Two and a half cheers for the COP21 climate talks outcome

George Monbiot got it about right with his assessment of the COP21 outcome:

By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.

But no matter what, the Paris Agreement does mark a turning point, and sends by far the strongest signal yet to banks, investors and industry. One might ask where they have been looking in the past decade if they haven’t already read the signals. Has it been gross negligence or haven’t they read their own disclaimers that past performance should not be taken as an indicator of future returns on fossil fuels? How can it be that they’ve wilfully ignored the risk of stranded assets?

As May Boeve – Executive Director of 350.org – put it:

“This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.”

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COP21 climate change conference unfolds in Paris

An early start, walking with the AYCC/SEED crew to Gare du Nord under streetlights and a sinking moon, since we’d heard it might be difficult to get in today with all the leaders in town.

On the shuttle bus (navette), I met Yhro from Niger. We discussed deforestation, desertification and the unsustainable use of groundwater (nappe phreatique).

My entry into Le Bourget COP21 venue was slow while security officers took an inordinate interest in the Catholic Earthcare and Multifaith SA banners, but I was allowed through once they’d been closely scrutinized and deemed harmless.

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Ecocide update with Polly Higgins

Once in a lifetime a truly game-changing event reshapes global society. Think back to 1833 when the British Parliament finally bowed to public pressure and the Slavery Abolition Act was passed. Now in our lifetime Polly Higgins is campaigning tirelessly to do for Earth Rights what the abolitionists did for Human Rights. And the goal is in sight.

I spoke to Polly Higgins this week for an update.

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Divestment: Can moving our money move us beyond coal?

Coal has played a pivotal role in modernising the global economy. But if we had a second shot at the industrial revolution, would coal be at the centre? Would we design an economy that viewed Australia – as a senior politician recently described – as “an island of coal, floating upon a sea of gas”? Or would we put human ingenuity to the test and generate a sustainable economy powered by the sun and the wind?

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Climate action rally speech

Thank you all so much for coming. I’d like to add my acknowledgement to the Kaurna people and acknowledge their sovereignty was never ceded.

Three years ago I attended the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. It was there standing alongside people from places like Fiji and Nepal – whose homes were already being impacted by climate change and hearing how they were organizing to fight for theirs and our future – that I learnt how important it is that our movement listens to the people being most impacted by climate change and the burning of fossil fuels, whether it’s rising sea levels, extreme weather events or the high rates of cancer that plague coal communities.

It was this lesson that led me to dedicate myself to working alongside the Port Augusta community to campaign for a replacement of the ageing coal stations on the edge of their town with Australia’s first concentrated solar thermal plants with storage.

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Imagining a nation free of fossil fuel investment

polyp.org.uk - New Internationalist magazine cartoonist

polyp.org.uk – New Internationalist magazine cartoonist

It’s simple really. If you want good things to happen, invest in them. If you want to stop bad things happening, cut off their funding.

But that’s not yet occurring. Banks, super-funds and governments keep investing in activities that we know are rapidly destroying the life-support systems of our planet, and it must stop.

That’s why the Bill McKibben Tour this week is so powerful and so important. Bill is a passionate advocate for divestment – getting out of investments in fossil fuels – and his presentations are clear and memorable. If you know a banker, a superannuation fund employee or a government worker, invite them to join you at one of the events on the Bill McKibben Do the Maths roadshow. You can book now for live events in Canberra – June 5th (with internet simulcasts to Adelaide, Hobart and Perth), Canberra National Press Club – June 6th, Melbourne – June 7th and Brisbane – June 9th.
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Divestment from fossil fuels

do_the_math_logoan open letter to the CEO of the ANZ Bank

For Personal Attention: Mike Smith, CEO

Dear Mike,

I figure you’re a decent chap. You’re quoted as saying: “We are focussed on growing our business responsibly, managing risks rather than taking them and approach our role in society with a heightened sense of duty and care towards our customers and the communities we serve.”

You’ve achieved that on one level. Your branch staff are some of the most efficient, knowledgeable, helpful and best-trained workers I’ve come across in retail banking. Well done.

But there’s a serious problem with ANZ activities on the national and international level. Consider these two questions:

  • Would you say it’s wrong to do things that are seriously harmful to the planet’s ecosystem?
  • Would you say it’s wrong to profit financially from doing things that are seriously harmful to the planet’s ecosystem?

So that’s the issue. Is it true that ANZ Bank continues to invest in fossil fuel exploration and extraction? Is it true that ANZ Bank and its investors continue to make profits from destroying the planet’s ecosystem?

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