Category Archives: Europe

Spanish youth rebel against climate change and begin to strike: “Friday for the future”

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Simone Renn in La Politica (translation by CPNN)

Spanish youth demand to achieve the 17 goals and goals of sustainable development of the UN by 2030. They have listened to the young Swede Greta Thunberg, who started the “Friday Strikes on Climate Change” last year and decided to join her.


Video by the youth

At the end of August 2018, this young activist stood every day for three weeks in front of the Swedish Parliament to demand that her Government comply with the Paris Agreement on climate. Greta was also present at the UN Climate Summit, COP24, which was held in the Polish city of Katowice from December 2 to 14, where she said loud and clear what she thought and how we should begin to act immediately to save the Earth and save the future of today’s youth.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version.)

Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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The collective “Youth for the climate” fwas ormed in Spain by groups of young people who joined as a collective last February and who are organized in assemblies. Eight weeks ago these young people decided that they had to strik along with young people in Europe and around the world.

Today, Friday, March 15, young people from more than 1,000 cities around the world have joined the “Fridays for future” movement. In Spain, 45 mobilizations have been called, all of them with great success.

The young people of the world are denouncing the economic interests that lead people to “do nothing to stop climate change”, which means that they will not have a future.

They accuse the adult generation, with all the reason in the world, of leaving them an inheritance of a land without a future, due to selfishness, to the comfort of not facing policies based on “constant growth” on a planet whose resources are finite, as Ecology Economics explains very well.

The 15-year-old Greta, who gives speeches about the environment with implacable coherence, has become a symbol of adolescent activism and young people are listening to her.

Today has been the largest strike of young people for the environment in the history of our country, and they warn that they will continue with strikes each Friday, if we adults do not behave as responsible beings carrying out the environmental measures demanded by the UN to be carried out by 2030.

Milan, Italy: Anti-racism protesters denounce Italy’s right-wing government

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from Deutsche Welle (reprinted by permission)

Tens of thousands of people took to Milan’s streets on Saturday to protest against what they said are racist policies promoted by the national government.

The demonstrators played bongo drums and trumpets as they gathered in front of the Duomo under the slogan “Prima le persone” (people first).

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Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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The phrase plays on the “Prima gli Italiani” (Italians first) slogan used by Italy’s anti-immigrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini.

The rally was a “powerful political testimonial that Italy is not just the country that it is currently being described as,” said Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala.

Milan’s social issues councilor, Pierfrancesco Majorino, claimed on Twitter that 200,000 people had shown up for the protest.
“Salvini, count us,” he said.

CGIL labor union chief Maurizio Landini said the populist governing coalition in Rome “is promoting the wrong policies, and is not fighting the inequalities.”

Salvini’s right-wing League party entered into government with the populist Five Star Movement in 2018.

Since then, Italy has repeatedly refused to allow humanitarian ships that save migrants in the Mediterranean Sea to dock at its ports.

Spain: The policies of cooperation of the City of Toledo “are more than words”: an example for other local institutions

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from La Cerca

The Councilor for Social Welfare, Javier Mateo, participated this Saturday [February 2] in the inauguration of the XVI Conference on Development Cooperation organized by the NGO Coordinator of Castilla La Mancha. “These appointments are key to avoid individualism because they enable us to feel part of the global village,” said the municipal Social Welfare manager.

According to Javier Mateo, both the City of Toledo and the participants in the Conference “share values ​​and concerns about the global situation, the need for social change and the importance of achieving the opening of a new mentality in society.”

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

Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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The celebration of this meeting in Toledo “is a recognition of the effort and work that we develop from the local government so that development cooperation policies are more than words and beautiful speeches,” he said, to remember that during this term, the City Council has opted for the increase, both in the Budget for Cooperation, as well as in the participation and involvement of the city’s organizations.

As reviewed by the welfare councilor, their political commitments have been met as they have managed to increase this budget to 0.55%, “promoting development programs, cooperation or response to emergencies and humanitarian catastrophes.”

To facilitate the participation of NGOs, the City Council of Toledo approved the creation of the new Municipal Cooperation Council. Among the initiatives of both the Department of Welfare and Cooperation, Javier Mateo recalled the launch of the First Culture of Peace Forum.

“We work so that in the future we can continue to ensure that cooperation policies and social sensitivity are on the municipal agenda,” said the mayor who has also pointed to the importance of “work at the local, in our neighborhoods, in our streets For this reason, we created the campaign ‘Solidaridad 365 + 1’ so that the city knows the realities of other peoples and can act in solidarity with them “.

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.)

French Organizations Commemorate the Rejection of Nuclear Weapons by the UN in 1946

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

Press Release January 24, 2019

On 24 January 1946, the very first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly called for the elimination of atomic weapons. Despite this historic decision, the nucleararmed States still continue to ignore this call and, on the contrary, are embarking on a new nuclear arms race.


Since the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1970, the United Nations initiatives for nuclear disarmament have multiplied, until the adoption by 122 countries on 7 July 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In spite of these numerous resolutions and the commitment to nuclear disarmament by the NPT Nuclear-Weapon States enshrined in Article VI of the NPT, those states still reject the horizon of a world without nuclear weapons.

While the world stockpiles of nuclear weapons remain staggering, nuclear-armed states are developing new, more sophisticated and usable nuclear weapons that increase the risk of destruction of humanity caused intentionally (by nuclear war) or unintentionally (by human or technological error).

The threat of such destruction is now ranked among the highest for our planet.

In France, the absence of any objective debate on nuclear weapons suggests to public opinion that they would be an absolute guarantee of security. On the occasion of this anniversary of the first United Nations resolution, our leaders must become aware of the urgency of this situation and put an end to this absurd and suicidal nuclear arms race by finally committing to the path of general, progressive and controlled nuclear disarmament.

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

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Let us remember the statement by Theodore Monod, French scientist and humanist in 1999: “Nuclear weapon is the accepted end of humanity”.

Signatory organizations

AFCDRP – French Association of Local Governments for Peace
michel.cibot@gmail.com
https://afcdrp.com/

AMFPGN – French Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
r.galinski@amfpgn.org
https://www.amfpgn.org/

GRIP – Research and Information Group on Peace and Security
https://www.grip.org/

IDN – Initiatives for Nuclear Disarmament
idn.france.association@gmail.com
http://www.idn-france.org/

Mouvement de la Paix
national@mvtpaix.org
www.mvtpaix.org/

Pax Christi France
delegue@paxchristi.cef.fr
https://www.paxchristi.cef.fr/

Pugwash France
contact@pugwash.fr
pugwash.fr/

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.)

Italy: Mayors of Florence, Palermo and Naples “Rebelled” against a Tough Anti-Immigrant Law

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from The Koz Week

The mayors of the three major Italian cities refuse to submit to controversial anti-immigrant law, passed at the initiative of the interior Minister Matteo Salvini, considering it unconstitutional.



Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo

Salvini on Thursday demanded the resignations of the mayors of Florence, Palermo and Naples, the latter strengthened the scandal, is also offering to host migrants in distress at sea, which Italy rejected.

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Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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“This law incites crime, and not fighting or prevents it. It violates human rights. There are thousands, tens of thousands of people who have been legally resident here, who pay their taxes, pay pensions, and in a few weeks or months they will become… illegal immigrants,” said the mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando.

Tough new anti-immigrant law passed by the Italian Parliament on 28 November, facilitates the expulsion of new arrivals and limit the residence permit in the country, which has become the main gate for migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea.

It also cancels humanitarian residence permits issued to people from risk groups, families or single women with children.

The mayor of Florence Dario Nardella said that his city “will not obey” the law, which “excludes persons seeking asylum, and not repatrierea them, throws them on the street.”

The mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris promised that part of the law unconstitutional, “such as the right to asylum, nor under any circumstances will be respected.”

He then offered to take the 32 migrants who are blocked at sea after they were rescued by a ship of non-governmental organizations.

Cyprus: International Institute on Peace Education 2019

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An announcement from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

The 2019 International Institute for Peace Education (IIPE) will be held in Nicosia, Cyprus at the Home for Cooperation (H4C)  from July 21 to July 28, 2019. This year’s institute is organized in partnership with the IIPE Secretariat and the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR).


IIPE 2019: Cyprus will convene educators from around the globe for a week-long, residential, learning community experience in peace education. A rich exchange of peacebuilding research, academic theory, best practices, and actions will be shared with participants from around the world through IIPE’s evolving dialogical, cooperative, and intersubjective modes of reflective inquiry and experiential learning.
Educating for a Culture of Peace in Divided Societies: History, Dialogue, and Multiperspectivity Toward Reconciliation

IIPE 2019 will focus on global issues of particular relevance to Cyprus and the adjoining region of the Mediterranean, North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Middle East – the intersection of Asia, Africa and Europe. This region is characterized on the one hand, by turmoil and tension, and on the other by the rich perpetual movements of people, ideas and experiences. While peoples’ past and present are presented in grey terms, their shared history(-ies) of coexistence, cooperation and exchange are often neglected in official discourses. In this context, recent developments with regards to war, terrorism, migration and refugeedom have led to the creation of monolithic narratives and rigid identities. These excluding narratives perpetuate violent conflicts and structural conditions that limit opportunities for sustainable peace and development. IIPE 2019 will emphasize the role of educators on all levels in addressing conflict in creative ways and offering alternatives to violence in contexts such as the Cypriot one. Educating for practical and theoretical methods is of paramount importance for the creation of inclusive identities and a critical hope for the region, and for humanity as a whole.

Being concerned with reconciliation and abetting conflict, we peace educators, theorists, researchers, students, and activists together face a serious challenge. On the one hand, dynamic transitions and tensions shape our present world: new movements of peoples are working for more dignity and inclusion, while at the same time forces of power are consolidating in ways that challenge how local, regional and global citizens can contribute to this vibrant transition in nonviolent, humanizing and ecologically viable ways. IIPE 2019 Cyprus’s inquiry is centered on how might we collectively frame the challenges we face in our diverse, particular, and shared spheres? How can a relational paradigm for peace help us theorize these challenges for more dignity, inclusion, and coordination? As we engage in deep listening and critical and reflective dialogue, what new understandings will we reach? What creative practices will emerge? In examining crossover issues, we aim to bring our best selves in relation to each other so that we might meld together our best theoretical, educational, and activist practices.

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Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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Peace education and its intersections with history, political theory, conflict studies, reconciliation, the philosophy of peace, justice, and democracy in challenging times are among the areas of inquiry that will be most relevant at IIPE 2019. Applicants are invited to offer contributions on these and other thematic areas including, but not limited to:

* Identities (and anti-racist education) in divided and/or multi-faith, multi-ethnic and culturally and linguistically diverse societies

* Memory and remembrance (collective memory, communal memory, family history and memory, memory transmitted through celebrations, museums, monuments, oral history, understanding of heritage…)

* National celebrations (memory transmitted through ceremonies, anniversaries, memorials, commemorations and celebrations)

* The philosophical basis for reconciliation and peace

* Dialogue for reconciliation

* History teaching and historical dialogue as means for peacebuilding: the role of history education in conflict or post-conflict communities; peace and reconciliation; teaching history in divided societies; history education and values, beliefs and human rights

* Gender and peacebuilding in divided societies; gender and history

* Civil society, global citizenship, and local participation

* Youth and entrepreneurship

* Public space and deliberation; the city as an educating agent

Experiencing Cyprus

Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, has been separated for over 50 years, and, apart from a divided capital, barricades, barbwires and checkpoints, it offers numerous opportunities for exploring ancient and recent civilizations and experiencing, first hand, manifestations of the willingness to defeat time and space barriers and create spaces for creativity, imagination and sharing. The ‘wondering peace educator’ will be offered the chance to explore issues of memory and remembrance, conflicting narratives and identity and public history, while, at the same time, he/she will engage in the exchange of ideas and examples on breakthrough initiatives that have the potential to turn the island into a hub of innovation in the fields of History for Reconciliation and Education for a Culture of Peace.

In particular, all participants will have the opportunity to experience the contextual conditions existing in Cyprus regarding the conflict and become acquainted with local breakthrough initiatives on history as a means for reconciliation and education for a culture of peace. This will be enhanced through an Open Public Day, excursion(s), and unique cultural experiences in Cyprus. IIPE 2019 will also facilitate an exchange with Cypriot educators, from all communities, via the Open Public Day, which will feature immersion and exchange opportunities exploring global obstacles and possibilities for peacebuilding through education in other contexts.

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.

Panel on education and peace at UN in Geneva draws faith and secular sectors together

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from the World Council of Churches

Peace education to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between people involving the religious and secular sectors is needed to counter uncertainty fed by radicalization and xenophobia, says a leading human rights advocate.
“Today I would say peace is in jeopardy once again,” said Idriss Jazairy, executive director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, a former head of a UN specialized agency and top diplomat for Algeria, speaking in an interview with the World Council of Churches (WCC).


Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, executive director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue. Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

“We are exposed to a kind of a pincer movement between populism on the one hand and extremism on the other. In those circumstances, we need to see how we can defuse this tension and give the right of way to peace. We have to do this by addressing the problem already at the school level,” he said ahead of the 10 December debate.

The inter-faith bridge-building debate will take place through an interactive dialogue between lay and religious leaders on World Human Rights Day 2018 from 14:00 to 17:00 at the United Nations Office in Geneva in room XXV. WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit will deliver the opening address after introductory remarks by the moderator Ambassador Jazairy of the Geneva Centre.

The panel will build on previous initiatives taken by the Geneva Centre and its partners on the interface between education and equal citizenship rights. The panel will include leaders of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths and other experts on peace education.

‘Ignorance that creates fear of the other’

“It is an attempt to remove in children the veil of ignorance which creates the fear of the Other,” said Jazairy, noting that this approach should not be limited to young people, but also applied to adults.

“It is in this way that we feel we can promote diversity,” he said. “What we want is to teach at the school level that there is a convergence in values between world religions and also with secular leadership.”

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Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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He said that there is too much emphasis for political reasons in the context of populism and xenophobia that is put on the differences between religions and creeds.

“We want to say first that all the main world religions converge to bring out the same space” in which civilized activity should take place.

“And secondly that religions need not and should not be seen as a problem, but as the beginning on an element of the solution which can be found together with secular leadership,” said Jazairy.

The common space should be used, “as a launching pad for a new, a strong, and powerful idea,” that of “equal and inclusive citizenships rights”.

Jazairy stated that secularity used with identity-driven nationalism can lead to “exclusive secularism and to the doom of society and nations”.

“Secularity added to interaction with all stakeholders as emphasized by the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) particularly item 17.16 of the SDGS, on the contrary, can deliver a notion of diversity in unity which could be celebrated, and which would be the gateway to peace,” he observed.

The list of speakers:

Monsignor Indunil Janakaratne, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue;

Professor Anantanand Rambachan, Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College (US);

* Professor Majeda Omar, Associate Professor of Contemporary Western Philosophy at the University of Jordan, former Director of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies of Jordan;

* Dr. Debbie Weissman, Former President of the International Council of Christians and Jews. Author of “Memoirs of a Hopeful Pessimist: A Life of Activism through Dialogue”;

* Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International Geneva – Ethics Education for Children;

* Mr. Renato Opertti, Senior Programme Specialist, IBE-UNESCO;

* Ms. Beris Gwynne, Founder and Managing Director of Incitare. Former Australian diplomat and aid official and NGO Executive;

* Mr. Jan-Willem Bult, Head of Children & Youth Media and Chief Editor of WADADA News for Kids.

(Thank you to the Global Campaign for Peace Education for bring this article to our attention.)