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The climate justice movement must oppose white supremacy everywhere

by Mattias Lehman, Medium


Highlights

Mattias Lehman of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate movement working for the end to the climate crisis, shares how environmental groups need to focus more on racial inequality.

  • The climate movement is typically focused on nature-based initiatives such as “Save the Trees” and “Save the Polar Bears,” but rarely provides emphasis on saving the Black and Brown communities that have been experiencing environmental racism throughout history
  • The climate crisis is a major contributing factor to the migration of peoples to other countries. Many are seeking refuge from drought and famine
  • Environmental groups must speak out on injustices within the immigrant communities because immigrants are directly impacted by climate effects. To be silent is to be complicit with the racism that keeps these communities on the frontlines, in detention centers, and held in cages
  • Supporting and working towards defunding, reforming, and abolishing structures in this country built on principles of systemic racism is an important step for building a just, green, and equitable future

The Climate Center’s urgent climate policy goals will only be achieved if we also close the climate gap and ensure that communities of color are no longer disproportionately harmed. There cannot be climate justice without racial justice.


Read more: https://medium.com/sunrisemvmt/the-climate-justice-movement-must-oppose-white-supremacy-everywhere-by-supporting-m4bl-4e338cf91b19

Time’s Person of the Year is its youngest ever: Greta Thunberg, the teen climate activist

by Hannah Knowles, The Washington Post

Greta Thunberg has rejected accolades for her activism, sayingawards are not what the environmental movement needs.

But on Wednesday, the Swedish 16-year-old, who has mobilized millions of people to fight climate change and condemned leaders’ inaction, picked up another honor that acknowledges her impact.

Thunberg is Time’s Person of the Year — the magazine’s youngest ever.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/12/11/time-person-year/

High schoolers forced the State of Utah to admit climate change is real

by Jack Greene, High Country News

It sounds completely improbable: The Utah Legislature recently adopted a resolution that moves the state from denial of global climate change to the recognition that finding a solution is crucial.

An obvious question is how this flip-flop occurred in a legislature with a Republican super-majority of 83 percent, in a state that produces more than 90 percent of its electricity from fossil fuels. Students at Logan High School can tell you the answer: For nearly two years, they have been working to make the Legislature budge. They educated themselves about the science of climate change and formed alliances with other students and business leaders throughout the state.

Most of all, the teenagers never stopped. They simply refused to give up.

Their efforts began in 2016, when they learned that, six years earlier, the Utah Legislature had passed a resolution declaring that climate change should be ignored until the science was more convincing. Some Logan High School students found this incredible. They’d witnessed firsthand how climate change was contributing to longer and more intense fire seasons, and they experienced Utah’s dwindling snowpack and increasing water scarcity.

“My generation and generations to come will inherit the many threats that climate change poses,” said Piper Christian, one of these students. She decided to take action.

With the help of key legislators, she and other concerned students drafted a legislative resolution, “Economic and Environmental Stewardship.” Local business leaders who supported the students also wrote to state legislators, saying, “We need Utah’s policymakers to help us prepare for the potential effects that a changing climate could have on our state.”

Elected officials responded by claiming there was virtually no chance of getting the resolution introduced, must less passed. “Don’t waste your time,” they were told. “Try something less ambitious.” That response discouraged some students, but Christian decided: “We will persist, primarily to see this as something that does not have to be divisive.”

Their persistence paid off. Through a combination of networking and building more alliances, things began to move forward. To the students’ amazement, a Republican legislator — Rep. Becky Edwards of Bountiful — sponsored their resolution in the 2017 legislative session. When it was time for a hearing in her committee, the students spoke out forcefully and, some observers said, movingly.

Yet their initial resolution died after a 5–5 split. The students realized that they needed to do more work educating state legislators and also getting feedback on their resolution. They partnered with a coalition of advocacy organizations, whose volunteers met with representatives from nearly every Utah political district.

The six Utah chapters of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby were a major force, along with at least five other organizations that combined with the student network. At the start of the 2018 legislative session, the grassroots groups partnered with Edwards to create an evening program at the Capitol. It brought together high school students, legislators and a five-member “climate solutions” panel. The panel included a physicist, the director of the governor’s energy office, a student from Brigham Young University and two city mayors.

As the students said that night, “We, as youth leaders of Utah, have assembled with you, our state leaders, to address what we consider to be the paramount issue of our generation — that of a changing climate. We hope this dialogue will … ultimately lead to action to address this challenge on all levels — local, state and national.”

Adding to their public support was a business coalition that included Rio Tinto, Rocky Mountain Power, Mark Miller Subaru, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Utah Technology Council, the ski areas of Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Deer Valley and Park City, and various other major businesses.

The 2018 legislative general session began with Edwards again filing the students’ climate resolution. The students were forced to wait with patience as the resolution moved slowly through the committee process. They learned the importance of compromise as they watched the wording of the resolution change to accommodate various interests.

Once again, testimony from the students about the seriousness of climate change made an impact. Opinions started changing. The bill was reported out of committee by an 8-2 vote. Then, at last, came success as the House passed the resolution 51-21 and the Senate 23-3. A surprising 75 percent of Republican legislators voted in favor of the bill, which Gov. Gary Herbert, also a Republican, signed on March 20.

Now, many people in Utah are grateful to these Logan High School students and their allies, who never gave up despite the odds against them.

source: https://www.hcn.org/articles/opinion-high-schoolers-forced-Utah-to-admit-climate-change-is-real

Portuguese children to crowdfund European climate change case

by Sandra Laville, The Guardian

Portuguese schoolchildren from the area struck by the country’s worst forest fires are seeking crowdfunding to sue 47 European countries, alleging that the states’ failure to tackle climate change threatens their right to life.

The children, from the Leiria region of central Portugal, where fires this summer killed more than 60 people and left hundreds injured, are being represented by British barristers who are experts in environmental and climate change law.

Supported by the NGO Global Legal Action Network (Glan), they are seeking an initial £35,000 to mount the case in the European court of human rights.

The crowdfunding bid was published on Monday on the platform CrowdJustice, which has raised millions to help bring citizen-led cases to court.

Lawyers will seek a ruling from the court that the countries being sued must significantly strengthen their emissions reduction policies and commit to keeping the majority of their existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

The lead counsel, Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers, said: “This case intends to build on the successes which have been achieved through climate change litigation across the world so far.

“It will be unique because it will be the first case in which multiple governments are brought before a court at the one time in relation to their failure to properly tackle climate change.

“Climate change poses a major and increasingly worsening threat to a number of human rights and governments in Europe are simply not doing enough to address it.”

The children, aged between five and 14, all come from Leiria, which suffered Portugal’s deadliest fires this summer.

Some experts have blamed the increase in forest fires in Europe on climate change.

A 14-year-old who is part of the group taking action said: “Climate change causes many problems, but if I had to name the ones that worry me the most, it would be the sea level rise, which leads to the destruction of shores and infrastructure such as dams, roads and houses, and also the increase in the number of forest fires that we’ve been observing lately – especially this summer, as the fires caused many deaths and left our country in mourning.”

The legal action will target the 47 nations who are the major emitters in Europe – including the UK, Ireland, Germany and France. These 47 were collectively responsible for roughly 15% of global emissions and held a significant proportion of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves, said the Glan director, Dr Gearóid Ó Cuinn.

European court of human rights decisions are binding on these states.
The case is also being taken to raise public awareness about what Glan says are the shortcomings in government policies on climate change.

Ó Cuinn said: “We will work with civil society organisations throughout Europe to use our case to highlight the fact that unless governments urgently take much stronger action to prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions, it is only a matter of decades before we’ll be witnessing the catastrophic consequences of insufficient action.”

Two years ago a group of Dutch citizens – organised by the NGO Urgenda – successfully sued their government for negligence for knowingly contributing to a breach of the 2C maximum target for global warming.

Three judges ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions by 25% by 2020, saying their lower targets were unlawful given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.

source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/25/portuguese-children-crowdfund-european-climate-change-case-sue-47-countries