is racing toward the 450 ppm level.

He has written almost 30 books on the subject, including The End Of Nature in 1989 and Oil & Honey in 2013. If you want to be fully informed on the topic of climate change, the writings of Bill McKibben are the definitive source.

In a piece for Rolling Stone dated December 1, 2017, McKibben penned these words, “The technology exists to combat climate change — what will it take to get our leaders to act?” As 2018 draws to a close, it is appropriate to examine his thesis and see what, if anything changed this year. McKibben started his Rolling Stone piece with these words:

“If we don’t win very quickly on climate change, then we will never win. That’s the core truth about global warming. It’s what makes it different from every other problem our political systems have faced.
“I wrote the first book for a general audience about climate change in 1989 – back when one had to search for examples to help people understand what the ‘greenhouse effect’ would feel like. We knew it was coming, but not how fast or how hard. And because no one wanted to overestimate – because scientists by their nature are conservative – each of the changes we’ve observed has taken us somewhat by surprise. The surreal keeps becoming the commonplace.”

Watching The Arctic Melt

“[W]ith global warming, the fundamental equation is precisely what’s shifting. And the remarkable changes we’ve seen so far — the thawed Arctic that makes the Earth look profoundly different from outer space; the planet’s seawater turning 30 percent more acidic — are just the beginning. ‘We’re inching ever closer to committing to the melting of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, which will guarantee 20 feet of sea-level rise,’ says Penn State’s Michael Mann, one of the planet’s foremost climatologists. ‘We don’t know where the ice-sheet collapse tipping point is, but we are dangerously close.'”

As if to underscore Mann’s and McKibben’s warnings, on December 5, NASA posted a video on YouTube showing how the Arctic ice sheet has melted from September, 1984 through September, 2016. It’s pretty scary stuff. [To view the video, click here.]

“Another way of saying this,” writes McKibben, “By 2075 the world will be powered by solar panels and windmills — free energy is a hard business proposition to beat. But on current trajectories, they’ll light up a busted planet. The decisions we make in 2075 won’t matter; indeed, the decisions we make in 2025 will matter much less than the ones we make in the next few years. The leverage is now.”

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Powering the World with Wind, Water and Sunlight

Mark Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, has published 18 peer-reviewed scientific papers (with 96 collaborators) dealing with electric power derived from three renewable energy sources: wind, water and sunlight.

His publications demonstrate that renewable energy will not only benefit the environment in terms of avoiding pollution and global climate change, but also will provide far more jobs than will be lost in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. In addition to environmental and economic benefits, the transition to clean energy will provide significant health benefits to society.

In the video below, Jacobson delivers a short lecture to California high school students titled "Powering the World with Wind Water and Sunlight (WWS)."

Want to see how the Jacobson 100% WWS plan would apply to New York State?  
- Powerpoint Presentation (34 Mb) by Mark Jacobson titled "Powering New York State with Wind, Water and Sunlight"- Click here.
- Publication (2013) by Mark Jacobson and colleagues titled "Examining the feasibility of converting New York State’s all-purpose energy infrastructure to one using wind, water, and sunlight" -- Click Here to download the PDF. 

[Click image to enlarge]

The Jacobson 100% WWS plan applies to 53 Towns and Cities:
- Summary paper: Sustainable Cities and Society, 2018 - Click Here

The Jacobson 100% WWS plan applies to the 50 United States:
- Publication (2015) by Mark Jacobson and colleagues titled "100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States" - Click Here.

The Jacobson 100% WWS plan applies to the World:
- October 24, 2016: "100% Clean and Renewable Wind, Water, and Sunlight (WWS) All-Sector Energy Roadmaps for 139 Countries of the World" - Click Here.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fossil Fuel Divestment: NY City Mayor acts to Protect Portfolios and Planet for Future Generations

 “Fossil fuel companies have misled the public for too long, and we must take action now..."  -- Mayor de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio, Comptroller Stringer, and Pension Fund Trustees Announce Significant Next Step to Divest Pension Funds From Fossil Fuel Reserve Companies

December 18, 2018

Issue landmark Request for Proposal to analyze fossil fuel risks and develop divestment plan

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott M. Stringer today announced the next big step in the New York City Pension Funds’ action to address the risk posed by climate change by divesting from fossil fuel reserve owners – an unprecedented process and the first-of-its-kind in the United States.

The Request for Proposal (RFP) released today seeks advisers to analyze, evaluate, and recommend prudent fossil fuel divestment strategies for the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), and the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS), together representing 70 percent of the total assets of the City’s $200 billion pension funds. The RFP will result in a comprehensive analysis of the City Pension Funds’ holdings and the risks the fossil fuel industry poses to pension assets.

This analysis – the first-of-its-kind of a pension fund of this size – will inform the development of a comprehensive and prudent divestment strategy to preserve the retirement funds of City employees and address climate change risks, consistent with fiduciary duty.

“Divestment is a critical part of our strategy to fight climate change while insulating our pension funds,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Fossil fuel companies have misled the public for too long, and we must take action now to protect our portfolios as well as our planet for future generations. I thank the Comptroller and the rest of my fellow Trustees for standing strong as we continue taking these steps to divest from fossil fuels.”

“The future of New York City can’t be tied to fossil fuels – and today, we’re taking the next big step to protect our planet and the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Climate change poses an existential threat. But by moving towards a fossil fuel free investment strategy, New York City is planting the seed for a clean, green, and thriving economy that can truly support future generations. The steps we take in New York City set a precedent around the country and the world, and the leadership from the Mayor and the trustees are charting a roadmap for responsible climate action.”

Read more at the Official Website for the City of New York

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Cuomo supports a Green New Deal for Carbon-Free Electricity by 2040

Cuomo sets Goal for Carbon Neutral Electric System by 2040


12/17/2018 | 04:44 PM EST

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday set a new goal to reduce emissions from the state's electricity generation and promised to support a Green New Deal to get to a completely carbon-free economy.

Details were sparse on what Cuomo's conception of a Green New Deal would entail or when he'd mandate that the state eliminate carbon emissions across the economy. His current goal for the electric sector is 50 percent renewables by 2030, and for emissions in most sectors of the economy to be cut 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

“New York will launch the Green New Deal to make New York’s electricity 100 percent carbon neutral by 2040, and ultimately eliminate the state’s entire carbon footprint," Cuomo said during a speech in New York City, where laid out his agenda for 2019.

Environmental advocates expressed optimism at Cuomo's new goals.

“The new goal is incredibly exciting and motivating,” said Kit Kennedy of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "What happens now is going to be crucial. In other words, is this a goal … and that’s it, or can we get done what we need to get done in New York state on the ground in terms of policy deployment, acceleration of energy efficiency, electric vehicles, Article 10 [the state siting law for large-scale generators] reforms, offshore wind, storage, the whole gamut of zero-carbon technologies."

For advocates who have consistently pushed for more aggressive action, the lack of details or a goal to get to zero percent emissions in the short-run were disappointing.

“A vague pledge of carbon neutrality by the year 2040 is not the bold action necessary to move New York off fossil fuels," said Food and Water Watch's Alex Beauchamp. "Cuomo must go much bigger: A true Green New Deal for New York must include a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure and a commitment to transition New York to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030."

The Cuomo administration did not respond to questions about what a Green New Deal would include, whether legislative action would be required or whether electric generators would be able to purchase carbon offsets to comply with the 2040 goal.

The Democratic governor has already directed the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to study how the state could get to 100 percent renewables, not just in the electric sector but across the economy. He's said he supports that goal. The study was expected to be completed by the end of this year.