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Across the globe, millions join biggest climate protest ever
by Covering Climate Now, agencies
Nov. 2019
Climate crisis: 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’, by BioScience Journal, agencies
The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists.
“We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” it states. “To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. This entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems.”
There is no time to lose, the scientists say: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”
The statement is published in the journal BioScience on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference, which was held in Geneva in 1979. The statement was a collaboration of dozens of scientists and endorsed by further 11,000 from 153 nations. The scientists say the urgent changes needed include ending population growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, halting forest destruction and slashing meat eating.
Prof William Ripple, of Oregon State University and the lead author of the statement, said he was driven to initiate it by the increase in extreme weather he was seeing. A key aim of the warning is to set out a full range of “vital sign” indicators of the causes and effects of climate breakdown, rather than only carbon emissions and surface temperature rise.
“A broader set of indicators should be monitored, including human population growth, meat consumption, tree-cover loss, energy consumption, fossil-fuel subsidies and annual economic losses to extreme weather events,” said co-author Thomas Newsome, of the University of Sydney.
Other “profoundly troubling signs from human activities” selected by the scientists include booming air passenger numbers and world GDP growth. “The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle,” they said.
As a result of these human activities, there are “especially disturbing” trends of increasing land and ocean temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events, the scientists said: “Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have have largely failed to address this predicament.
Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points. These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.”
“We urge widespread use of the vital signs [to] allow policymakers and the public to understand the magnitude of the crisis, realign priorities and track progress,” the scientists said.
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to look at the graphs and know things are going wrong,” said Newsome. “But it is not too late.”
The scientists identify some encouraging signs, including decreasing global birth rates, increasing solar and wind power and fossil fuel divestment. Rates of forest destruction in the Amazon had also been falling until a recent increase under new president Jair Bolsonaro.
They set out a series of urgently needed actions: Use energy far more efficiently and apply strong carbon taxes to cut fossil fuel use; Stabilise global population – currently growing by 200,000 people a day – using ethical approaches such as longer education for girls; End the destruction of nature and restore forests and mangroves to absorb CO2; Eat mostly plants and less meat, and reduce food waste; Shift economic goals away from GDP growth.
“The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual,” the scientists said. The recent surge of concern was encouraging, they added, from the global school strikes to lawsuits against polluters and some nations and businesses starting to respond.
A warning of the dangers of pollution and a looming mass extinction of wildlife on Earth, also led by Ripple, was published in 2017. It was supported by more than 15,000 scientists and read out in parliaments from Canada to Israel. It came 25 years after the original “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in 1992, which said: “A great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.”
Ripple said scientists have a moral obligation to issue warnings of catastrophic threats: “It is more important than ever that we speak out, based on evidence. It is time to go beyond just research and publishing, and to go directly to the citizens and policymakers.”
21 Sep. 2019
Millions of people demonstrated across the world yesterday demanding urgent action to tackle global heating, as they united across timezones and cultures to take part in the biggest climate protest in history.
In an explosion of the youth movement started by the Swedish school striker Greta Thunberg just over 12 months ago, people protested from the Pacific islands, through Australia, across-south east Asia and Africa into Europe and onwards to the Americas.
For the first time since the school strikes for climate began last year, young people called on adults to join them – and they were heard.
Trade unions representing hundreds of millions of people around the world mobilised in support, employees left their workplaces, doctors and nurses marched and workers at firms to join the climate strikes.
In the estimated 185 countries where demonstrations took place, the protests often had their individual targets; from rising sea levels in the Solomon Islands, toxic waste in South Africa, to air pollution and plastic waste in India and coal expansion in Australia.
But the overall message was unified – a powerful demand for an urgent step-change in action to cut emissions and stabilise the climate.
The demonstrations took place on the eve of a UN climate summit, called by the secretary general, António Guterres, to inject urgency into government action to restrict the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C, as agreed under the 2015 Paris agreement.
Carbon emissions climbed to a record high last year, despite a warning from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that there is little more than a decade left to act to slash emissions and stabilise the climate.
“We are out here to reclaim our right to live, our right to breathe and our right to exist, which is all being denied to us by an inefficient policy system that gives more deference to industrial and financial objectives rather than environmental standards,” said Avinash Chanchal, a young protester in Delhi.
The action began in the Pacific Islands, where citizens have repeatedly asked wealthier nations to do more to prevent rising sea levels. Over the course of the day children and students from Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Tonga, New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea took part in performances, protests, sporting events and discussions.
The demonstrations spread across Australia – the world’s biggest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas – where more than 400,000 people took to the streets in 100 rallies.
Siobhan Sutton, 15-year-old climate striker in Sydney, Australia: "Even though we ourselves aren''t sick, the planet which we live on is, and we are protesting and fighting for it."
In Tokyo, students and environmental activists marched through the business and shopping district of Shibuya, chanting “Climate Justice!” while holding hand-painted placards with messages such as “Go Green,” ‘Save the Earth,” and “the Earth is on fire.” Rallies were also held in more than a dozen cities around Japan, including Kyoto.
No protests were authorised in China, the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but Zheng Xiaowen of the China Youth Climate Action Network said Chinese youth would take action one way or another.
“Chinese youth have their own methods,” she said. “We also pay attention to the climate and we are also thinking deeply, interacting, taking action, and so many people are very conscientious on this issue.”
In Thailand, hundreds of young people demonstrated outside the environment ministry in Bangkok and dropped to the ground feigning death.
“We are the future and we deserve better,” said 12-year-old Ralyn ‘Lilly’ Satidtanasarn – who has been dubbed “Thailand’s Greta” for her campaign against plastic bag use in a country where each person uses 3,000 throwaway bags a year.
In India’s capital Delhi, where the suffocating air pollution was the target of the demonstration, Rishika Singh, 18, said: “It’s the poorest who suffer the most. The rich are better off – they make the use of air conditioning and private cars for comfort.”
In Kenya’s capital Nairobi some young protesters wore hats and outfits made from plastic bottles to highlight the dangers of plastic waste, a major threat to people living in the developing world.
Strikes took place in several Nigerian cities, including Lagos, which is often beset by formidable quantities of toxic waste including thousands of tons of e-waste from the EU.
“Leaders should listen to what the climate scientists are saying. No leader should forfeit the future of younger generation,” said Oladosu Adenike, an activist in the Fridays4Future campaign in Nigeria.
A crowd gathered in the financial district of Sandton in Johannesburg, outside the offices of Sasol, a huge South African energy and chemical company.
“We don’t really have a way out of this,” said Natalie Kapsosideris, 16. “The future looks really dismal at this point. There’s not going to be a lot of food available, there will be droughts, floods, natural disasters. The fact that fossil fuel companies get away with stealing our future from us … and it’s all because they want to make money.”
Chantal Dette of African Climate Alliance in Cape Town, South Africa: "What motivates me the most is that about a year ago my country was suffering water shortages and drought. We faced the ''day zero'' scenario when the taps will be turned off. People in the Cape Flats [the townships on the outskirts of Cape Town] were really suffering."
Angel, climate striker in Kampala, Uganda: "I am protesting because we want to keep the climate green. We have many environmental problems in Uganda, because the forests are being razed and wetlands are being drained. We have to protect the planet, there is no planet B."
Demonstrations took place in most European countries, with huge crowds in Warsaw, Poland and more than 1.4 million people taking action across Germany. In Berlin, demonstrators blocked roads and protested outside the German chancellery. In response, Angela Merkel announced a 50bn euro package of new measures to curb carbon emissions and review progress towards reaching its climate goals by 2030.
Thousands took to the streets in Dublin. Luke Corkery, a university student, said: “This is a movement led by young people across the globe. We’re not just looking for an excuse for a day off school or college; we’re standing up for the future of our planet.”
Tristan Vancleef, 16-year-old climate striker in Brussels, Belgium: "This is about my future, not only my future, but the future of my entire generation and all the generations to come after ours."
Jessica Ahmed, 16-year-old climate striker in London, England: "If politicians were taking the appropriate action we need and had been taking this action a long time ago when it was recognized the world was changing in a negative way, then I would not have to be skipping school."
It is estimated that more than 250,000 people turned out for the protests in New York, with thousands more demonstrating in Boston, Miami and San Francisco.
Alyssa Carle, climate striker in Hudsonville, Michigan, United States: "I hope that we can make people see that climate change is real, and it''s happening all around us as we speak. We deserve cleaner air, we deserve cleaner water, we deserve a cleaner world."
Varshini Prakash, director of Sunrise Movement in the United States: "Young people in more than 140 countries are taking to the streets to demand that our political leaders treat the climate crisis like the emergency that it is. Fossil fuel companies will stop at nothing to squeeze every last drop of money from the Earth—but our generation is mobilizing by the thousands and will strike again and again until we win. Any candidate for the American presidency who wants to win our generation''s votes must commit to making the Green New Deal the number-one priority."
Vic Barrett said: "My generation has never known a world free from the impacts of climate change. Time is running out. This decade is our last chance to stop the destruction of our people and our planet. This is our time to join in solidarity with communities around the world to fight for a just future."
In Mexico City, protesters chanted “Se ve, se siente, la tierra está caliente” – “You see it, you feel it. The earth is getting hotter.” In Brazil, where recent fires in the Amazon have drawn attention to the climate emergency, students attended protests in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the capital Brasília.
* Covering Climate Now is a global journalism initiative from 300 outlets worldwide, with a combined audience of more than 1 billion people:
# A selection of media coverage:

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Democracy is under threat and its promise needs revival
by International IDEA
Nov. 2019
The value, viability and future of democracy are more contested now than ever before in modern history. While the past four decades have seen a remarkable expansion of democracy throughout all regions of the world, recent years have been marked by declines in the fabric of both older and younger democracies.
The idea of democracy continues to mobilize people around the world, but the practice of existing democracies has disappointed and disillusioned many citizens and democracy advocates.
Democratic erosion is occurring in different settings and contexts. New democracies are often weak and fragile. Older democracies are struggling to guarantee equitable and sustainable economic and social development. The share of high-quality democracies is decreasing and many of them are confronted with populist challengers.
At the same time, democratic transitions occur in political regimes that seemed staunchly undemocratic and popular democratic aspirations continue to be expressed and defended around the world. Despite the challenges, democracy has proven resilient. Democracies have also shown, with some exceptions, to provide better conditions for sustainable development.
International IDEA’s report The Global State of Democracy 2019: Addressing the Ills, Reviving the Promise provides a health check of democracy and an overview of the current global and regional democracy landscape. It analyses the encouraging democratic trends as well as the key current challenges to democracy. The Report draws on data from the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) indices and lessons learned from International IDEA’s on-the ground technical assistance to understand the current democracy landscape. It aims at informing strategies, programmes and policy interventions in support of democracy.
* Access the report via the link below.

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