Two progressive movements have been growing steadily between the Atlantic and Europe. One that started in the US and reached the UK, while the other started in Sweden and reached the US.
US Democrat Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is not just an ambitious climate plan, but a comprehensive one plan designed to prepare the American economy for a low carbon transition. Named after the famous Roosevelt’s famous post- economic depression plan ‘New Deal’, GND involves debt restructuring, employment guarantees and much more. More recently, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn met with one of the architects, Zack Exley, to discuss the UK version of the GND, but had to face opposition from within the party over what it would mean for Britain.
Meanwhile, the student strikes, initiated by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, has snowballed into a youth movement for climate action across Europe. Greta’s movement reached the UK recently. The ‘Youth Strike for Climate’, stormed the UK on February 15, resulting in Prime Minister Theresa May criticising students for missing school. For India’s Prime Minister Modi, Greta recorded a special message asking him to take action now and stop ‘bragging about little victories’. The protest is picking up momentum for a global strike to be held on March 15.
Student climate strike gains momentum for March 15 showdown
Call it ‘Youth Strike for Climate’, or ‘Fridays for Future’ (F4F): Triggered by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg’s school strike for climate, the student-led environment movement reached the UK on February 15, picking up momentum for a global student strike to be held on March 15. Last week, thousands of schoolchildren walked out of classrooms across Europe to hold climate strikes “to make leaders pay attention” and ramp up their climate targets.
While UK’s Conservative prime minister Theresa May slammed the teenagers for disrupting schools, the students urged the grownups to “act now” as they “did not have time anymore.” Labour party’s Jeremy Corbyn, however, backed the students on Twitter for skipping school to save the planet.
Teen’s blunt message to PM Modi: Stop bragging, act now to stop climate crisis
Sixteen-year-old girl Greta Thunberg delivered a video message on Facebook to PM Modi telling him to act now and not “brag about little victories”. Addressing Mr Modi in her blunt style, the Swedish teen said: “…you need to take action now about the climate crisis, not just talking about it because if you keep on going like this, doing business as usual, and just talking about and bragging about the little victories, you are going to fail and if you fail, you’re going to be seen as one of the worst villains in human history in the future. And you don’t want that.”
Greta has become an icon since she stopped going to school in August 2018, and launched a school strike for climate, shaming heads of states and governments over refusing to take concrete climate action and conducting business as usual.
Green New Deal: US leaders take the message to the UK
After the Democrats launched the Green New Deal (GND) in the US – which is a sweeping campaign for green economic stimulus to decarbonise the US economy (zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050) – the radical idea reached Britain last week. UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn met with one of the architects, Zack Exley, to discuss the UK version of the GND, but had to face opposition from within the party over what it would mean for Britain.
Exley had advised US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the draft resolution for a massive green economic stimulus. Writer Jedediah Britton-Purdy wrote in New York Times: “In the 21st century, environmental policy is economic policy. Keeping the two separate isn’t a feat of intellectual discipline. It’s an anachronism.”
France introduces 2050 carbon-neutral law
The French government has proposed plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, but environmentalists are concerned that the government wants to expand the role of nuclear energy. If the proposal is passed in Parliament, France would drop its earlier plan of lowering emissions to a quarter of 1990 levels by 2050, and go completely carbon neutral by 2050 instead.
The country has also proposed to increase the target of cutting the use of fossil fuels from 30% to 40% by 2030. But, at the same time, it also proposes to delay the plan of cutting down nuclear power (to 50%), in 10 years (from 2025 to 2035) and reduce the target of cutting energy consumption from 20% to 17%.
Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, said she was “delighted to see the 2050 carbon neutrality target appear in the law.”
European Commission: Palm oil not a renewable biofuel
The European Commission’s new draft law says biofuels produced from palm oil will no longer be classified as renewable biofuel. The law is slated to be passed in the next two months. According to experts, if land use is also taken into account, palm-oil-based biodiesel releases three times more greenhouse gases than fossil fuel diesel because of the deforestation palm oil plantations necessitate.
However, two of Indonesia’s presidential candidates – the country that accounts for most of the world’s palm oil production – have said that they would slash the country’s reliance on imported diesel fuel and promote energy “self sufficiency” by boosting production of palm oil-derived biodiesel.
Norway to release payments to Indonesia under $1-billion deal for cutting forest emissions
Indonesia will finally start receiving payments from the $1 billion deal it signed with Norway 10 years ago, after it successfully managed to cut down deforestation rates in 2017. Norway will release the first instalment (estimated to be about $20 million) for reducing warming emissions. Indonesia banned culling of forest under the 2010 climate deal, with payments linked to the progress on lowering carbon emissions from trees, after they decompose on being cut, or burned.
Indonesia has the world’s third-largest tropical forest, but the country is also the world’s largest producer of palm oil – plantations for which are a major reason why the Indonesian forest cover is being stripped away.
EU ministers back UN chief’s call to raise climate targets
EU foreign ministers have supported UN chief Antonio Guterres’s call asking countries to raise climate ambitions, the key reason for the climate summit he has convened on September 23 this year. According to Climate Home News, the UN chief has already approached G20 leaders for the summit and has received support from China and Canada.