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Climate campaign and actions

October 5, 2023 | 3:09pm
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People participate in a rally during a global day of action on climate change in Manila on November 6, 2021, as world leaders attend the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. AFP/Maria Tan
October 5, 2023

The EU climate monitor says that last month was the hottest September on record by an "extraordinary" margin as the world flirts dangerously with breaching a key warming limit.

Much of the world sweltered through unseasonably warm weather in September, in a year expected to be the hottest in human history and after the warmest-ever global temperatures during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

September's average surface air temperature of 16.38 degrees Celsius (61.5 degrees Fahrenheit) was 0.93C above the 1991-2020 average for the month and 0.5C above the previous 2020 record, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) says in a report. — AFP

September 29, 2023

An expert says the wavering ambition by governments and a growing belief that science is politically subjective are great causes for concern in a rapidly escalating climate crisis.

A cascade of extreme weather events have inflicted devastation in 2023, which the European Union's climate monitor says is likely to be the hottest in human history.

It underscores the urgency of slashing planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions to avert the catastrophic impacts of greater global warming. — AFP

September 27, 2023

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Wednesday begins hearing a case brought by six Portuguese youths against 32 nations for not doing enough to stop global warming, the latest bid to secure climate justice through the courts.

The group, aged 11 to 24, say they are suffering from anxiety over their health and "having to live with a climate that is getting hotter and hotter" with more natural disasters.

The move to file a complaint with the Strasbourg-based court was sparked by the massive wildfires that struck Portugal in 2017, killing more than 100 people and charring swathes of the country. — AFP

September 26, 2023

The International Energy Agency says almost all nations must substantially speed up their race to net zero, calling on wealthy countries to reach carbon neutrality in 2045 and China by around 2050.

The acceleration, which amounts to five years faster than planned for richer nations and a decade quicker for China, is necessary to keep the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the IEA said in an update to its landmark "Net Zero Roadmap" report. — AFP

September 23, 2023

The UN environment chief warns that humanity cannot just recycle its way out of the mess with the production of plastic on the rise worldwide and creating ever more pollution,

She calles for a total rethink about the way we use plastics.

"There are different sort of onramps to the highway to solutions. But I think everybody recognizes that the status quo is just not an option," says Inger Andersen, director of the UN Environment Program, in an interview with AFP on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York. 

Andersen was talking two weeks after the publication of the first draft of a future international treaty on plastic pollution, which is expected to be finalized by the end of 2024. — AFP

September 22, 2023

The UN's former climate chief says she had "lost patience" with fossil fuel companies and that they should steer clear of crunch talks in Dubai if the industry refuses to be part of the solution. 

Speaking at the "Climate Changes Everything" conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Christiana Figueres, among the key negotiators of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, says that the industry had failed to put "out-of-the-park" profits back into developing renewables.

"Instead of doing everything that they do and applying their amazing engineering capacity, they've been actually doing the opposite," she says. — AFP

September 11, 2023

Fisherfolk from Cavite are calling fo the surfacing of Central Luzon-based environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro.

They are joined by church leaders from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

According to Pamalakaya, Castro and Tamano have been active in organizing the coastal communities in the northern part of Manila Bay before they were abducted.

September 9, 2023

Indian prime minister and G20 host Narendra Modi says Saturday the body had reached consensus on its leaders' declaration and announced its adoption.

"Because of our team's hard work, and with your support, there is a consensus on the New Delhi G20 Leaders' Summit declaration," he says.

"I announce the adoption of the declaration," he adds, banging a ceremonial gavel. 

Details of the joint communique are yet to be released.

Finding consensus among members has been increasingly difficult in recent years, with key G20 members deeply divided over Russia's war in Ukraine and how to pay for climate change. — AFP

September 9, 2023

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva tells world leaders Saturday the planet was facing an "unprecedented climate emergency" while addressing the G20 Summit in India.

"The lack of commitment to the environment has led us to an unprecedented climate emergency," says Lula at the two-day meeting in New Delhi. "Droughts, floods, storms and fires are becoming more frequent." — AFP

September 9, 2023

In a controversial bid to expose supposed bias in a top journal, a US climate expert shocked fellow scientists by revealing he tailored a wildfire study to emphasize global warming.

While supporters applauded Patrick T. Brown for flagging what he called a one-sided climate "narrative" in academic publishing, his move surprised at least one of his co-authors -- and angered the editors of leading journal Nature.

"I left out the full truth to get my climate change paper published," read the headline to an article signed by Brown in the news site The Free Press on September 5. — AFP  

September 8, 2023

G20 leaders meet this weekend during what is likely the hottest year in human history, but hopes are slim that the divided grouping can agree ambitious action on the crisis.

Geopolitical tensions that have seen Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping skip the talks mean the group is unlikely to even achieve the traditional final communique, let alone robust climate pledges.

That sets up a "potentially catastrophic" failure by nations that account for 80 percent of global power sector emissions, Amnesty International warned Thursday. — AFP

September 5, 2023

G20 per capita coal emissions continue to rise despite climate pledges and transition efforts by some members of the group of major economies, new research shows Tuesday.

The group, whose leaders meet in New Delhi this weekend, accounts for 80% of global power sector emissions.

But in talks in July, it failed to agree that global emissions should peak by 2025 or to massively ramp up renewable energy use. – AFP

August 27, 2023

UN experts have written to oil firm Saudi Aramco and its financial backers challenging them on allegations that their activities are fuelling climate change-related negative impacts on human rights.

A cache of correspondence was published Saturday on a United Nations human rights special procedures website, exactly two months after it was sent. — AFP

August 24, 2023

Top science publisher Springer Nature says it has withdrawn a study that presented misleading conclusions on climate change impacts after an investigation prompted by an AFP inquiry.

AFP reported in September 2022 on concerns over the peer-reviewed study by four Italian scientists that appeared earlier that year in the European Physical Journal Plus, published by Springer Nature.

The study had drawn positive attention from climate-sceptic media. — AFP

August 17, 2023

By 2050 North Africa could become a leading exporter of green hydrogen with Europe its main market, according to a recent report projecting the future of an industry still in its infancy. 

So-called green hydrogen is set "to redraw the global energy and resource map as early as 2030, creating a $1.4 trillion-a-year market by 2050," according to the report from accounting consultancy Deloitte.  

Hydrogen fuel -- which can be produced from natural gas, biomass or nuclear power -- is considered "green" when hydrogen molecules are split from water using electricity derived from renewables such as solar and wind that do not produce carbon emissions. — AFP  

August 12, 2023

The US government says it will spend up to $1.2 billion for two pioneering facilities to vacuum carbon out of the air, a historic gamble on a still developing technology to combat global warming that is criticized by some experts.

The two projects -- in Texas and Louisiana -- each aim to eliminate one million tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent in total to the annual emissions of 445,000 gas-powered cars.

It is "the world's largest investment in engineered carbon removal in history," the Energy Department says in a statement. — AFP

July 13, 2023

Fishers are calling on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to probe the coastal road project in Gubat town, Sorsogon province that involves extracted or "dead corals."

“We call on the DENR to look into the ongoing construction of a coastal road project in Sorsogon that involves dead corals. The agency should order its provincial environment office to conduct an inspection of the project site and assess if these corals have been deliberately extracted elsewhere. It would be unacceptable if coral reefs are being destroyed and uprooted for a dump and fill project," it says.

PAMALAKAYA says that local fishers in Sorsogon have been protesting the coastal road project because it is feared to affect their fishing livelihood and at least 13 coastal communities.

The Sorsogon Coastal Road is a project of the Department of Public Works and Highways under the Build, Build, Build program of the previous Duterte administration. 

July 9, 2023

Inspired by kitesurfing, French firms want to deploy the same wind technology to propel everything from yachts to cargo ships in order to cut the shipping industry's massive carbon footprint.

The sector is under fresh pressure to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels as the International Maritime Organization sealed a deal on Friday that raises its emissions-reduction targets.

In Arcachon Bay in southwest France, the startup Beyond The Sea tested a blue inflatable kite sail the size of a small studio to pull a specially-designed catamaran across the water.

"Are you ready to jibe?" said company founder Yves Parlier, using kitesurfing lingo to speak to this team of engineers steering the 25-square-metre (270-square-foot) kite. — AFP

July 6, 2023

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been charged with disobeying police during a June climate protest in southern Sweden, the public prosecutor says, most likely risking a fine.

The prosecutor said it had charged the 20-year-old activist after she "refused to obey police orders to leave the site" of a protest in the southern city of Malmo on June 19.

Thunberg joined the protest organised by environmental activist group "Ta tillbaka framtiden" (Reclaim the Future) as they attempted to block the entrance and exit to the Malmo harbour to protest the use of fossil fuel.

"We choose to not be bystanders, and instead physically stop the fossil fuel infrastructure. We are reclaiming the future," Thunberg said in an Instagram post at the time. — AFP

June 30, 2023

As President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. marks his first year in office, militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) says that there has been “no significant improvement in the fishing sector” under the Marcos administration.

"The fishing industry remains to be the poorest under the current administration. Marcos maintained the policies, programs and projects that have no use and are harmful to the fisherfolk such as the conversation of fisheries," the group says in Filipino. 

It cites that there are 187 reclamation projects nationwide, according to the Philippine Reclamation Authority. It adds that Marcos is regarding the fishermen's call to oppose these projects that would affect their livelihood.

 

June 22, 2023

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is backing to a climate group shut down by the French government amid accusations it foments violence.

The government issued a decree earlier on Wednesday outlawing Uprisings of the Earth (SLT), saying it had encouraged violence in a series of demonstrations, including one that saw fierce clashes with police over an irrigation project.

SLT condemned the shutdown and called for protests in dozens of cities across France starting Wednesday.

The group also won the swift backing of Thunberg who was in Paris on the sidelines of a summit on green finance. — AFP

June 20, 2023

The world's first international treaty to protect the high seas is adopted at the United Nations, creating a landmark environmental accord designed to protect remote ecosystems vital to humanity.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hails as a "historic achievement" the treaty that will establish a legal framework to extend swathes of environmental protections to international waters, which make up more than 60% of the world's oceans.

"The ocean is the lifeblood of our planet and today you have pumped new life and hope to give the ocean a fighting chance," he tells delegates. — AFP 

June 14, 2023

The European Environment Agency says Wednesday that extreme weather conditions in Europe have killed almost 195,000 people and caused economic losses of more than 560 billion euros since 1980.

"Nearly 195,000 fatalities have been caused by floods, storms, heat- and coldwaves, forest fires and landslides" between 1980 and 2021, the EAA says in its report.

Of the 560 billion euros ($605 billion) in losses, only 170 billion, or 30%, were insured, the EEA said, as it launched a new online portal collating recent data on the impact of extreme weather. — AFP

June 13, 2023

Climate policy research groups say nearly half the world's biggest companies have pledged to erase their carbon footprints by around mid-century, but only a handful have credible game plans for doing so.

Without tangible action from firms, the Net Zero Stocktake 2023 report warns, capping global warming at tolerable levels will likely remain out of reach.

Barely one degree Celsius of warming to date has made extreme weather more destructive and deadly, and UN climate experts have said the world could breach the Paris treaty limit of 1.5C above the preindustrial benchmark within a decade. — AFP

June 3, 2023

Celeste Saulo, the incoming head of the UN's weather and climate agency, says she would fight with a passion to combat climate change and its negative impacts on people's lives.

In an interview with AFP, Saulo, who has run Argentina's National Meteorological Service since 2014, voiced deep concern that some countries were not getting the message about the effects of pumping ever more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But the next head of the World Meteorological Organization insisted it was not too late to change how the climate crisis story ends.

May 31, 2023

The World Meteorological Organization, which plays a critical global role in tracking climate change, chooses a new leader this week to turbocharge that work over the next four years.

The Geneva-based WMO's role in climate change has become increasingly prominent and the new secretary-general will likely become a well-known advocate on this pressing world issue.

Four senior figures from within the WMO have put themselves forward for Thursday's vote, including two seeking to become the first woman to run the United Nations agency for weather, water and the climate. — AFP

May 27, 2023

An experiment unfolds deep in the Amazon that may allow a peek into the future to see what will happen to the world's largest rainforest when carbon dioxide levels rise.

It is a simulation to see how the lungs of the world will endure global warming.

The AmazonFACE project, co-financed by Brazil and the United Kingdom, is "an open-air laboratory that will allow us to understand how the rainforest will behave in future climate change scenarios," says Carlos Quesada, one of the project coordinators. — AFP

May 26, 2023

Most oil majors are stepping up investment in green energy amid rising activist pressure but without abandoning fossil fuels, putting at risk reaching carbon neutrality in 2050.

During the annual shareholders' meeting of British group Shell on Tuesday, activists shouted out "Go to hell Shell!"

BP got similar treatment, as did banking giant Barclays, which is accused of financing oil extraction. — AFP

May 23, 2023

People on the tarmac at Geneva airport disrupted air traffic Monday, the airport said, as dozens of climate activists blocked a nearby business jet convention.

"Due to the incursion of people on the tarmac, the air traffic has been momentarily disrupted at Geneva airport," according to a tweet by the airport's official Twitter account. — AFP

May 23, 2023

A weeks-long battle against wildfires in western Canada finally reached a "turning point" on Monday with scattered rains reported over hotspots and more precipitation to come, officials said.

The wildfires in Alberta province have displaced tens of thousands of people and scorched more than 945,000 hectares.

"We have received rain, I understand, on almost every wildfire that's currently burning in the province except those in the far north," Christie Tucker of the Alberta Wildfire agency told a briefing.

"This could be a turning point for the firefighters working out there on the fires," she said. "It will offer them a chance to make real progress on controlling these fires."

The precipitation started Sunday and was forecast to continue.

"It is not the sustained soaking rain we so desperately need," said Bre Hutchinson, head of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.

But it has helped reduce to 77 the number of fires still burning, from a recent high of 110. — AFP

May 16, 2023

In a first, US climate scientists have quantified the extent to which greenhouse gasses from the world's top fossil fuel companies have contributed to wildfires.

Their analysis, published Tuesday in Environmental Research Letters, found that carbon dioxide and methane emissions from the so-called "Big 88" firms were responsible for more than a third of the area scorched by forest blazes in western North America over the past 40 years.

First author Kristina Dahl, of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), told AFP wildfires in the western United States and southwestern Canada have been worsening for decades: they are burning more intensely, over longer seasons, covering larger areas and reaching higher elevations.

To date, the cost of rebuilding and increasing resilience has largely been footed by the general public, "so we wanted to better understand the role that fossil fuel industry emissions have had in altering the wildfire landscape," she said.

"We really wanted to put a spotlight on their role in that, so that they can be held accountable for their fair share of the cost." -- AFP

April 26, 2023

Moritz Riedacher sat down at a busy road junction with four other climate activists in southwestern Germany earlier this year, holding up traffic for hours –- an action that landed him a jail sentence. But he remains undeterred.

This week, the 26-year-old journalism student again halted traffic, this time in Berlin where fellow activists in the group Letzte Generation (Last Generation) launched a campaign demanding stronger climate protection policies.

Riedacher, who has not yet been imprisoned pending appeals, is among the first in Germany to land a jail conviction over such protests. 

"I find it really, really hard to process the verdict," he told AFP, calling the four-month sentence handed to him this month over the Heilbronn protest "disproportionate".

"It is definitely urgent" for the government to do more for climate protection, he said, pointing to the 2021 deadly flooding in southern Germany.

"We can't say let's just go on as normal. Rather, we need to cause disruptions," said Riedacher.

The controversial tactics of Letzte Generation, from hunger strikes to throwing mashed potato on paintings in museums, has resulted in the group being described by some German politicians as "climate terrorists".   — AFP

April 26, 2023

DOST-PAGASA launches a multi-hazard impact-based forecasting and early warning system for flood, landslide, severe wind and storm surge. It is the first Green Climate Fund project in the Philippines.

The project focuses on the preventive aspects of disaster management by communicating what the weather “will do” instead of what the weather “will be.” This will enable the public and authorities to take appropriate actions during before a hazard occurs.

DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. says the project will not only increase early action, but also save lives and promote resilient communities. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

April 24, 2023

Environmental activists blocked dozens of streets in Berlin on Monday to protest Germany's climate policy, causing widespread transport disruption in the capital. 

"We no longer accept that the government has no plan to stop the destruction of the basis of our existence," Carla Rochel, a spokeswoman for Last Generation, the leading group behind the protests, said in a statement.

Campaigners halted traffic across the city by glueing themselves to the street surface, including on the busy motorway A100.

"Some 33 points" were blocked at 9 a.m. local time, a spokeswoman for the Berlin police told AFP.

Around 500 officers had been deployed to tackle the protests which began around 7:30 a.m., the spokeswoman added.

Activists had "massively expanded" their protests on Monday morning, which began on a smaller scale last week, Berlin's transport information said on Twitter. — AFP

Follow this thread for climate protests and direct action as advocates and activists try to pressure corporations and governments to act to address the climate crisis.

Photo: AFP/Maria Tan, file

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