Category: Earth & climate

Brexit and its impact on the climate

Skitterphoto

Thursday the 23rd of June 2016 will be remembered as a historical day. In a referendum, the Brits voted to leave the European Union –or at least 52% did. For the first time since the six founding members kick-started the European project for economic collaboration and peace building in 1958, a member state leaves the family.

The result sent shock waves through the world. A lot has been said and written and one thing is very clear: the United in United Kingdom is at an all-time low. The impacts of the Brexit on the climate have mainly stayed under the radar. I’ll do my best to present you some food for thought.

photo: Reuters/Toby Melville

photo: Reuters/Toby Melville

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Civil disobedience in 2016: the war on fossil fuels has begun

photo: Eamon Ryan

Three weeks after the official signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement in the U.N. headquarters in New York, 177 countries have signed the document agreed upon during COP 21 in Paris last year. As I explained in more detail in a previous post, the agreement will only take force when 55 of the countries effectively adopt it in their national parliament. Currently we’re stuck at 16 — covering a dreadful 0.04% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Time to raise the pressure on policy makers. Under the banner of Break Free, climate activists around the world have opened the war on fossil fuels. During 12 days in May, civil disobedience actions target some of the world’s most polluting and dangerous fossil fuel projects.

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On the future of chocolate

photo: Divine Chocolate

Wandering through the Galeries Royales de Saint-Hubert in the heart of Brussels can be a torture for chocolate-lovers (and who’s not?). Many famous Belgian chocolateers have a shop in this 19th century shopping arcade. Think Neuhaus, Léonidas, Godiva… Behind the windows, chocolate in all possible forms and shapes are displayed to lure you inside. The shop keepers are keen to let you try some of this delicous good that the Incas called food of the gods. It becomes very difficult not to spent all the money you have with you -some indeed do. And apperently we don’t have to go to the temples of chocolate to be tempted to buy it. Global sales are growing rapidly now chocolate becomes increasingly popular in China and South-America. Is this growing demand for chocolate a big deal? As long as supply follows demand there’s nothing to worry about, right? But that’s exactly where the problem lies.

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Born of Hope

photo courtesy

Now the media attention about COP21 has died out a bit and I had the chance to have a better look at the Paris Agreement, it’s time to make up the balance of the text called historical by the negotiators and bullsh*t by climate activists.

If you ask me, reaching any agreement between 195 countries on a topic that affects nearly all aspects of our societies is quite historical whatsoever. It took them twenty-one climate summits to get it, that is twenty too many. But hey, here we are.

Is it enough? Of course not. But if you read my blog post at the beginning of COP21, you know that I was not expecting that. To be honest, when I was going through the drafts of the agreement circulating during the two-week summit, I was optimistic. Some of the good things have made it to the final text, some have not.

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Photo of the Week: climate activism gets really creative this time

photo: Avaaz

If by now you don’t know that something really big is happening in Paris, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the last few months. Yes, I’m talking about COP21, the long-anticipated climate summit. For more than a year, organisations around the world have been mobilizing for climate actions on the 28th and 29th of November to sent a strong signal to world leaders at the start of the event. Indeed, around the world thousands of people took it to the streets to march, sing and dance for the climate. But in the epicenter of the talks, the Paris’ climate march was forbidden in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks nearly three weeks ago.

Fair enough, you say. Safety first. But I was in Paris last weekend and what I saw and learnt from the people there was another story. The Christmas market on the Champs-Elysées was no problem to secure. All football matches are being played. No problems whatsoever. Last year a massive manifestation with more than 50 world leaders ahead marched through the streets of Paris to pay tributes to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Not a single issue for the French police back then. But now the authorities claim they can not guarantee the safety of public events related to the climate summit. In the meantime they have enough policemen to conduct house searches in climate activist workshops and putting people under house arrest without any reason  –which they don’t need right now by the way. Officially there is still a state of emergency in which the French police doesn’t need permissions for house searches etc, thanks to a law that was voted shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attack last year. How convenient.

Thousands of shoes were placed on the Place de la Républic after the climate march was forbidden (photo: Avaaz)

Thousands of shoes were placed on the Place de la République after the climate march was forbidden (photo: Avaaz)

Anyway, if the French authorities really thought they could stop a climate activists so easily, they were wrong. Several creative actions popped up. If the people cannot march, the shoes will march for them; that was the idea behind the silent march. Thousands pairs of shoes filled the Place de la République in Paris, including one of Pope Francis and Ban Ki-Moon. A human chain stretched along the original route of the march; as long as people stay on the pavement organizers don’t need official permission. Activist group Brandalism was so bold to replace advertisements in the streets of Paris with their own version of ads for big polluting companies who sponsor the climate conference. You see, the climate movement is clearly not intimidated. More creative actions are under way for week 2 of the talks.

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A historical climate conference has just begun– this is what’s at stake

Today the long-anticipated climate conference will take off on Paris. Also known as COP21, the 21st Conference of the Parties, the climate talks are decisive for the future of our planet and all lucky enough to enjoy what she has to offer. What would a successful outcome look like? Is there any hope we will get there after two weeks of negotiations? A look into the future.

“We are the first generation that can end poverty and we are the last generation that can end climate change.”  –Ban Ki-Moon

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