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


Excerpts from two articles by Mauricio Alvarez in Pressenza

The movement of Gilets Janunes (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 (3)
– The abolition of subsidised contracts (3)
– The speed-limit reduced to 80 km/h on secondary roads (3)
– Reform of the French railway company, SNCF (3)
– Transformation of the solidarity tax on wealth into a “real estate wealth tax” (4)

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.


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.

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?

(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the French version of this article)

Questions for this article

What is the future of the Gilets Jaunes movement?

(Article continued from left column)

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.

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


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.”

(article continued in right column)

Question for this article:


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

(Article continued from the left column)

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.”

‘We Have Not Come Here to Beg World Leaders to Care,’ 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells COP24. ‘We Have Come to Let Them Know Change Is Coming’


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

Striking her mark at the COP24 climate talks taking place this week and next in Poland, fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden issued a stern rebuke on behalf of the world’s youth climate movement to the adult diplomats, executives, and elected leaders gathered by telling them she was not there asking for help or demanding they comply with demands but to let them know that new political realities and a renewable energy transformation are coming whether they like it or not.

Greta Thunberg speech to UN secretary general Antonio Guterres
“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago,” said Thunberg, who has garnered international notoriety for weekly climate strikes outside her school in Sweden, during a speech on Monday.
(Article continued in the right side of the page)

Question for this article:

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

(Article continued from the left side of the page)

Thunberg said that she was not asking anything of the gathered leaders—even as she sat next to UN Secretary General António Guterres—but only asking the people of the world “to realize that our political leaders have failed us, because we are facing an existential threat and there’s no time to continue down this road of madness.”

Thunberg explained that while the world consumes an estimated 100 million barrels of oil each day, “there are no politics to change that. There are no politics to keep that oil in the ground. So we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.”

“So we have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future,” she declared. “They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge.”

The climate crisis, she said, “is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. First we have to realize this and then as fast as possible do something to stop the emissions and try to save what we can save.”

“On climate change,” said Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester, the teenage Thunberg “demonstrates more clarity and leadership in one speech than a quarter of a century of the combined contributions of so called world leaders. Wilful ignorance and lies have overseen a 65 percent rise in CO2 since 1990. Time to hand over the baton.”

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

Australia: Thousands of students walk out of school to demand politicians stop dangerous climate change


An article from the website of School Strike 4 Climate

In an Australian-first, as the nation experiences unprecedented fires, drought, heat and storms, thousands of students from hundreds of schools across metropolitan and regional Australia are today [30th November] striking from school to demand their politicians act urgently to stop further dangerous climate change and the Adani coal mine, which threatens their future.

30 major strike events are taking place across the country, in every capital city and almost 20 regional centres including Townsville, the Whitsundays, Inverell, Coffs Harbour, Ballarat, Newcastle and Bega. Instead of going to school, students will today be at their nearest Parliament House or Federal MP’s office for the day.

See the full list of strikes taking place here. Student spokespeople can be made available for interview, and links to vision and stills can be found below.

In a week of storms, fires and record heat: On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison used Question Time to urge students not to join the strike. On Tuesday, the Senate passed a motion in support of the strike. On Wednesday, over 200 student strikers flooded Federal Parliament to meet with MPs about climate change. On Thursday, Adani announced it has funding to push ahead with its coal mine which is a key target of the students.

Inspired by 15 year old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who has been striking outside the Swedish Parliament since August, year 8 students from Central Victoria brought the initiative to Australia and have been striking in Bendigo a day a week during November. As a show of support for the Australian strike, students in Sweden, France, Norway and Finland are also striking this week.

(Article continued in the right side of the page)

Question for this article:

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

(Article continued from the left side of the page)

Harriet O’Shea Carre, 14 years old, from Central Victoria, said: “As young people, we will inherit the decisions that our politicians are making about climate change. We learn in school that scientists think we have just a decade to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and yet our politicians are helping rich companies like Adani mine and burn more coal that will only make this worse. We’re striking from school to tell them to stop, now.”

Jean Hinchliffe, 14 years old, from Sydney, said: “As a generation, we are sick of those in power failing to stop the climate crisis. We’ve spent our entire lives hearing the dire warnings. Our future is on the line, and sitting around waiting until we can vote and lead the country just isn’t enough. We are striking to tell our politicians to stop all new coal and gas projects, including Adani’s mine, and take immediate action to move Australia to 100% renewable energy.”

Ruby Walker, 17 years old, from Inverell, said: “I wake every morning in a state that is 100% drought declared. I have seen our government axe policies to protect my generation’s future. I have seen the failure to invest in solutions that would protect us and the failure to prevent and prepare for the climate crisis. Enough is enough. As young people, we didn’t create this problem, but we’re going to do everything we can to stop it. We are striking to push our politicians to treat climate change as the crisis it is and do everything in their power to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

Students plan to continue strike action after the summer holidays and ahead of the Federal election. Many are organising meetings with their Federal Politicians to call for an end to the Adani coal mine, no new coal and gas projects and a commitment to get Australia to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Media Enquiries: 0427 485 233 or 0437 316 331 to arrange interviews with student strikers or


Photos from the walk-outs will be uploaded HERE with November action pics.

Vision from the walk-outs will be uploaded HERE.

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

First Indigenous woman is elected Federal Deputy in Brazil


Special for CPNN by Myrian Castello, on the basis of information from CIMI, El Pais and BBC

Joênia Wapichana has been elected as a federal deputy in Brazil, the first indigenous woman to occupy the position in 194 years of history of Parliament. She is a a lawyer, 43 years old, and was elected with more than 8,000 votes. “Everyone has a mission in life. Mine is to defend indigenous collective rights,” she says in her Instagram account. This is the second time that an indigenous is elected to the Chamber of Deputies. The first was Mário Juruna.

Photo: Valdir Wasmann

(Article continued in right column)

(Click here for the Portuguese version of this article.)

Question for this article

Indigenous peoples, Are they the true guardians of nature?

(Article continued from left column)

Among the cases that she can defend as an elected Federal Representative are indigenous collective rights, the struggle for indigenous women, sustainable development, respect for the environment, transparency, ethics and the fight against corruption.

In an interview with the Indigenous Missionary Council Joenia reiterates the need to demarcate indigenous lands by FUNAI [National Indian Foundaion] based on the criteria of the Constitution. As a strategy, she intends to begin her mandate as a member of the federal government, to devote her work to combat anti-indigenous proposals and to listen to all proposals considered as priorities by organizations and entities that defend indigenous rights.

 Through dialogue with indigenous peoples and organizations, Joênia intends to propose a system of indigenous school education of its own, to have laws that recognize indigenous professionals in other areas, and also in the long term to develop specific public policies for youth and women, in addition to working on sustainability and partnerships.

Researchers Develop Artificial Photosynthesis System that Generates Both Hydrogen Fuel and Electricity


An article by Dan McCue from the Renewable Energy Magazine

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, have come up with a new recipe for renewable fuels that could bypass the limitations in current materials: an artificial photosynthesis device called a “hybrid photoelectrochemical and voltaic (HPEV) cell” that turns sunlight and water into not just one, but two types of energy – hydrogen fuel and electricity. The paper describing this work was published on October 29 in Nature Materials.

Illustration: The HPEV cell’s extra back outlet would allow the current to be split into two, so that one part of the current contributes to solar fuels generation, and the rest can be extracted as electrical power. (Credit: Berkeley Lab, JCAP)

Most water-splitting devices are made of a stack of light-absorbing materials. Each layer absorbs different parts or “wavelengths” of the solar spectrum, ranging from less-energetic wavelengths of infrared light to more-energetic wavelengths of visible or ultraviolet light.

When each layer absorbs light it builds an electrical voltage. These individual voltages combine into one voltage large enough to split water into oxygen and hydrogen fuel. But according to Gideon Segev, a postdoctoral researcher at JCAP in Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division and the study’s lead author, the problem with this configuration is that even though silicon solar cells can generate electricity very close to their limit, their high-performance potential is compromised when they are part of a water-splitting device.

“It’s like always running a car in first gear,” said Segev. “This is energy that you could harvest, but because silicon isn’t acting at its maximum power point, most of the excited electrons in the silicon have nowhere to go, so they lose their energy before they are utilized to do useful work.”

(Article continued in the right side of the page)

Question for this article:

How can we ensure that science contributes to peace and sustainable development?

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

(Article continued from the left side of the page)

So Segev and his co-authors – Jeffrey W. Beeman, a JCAP researcher in Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division, and former Berkeley Lab and JCAP researchers Jeffery Greenblatt, who now heads the Bay Area-based technology consultancy Emerging Futures LLC, and Ian Sharp, now a professor of experimental semiconductor physics at the Technical University of Munich in Germany – proposed a surprisingly simple solution to a complex problem.

“We thought, ‘What if we just let the electrons out?’” said Segev.

In water-splitting devices, the front surface is usually dedicated to solar fuels production, and the back surface serves as an electrical outlet. To work around the conventional system’s limitations, they added an additional electrical contact to the silicon component’s back surface, resulting in an HPEV device with two contacts in the back instead of just one. The extra back outlet would allow the current to be split into two, so that one part of the current contributes to solar fuels generation, and the rest can be extracted as electrical power.

After running a simulation to predict whether the HPEC would function as designed, they made a prototype to test their theory. “And to our surprise, it worked!” Segev said.

According to their calculations, a conventional solar hydrogen generator based on a combination of bismuth vanadate and silicon will utilize only 6.8 percent of the solar energy striking the cell and store it the form of hydrogen fuel. All the rest is lost.

In contrast, the HPEV cells harvest leftover electrons that do not contribute to fuel generation. These residual electrons are used to generate electrical power, resulting in a dramatic increase in the overall solar energy conversion efficiency. For example, according to the same calculations, the same 6.8 percent of the solar energy can be stored as hydrogen fuel in an HPEV cell made of bismuth vanadate and silicon, and another 13.4 percent of the solar energy can be converted to electricity. This enables a combined efficiency of 20.2 percent, three times better than conventional solar hydrogen cells.

The researchers plan to continue their collaboration so they can look into using the HPEV concept for other applications such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions. “This was truly a group effort where people with a lot of experience were able to contribute,” added Segev. “After a year and a half of working together on a pretty tedious process, it was great to see our experiments finally come together.”

The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis is a DOE Energy Innovation Hub.

The work was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

Città della Pieve, Italy: The Declaration of the Scientists for Peace


A press release from Comunità di Etica Vivente

Can Peace be conquered on the Planet permanently? For the researchers of various branches of learning who took part in the International Conference “Scientists for Peace” – which was recently held in the “Aula della Cultura” – the answer is yes.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

The first step will be the commitment to increase the awareness of that part of the public opinion conditioned by information that is often distorted and incomplete.

Only effective communication can enable individuals to know, and therefore operate, with increasing awareness, in their daily actions, respecting themselves and their peers. Starting from their own consumptions and rethinking their needs, whose ideological, as well as economic, burden harms the entire planet and its resources.

All this requires dialogue between the various disciplines to arrive at a joint effort where Psychology and Physics intertwine in Mathematics and Law, Economics and Education, Philosophy and Medicine.

The goal is a Healthy world where Prejudice, Fear and War are no longer present. Where Science, as well, gives human beings awareness of the Cosmos, revealing more and more surprising analogical correlations and interconnections, taking a position for certain distortions to be corrected.

For these purposes, the scholars who took part in the Convention have signed the “Declaration of the Scientists for Peace” which will be sent to UNESCO [see text below]. Formative interventions are encouraged to increase a responsible human and social conscience in the school and university paths of those who become practitioners of applied sciences. Starting from the acceptance that scientists and technicians who are part (or that such could become) of a chain of production of war instruments can oppose, appealing to the ethical principles on which the applied sciences must be based. And that, at the same time, intervene in the media so that the war does not continue to be considered possible but definitely reveals the face of an absolute aberration and violation of fundamental human rights.

The Declaration will be brought into the world and will be enriched in the coming months with the signing of other scientists who will be joined under the aegis of “Flag of Peace”, the international association that promoted the conference and has in its mission the promotion of Culture as instrument of Peace, through Science, Art and Philosophy.

(Article continued in the right side of the page)

Question for this article:

How can we ensure that science contributes to peace and sustainable development?

(Article continued from the left side of the page)

Visit the Conference page to see photos, videos and to download the file of the abstracts of the speeches.


Recommendations from the “Scientists for Peace” Conference

Science has an important role to play in promoting and achieving peace on Earth. The main question which we ask in this respect is, why are scientists and engineers, highly educated individuals, willing to violate basic humanistic principles by developing and producing weapons? This is mostly due to a limited ethical consciousness, whereby each human being is seen as an isolated individual, and the wider implications of one’s work for society and for humankind are usually belittled.

To change this state of affairs we must become conscious of the fact that humankind can only thrive in peace if it is able to live up to universal ethical principles. Peace on Earth can be fostered and maintained; a world without wars can be developed, where peaceful relationships of responsibility and respect among peoples and individual human beings are properly cultivated.

How can this vision be achieved? What is the proper role for scientists and engineers to fulfil this vision?

We are committed to a view of science as an invaluable resource to promote peace in all areas of life. Accordingly, as a meaningful step towards realizing Peace on Earth, we submit to the United Nations the following recommendations, directed to the world of science and engineering:

• Schools and universities should be strongly invited to offer courses addressing the social responsibilities of scientists and engineers, especially concerning the potential and actual warfare applications of their work. Along with their professional expertise, science and engineering students should develop the ability to raise societal awareness about the threats that existing and prospective weapons systems pose to the survival and flourishing of humankind, especially in connection with weapons of mass destruction.

• It should be made clear that scientists and engineers consciously participating in the development, production, distribution and use of weapons of mass destruction go against the fundamental ethical principles that should be at the core of science and engineering.

• Everybody shall have the right to refuse to obey when it comes to the use of weapons of mass destruction and should be protected accordingly.

• It should be continually reaffirmed that mass media and other sources of information which advocate the view that waging war is an acceptable way to solve conflicts betray universal ethical principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the prohibition of propaganda for war asserted in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for calling our attention to this article)

South Sudan Chapter of African Union Master Plan Roadmap “Practical Steps To Silencing The Guns By 2020”


An article by Khamis Comas Lokudu from Gurtong

The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) on Monday [October 16] launched the Economic Social and Cultural Council South Sudan Chapter(ECOSOCC). The Economic, Social and Cultural Council is an advisory organ to the African Union composed of civil society organizations (CSOs). The principle of the ECOSOCC is for the civil society to organize itself to work in partnership with the African Union. Its mandate includes contributing through advice, effective translation of the AU’s objectives, principles and policies into concrete programmes, as well as evaluating those programmes.

The objective of the chapter is to empower South Sudan civil society organization on the implementation of AU-ECOSOCC action plan for implementation of AU agenda on silencing the guns by 2020.

According to Richard Ssewakiryanga, the Executive Director of a Ugandan National NGO and Presiding Officer – African Union – Economic, Social and Cultural Council, said in his presentation that, the Aspiration 4 of Agenda 2063 which is the African Union’s strategic framework for socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next five decades, highlights the need for dialogue-centred conflict prevention, as well as the management and resolution of existing conflicts, with a view to silencing the guns in the continent by the year 2020.

(continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

Can the African Union help bring a culture of peace to Africa?

Can peace be achieved in South Sudan?

(continued from left column)

Mr Richard Ssewakiryanga added that the agenda 2063 provides that in order to achieve sustainable conflict prevention and resolution, a culture of peace and tolerance must be cultivated and nurtured in children and youth, among others, through peace education.

Ssewakiryanga furthermore explained that in its first ten years implementation plan, agenda 2063 stresses the imperative of ending all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence and violent conflicts as part of Africa’s collective efforts to silence the guns in the continent by 2020.

The Organization of African Union/ African Union, (OAU/AU) 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, adopted by the AU Heads of States¬ and government in Addis Ababa on 26th May 2013 expressed determination to achieve the goal of a conflict-free Africa, to make peace a reality for all and to rid the continent of wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters and violent conflicts.

The Heads of States pledged not to leave the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans but assume to end all wars in Africa by 2020 according to Mr Richard.

United Nations Special Climate Report: 1.5ºC Is Possible But Requires Unprecedented and Urgent Action


An article from The United Nations

Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far- reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday [October 8] in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, .

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

“With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The report’s full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Limiting global warming

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5ºC, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

(Article continued in the right side of the page)

Question for this article:

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

(Article continued from the left side of the page)

“Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or ‘overshoot’ 1.5ºC would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5ºC by 2100. The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Priyardarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future, said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

“This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” she said.

Special Report

The Report was prepared under the scientific leadership of all three IPCC working groups. Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addresses impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III deals with the mitigation of climate change.The IPCC is the leading world body for assessing the science related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options.

The Paris Agreement adopted by 195 nations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015 included the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre- industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

As part of the decision to adopt the Paris Agreement, the IPCC was invited to produce, in 2018, a Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The IPCC accepted the invitation, adding that the Special Report would look at these issues in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Global Warming of 1.5ºC is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Cycle. Next year the IPCC will release the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land, which looks at how climate change affects land use.

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) presents the key findings of the Special Report, based on the assessment of the available scientific, technical and socio-economic literature relevant to global warming of 1.5°C.

Key statistics of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC

91 authors from 44 citizenships and 40 countries of residence

14 Coordinating Lead Authors (CLAs)
60 Lead authors (LAs)
17 Review Editors (REs)
133 Contributing authors (CAs) Over 6,000 cited references
A total of 42,001 expert and government review comments
(First Order Draft 12,895; Second Order Draft 25,476; Final Government Draft: 3,630)

France: Marches for the climate, we repeat !


An article from La France Insoumise

One month after the first wave of marches for the climate , dozens of mobilizations were again held this Saturday, October 13 throughout France. This successful new act brought together nearly 100,000 people in total. In many cities, the number of participants was identical to that of the last march, proof that this citizen movement is not weakening, but also that the demands are struggling to reach the president’s ears. Indeed, the “Champion of the Earth” Emmanuel Macron seems already busy keeping a government in full decomposition. Unfortunately, at the same time, he continues to implement his climate policy. It seems that he listens much more to the lobbies than to the people or even the experts.

(Article continued in the right side of the page)

( Click here for the French version of this article.)

Question for this article:

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

(Article continued from the left side of the page)

It was in the wake of the alarming report of the IPCC on global warming that these new marches took place. The new conclusions leave no room to appeal: to reach the goal of not exceeding 1.5 ° C of warming requires a complete change of mode of production and consumption. Pursuing current policies will take us straight into a major climate crisis. The message is clear: stop measuring, it is time to move to strong acts and concrete manifestations of a real ecological policy. Not in 10 years, not in 3 years, but now! Recurring climate disasters, in France and elsewhere, are proof of this. That is why we are rebelling in large numbers at the rallies to demand the implementation of the green rules and ecological planning. Even if “there is still time” as put by one of the march slogans, the question is: how long?

Click here for images of different climate marches in Paris, Lille, Grenoble, Marseille and Strasbourg.

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