AND THE FUTURE?Scientists are learning more about trees, shrubs, and the best ways to help ecosystems. Urban planners have learned that hedges work better than trees in urban areas to trap auto pollution. But trees play more roles than just pollution and CO2 capture. In fact, they are a crucial link in the water cycle. This understanding is especially important since droughts are one of the major dangers of climate change.
THE BATTLE ONGOINGThe story of the US and climate change would not be complete without recognition of the efforts that are underway by the White House to undo the efforts of previous administrations. Thus an important component of the positive news is covering the legal efforts to stop these rollback efforts. The Nation and The Guardian are becoming the major sources of coverage on this topic. In April, The Nation summarized why the climate wrecking agenda is likely to fail. In the US, a coalition of 17 states is challenging the legality of Trump's agenda. And The Children's Trust lawsuit against the Us government (see Organizations tab for more information) is continuing to move forward. In the latest development, a co-defendant industry group (the National Association of Manufacturers) has requested permission to withdraw from the court proceedings, apparently because of reluctance among its member businesses to continue. In the US and around the world, more climate lawsuits are being brought by citizens. And a number of these climate change court battles are yielding victories for the climate change plaintiffs. Governments are finding it less easy to ignore climate change in the wake of the Paris Accord. If the US decides to drop the baton as the international leader, apparently the EU may be willing to take the lead. Time will tell whether having the Pope gift Trump his climate change encyclical will shift the perspective of the US president (although he did promise read it). But it is reassuring that other countries do NOT seem to be prepared to follow the US backwards.
The Ugly and The Beautiful
May 21, 2017
This is the first update in quite some time. I confess that the national news has been difficult, and I could not bring myself to finish the updates, in spite of frequently finding positive news. However, I finally realized that we are in a new rhythm, and if I watch closely, I can see this new pattern, a dance, as the fight to protect Planet Earth gains momentum.
There have been many hits - election of a president who does not believe in climate change, executive orders to attack the environment, approvals of pipelines. But with each hit, someone or some country or some organization has stepped up to say "Not on my watch". A bit of a "pas de deux".
The Paris Climate Accord was miraculously signed by 196 nations in late 2016, and in spite of the new US president and his cabinet appointees, it survives. Other nations are working hard to meet their climate goals. China announced at the Morocco UN Climate Summit its desire to be the world leader in addressing carbon pollution; the faster China changes, the better off Earth will be.
Renewables are becoming less and less costly per kilowatt-hour so that new energy generation is rapidly shifting away from fossil fuels. Developing countries are finding that disseminated renewable energy lessens the need for extensive expensive grids, and rural electrification can proceed now without fossil fuels or large power plants.
In the US, organizations are taking the executive branch to court to protect the environmental laws. Nebraska landowners are standing up to Keystone XL. In spite of the appearance created by the daily news stories, we are the majority, and much is going right.
This good news has been pulled together in two new books that offer hope: Drawdown by Paul Hawken, and Climate of Hope by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope. Read more about them in the Positive News on the left.
And continue to drop by here and find the positive news! I promise that I will not wait so long to update the movements of the dance.
Transformational Change, to halt climate change and mitigate its devastating effects, is underway. The blueprint was forged in Paris out of love.
We are rapidly moving toward sustainable and renewable energy, transportation, agriculture, and water supplies. Transformations in attitudes, behaviors, and economies will enhance the likelihood of a livable environment for our children and grandchildren. Great strides are being made in renewable power generation (especially wind, solar, and photovoltaic), clean water, sustainable food production, and protection of the oceans and forests. Innovative transportation solutions are here. The web often provides the negative news, while the mainline media hardly provides any news at all, yet there is so much happening. Here we help readers take heart from the positive news. The site is updated about once per week.
"The case for optimism on climate change"
by Al Gore
Updated Feb. 28, 2016
Al Gore has a new TED talk available, where he both reviews the scary data and makes a convincing case for optimism. This is the same Al Gore that got the climate discussion going many years ago, but finally he can appear in public with positive news. The video is well worth watching. If you read this blog regularly, much of the material will be familiar.
So much has changed in two months. Going into the Paris climate talks, there was great concern was about getting any agreement at all that could be signed by all 196 countries. In the end, not only did all the countries sign the agreement, but the agreement provided a more aggressive climate action plan than almost anyone had thought possible. How did this outcome occur?
You have probably read some of the posts here (now in the Archives) about the agreement itself, and all the different groups that came together. Much of the credit, from my perspective, goes in three sectors.
Most important was the excellent work of France, whose leaders created an outstanding plan for the conference, and then used their mighty diplomatic skills to get everyone there and talking to each other. Even India and Pakistan had brief conversations! (And the US did its part.)
The second sector was the activist groups from around the world. The presence and testimony of the indigenous and island peoples whose lands are disappearing put pressure on negotiators to take them into account. These peoples would have been easy to dismiss at a distance, but in person their impact great. The activist groups representing virtually all of the developed and developing countries managed to make their presence felt, in spite of the extreme constraints brought about by the terrorist attacks. Thus people power played a major role.
Third, business stepped up. There had been hints prior to Paris that major corporations were beginning to take climate change seriously, but it was difficult for single companies to take major actions unilaterally in case that would damage their market positions. As they all came together, and confronted the realities of the changing planet, organizations and collaborations were formed that will increase corporate transparency on climate change related activity and reporting. These issues may appear small to the outsider, but are major in terms of how markets and shareholders operate. These newly developing frameworks promise strong movement on the private side toward green energy solutions. Finally, the developing countries who were nervous about the costs (particularly India) were linked with large green energy companies and various types of funders, leading to new agreements for collaboration that can substantially cut into the greenhouse gas emissions.
There is still a LONG way to go. This winter, the earth's climate put on a display of its growing destabilization on the US eastern seaboard, providing record warm temperatures in December and record blizzards in January. But the evidence from Paris that the world's attention is now increasingly focused on the problem heartens me that we have a chance to make the substantial changes that are so desperately needed. The Positive News is continuing apace - follow here for ongoing reporting.
We have a theme song!
It's a love song to the earth
new from many artists working together, created for the December Paris climate conference. Check it out (you will have to scroll down to find it).
Understanding the Positive News
Updated Oct 08, 2015
The Positive News is accelerating with the approach of the December Climate Summit in Paris. It appears that, as we had hoped, the country-by-country commitments to the climate are changing the international and business cultures in relation to the need for action to halt climate change. And there is even a sense that some countries are beginning to compete with each other to be the biggest champions of slowing climate change! China is a great example. As recently as December 2014, they made a game-changing commitment to reach peak carbon emissions in 2030. Now, in advance of the Paris Climate Summit, there is movement toward reaching that peak even sooner. The quote from a Chinese senior policy representative indicates that the reasons for this shift are that it is an economic benefit, rather than a cost. His comments almost exactly replicate the Citigroup report, described below. And the shifts taking place in China are part of the reason that Goldman Sachs believes that coal has peaked, and no new investment is warranted.
In August 2015 Citigroup (a US corporation) produced a 122-page detailed report that showed in great detail that decreasing and/or eliminating fossil fuels would GREATLY benefit the future global economy? Already (by October 2015), the impact of this report is being seen across the globe. Fossil fuel companies can only expand into new sources (meaning opening new coal pit mines, expanding tar sands, expanding fracking, new port facilities) if banks will provide the capital. These new initiatives all require many years to begin to yield returns, so banks need to believe the applicants' estimates that there will be markets for these products in the future, and that the products will be purchased at high enough prices. The Citigroup report appears to have played a role in China speeding up investment in renewables and (as a first step) the ending of coal, contributing to the Goldman Sachs report that coal has peaked (see above), and discouraging any bank from lending for new coal initiatives. The conservative Australian government that is attempting to promote more coal development may be able to face down its activist citizens, but will not be able to change the global business climate.. As the IMF and World Bank get on board, funding for other new fossil fuel initiatives could begins to dry up. The announcement by 13 fossil fuel companies that they support international goals to rapidly decrease the use of fossil fuels suggests that they may be starting to hedge their corporate plans for the future away from fossil fuels, and may be beginning to diversify now into energy sources that are consistent with urgent planetary needs.
Although the drumbeat continues on how our planetary ecosystem is changing already, the direst predictions may be disconnected from the rapidly changing political and business landscape. This is strong evidence that there really is a major shift underway, one that we could hardly have imagined a year ago. There is good reason to become activists, with hope in our hearts.