Category Archives: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Students are striking around the world to protest against the lack of action to stop global warming

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A survey of the press by CPNN

Students are striking around the world to join with the Swedish girl Greta Thunberg who sat outside the Swedish parliament last year to protest against the lack of action to stop global warming. Now, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week hold protests in 270 towns and cities worldwide.


student strike in UK

In the UK, according to the Guardian on February 15, thousands of schoolchildren and young people joined a UK-wide climate strike amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to tackle the escalating ecological crisis. Organisers said more than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities joined the strike. They estimated around 3,000 schoolchildren and young people gathered in London, with 2,000 in Oxford, 1,000 each in Exeter and Leeds and several hundred in Brighton, Bristol, Sheffield and Glasgow (see video below).

In Switzerland, according to Euronews thousands of students, some as young as 14-years-old, took to the streets of several Swiss cities on Friday [January 18] to denounce the lack of government action to fight global warming.

In the Netherlands, also according to Euronews, thousands of Dutch students skipped their classes on Thursday, February 7, to join a demonstration in The Hague calling for greater action on climate change. Kim van Sparrentak,a 29-year-old student, who is running in the European Parliament elections this year, told Euronews’ The Cube why people like her had been inspired to protest. “This is really the climate generation we are talking about here. This generation is now on the streets to start protesting and to show that they want a different world, a better world and a future for themselves.”

In Belgium, according to Forbes Magazine on February 7, high school students have managed to grind traffic in Belgian cities to a halt over the past month, staging repeated walk-outs from class in protest of adults’ inaction on climate change. The demonstrations saw 35,000 children and young people take to the streets two weeks ago. But this week, their protests caused something much bigger than snarled traffic – they forced the resignation of Joke Schauvliege, the Flemish climate minister.

Deutsche Welle describes the actions of students in Germany: “It’s a cold January morning in front of Cologne Central Station. As people stream out of the main entrance, it’s noticeable that there are quite a few teenagers. Strange, considering it’s a school day. Most of them have come in small groups, while others hang out in the main square outside of the station with friends. Many have brought homemade cardboard signs with them bearing painted-on slogans such as “We are here, we are loud, because you are stealing the future from us,” and “We do not learn for a ruined future.” At the same time, a separate climate protest is taking place in the nearby city of Bonn, where young people marched up to the UN Campus to demand that their voices be heard. Students ditching class to protest . . . has become a common scene in many large cities — students eschewing lessons at school to protest for climate protection.”

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Question for this article:

 

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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In France, according to France 24, several hundred high school and university students skipped class to demonstrate in front of the French ministry for the environment in Paris. At the heart of the demonstration is a deep disappointment with France’s failure to fulfill its commitments under various climate agreements. The protesters aren’t buying rhetoric about stimulating the economy. “We want climate change to be taken into account. Of course the economy is important and makes a country prosper. But to have a country, you need a planet. And if we destroy it, there won’t be an economy at all,” said Zelia, a high schooler. The demonstration in Paris on Friday, February 15 had a relatively modest turnout of 300 to 400 students, but they are getting organised quickly. Students have pledged to join their peers around Europe in weekly demonstrations leading up to March 15, when Thunberg has called for a global strike.

In Canada, according to the Montreal Gazette, students in Quebec are now taking matters into their own hands in the battle against climate change. A coalition of groups from universities came together Friday, February 8, to launch a call to action under the banner “La planète s’invite à l’université.” Small collectives from Université du Québec à Montréal, Université de Montréal and École de technologie supérieure launched the joint appeal, and are inviting students from across Quebec to join them for a provincewide climate strike on March 15. It would be followed by a second strike day on Sept. 17, and it’s all part of an international mobilization of young people demanding drastic action from their governments.

In Australia, according to the News, school students striking for climate change want adults to join them for a global event on March 15, and organisers say they already have support from a growing number of unions, including the National Union of Workers, National Tertiary Education Union, United Firefighters Union, Hospo Voice, the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association and the National Union of Students. The National Union of Workers, one of the most powerful unions in the Labor Party and part of its right-wing faction that supports Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, said it was supporting the strike and the students standing together collectively for their future. “They are inspiring leaders, and we support them in making our political leaders listen,” the union said.

In Austria, as reported on February 17 by Metropole, Viennese students launched their KlimaStreik last December but have been gaining more momentum recently, with last Friday’s (Feb 8) strike attracting around 150 participants at Heldenplatz and receiving media coverage. Local schools have worked closely with FridaysForFuture to ensure students do not get in trouble for skipping class, with some even sending teachers along and incorporating the protests into their “Political Education” curriculum.

In the United States, US Youth Climate Strike have issued a
press advisory
announcing that they will partiipate in a global day of climate ation on March 15 in all state capitals as well as the US Capitol. “We are US Youth Climate Strike, a collective movement of youth in the United States who are fighting for the conservation of our planet. We are joining the movement “Fridays for Future”, sparked by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and her weekly Friday “school strikes for climate in front of the Swedish Parliament, and thereby bringing the movement to the United States.”

United Nations: Guterres underlines climate action urgency, as UN weather agency confirms record global warming

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from the United Nations

In the wake of data released by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), showing the past four years were officially the ‘four warmest on record,’ UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for urgent climate action and increased ambition, ahead of his climate summit in September.


The five data sets used by WMO to monitor global temperatures confirm that the past four years have been the warmest on record. (Click on image to enlarge.)

His reaction on Wednesday came after WMO issued a report confirming that 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were the four warmest years recorded to date. The analysis, based on the monitoring performed by five leading international organisations, also shows that the global average surface temperature in 2018 was approximately 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) baseline.

“The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean.”

“Temperatures are only part of the story. Extreme and high impact weather affected many countries and millions of people, with devastating repercussions for economies and ecosystems in 2018,” he said.

“Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. This is a reality we need to face up to. Greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate adaptation measures should be a top global priority,” said Mr. Taalas.

Noting “with concern” this data, which was first released in November 2018, UN Secretary-General Guterres said it confirms “the urgency of addressing climate action”, and echoes the science presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its October 2018 special report on the impacts of a global warming of 1.5°C.

The IPCC report that found that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities” and that global net emissions of carbon dioxide, attributable to human activity, would need to fall by about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.

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Question for this article:

 
Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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The Secretary-General stated that, “to make these transformations, we need to significantly increase the global level of climate action and ambition”.

In order to mobilize political will, Mr. Guterres is convening a Climate Summit on 23 September this year, focusing on nine key areas:

1 Raised ambition on climate mitigation measures.

2 How to manage the transition to alternative energy sources.

3 Managing industrial transition.

4 Coming up with solutions through agriculture, oceans, forests and nature-related environments.

5 Focus on infrastructure, cities and through local action.

6 Issues of climate finance, notably carbon pricing.

7 Increased resilience and adaptation, especially for the most vulnerable.

8 A focus on social and political drivers.

9 Citizen and political mobilization.

The Secretary-General is working closely with Member States and non-party stakeholders to enable outcomes in these areas to the Summit, in order to send “strong market and political signals that can inject momentum into the race” to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which countries committed collectively to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Informing the discussions at the Summit alongside other key scientific reports, WMO will issue the full 2018 State of the Climate report this coming March.  It will provide a comprehensive overview of temperature variability and trends, high-impact events, and key indicators of long-term climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations; Arctic and Antarctic sea ice; sea level rise and ocean acidification.

It will be accompanied by UN-wide policy recommendations statement for decision-makers on the interplay between weather, climate and water supply, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Greta Thunberg: My Message to Davos Elites: Act As If Our House Is on Fire. Because It Is.

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Common Dreams reprinted under under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

The following is a slightly edited version of remarks delivered by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday, January 25, 2018.

video of Greta’s speech

Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.
According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50%.

And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity, which is absolutely necessary to make the Paris agreement work on a global scale. Nor does it include tipping points or feedback loops like the extremely powerful methane gas released from the thawing Arctic permafrost.

At places like Davos, people like to tell success stories. But their financial success has come with an unthinkable price tag. And on climate change, we have to acknowledge we have failed. All political movements in their present form have done so, and the media has failed to create broad public awareness.

But Homo sapiens have not yet failed.

Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands. But unless we recognize the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.

We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.

Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that Homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Either we do that or we don’t.

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Question for this article:

 

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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You say nothing in life is black or white. But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie. Either we prevent 1.5C of warming or we don’t. Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control or we don’t.

Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don’t. That is as black or white as it gets. There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.

We all have a choice. We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations. Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail.

That is up to you and me.

Some say we should not engage in activism. Instead we should leave everything to our politicians and just vote for a change instead. But what do we do when there is no political will? What do we do when the politics needed are nowhere in sight?

Here in Davos—just like everywhere else —everyone is talking about money. It seems money and growth are our only main concerns.

And since the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis, people are simply not aware of the full consequences on our everyday life. People are not aware that there is such a thing as a carbon budget, and just how incredibly small that remaining carbon budget is. That needs to change today.

No other current challenge can match the importance of establishing a wide, public awareness and understanding of our rapidly disappearing carbon budget, that should and must become our new global currency and the very heart of our future and present economics.

We are at a time in history where everyone with any insight of the climate crisis that threatens our civilization—and the entire biosphere—must speak out in clear language, no matter how uncomfortable and unprofitable that may be.

We must change almost everything in our current societies. The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility.

Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.

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.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

France: The “Yellow Vests”. Sixty Days That Have Turned Everything Upside Down

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Pierre Duquesne with Cécile Rousseau in L’Humanité

Since November 17, the “yellow vests” [gilets jaunes] have brought the people back to the fore, revealing the extent of the democratic crisis. An unprecedented mobilization has brought a halt to Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term.

Emmanuel Macron loves, decidedly, the small Norman villages. Before debating for seven hours in a gymnasium in Grand-Bourgtheroulde on Tuesday, he made a stop at the Berd’huis, a small village in the Orne, in April 2018, for an appointment with Jean-Pierre Pernaut. This seems to come from another time.

A year after his election, the president felt powerful. To the unions who were fighting against the transformation of the SNCF, he warned that he would go “to the end”. To the students who were fighting against Parcoursup’s selection logic, he was saying that they had better think again “There will be no chocolate exam in the Republic,” he added, from a grade 2 class. Shamelessly, he said “thank you” to retirees for losing income because of the rise of the CSG.

“A lot of the way has been traveled but there is still much to do,” he said at that time. The capitalists could not fault him. For them, the assessment was already largely positive. The TFR on financial investments was crossed out with a stroke of the pen. The flat tax, an anglicism useful for concealing the end of the progressivity of taxation on capital, had just passed like a letter to the post office. In 2019, the Cice engraved in marble will make 40 billion euros for businesses. The difficulties? They “do not stop me and, I am not naive, I even expected them,” he declared, this president of the ultra-rich. He had not expected, obviously, that social anger would spring up around him, that the cry of greater fiscal justice would resound under the windows of the Elysee, where he was completely barricaded. Nor that this dispute would occur everywhere, far exceeding a few demonstrations at place de la Republic et Nation, and that it would flood the upscale streets of the capital.

“It’s a crucial moment in his five-year term”

We have yet to know if the five-year term of Emmanuel Macron reached a turning point on November 17 or December 1, when riots ignited the chic neighborhoods of western Paris? Or on December 10, when, for the first time, Emmanuel Macron conceded that he had made mistakes, in a televised interview. A yellow jacket remarked to L’Humanité that “The monarch has lost his splendor.” For the President of the Republic, everything changed when he was forced to flee a taunting crowd at the prefecture of Puy-en-Velay, set on fire and still smoking. Later that evening he said “It’s a central moment of my five-year term,” in speaking with deputies of LaREM [his political party, La Republique en Marche]

Nothing, indeed, will be like before. Because we have now seen the emergence of faces and figures that until now were invisible. It was necessary to see, on the barricades and in the demonstrations, the yellow vests in the live interviews of the TV channel BFMTV to understand the satisfaction of ordinary people to finally be shown in the television news.

There resurfaced a whole people that some people thought had been swallowed up forever in the “suburban nightmare,” a “pacified proletariat” succumbed to the cult of goods and property. A “closed session of the ego” where one would live “separated together” in a well-marked routine, far from the world of demonstrations and collective struggles.

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(Click here for the French version of this article)

Questions for this article

What is the future of the Gilets Jaunes movement?

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But this was not to be! Thousands of employees, workers and employees fraternized and demonstrated for the first time.

An example was Dimitri, a 31-year-old carpenter, interviewed last Saturday on the Champs-Élysées. “I had not voted since Chirac and even the, because my grandmother had pushed me! I was not interested in politics but I participated in the first act of yellow vests because I cannot continue to live in this unequal society. In Poissy, we organized ourselves in groups and distributed leaflets in the region to raise awareness. In the demonstration, I met people in all conditions, unemployed, stretcher bearers, young people, old …

This movement will leave traces at home, and not just because he was beaten by the police, during the act IV. This resident of Carrières-sous-Poissy (Yvelines), earning 1,700 euros per month, came out with a knee injury, a broken phone and the determination that he would not give up. “I was shocked, but I am passionate about this movement, this desire to find the right way to justice. As Macron has already repealed the carbon tax, we must continue. This political expression pushes him today to demand a change of Constitution, believing that the citizens’ initiative referendum (RIC) does not “go far enough”.

Nothing will be as before, because this movement combines social and democratic demands.. . . This movement, although it has overflowed the big trade union centers, can not however be detached from the world of work, according to Benoît Coquart, sociologist at INRA. “I spoke with an employee of Amazon, when we met at the demonstration. she told how it is very difficult to organize, to make demands, in this company where there are many temporary workers and short-term contracts [interim]. But what they can no longer do in their workplace, these workers can do through this type of movement in the streets which, at first glance, takes place outside the world of work,” reports the researcher. “Macron will be on interim,” one could read on a wall in Dijon, between two slogans demanding the resignation of the head of state.

“The first social movement of the new global age”

As for the concessions released by Emmanuel Macron on December 10, they did not move the big capitalist of Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux. “It’s true that 15 billion euros, that’s a lot. But if it helps to restore civil peace, it’s worth it, “he said, before quoting Lenin:” We must always be one step ahead of the masses. ”

Nothing will be as before, because, for the first time in a long time, the dominant classes were afraid of this “monster who escaped his parents”, these people “factious” and “seditious” (Christophe Castaner), this “hateful crowd” (Emmanuel Macron). But their repressive strategy was not enough to extinguish the demonstrations that continued between Christmas and the New Year.

“This is perhaps the first social movement of the new global age, as defined by the sociologist Saskia Sassen. This is an age when states have voluntarily delegated some of their powers to the European Union or independent administrative agencies, removing them from the decision of the citizen,” according to Danielle Tartakovsky, historian and specialist social movements, speaking to Echoes.

The great strength of this movement that has united under the clothing of “yellow vests” individuals from a very broad range of political views, could also become its weakness in the future. For the moment its claims are egalitarian and rather progressive, but it is still far from having the force to be inscribed in the long history of the labor movement. It remains to be seen what will happen with regard to institutional policy. In short, everything remains to be done if 2018 will enter permanently in the lineage of 1995, 1968, 1936 and 1789, as recently claimed by a sign of yellow vests.

(Thank you to Kiki Chauvin, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Canadian police block journalists from covering indigenous pipeline protest

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Nation of Change

While arresting indigenous pipeline protesters in northern British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) recently began prohibiting reporters from covering the demonstrations. In response, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a statement demanding that Canadian law enforcement cease restricting access to reporters covering the pipeline protest.


(click on photo to enlarge)

On Sunday, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs issued a  statement  saying all five Wet’suwet’en clans, including the Gidimt’en, oppose the construction of oil and gas pipelines in their territory.

“The provincial and federal governments must revoke the permits for this project until the standards of free, prior and informed consent are met,” Phillip said in the news release.

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Question for this article

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

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Last October, LNG Canada announced its plans to move ahead with constructing the $6.2 billion pipeline. Although TransCanada subsidiary Coastal GasLink claims that agreements have been signed with all First Nations along the route for LNG Canada’s $40-billion liquefied natural gas project, demonstrators argue that Wet’suwet’en house chiefs, who are hereditary rather than elected, have not given consent.

According to the RCMP, at least 14 people have been arrested for blockading a forest service road in order to prevent access to the pipeline. Journalists and several media crews attempting to cover the pipeline protests have recently reported that the RCMP is restricting access to the site and prohibiting journalists from witnessing further arrests.

“Authorities in Canada should immediately end the arbitrary restrictions on journalists covering the police breakup of the pipeline protest,” CPJ North America Program Coordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck wrote in a press release  on Tuesday. “Journalists should be able to freely cover events of national importance, without fear of arrest.”

“It sounds like the RCMP is once again using every tactic that they can to bend the law as much as possible to prevent journalists from gaining access to sites,” said Tom Henheffer, vice president of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). “This is a tactic that is very commonly employed and is very difficult to fight against in the moment because [police] know that when you’ve got a bunch of officers with guns telling people what they can and cannot do, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether the law is on the RCMP’s side or not – because it takes too long for a journalist to get a lawyer, go to court to get an order to allow them to get on to the site.”

By restricting access to the demonstrations, Canadian law enforcement are attempting to control the narrative by preventing journalists from witnessing their actions. According to some reports, most communication from the site recently went dark due to an alleged satellite issue, but the RCMP issued a statement on Monday denying any involvement with the suspiciously beneficial disruption of communications in the area.

Germany: Renewables overtake coal as main power source

.. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ..

An article from Deutsche Welle (reprinted by permission)

Renewable energy became Germany’s dominant source of electricity in 2018, beating coal  for the first time in history, experts from the Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute said on Thursday.


“Green” energy sources  such as solar, wind, and hydropower accounted for 40.3 percent of German net electricity production last year, rising by 4.3 percent compared to 2017. Experts said coal-fired power plants supplied about 38 percent of electricity in 2018.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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Germany has set  ambitious energy targets  for the upcoming decade, aiming to have renewable sources provide 65 percent of energy by 2030. The percentage had grown from 8.5 in 2003 to 16.2 in 2008 and 27.2 another five years later.

Even with the 2018 landmark, the change is “not happening quickly enough,” Fraunhofer Institute professor Bruno Burger told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine.

“If Germany continues at this rate, we are going to miss our 2030 targets,” he said.

More sun, less water

Nuclear energy accounted for around 13.3 percent of electricity in 2018. However, the country is committed to shuttering its nuclear power plants by 2022.

Climate change seemed to have a positive effect in 2018. A dry and hot summer meant solar power provided 16 percent more energy than the previous year, but it also shrunk the output by hydropower plants, according to the Reuters news agency.

The German government’s coal commission is set to present its plan for finally phasing out coal  in early February.

Gilets Jaunes [Yellow Vests]: the “contagion” has reached 22 countries in the World !! The media silence is deafening …

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Reveillez-vous

The French media are careful not to broach this subject: the movement of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) is being taken up all over the world: in Europe, in Africa, in America, in Asia … To counter (at my small level) this media silence , I propose you a “world tour of the Gilets Jaunes” …


Pic19-009 LAHORE: Dec19 Engineers protesting for their demand at irrigation office. ONLINE PHOTO by Malik Sajjad

In Taiwan, the League for Tax and Legal Reform (which has been fighting since December 2016 for tax justice), organized a Gilets Jaunes march on December 19th. In Taipei (capital of Taiwan), more than 10,000 protesters answered the call
(Source: Taïwan News)

In Bulgaria, anti-government protesters started wearing yellow vests as early as 16 November (Source: LCI)

In Canada, Gilets Jaunes from Alberta and the provinces of Saskatchewan are protesting the government carbon tax and the recent signing of a migration pact( Source: CTV News)

In Croatia, on December 15, 2018, Yellow Vests demonstrated in Zagreb, Pula and Rijeka (Source: Index.hr)

In Egypt, a lawyer was arrested for 15 days after publishing a photo of himself wearing a yellow vest to support protests in France (Source: Jerusalem Post). The sale of yellow vests has even been banned in Egypt !!( Source: The Guardian)

In Germany, Gilets Jaunes protested in front of the Brandenburg Gate and Munich (Source: Spiegel)

In Hungary, thousands of Gilets Jaunes have protested the Orban government in the streets of Budapest ( Source: Le Monde)

In Iraq, on December 5th, Gilets Jaunes demonstrated in Basra to get more job opportunities and better public services. The government fired on the demonstrators with live ammunition (Source: NBC News)

In Israel, economic uncertainty and corruption led to a gathering of Gilets Jaunes in Tel Aviv on Dec. 14 (Source: Jerusalem Post)

In Italy, the Gilets Jaunes inspired a pro-government but anti-European movement: “We are inspired by the French Gilets Jaunes, but we are motivated by other issues. Unlike the French, we support our government. We protest against Europe. We want Europe to no longer interfere with Italian politics.” (Source: The Guardian)

In Jordan, protesters critical of the country’s economic situation began to don yellow vests as protests spread outside the capital ()

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(Click here for the French version of this article)

Questions for this article

What is the future of the Gilets Jaunes movement?

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In the Netherlands, on 1 December, Gilets Jaunes demonstrated in Dutch cities. New demonstrations took place on 8 December, during which peaceful protesters passed through Rotterdam ( Source: NL Times)

In Pakistan, hundreds of engineers organized a day of protest in Lahore wearing yellow vests (see photo above) (Source: Pakistan Today)

In Poland, December 12, a group of farmers blocked the A2 motorway
30 kilometers from Warsaw, claiming compensation for the pigs they were forced to slaughter (due to African swine fever) and protesting against the importation of untagged Ukrainian agricultural products from their country of origin. Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski met with protesters to explain that the government would meet all their demands ( Source: New York Times)

In Portugal, on 21 December 2018, a gathering of Gilets Jaunes was organized under the slogan “Vamos Parar Portugal”, which translates roughly to “Stop Portugal” ( Source: Euronews)

In Russia, on December 23, 2018, protesters wore yellow vests at a rally against the increase in parking fees in Moscow (Source: Kommersant)

In Serbia, a civil rights organization “Združena akcija Krov nad glavom” (translation: combined action, a roof over the head) began to wear yellow vests in their demonstrations to oppose expulsion of a resident of Mirijevo district in Belgrade and to show solidarity and a common cause with the movement of French Gilets Jaunes (Source: N1 Info)

In Tunisia, a derivative group, the Gilets Rouge (“Red Vests”), appeared on Facebook, calling for protests against the country’s economic situation(Source: Independent)

The symbol of yellow vests was also used by protesters in the UK, Sweden and Greece (Source: BBC)

In Belgium, the “Gilets Jaunes” movement has been very active for one month.
Riot police in Brussels were hit by billiard balls and cobblestones on 30 November. They fought back with water cannons. 60 arrests were made for public disorder(Source: Mercury News)

Several oil depots were blocked in Wallonie on November 16, 2018 ( Source: Le Monde). Some Belgian Gilets Jaunes have started to form a political party for the Belgian federal elections planned in 2019 under the name of “Mouvement citoyen belge” (Source: Le Soir)

On December 8, protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Charles Michel tried to cross a riot fence. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters. Protesters threw stones, flares and other items on the police, Hundreds of protesters were arrested (Source: Belfast Telegraph)

The media are careful not to talk about this global contagion of the “Gilets Jaunes” phenomenon. This is to avoid motivating even more Gilets Jaunes in France !! Charge to us to circulate this information

(Thank you to Kiki Chauvin, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Fossil Free Movement: 1000 Divestment Commitments and Counting

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

Excerpts from the website of Go Fossil Free

As the world wakes up to urgency of keeping global warming below 1.5C, a major milestone has been reached in the worldwide movement to stop investments in the fossil fuel companies driving the climate crisis. Over 1000 institutions with managed investments worth almost USD $8 trillion have committed to divest from fossil fuels.

Since 2012 the number of institutions commiting to fossil fuel divestment has increased rapidly and spread globally. From 181 institutions and $50 billion worth of assets committed to divestment at the end of 2014, to almost $8 trillion today.

The reach and impact of this new global movement is huge, major institutions committing to remove, in whole or in part, nearly $8 trillion in assets from fossil fuel investments. The momentum has been driven by a people-powered grassroots movement, ordinary people on every continent pushing their local institutions to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry and for a world powered by 100% renewable energy.

In the financial world, divestment has taken on a momentum of its own as well. Fund managers and fiduciaries are increasingly aware of the risks of climate breakdown and deciding of their own accord to divest from morally unsound and financially risky industries.

The 1000th institution to divest is the Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC), which manages France’s public sector pensions, savings, and investments worth €173 billion (USD $196 billion). It recently announced that from 2019 it will no longer invest in companies that generate more than 10% of their business from coal. . . .

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Question for this article:

Divestment: is it an effective tool to promote sustainable development?

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What started as a trickle of early divestment announcements from pioneering progressive institutions like the Quakers and a small number of universities has now swept up some of the world largest pension funds and insurers, dozens of world-class universities, the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, the country of Ireland, major capital cities, as well as philanthropic foundations, health associations and worldrenowned cultural institutions. . . .

The impact

While some continue to dismiss divestment, arguing it will have no discernible impact on the bottom line of fossil fuel companies, they miss the point of the movement entirely — Our theory of change is two fold:

1. Create an opportunity for millions of people to get directly involved in challenging the drivers of climate breakdown

2. Stigmatise the fossil fuel industry and reduce its power over politicians and climate policy. We measure how well the Fossil Free campaign is doing not only by the amount of money divested from any particular oil company.

We measure success by how publicly an institutions makes its Fossil Free commitments, by how many activists are taking action online and in the streets and by how socially acceptable it is to invest in or be publicly associated with the reckless fossil fuel industry.

When institutions as diverse as the British Medical Association, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (the French public financial institution), New York City, Capetown, the World Council of Churches, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Stockholm University, Tate Britain museums and Allianz Insurance all turn their backs on the fossil fuel industry, the signals are starting to get through loud and clear to a wide-cross section of society.

Fossil fuel companies have never had a worse reputation or been more on the defensive than today. Solar power, wind energy, tidal, geothermal and advances in battery storage and hydroenergy are leaping ahead of antiquated fossil fuels like coal and tarsands in terms of affordability, popular public support, and cost-effectiveness per kilowatt hour. The success and profile of the divestment movement has created the space for governments to advance climate policy and legislation, and in some cases to go further and directly challenge fossil fuel companies through litigation.

France: Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests): where Democracy is on the march!

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

Excerpts from two articles by Mauricio Alvarez in Pressenza

The movement of Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) is growing more and more. A few days before a fourth major day of demonstrations, scheduled for Saturday, December 8, 2018, actions are multiplying all over France: roadblocks, blockades of petrol stations, “toll-free” operations, and so on. Despite the government’s various attempts to criminalize this unprecedented citizen mobilization, the movement is still approved by more than 75% of the French population. High school students and trade unions are gradually joining the mobilization, and the possibility of a general strike or a possible revolution haunts everyone’s mind.


“Reduction of taxes and duties. We can’t take it anymore! The state is an idiot for the way it manages the French people’s money.” (Image by Mauricio Alvarez)

In this particular context, we would like to take a step back and try to understand the impact of this Yellow Vests movement on Democracy, real Democracy . . .

In most countries of the world, the most common form of government is oligarchy, where power is reserved for a small group of people who form a ruling class. In France, there is a clear academic path for future elites. This extends from the Henri IV and Louis Le Grand high schools to the École nationale d’administration and the Paris Institute of Political Studies.

The result of this closed-circuit journey is the profound disconnection between the “golden” lives of rulers and those of the citizens they are supposed to represent.

The influence of capitalism on Democracy

Since the advent of capitalism in the 18th century, governments around the world have been confronted with a strong influence of industrialists and capital owners in their political decisions. So much so that today, countries are governed like actual companies, where the social aspect is increasingly considered as a “deformation” that must be avoided at all costs. Growth, balanced budgets, debt, taxation, etc. are the reference points for designing policy strategies and programmes. Human beings and nature are therefore relegated to a lower level. They have become simple adjustable variables.

In the words of Étienne Chouard, “For 200 years, elections have allowed the rich to buy power, (and therefore to no longer pay taxes, to pursue a sustainable policy of unemployment, low wages and high profits) and they call it ‘representative government’”. . . .

Running Backwards

[In France], Emmanuel Macron was elected in 2017 to embody positive change, and this with a party that placed itself outside the partisan divisions of “right” or “left”. However, his policies have only made the economic and social situation worse. . . .

In terms of measures, these couldn’t be less popular:

– Decrease in housing benefit
– The abolition of subsidised contracts
– The speed-limit reduced to 80 km/h on secondary roads
– Reform of the French railway company, SNCF
– Transformation of the solidarity tax on wealth into a “real estate wealth tax”

These different measures have gradually eroded citizens’ confidence in the government, but the last straw is undoubtedly the government’s plan to raise fuel taxes once again from January 2019. This excessive measure is at the origin of an unprecedented movement in recent French history: the Yellow Vests.

THE 6 LESSONS TO ENRICH OUR DEMOCRACY

1. A democratic government should be horizontal, not hierarchical

The organization of the Yellow Vests is horizontal. From the beginning, the members of the movement, spread throughout the country, avoided establishing hierarchical relationships. They do not talk about leaders or representatives, and prefer to talk about spokespersons. Anyone who tried to call themselves “Yellow Vests representative”, seeking personal (sometimes political) benefits, was quickly called to order. For them, every citizen has a say. This organisation makes it possible to avoid the formation of elites, which could eventually fall into a process of bourgeoisisation.

This horizontality has been copiously criticised by many traditional structures (trade unions, media, government officials, etc.) who believe that no dialogue is possible without visible heads or representatives. There is a real unease in dealing with an anonymous mass (“the people”) who wish to have their rights respected.

Questions:
Would a true government of the people, by the people, for the people, need representivity? If the answer is yes, how should the possible representatives of the people be elected?

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(Click here for the French version of this article)

Questions for this article

What is the future of the Gilets Jaunes movement?

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2. A democracy should operate in a decentralized manner and be structured around small decision-making centres

Since the beginning of the movement, the Yellow Vests have been present throughout France. Organized in small groups, they decide, as they go along, and in an autonomous way, on the operations to be set up locally: blocking roads, blocking of service stations, “toll-free” operations, etc. They also decide on the operations to be implemented locally.

This form of organization and governance has quickly made it possible to rebuild links, strengthen local solidarity and foster the political commitment of citizens throughout the country.

Questions:
What is the benchmark for democracy? The one that would allow citizens to feel that they are actors and responsible for the system?

3. In a democracy, there should be the possibility of revoking the mandate of an elected representative if their management is deemed unsatisfactory.

Macron Resignation

In the street and in the media, the Yellow Vests are constantly calling for the immediate resignation of the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron. Dissatisfied and directly affected by the measures taken since the beginning of his five-year period, they would like to have the possibility of revoking his mandate at any time.

Some consider that no power should remain in the same hands for long: neither parliamentary, nor governmental, nor judicial, nor media.

Questions :
Is it necessary in a democracy to have a President of the Republic? Or would the role of the Prime Minister be sufficient to enforce the laws and decisions made by parliament and local elected officials? What would the conditions be for revoking the mandate of an elected representative before their term expires?

4. The Executive should not be in charge of both the drafting, voting and enforcement of laws

Since the presidential and legislative elections, the President’s LREM party (French initials for “The Republic on the move!”) has always had an absolute or relative majority in the National Assembly. This means that legislative and executive roles are concentrated. We are therefore facing an “absolute” power.

The Yellow Vests’ frustration is due in part to the violence of the government’s actions in record time. Unpopular laws, drafted, passed and enforced without major constraints, because the opposition is under-represented.

Ideally, powers must be separated to be weakened. Power should work under the permanent control of citizens who are always the ultimate arbiter. The confusion of powers, like power without citizen control, legitimizes popular insurrection (*).

Question :
How could we guarantee the complete separation of powers in our democracy?

5. In a democracy, a simple language should be used, understandable by all.

The Yellow Vests, like most citizens, express themselves in a simple way. Their words are far removed from the technocratic discourses of the political elites.

In recent days, France has witnessed a dialogue of the deaf in the press. To cries of despair from people no longer able to make ends meet, politicians respond with technical terms such as balanced budgets or government debt.

Let us recall the importance of empathy, the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes in order to create constructive relationships and dialogues. Parties, not feeling listened to and understood, end up developing an atmosphere of mistrust and hatred, which often leads to violent demonstrations. This is indeed what is happening in France at the moment. The government responds to citizens’ requests with high security measures. For their part, citizens who have no other means of making their voices heard resort to violence.

Question :
How can we avoid using violence to make our voices heard?

6. Information must remain free and independent

The Yellow Vests movement was created and developed through the Internet. To make their voices heard, organize and gather, citizens have used computer tools to keep their hands on information.

Faced with an unprecedented mobilization, the traditional media very quickly took up this subject, becoming a key relay to inform the entire population.

The Yellow Vests, non-mobilized citizens, economic and political forces had the opportunity to express themselves freely on radio, television, print media and the Internet.

In a global trend towards media privatization in which control of information is exercised by economic forces, the democratic state must ensure the existence of information sources that are both independent of political power and independent of economic forces. This necessary principle of independence applies not only to newspapers, radio and television, but also to polling and statistical institutions, as well as to any existing or future instrument for the mass dissemination of information (*).

Question :
How could the State guarantee free information media, politically and economically?

‘Morally Unacceptable’: Final Deal Out of COP24 Sorely Lacking in Urgency and Action, Climate Campaigners Say

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Julia Conley for Common Dreams (reprinted according to a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

“The weak outcome of this COP runs contrary to stark warnings of the IPCC report and growing demand for action from citizens.”

Climate action groups slammed the outcome  of the 24th annual Conference of the Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland on Saturday, calling the agreement reached by about 200 diplomats and negotiators “barely adequate” as a plan to ensure that countries will follow through with their emissions reduction pledges.


(Photo: @CANEurope/Twitter)

Concluding two weeks of talks on how countries can implement the Paris climate agreement to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the diplomats reached a deal standardizing how countries measure their carbon emissions and ostensibly ensuring that world leaders will be more aggressive in reaching their emissions targets in time for the next global summit next September.

The final agreement left out directives on specific reductions in emissions by 2030. While it calls on wealthier countries to clarify how they will provide aid to less well-off nations, many of which are on the front lines of the climate crisis, more in-depth talks about developing countries needs were put off until next year.

Advocates for bold, concrete reforms and directives—outlined in the People’s Demands  for Climate Justice—said the required sense of urgency for avoiding the climate catastrophe that the world’s top scientists warn could take hold by 2030, was missing from the deal.

“The weak outcome of this COP runs contrary to stark warnings of the IPCC report and growing demand for action from citizens,” said Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. “Governments have again delayed adequate action to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. The EU needs to push ahead and lead by example, by providing more support to poor countries and increasing its climate pledge before the UN Secretary General Summit in September 2019. It must be a significant increase, even beyond the 55 percent reduction some Member States and the European Parliament are calling for.”

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Question for this article:

 

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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The inadequate agreement, said the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), was the result not of a lack of understanding at COP24, but a lack of political will.

“There was clear recognition in Katowice that the world needs to get on a low-carbon pathway as soon as possible to meet the steep, near-term emission cuts the IPCC report indicated are needed by 2030,” said Rachel Cleetus, an economist at UCS. “Once again, developed countries failed to provide assurances that they would make sufficient, predictable funding available for least developed nations to help them cope with climate impacts, including the loss and damage they already face, as well as ramp up low-carbon technologies.

“People expected action and that is what governments did not deliver. This is morally unacceptable.” —Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International“The barely adequate outcome in Katowice means there’s much work ahead to ensure countries live up to their responsibilities to put more ambitious action on the table by 2020,” she added.

“Without immediate action, even the strongest rules will not get us anywhere,” said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International. “People expected action and that is what governments did not deliver. This is morally unacceptable and they must now carry with them the outrage of people and come to the UN Secretary General’s summit in 2019 with higher climate action targets.”

The summit was deeply flawed from the start, with climate action groups and young demonstrators slamming the United Nations for holding the annual climate talks in the center of Poland’s coal country and President Donald Trump for sending pro-fossil fuel representatives  to speak for the U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon.

The global justice group Corporate Accountability blamed the looming presence of the coal industry at the global summit, and world leaders’ refusal to fully extricate themselves from the interests of fossil fuel industries, for the inadequate outcome of COP24—but noted that around the world, young climate activists like Greta Thunberg  and the Sunrise Movement  are not backing down in their campaigns to hold governments accountable for avoiding a climate catastrophe.

“The lack of action at the hands of industry forces, and the governments doing their bidding, is further igniting a movement of people and governments who are demanding that Big Polluters be barred from the UNFCCC once and for all,” said Patti Lynn, the group’s executive director. “The movement to kick the fossil fuel industry out has never been stronger.”

“In Poland, there’s a clear rift between political elites who are guilty of a lack of ambition and are supporting the continued use of coal while people are calling for strong climate action,” said Greenpeace Poland campaigner Pawel Szypulski. “Two out of three Poles support a coal phase-out by 2030. The science is clear, we’ve got 12 years left and the technical means to avoid catastrophe. Now politicians need to listen and act.”