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800 climate activists arrested during London’s Extinction Rebellion protests

Ari Kelo

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Extinction Rebellion

London’s Metropolitan Police have made nearly 800 arrests this week, targeting climate activists demonstrating in Central London. The protesters, part of the Extinction Rebellion, have blocked roads and public sites such as Trafalgar Square and Westminster Bridge. The group aims to put pressure on the UK government to do more to combat the climate crisis.

But the government has so far criticized the movement, with Boris Johnson publicly insulting the protesters and the Met police arresting hundreds by the day.

The Extinction Rebellion heats up

As protesters continue to congregate, tensions with the police have increased. The police have demanded that protesters contain their demonstrations to Trafalgar Square, attempting to limit the movement’s widespread protests across the city.

Since the protests began on Monday, police have arrested around 800 activists, paralleling the 1,130 Extinction Rebellion arrests made in April.

Despite the crackdown, the demonstrations have been peaceful. From one of 60 participating cities, Londoners have gathered for a two-week long, non-violent occupation of public locations throughout the Westminster borough, where the Houses of Parliament meet.

The crowds represent all sorts, from students to Oxford professors to parents with young children. They’re singing, chanting, sleeping in tents, leading yoga classes, and, at one gathering, even enjoying a live samba band.

Last week, protesters also sprayed nearly 2,000 liters of fake blood on the Treasury building to highlight government hypocrisy. In a statement, the movement criticized the UK’s pride in leading the fight against climate change, despite “pouring vast sums of money into fossil exploration and carbon-intensive projects.”

These actions contribute to the Extinction Rebellion’s ultimate goals. They’re mobilizing to draw attention to the urgent threat of climate change and demand the UK government take action.

The movement has three major demands:

  1. Tell the Truth. According to Extinction Rebellion UK, the group is demanding their government declare a climate and ecological emergency. In essence, they want the government to acknowledge the dire consequences of climate inaction and take a stand.
  2. Act now. Secondly, the protesters want the UK government to create stronger initiatives against climate change. They specifically are asking Parliament to stop biodiversity loss and enforce net-zero carbon emissions by 2025, rather than 2050.
  3. Beyond politics. The Extinction Rebellion also demands an institutional shift that would give more power over climate-related decisions to the British people. They propose the UK government create a Citizens’ Assembly, which would handle decisions about climate and environmental justice.

These demands have encouraged large crowds of supporters and activists. Protesters have stood their ground, despite police attempts to shut down the demonstrations.

“This is our home, our planet, our future, and we are destroying it. The government needs to step up and tell the truth,” one activist remarked.

Another demonstrator, 83-year-old Phil Kingston, spray-painted the UK’s finance ministry building with the message: “Life, not death for my grandchildren.” Kingston was arrested shortly afterwards.

Also among the crowds were George Monbiot, a popular environmental writer and political activist, and former politician Stanley Johnson — Boris Johnson’s father.

The movement faces government backlash

Despite the peaceful nature of these protests, the UK government has not taken a liking for these displays of civil disobedience.

The UK’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, called the protesters “uncooperative crusties,” highlighting his disdain for citizens who exercise their right to assemble and disapprove of their government’s actions — or rather, inaction.

Funnily enough, Johnson’s father, Stanley Johnson, embraced the title. “I regard it as a tremendous compliment to be called an uncooperative crusty,” he said to a protester crowd at Trafalgar Square.

Donning an Extinction Rebellion pin, he continued: “From tiny acorns, big movements spring. We have been moving far too slowly on the climate change issue.”

Despite its humor, the insult pinpoints the current resistance of Parliament to enact real change.

And with police arresting protesters by the dozens, the government’s distaste for these climate activists has real consequences.

Yet, in spite — or maybe because — of hundreds of their fellow activists facing arrests, the Extinction Rebellion is going strong. For them, the time is now.

 

Advocacy

World War Zero: Leonardo DiCaprio, John Kerry, And Others Start Climate Coalition

Haider Sarwar

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John Kerry starts World War Zero, a new climate coalition

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, along with Leonardo DiCaprio and others, have started a climate coalition called World War Zero to combat climate change. By spreading the word, Kerry’s team hopes to add to the momentum of the climate activism movement. Along with Greta Thunberg’s push for action, World War Zero intends to inform people around the country about the devastating effects of climate change.

What The World War Zero Coalition Entails

Under President Trump’s administration, the US will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord in a year. Of course, most Americans aren’t happy with the decision. Still, the Trump administration plans to leave the accord.

Trump claims that “The Paris accord will undermine the economy.” The withdrawal, however, will undermine the effects of climate change.

Desiring to better inform individuals, John Kerry and his partners hope to create more initiative for climate activism.

With big names such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bill Clinton, the coalition aims to “Mobilize an army of people who are going to demand action now on climate change sufficient to meet the challenge.”

Specifically, members of the union will travel to many places to spread the word about climate change. From traveling to swing states before the 2020 elections to military bases, individuals can learn about climate issues.

Moreover, representatives of the coalition can advertise their personal opinion on the topic.

Why The Work Matters

In an interview with the New York Times, Kerry stated that the World War Zero coalition isn’t attempting to propose a specific plan. There are people who believe in many different plans in this coalition.

While free to advertise these proposals, the World War Zero coalition shares a universal goal: to simply inform the public. Katie Eder, a member of the coalition, stated that “collaboration is key to our survival.”

Furthermore, people may create a unified understanding of the detriments of climate change by hearing the many different proposals.

In a bleak report by the UN, the richest countries in the world aren’t doing enough to lower carbon emissions. Another report also illustrates that global emissions today are extraordinarily off track from achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

By using the “World War” rhetoric, Kerry hopes to display the global risk that climate change poses to everyone.

There Needs To Be An Attitude Shift

A change in attitude towards climate change is imperative. Companies and politicians are constantly making promises. However, in the end, only action will truly make a difference.

Like John Kerry’s World War Zero coalition, the spread of information is among the most important methods of initiating action. Along with the movement started by Greta Thunberg, Kerry’s coalition proves that the momentum for change is building up.

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Most Australians Want Businesses To Be Fully Powered By Renewables, Poll Finds

Rich Bowden

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Renewables

A whopping 68.5 percent of respondents urged Australian businesses to source power entirely from renewables, according to a uComms poll. Moreover, the poll also found that 78.9 percent of people wanted businesses to use more solar and wind energy. Additionally, some 65.7 percent said they would be more likely to buy products or services from companies that do so. It is safe to say that the poll is a signal.

Australians Want More Action On Climate Change And Pivot Towards Renewables

The poll finds Australians want the business community to do more to integrate renewables into their energy mix.

“This poll clearly shows that the overwhelming majority of Australians want businesses and corporations to step up and take action on climate change,” Lindsay Soutar, a senior campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, says in a media statement.

He was quick to point out Australia’s over-reliance on the fossil fuel industry. Consequently, he believes the issue is something the business community needs to address.

“The biggest driver of climate change in Australia is coal, which is still burned to make a large amount of our electricity.

“As some of Australia’s biggest users of electricity, businesses and corporations have an obligation to clean up their act and make the move to 100% renewable energy,” he added.  

Businesses Respond To Call For Renewables

There are many examples of Australian businesses that are already committing to change towards a renewable energy future. One is the banking and investment firm Macquarie Group. The company recently announced it has joined a new sustainability initiative.

It is the RE100 initiative, which encourages influential businesses to source their entire energy supply from renewables.

“Macquarie will seek to develop projects to supply the green energy for its new Sydney headquarters and Melbourne office,” said the bank in a recent media release. “Macquarie has been carbon neutral in sourcing its energy supply since 2010 through the purchase of carbon credits.”

“The commitment from Macquarie Group means that it now joins the ‘Big Four’ Australian banks in agreeing to source all of their electricity consumption from renewable sources under the RE100 initiative.”

Macquarie Continues To Support Fossil Fuel Investments

However, while Macquerie’s public pledge to source 100 percent of its energy from renewables has been applauded, others remain skeptical. Even some of Macquerie’s own shareholders question Macquarie’s continued investment in fossil fuels.

Market Forces reported that Macquarie’s shareholders have grilled the company over its financial backing of oil, gas and coal projects. After all, why would it do so after announcing a global risk scenario analysis on climate change?

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Al Gore Calls Climate Change The “Single Biggest Investment Opportunity In History”

Maddie Blaauw

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Al Gore

At a recent event in San Francisco, former Vice President Al Gore spoke about the economic benefits of dealing with climate change now, rather than putting it off or trying to avoid it altogether. According to Gore, one way to motivate people to fund research for and invest in new solutions to climate change is the shift the way we are looking at the problem. For some, the monetary motivation of framing climate change as “the single biggest investment opportunity in history” may help them get behind the cause. 

How big does Al Gore estimate the solution of this problem to be? To put things in perspective, he claimed that “the sustainability revolution has the magnitude of the agricultural and industrial revolutions but the speed of the digital revolution.”

Al Gore’s Involvement In Climate Activism

Al Gore is not a newcomer to climate activism. Though his activism began when he was a politician, one of Gore’s more famous pushes for climate action was his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, released in 2006.

Now, Al Gore gives frequent talks all over the country. He also puts on a climate awareness event called “24 hours of reality”. This year’s event just occurred on this past Wednesday and Thursday. 

So, What Is The Payoff?

It’s difficult to quantify the exact payoff of resolving the climate crisis. However, it is not too difficult to imagine the losses that would occur if current emissions and pollution rates continue. 

The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that the global economy would undoubtably shrink. Current estimates hover around 3% in the next 30 years if climate change goes untreated.

One of Trump’s main reasons for retreating from the Paris Agreement is because of claimed economic burden. He also lifted or loosened innumerable environmental regulations, using this same reasoning.

However, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in August, the growth per capita could decrease by 10.5% by the end of the century without climate change action starting now.

A Problem Too Costly To Ignore

Letting the problem of global warming sit for the next 81 years could also have direct costs to nations across the world as we attempt to deal with repercussions. The most costly and evident now include dealing with natural disasters and increased premature death.

Other concerns include lost property on coasts due to rising sea levels and lost wages due to heat waves.

Specifically in the United States, The Fourth National Climate Assessment predicted some dire impacts by the end of the century. Some of the highest costs would come from heat-related deaths at an estimated $141 billion.

Another is lost wages in outdoor industries due to heat waves at $155 billion, and lost coastal property at $118 billion. 

A Look Forward

The biggest reasons for fighting climate change shouldn’t be purely economical. Instead, they should be rooted in the ethical obligation of maintaining the planet for ourselves and our posterity. However, different arguments can spur more action and persuade a larger audience to fight for change.

Thus, looking at climate change from an economic perspective might help to foster changes to prevent tragedy.

If we deal with climate change effectively and with a strong commitment, then we can reap the benefits. If we let the problem sit and grow worse, then we will pay the price.

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