Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Quantum Factor" – Apr 10, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Galaxies, Universe, Intelligent design, Benevolent design, Aliens, Nikola Tesla (Quantum energy), Inter-Planetary Travel, DNA, Genes, Stem Cells, Cells, Rejuvenation, Shift of Human Consciousness, Spontaneous Remission, Religion, Dictators, Africa, China, Nuclear Power, Sustainable Development, Animals, Global Unity.. etc.) - (Text Version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“… 4 - Energy (again)

The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much….”

"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change
In a bid to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday, marking the first time power plants have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
Google: Earthday 2013

Friday, November 17, 2017

Anti-coal drive at UN climate talks stalked by pro-coal White House

Yahoo – AFP, Mariette Le Roux and Marlowe Hood, November 16, 2017

Environmentalists demonstrate against fossil fuels such as coal prior to another
session of the UN conference on climate change on November 15, 2017 in Bonn,
western Germany (AFP Photo/Patrik STOLLARZ)

Bonn (AFP) - Countries launched a coal phase-out initiative Thursday at UN climate talks in Bonn, offering an antidote to the defence of Earth-warming fossil fuels by US President Donald Trump's administration.

Spearheaded by Canada and Britain, the "Powering Past Coal Alliance" commits more than 20 nations, cities, and regions to weaning themselves off a commodity that produces 40 percent of the world's electricity -- a major contributor to global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

The list includes Angola, Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, the Marshall Islands, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, and Mexico, the regions of Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta, and the city of Vancouver.

The state of Washington is the sole American signatory.

"This is another positive signal of the global momentum away from coal, benefiting the health of the climate, the public and the economy," said Jens Mattias Clausen of Greenpeace.

"But it also puts on notice the governments who lag behind on ending coal, or those who promote it, that the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel has no future."

The Trump administration insisted Thursday it was "committed" to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, as long as this does not threaten energy security or the economy.

"Our guiding principles are universal access to affordable and reliable energy, and open, competitive markets that promote efficiency and energy security, not only for the United States but around the globe," US acting assistant secretary of state Judith Garber told the conference.

To this end, it would "support the cleanest, most efficient power generation, regardless of the source," she said.

Garber was the most senior US administration representative at the "high-level segment" of the annual UN climate huddle. Most other countries were represented by heads of state or ministers.

On Monday, White House officials drew the ire of observers and delegates in Bonn by hosting a sideline event defending the continued use of fossil fuels at a forum whose very purpose is the drawdown of carbon emissions.

Protecting US interests

Trump announced in June that the United States will withdraw from the climate-rescue Paris Agreement championed by his predecessor Barack Obama and endorsed by the world's nations to cheers and champagne in 2015. The rules determine that no country can exit the pact before November 2020.

Garber said Washington still intends to withdraw "at the earliest opportunity", but remained "open to the possibility of rejoining at a later date under terms more favourable to the American people."

An Obama-era official who helped deliver the agreement -- a feat that took more than two decades of tough negotiations -- lashed out Thursday at Trump's "wrongheaded" decision.

"Climate change is a huge challenge, we all know that," Todd Stern, who was Obama's special envoy for climate change, told AFP on the sidelines of the conference he attended as an observer. He left government in 2016.

"We are in a... race against time to transform the economy faster than the bad stuff of climate change. Trying to say it's a hoax, or it doesn't mean anything, or it's a terrible agreement and the rest of the world is laughing at us, is just so.. ridiculous," he said -- citing some of Trump's stated reasons.

The United States is the world's biggest historical greenhouse gas polluter, and second only to China for current-day emissions.

The US presence at the Bonn talks has not been universally welcomed, especially as it has taken a tough line on a demand from developing countries for a firmer commitment to climate finance.

Trump has also renounced an Obama-era promise to deliver $2.5 billion dollars into the Green Climate Fund.

Many question why the US is at Bonn at all, given its rejection of the Paris Agreement.

The State Department explained Washington wished to "ensure a level playing field that benefits and protects US interests."

Three degrees

The Paris Agreement commits countries to limiting average global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over Industrial Revolution levels, and 1.5 C if possible, to avert calamitous climate change-induced storms, drought and sea-level rises.

Nations submitted voluntary emissions-cutting commitments to bolster the deal, but scientists say the pledges placed the world on course for warming of 3 C or more.

Since Monday last week, bureaucrats have haggled over a Paris Agreement "rule book", which must be finished next year and will specify how countries calculate and report their emissions cuts.

Energy and environment ministers descended on Bonn Wednesday for the final three days, tasked with resolving tough issues above the pay grade of rank-and-file negotiators.

"The Paris Agreement is a global pledge to hand over a healthy planet to future generations, and now the time has come to show that we will honour this pledge," European Union climate change commissioner Miguel Canete told delegates on Thursday.

Siemens faces German union showdown over layoffs

Yahoo – AFP, Daphne ROUSSEAU with Tom BARFIELD in Frankfurt, November 16, 2017

Siemens workers feel they're getting a raw deal from a company generating
flourishing profits (AFP Photo/CHRISTOF STACHE)

Berlin (AFP) - Industrial conglomerate Siemens on Thursday announced thousands of job cuts worldwide, most of them in its fossil fuels division, with unions and politicians in its home country Germany particularly outspoken against the plans.

A total of 6,900 workers are set to lose their jobs, around half of them in Germany, where Siemens also plans to close sites in the country's economically weaker east.

"The power industry is experiencing disruption of unprecedented scope and speed," board member Lisa Davis said in a statement, saying layoffs were necessary to keep Siemens competitive.

The Munich-based group says global demand for the large turbines its power and gas unit produces "has fallen drastically" as renewable energy has become more popular.

This has sapped profitability as there is not enough demand to keep its factories turning.

In Germany, that division alone will shed 2,600 jobs and close sites in Goerlitz and Leipzig, both in the former communist east.

"This is sad news... a sudden bolt from the blue for Leipzigers," said Stanislaw Tillich, premier of Saxony state.

Some 1,100 jobs are set to go in the rest of Europe, while the US will see 1,800 layoffs.

German employee representatives have vowed to resist job cuts, as they would follow on the heels of flourishing annual results for the sprawling group.

Chief executive Joe Kaeser had already warned of "painful cuts" last week, even as Siemens reported 11-percent growth in net profit for 2016-17, to 6.2 billion euros ($7.3 billion).

But he had pledged to "soften the blow" by reassigning or retraining workers, a promise the group reiterated Thursday.

Germany's powerful IG Metall union vowed to put up "strong resistance" to the proposed site closures and layoffs.

This "broad attack against the employees" is "completely unacceptable given the company's excellent overall health", IG Metall board member Juergen Kerner said.

Unions have vowed to resist any layoffs at Siemens, as they would follow on the heels
of flourishing annual results for the sprawling group (AFP Photo/CHRISTOF STACHE)

Siemens -- whose products range from trains to wind turbines to medical equipment -- has already announced some 6,000 job cuts in its wind power unit, sapped by falling prices in major markets like India and the US.

The group employs around 350,000 people worldwide, with around 115,000 of them in Germany.

'Discontent and doubts'

Germany's poorer eastern states have yet to fully recover from decades of communist mismanagement and an arduous reunification with the west since 1990.

Alongside the closures in Goerlitz and Saxony, almost 900 jobs are set to go in Berlin, while the group is considering selling off a site in Thuringian state capital Erfurt.

Cuts in the east "could stoke the discontent and the doubts" that helped far-right party Alternative for Germany into parliament with 12.6 percent of the vote in September elections, outgoing economy minister Brigitte Zypries wrote in a letter to Kaeser seen by Bild newspaper.

For its part, IG Metall accused Siemens of failing to consult closely with workers about the planned restructuring, as was the norm at big German conglomerates for decades.

The group laid off some 15,000 people in 2013, partly as a consequence of Germany's decision to abandon nuclear energy in favour of renewables.

Under Kaeser's tenure, whole divisions have been abandoned or sold off, including household appliances, telecoms networks and nuclear and solar energy.

Tearing up a 2008 agreement that ruled out layoffs short of an "existential crisis" at the firm "would disquiet colleagues in all of the divisions," union boss Kerner said, especially when "the group is doing well" overall.

Battling the same headwinds, Siemens' US competitor General Electric on Monday announced a restructuring of its own, with thousands of job cuts around the globe as it narrows its focus to aeronautics, health and energy.

Related Article:

Photo: Siemens Nederland

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chinese farmer turned eco-warrior takes on big business

Yahoo – AFP, Yanan WANG, November 12, 2017

Farmer Wang Enlin (2nd L) sits in his house with fellow environmental activists who
 have taken on a subsidiary of China's largest chemical firm, accusing it of polluting and
destroying farmland (AFP Photo/Nicolas ASFOURI)

Yushutun (China) (AFP) - Wang Enlin, an elderly farmer who left school when he was 10 years old and taught himself law armed with a single textbook and dictionary, makes for an unlikely eco-warrior.

Yet the 64-year-old is determined to reap justice as he readies for a fresh battle in his war with a subsidiary of China's largest chemical firm, which he accuses of polluting and destroying his farmland.

"In China, behind every case of pollution is a case of corruption," he said of his mission to bring Qihua Chemical Group (also known as Heilongjiang Haohua Chemical) to account.

Wang and others villagers from northeast Heilongjiang province have sued Qihua accusing it of contaminating their soil, rendering it untenable for crops, in a case that has stretched on for more than 16 years.

This February, Wang and his self-styled "Senior Citizen Environmental Protection Team" earned a rare victory when a local court ordered Qihua to clear up their chemical waste site -- adjacent to the farmers' land -- and pay a total of 820,000 yuan ($120,000) to compensate for lost harvests in 55 affected rural households.

But that ruling was overturned on appeal, and Wang is now gearing up to fight back on another day in court.

"We will absolutely win. The law is on our side," Wang told AFP.

His case is testing the possibilities of a national environmental protection law revised in 2015.

The legislation was widely touted as a way to open the courts to public interest environmental damage lawsuits, but has been criticised for poor implementation.

Farmer Wang Enlin (2nd L) sits in his house with fellow environmental activists who 
have taken on a subsidiary of China's largest chemical firm, accusing it of polluting 
and destroying farmland (AFP Photo/Nicolas ASFOURI)

Change your fate

Qihua is a subsidiary of the state-owned ChemChina, the country's largest chemical enterprise. It specialises in crude oil processing and petroleum products.

Wang's battle began in 2001, when a village committee leased 28.5 hectares (70 acres) to Qihua for use as a chemical waste dumping ground without the villagers' consent.

The villagers claim that the company failed to take proper pollution control measures.

Wang says he felt compelled to teach himself law after realising he lacked the knowledge or resources to take on the might of an industrial giant.

China had just emerged from its Great Famine when Wang left school: "It didn't matter at the time whether you got an education," he said. "It wouldn't change your fate."

He was well into middle age when he found a textbook on environmental law at a local bookstore. It took him years to understand as he painstakingly looked up unfamiliar terms in a dog-eared dictionary.

After petitioning the local authorities to no avail, he received aid in 2007 from the Centre for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, which helped the villagers put together a lawsuit using evidence he had compiled.

A 2013 sampling of mercury levels conducted on the site by the Green Beagle Institute, a Beijing-based non-profit, found the land was "not suitable for agricultural use".

The Ministry of Environmental Protection included Qihua in a 2014 list of "major" environmental cases.

But it was still another year before Wang's case was accepted into China's justice system.

Prominent environmentalist Ma Jun told AFP that while the litigation process has been streamlined since 2015, pollution lawsuits can still take years to be heard partly because "local governments give some degree of protection to polluting companies".

Today Wang prepares his own legal paperwork and hosts daily gatherings at his home for villagers hoping to learn about their rights.

Wang, who suffers from lung problems and requires medicine to help him breathe, accuses Qihua of "pretending to be deaf and mute" on the issue.

He says he is frequently visited by police officers who urge him to drop the case and stop talking to the media.

Qihua's lawyers declined to comment on the case.

'Corrupt officials'

In September, the Qiqihar Intermediate People's Court accepted Wang's request to appeal the ruling that overturned his initial victory.

"We're just farmers, without any resources or power," said Wang Baoqin (no relation), a member of Wang Enlin's senior citizens' environmental group.

"Against the government, we can't win. Against those corrupt officials, we definitely can't win. So we decided to take the side road and fight the company."

According to Rachel Stern, the author of "Environmental Litigation in China: A Study in Political Ambivalence," the number of new legal cases related to natural resources has increased tenfold over the past decade.

The Supreme People's Court heard 133,000 such cases last year.

Some complainants have found success: in 2015, a petrol giant was ordered to pay 1.68 million yuan ($265,000) to 21 fishermen whose livelihoods suffered from oil spills.

Qihua's plant did not appear to be in operation when AFP reporters visited in late August. The land was dry and marked by patches of overgrown grass, no longer the site of a massive wastewater pond.

But no crops will grow in the spot again, Wang Baoqin predicted.

"We may not even see justice in our lifetimes," she said. "We're doing this for the generations to come."

Friday, November 10, 2017

COP23: Rival US delegation opens pavilion to challenge Trump

US governors, mayors and business leaders have come to the UN climate summit in Germany to show they care about saving the planet. They say President Trump's climate inaction is a slap in the face to the American people.

Deutsche Welle, 8 November 2017

 Deutschland Demo Protect the climate - stop coal COP 23 (Reuters/W. Rattay)

Following the US government's decision not to open a pavilion at this year's UN climate summit in Bonn, a coalition of American governors, mayors, CEOs and religious leaders opened an unofficial pavilion under the banner "America's Pledge:We Are Still In."

US President Donald Trump announced earlier this year he will pull the country outof the Paris Agreement. The process of leaving, however, will not be completed until November 4, 2020 - the day after the next US presidential election. So Trump still sent a small group of negotiators to the Bonn summit, where delegates are devising the rules for the Paris Agreement.

But for the first time, the US government declined to set up a presence in the pavilion zone at the summit, where countries and international institutions typically set up facilities showcasing their climate action. Other developed countries such as China, France, Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom all have pavilions.

The unofficial "US Climate Action Center," a large inflatable complex that resembles a cluster of giant igloos, is set up between the Bula Zone, where negotiators are meeting, and the Bonn Zone, where the other nations' pavilions are located. It is the largest pavilion at the summit.

'I don't think the US will withdraw'

Jim Brainard, the Republican mayor of Carmel, Indiana, who is a frequent guest on the American talk show circuit, opened the center today by saying it reflects the true voice of the American people.

Brainard: "The people of the United States are coming together and making
their position known"

"The US as a country, like all countries, is made up of the people who live there," he told DW. "And this pavilion has representatives from every segment of our society. So I don't know how it could be more 'official.' It's unfortunate that the federal government isn't putting more effort into this meeting, but the people of the United States are coming together and making their position known."

"I think it's a probability that the US won't withdraw," he added. "But even if it were to, the goals that the US has pledged in the agreement will be met. Because the US is not a centralized hierarchical government. It's a government from the bottom up. [There're] cities and states from across the country that take our leadership position seriously and will meet our goals at the local and state level."

The We Are Still In coalition was launched in June by 1,200 leaders from local governments, businesses, universities and academia. The list of signatory leaders has since doubled in size. It includes 15 out of the 50 US governors and 300 mayors, both Democrats and Republicans.

It also includes the heads of almost all major US universities, and companies such as Walmart, Google and Mars. They have pledged to implement policies to deliver the US to its Paris Agreement target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, based on 2005 levels.

The US Climate Action Center is serving
as an unofficial US pavilion
"Our delegation of over 100 US leaders has come to Bonn to tell the real story of America's enduring commitment to the Paris agreement," said Lou Leonard, vice president of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The US government has registered only 48 people for its official delegation to attend the summit, compared to 161 for Canada. According to sources at COP23, less than ten US delegates have arrived so far.

Jeff Moe, global director for product advocacy at Ingersoll Rand, a Fortune 500 industrial manufacturing company based in North Carolina, said at the opening of the "US Climate Action Center" that his company has pledged to reduce the carbon footprint of its product portfolio by 50 percent, and of its manufacturing by 35 percent, by 2020. He said the change in US administration has not changed his company's priorities.

"We're not changing our strategy because there's a different administration," he said. "It's the right thing to do as a business."

California rebellion

Bishop Marc Andrus, head of the Episcopal
 Church in California, is a 'We Are Still In'
delegate in Bonn
The US state of California, which would be the sixth largest economy in the world if it were a country, is heavily represented in the coalition.

The state's governor, Democrat Jerry Brown, who is spearheading the America's Pledge initiative with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will arrive in Bonn on Saturday. He will present a report about what the cities and states have accomplished so far, and what they can accomplish by 2025.

Bishop Marc Andrus, the head of the Episcopal Church in California, said at the pavilion that Trump's decision has provoked a backlash among the American public. "I think Trump didn't expect that his decision would birth this incredible grassroots movement," he said.

Ricardo Lara, a California state senator representing the Los Angeles area, put it more bluntly. At the pavilion opening ceremony, the Democrat told the audience: "On behalf of the California delegation, we bring you greetings from the official resistance to the Trump administration."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

France to oppose EU's 5-year renewal for weedkiller glyphosate

Yahoo – AFP, November 8, 2017

Activists have called for glyphosate to be banned (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

Paris (AFP) - France will oppose a European Commission proposal to renew authorisation for controversial weedkiller glyphosate for five years instead of 10, saying Wednesday the new cutoff should be three years.

"France's position is three years," Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, a celebrity green activist, told French media ahead of a vote by the 28 EU member states in Brussels on Thursday.

The Commission, the EU's executive arm, had originally recommended approving the herbicide's use for another decade from December 15 but experts balked amid growing uproar over its alleged dangers.

Monsanto, the US agro giant that makes weedkiller Roundup, insists glyphosate meets the standards required to renew its European licence.

Glyphosate critics, led by environmental campaigners Greenpeace, are calling for an outright ban in Europe and last month activists handed the EU a petition signed by more than 1.3 million people backing such a move.

They point to a 2015 study by the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer that concluded it was "probably carcinogenic".

However, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency both say glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans, in line with a 2016 review carried out by WHO experts and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

"The big change is that we are talking about an end, not simply a renewal," Hulot told French television BFMTV. "France is in the vanguard on this issue."

The minister said he sympathised with farmers "who are a bit overwhelmed by all the constraints imposed on them (but) over these three years we will be able to work towards alternatives" to glyphosate.

The current licence for using glyphosate expires on December 15.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Syria set to sign Paris climate deal, leaving US isolated

A Syrian delegate has said the country is ready to join the Paris accord. This would make the United States the only country that's not a part of the global climate pact.

Syria plans to join the Paris Climate Agreement, attendees of the UN climate conference COP23 in Bonn said, the Associated Press news agency reports.

A Syrian delegate said her country planned to sign up for the pact that seeks to limit global warming to maximum 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Yara Hazzory, from Syria's Ministry of Local Administration and Environment, and a Syrian delegate to COP23, told DW that the wheels were already in motion.

"Syria has completed the local procedures to join the Paris Agreement," Hazzory told DW.

Expectation had already been rife earlier in the day that Syria would sign up.

"It is our assumption that today the government of Syria announced its intention to ratify the Paris Agreement," Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the UN Climate Change Secretariat, which is organizing COP23, said.

"The Syrian delegate asked for the papers required to join the climate agreement at the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA)," Sabine Minninger, a climate expert for German protestant relief agency Bread for the World, said.

Minninger was at the APA meeting and heard the Syrian delegate request the papers.

"We're very pleased that Syria (even at COP23) announced its intention to join the Paris Climate Agreement," Minninger said in a Bread for the World statement. "The world is showing unity in the face of devastating climate change. With this news, US President Donald Trump's government is irrevocably and completely isolated on the stage of climate policy."

The step would leave the United States as the only country in the world that's not part of the Paris Agreement. US President Donald Trump had announced in June that his country would withdraw from the accord.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Climate activists march to keep coal in ground


Protesters chanted and beat drums as they marched through the former West
Germany capital toward the UN centre that will host the talks.

Several thousand demonstrators converged on Bonn Saturday ahead of UN climate negotiations demanding that governments step up action to halt global warming, starting with a rapid phase-out of coal-burning power plants.

Decked out in red to signify their “Stop Coal” campaign, the protesters chanted and beat drums as they snaked through the former West Germany capital toward the UN centre that will host the 12-day, 196-nation talks, tasked with implementing the landmark Paris Agreement.

Inked outside the French capital in 2015, the world’s only climate treaty calls for capping global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible.

Earth has already warmed by 1 C compared to pre-industrial levels. 

“The lives and livelihoods of millions of people are under threat, entire island states are in danger of disappearing from rising sea-levels,” a coalition of more than 100 civil society groups said in a statement ahead of the march.

“Tackling climate change means a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels, including the burning of coal.”

Coal accounts for roughly a third of global energy consumption, and powers 40 percent of all electricity — twice as much as the next energy source, natural gas.

The protesters were decked out in red to signify their “Stop Coal” campaign. AFP
Sascha Schuermann

Compared to gas and oil, coal produces more carbon pollution per unit of energy, making it the “dirtiest” of the fossil fuels.

Coal demand has slowed, especially in the United States where the natural gas fracking boom has undercut its market share.

But globally, demand is projected to expand until at least 2030, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

That growth seriously threatens the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals, UN and energy experts say.

‘We have to try’

If the world’s nearly 7,000 coal-fired power plants — with a combined capacity of nearly 2,000 Gigawatts — operate to the end of their lifetimes, it will add the equivalent of five years’ of global CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, the UN’s environment agency noted in a report last week.

Another 850 GW of coal capacity is either under construction or in the pipeline, mostly in India, China, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam and other Asian countries.

Solar and wind energy — while growing rapidly — still only account for a tiny sliver of global energy production.

According to a study published last week in Environmental Research Letters, holding sea level rise to 50 centimetres (20 inches) by 2100 would become nearly impossible if coal-fired energy is not phased out by mid-century.

“If emissions continue unchecked, oceans could rise by around 130 cm in 2100” — nearly double the maximum forecast in the UN climate science panel’s benchmark report, co-author Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, told AFP.

UN and energy experts say the growth in coal demand seriously threatens the
Paris Agreement’s temperature goals.AFP SASCHA SCHUERMANN

For small island nations, and those with densely populated low-lying deltas such as Bangladesh, sea level rise on that scale would be catastrophic, experts say.

That is the hard-to-ignore message that Fiji, presiding this year over the annual climate summit, intends to drive home at every opportunity.

“We can count on Fiji to apply pressure on the major emitting countries in a way they will feel it,” Laurence Tubiana, director of the European Climate Foundation and one of the main architects of the Paris Agreement as France’s Climate Ambassador, told AFP.

“It is the only thing we can do,” said Sabine from nearby Cologne, when asked why she and her two daughters, 16 and 8, had joined the protest.

“I don’t know if it will change anything, but we have to try.”

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Nobel laureate wants global environment court

Yahoo – AFP, October 24, 2017

Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman calls for a global tribunal to
prosecute executives of multinational corporations who damage the environment (AFP
Photo/Orlando SIERRA)

Tegucigalpa (AFP) - Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkul Karman proposed in Honduras on Tuesday the creation of a global tribunal to prosecute executives of multinational firms who damage the earth.

Karman, of Yemen, made the suggestion in the Central American country that Amnesty International last year described -- along with its neighbor Guatemala -- as the most dangerous in the world for environmentalists.

"A world court should be created that could punish all these multinational corporations" that damage the environment and contribute to climate change, Karman said through a translator.

She spoke at a press conference with Shirin Ebadi of Iran, a fellow Nobel laureate who won the peace prize in 2003.

As part of the Nobel Women's Initiative, they aimed "to gather a first-hand account of the ongoing violence against women land defenders" in Honduras and in Guatemala, where they travelled later Tuesday, the group's website says.

The murder of Berta Caceres, 45, gunned down last year, highlighted the threat to Honduran activists and sparked international outrage.

Caceres opposed plans by the company Desarrollos Energeticos to build a hydroelectric dam across a river on which indigenous communities depended.

Rachel Vincent, advocacy and media director for the Nobel Women's Initiative, said Honduras has the world's highest rate of murders for human rights and land defenders.

Since 2009, 123 activists have been killed, she said.

In comments to AFP, Karman said a special international court is needed "to fight against corruption and money laundering and against all those involved in destroying the environment and exploiting the climate in a damaging way."

She said such a tribunal could be similar to The Hague-based International Criminal Court which investigates and tries people charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Karman said the court she proposes would handle cases in which human rights and environmental activists or anti-corruption fighters are "found dead."

She also said the investigation of Caceres's murder must be deepened "to discover all those who benefited from this crime."

Eight people were arrested, among them an employee of Desarrollos Energeticos.

The Nobel laureates met Austra Berta Flores, the mother of Caceres, on Saturday.

In Guatemala, they are to join two other Nobel Peace Prize winners, Guatemala's Rigoberta Menchu and Jody Williams of the United States.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nicaragua signs Paris climate agreement

Yahoo – AFP, October 24, 2017

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (R), flanked by his wife and Vice President
Rosario Murillo (L), speaks to supporters in Managua on July 7, 2017 during the
celebration of the 38th anniversary of "El Repliegue" at Victoria Square in Managua

Managua (AFP) - Nicaragua signed the Paris climate agreement Monday, leaving the United States and Syria as the only two holdouts on the global climate pact.

The government of President Daniel Ortega said the global 2015 pact represented "the only international instrument that offers the conditions to face global warming and its effects," according to a statement read out by Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Monday's announcement leaves the United States and Syria as the only countries holding out on the Paris deal, which set measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent temperatures rising by more than two degrees.

US President Donald Trump in June announced the start of a three-year process to pull out of the agreement on the grounds that it would put the US at an economic disadvantage.

Ortega said last week that Nicaragua would sign the pact, but did not say when.

The tiny central American country had previously refused to sign the agreement on the grounds that it did not go far enough to combat global warming.

"We welcome Nicaragua's announcement, which further underscores the commitment of the international community to take full responsibility for our shared planet," said Elliott Harris, assistant secretary-general of the UN environment program.

"We must all continue to step up our individual and collective efforts to face climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our time."

Weather threat

In September, the leftist Ortega announced during a private meeting with World Bank directors in Managua that his country would join the agreement, but the news was later removed from the official government website without explanation.

In its statement announcing the decision Nicaragua noted the dangers of more frequent natural disasters with "high costs, loss of lives and increasing material damage."

The Central American country's move to join the pact comes just weeks after tropical storm Nate struck the region, highlighting the vulnerability of Nicaragua and its neighbors to the effects of climate change.

The storm unleashed heavy rains that triggered floods and mudslides, cutting a path of destruction that flattened houses and destroyed roads and bridges.

Nate left at least 32 in Central America, 15 of them in Nicaragua, the hardest hit.

The Nicaraguan environmental organization Centro Humboldt praised its country's move to join the global pact.

"We applaud this decision," the organization's director, Victor Campos, told AFP. "We had asked them to support the accord and we are very happy with the decision."

He said the government must now define how Nicaragua will participate, and his organization plans to urge developing a national plan concerning climate change.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Norway solar firm signs 2.5 bn-euro deal with Iran

Yahoo – AFP, Eric Randolph, POctober 17, 2017

Norway's Saga Energy will work with Iran's Amin Energy Developers to install two
gigawatts of solar panels around the central desert region (AFP Photo/


Tehran (AFP) - Just days after US President Donald Trump called for further isolation of Iran, a Norwegian solar company signed a deal Tuesday to invest 2.5 billion euros in the country over the next five years.

"Norway is fully committed to the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and this is proof that we have taken the opening very seriously, and we will see more investment very soon," Norwegian ambassador Lars Nordrum told AFP.

He was hosting the signing at his Tehran residence between Norway's Saga Energy and Iran's Amin Energy Developers, who will work together to install two gigawatts of solar panels in multiple sites around the central desert region.

That makes it the second-largest investment deal in Iran since the 2015 nuclear deal eased global sanctions, and dwarfs the 600 megawatt solar project finalised just last month between Iran and British investment fund Quercus.

The timing was coincidental, but comes just days after Trump's bellicose speech in which he called for further sanctions on Iran.

It underlines the challenge Washington hardliners will face in trying to convince Europeans, who have remained firmly behind the nuclear deal, to abandon their burgeoning ties with the Islamic republic.

The Norwegian project is being financed by a consortium of European private and state investors, and backed by a sovereign guarantee from the Iranian government.

"I'd like to thank Norway, which has always been one of the best friends to Iran, for this exciting opportunity," said Saeid Zakeri, head of international affairs for Amin.

Business risk

European and Asian businesses have shown great interest in tapping into Iran's relatively wealthy and largely untouched market of 80 million people.

But continuing US sanctions on Iran, and Trump's aggressive rhetoric, have bred a crippling uncertainty that mean many investment plans are stuck on the drawing board.

There have been a few big deals, most notably France's Total, which signed a $5 billion gas deal in June alongside China's CNPC.

A few other major firms such as Siemens, Renault and Peugeot have extensive investments.

Solar projects are particularly important for Iran, which has severe pollution problems, as well as facing existential environmental threats from desertification and warming temperatures.

"We expect there to be some business risk in the Middle East, and Europe stands united in its support of the JCPOA," said Nordrum.

"This is a great win because Iran really needs renewables and this is a new sector for us," he added.

Saga is a young company, formed by former oil and gas project managers and engineers who shifted into the renewables sector after traditional energy markets were badly hit by falling prices.

A partnership with Taiwan's Delta Electronics, a major player in the solar sector, has helped them mobilise large amounts of capital from Europe.

"We are a small company with mighty partners," said Saga's development manager Gaute Steinkopf at the signing.

"We hope to build a factory in Iran to build the panels so that we are also generating jobs here," he added.

The tough climatic conditions in Iran offer a chance for research as well as business.

"To withstand the heat here, you need very good panels. This is the huge challenge," said Saga director Rune Haaland.

"We want to learn more about this, and we're hoping to establish a relationship between a university here and in Norway," he said.