BP Platform Leaks Oil Into North Sea With No Plans to Clean It Up

Oil slick visible from spill off BP Clair platform in the North Sea. (photo: Maritime and Coastguard Agency)

Oil slick visible from spill off BP Clair platform in the North Sea. (photo: Maritime and Coastguard Agency)

By Dan Zukowski, EcoWatch -09 October 16
Source: Readers Supported News


About 95 metric tons of oil leaked into the North Sea on Sunday from BP‘s Clair platform, and it will be left in the ocean. BP says the oil is moving away from land and dispersing naturally, but the spill is a reminder that accidents happen as more oil development is eyed for the Arctic.

In what BP called a “technical issue,” oil was released into the North Sea, located about 46 miles, west of the Shetland Islands. BP shut down the oil rig and said it is investigating the accident.

The oil company said it had conducted five aerial surveys with three more planned for Tuesday to monitor the oil slick.

“It is considered that the most appropriate response remains to allow the oil to disperse naturally at sea, but contingencies for other action have been prepared and are available, if required,” BP said.

In addition to Clair, BP operates the Quad204 facility in the North Sea, 108 miles west of Shetland, in a field that has been drilled since 1998. The North Sea has seen oil and gas extraction for decades, with about half of the estimated reserves having already been taken. Oil production peaked in 1999, but production has been on an upswing in recent years. A recent discovery off Norway, the Johan Sverdrup oil field, is expected to begin production in 2019.

According to energy consultancy Crystol Energy, “The Johan Sverdrup field is expected to be one of the most important industrial projects in Norway over the next 50 years.”

From 2000 to 2011, there were 4,123 separate oil spills in the North Sea, according to an investigation by The Guardian. Oil companies were fined for just seven of them. No single fine was greater than about $25,000.

There have been a number of major oil spills in the North Sea—the largest of which was the 1977 Bravo blowout that released an estimated 80,000 to 126,000 barrels of oil. The well spewed oil for seven days. In 2011, Shell spilled more than 200 metric tons from the Gannet Alpha platform, and a 2007 mishap while a tanker was loading oil resulted in a spill of 4,000 metric tons, or about 25,000 barrels of oil. None of these spills were alleged to have any ecological impact, and all but the Bravo blowout were allowed to disperse, unchecked, by the sea.

As the Arctic Ocean warms, oil giants are eyeing the northern seas for more oil exploration and development. It is a dangerous environment in which to drill.

As Greenpeace stated, “The long history of oil spills around the world has made one thing clear: the only way to prevent an oil spill is to keep oil in the ground.”


The Arctic lacks the infrastructure to stop, mitigate or clean up a major oil spill, or even to quickly aid workers on a damaged platform.

But that isn’t stopping oil companies. Today, Caelus Energy boasted of a “world-class” discovery that could turn out to be one of the largest finds in Alaska. In a press release, Caelus CEO Jim Musselman called the find “really exciting” and the company said the Smith Bay complex could produce 200,000 barrels of oil per day.

“Without the state tax credit programs, none of this would’ve happened, and I’m not sure Caelus would’ve come to explore in Alaska,” Musselman added.

In June, 400 scientists signed a letter urging President Obama to stop any further oil development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. A 2014 study found that the polar bear population in the Southern Beaufort Sea had dropped by an astounding 40 percent from 2001 to 2010.

“Accidents can and do happen, and in this extreme environment, the only truly safe approach to protect the unique and fragile Arctic offshore environment is no drilling whatsoever,” Brad Ack, World Wildlife Fund‘s senior vice president for oceans, said in July.


The Arctic Is Melting and Big Business is Chomping at the Bit to Dig In

arctic drilling

By Alejandro Davila Fragoso, Think Progress – 27 January 16
Source: Readers Supported News

Standing at a podium before the World Economic Forum, Leonardo DiCaprio briefly smiled as he received an award for his leadership in tackling climate change. Once settled under the spotlight, he quickly moved away from his grateful statements, and began railing on corporate avarice.

“We simply cannot allow the corporate greed of the coal, oil, and gas industries to determine the future of humanity,” said DiCaprio last week while at Davos, Switzerland, where some 2,500 top global business leaders, politicians, and intellectuals gathered to discuss politics, economics, and social issues.

Fossil fuels must be kept in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change, he continued. “Enough is enough. You know better. The world knows better.”

But while DiCaprio was cheered Wednesday as he stepped off the stage with his Crystal award, the international business community appears interested in venturing into new areas despite potential ecological costs. In fact, a day after recognizing environmental leadership, a World Economic Forum advisory group launched the Arctic Investment Protocol, and with that came a tacit push for extracting resources from one of the least-developed areas of the world.

The Arctic Investment Protocol is a voluntary set of guidelines for nations looking to do business where diminished ice coverage from man-made climate change is allowing access to once-unreachable sea routes as well as vast mineral and fossil fuel reservoirs.

The protocol calls for building resilient societies through economic development, pursuing measures to protect the Arctic environment, and respecting and including local communities, to name a few. The Guggenheim Partners, a major global investment and financial services firm, quickly endorsed the protocol, saying the Arctic represents one of the last great economic frontiers.

With more than $240 billion in assets, Guggenheim Partners was the first major firm to endorse these guidelines. In doing so, it also gave a strong indication of where global business is headed as South America, Asia, and Africa receive increasing investment. “The Arctic Investment Protocol is an important step forward and a solid foundation upon which to build for the future,” said Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, in a statement.

On the one hand, such a business trend would bring economic prosperity and infrastructure that experts say is lacking in many Arctic communities. On the other, human history shows that economic development is very often intertwined with ecological costs.

Exponential Arctic development thus raises serious environmental questions involving a region known for its fragile endemic species, where maritime environmental protection codes are in infancy, and so remote that pollution cleanup operations are difficult and costly. Not to mention the major role the Arctic plays in global climate since its already receding ice reflects a large amount of solar radiation, all while holding onto CO2 that if released would accelerate global warming.

And yet the northernmost region of the world has seen its share of development for many years. Researchers reached said the Arctic became part of the global economy at least two centuries ago with the emergence of the whaling industry, followed by oil and gas exploration. Researchers noted, however, that a new boom is taking place because the area is more accessible, and that Guggenheim could be a watershed for even more investment.

This comes as studies have found that Arctic ice is receding and thinning at an accelerated pace. Annual mean ice thickness has decreased from nearly 12 feet in 1975 to some four feet in 2012, a 65 percent reduction, according to a 2015 study. Moreover, the Arctic warms twice as fast (or more) than the Earth as a whole does.

“You can say that it is the era of [the] Arctic,” said Mohamed A. Essallamy, an expert in Arctic maritime issues and a professor at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, via email to ThinkProgress.

In 2009, only five cargo ships went through the Russian Northern Sea Route, according to a recent study by the Council on Foreign Relations. By 2013, that figured climbed to 71. Meanwhile, investment in the Arctic could potentially exceed $100 billion within the next six years, according to a 2012 Arctic Opening report by Lloyd’s of London Ltd, the world’s oldest insurance market.

Profiting from the Arctic is costly, however. In a statement, Guggenheim Partners said the Arctic needs about $1 trillion in infrastructure. The firm said it’s working with international partners to establish the Arctic infrastructure inventory to identify and prioritize such needs across the region.

“There is a great need for infrastructure,” said Jessica M. Shadian, a researcher and professor at Iceland’s University of Akureyri, in a phone interview with ThinkProgress. Telecommunications, affordable energy, but also more basic infrastructure like sewage and potable water is lacking in many areas, she said.

“People want economic development in the Arctic, in the north, just as much as anyone does anywhere else,” said Shadian, who like many noted that local support for economic development is abundant, even if that development means unearthing fossil fuels.

The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, she said, are just two large examples of organizations owned by Arctic communities that back resource extraction. Environmentalists in the Arctic and elsewhere have questioned development for years as well, saying extraction will industrialize land, pollute water, and generate greenhouse gas pollution.

Just last week, Greenpeace Norway director Truls Gulowsen told Climate Home that the group aims to challenge oil development in Norwegian courts. “We have already discovered more fossil fuels than it is safe to burn in a 1.5°C or 2°C scenario,” he said.

Last year governments agreed on a framework that puts the world on track to limit global warming to no more than 2°C, a threshold many in the scientific community say will prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. By some estimates, this threshold requires keeping as much as two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

For the Arctic, moreover, development may come at time of serious local environmental frailty. In recent research, Essallamy explained that many Arctic species live long and produce only a few offspring, making them particularly sensitive to any change that could affect mortality. He further noted that slow biological processes lead to slow revegetation, so for instance, impacts on tundra from heavy vehicles may be observed for decades. And then there are invasive species that ships could bring and the unavoidable leakages of lubricant and fuel oils.

All these effects would come as maritime environmental protection codes are barely developing, and when laws in the high seas are difficult to enforce to begin with. In fact, a code for ships operating in polar waters is yet to be applied. The International Maritime Organization has adopted regulations in the last couple of years and more are expected, Essallamy said, but the earliest polar code will come into force in 2017.

Still, the notion that the Arctic is lawless is deceptive, experts said. For more than two decades the Arctic Council, a high level intergovernmental forum including arctic governments and indigenous communities, has been meeting to promote coordination. It has eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

“The fortunate aspect about a lot of parts of the Arctic is that they are in highly developed countries,” said Shadian, “and so you are not going to really see just extracting resources at any cost because there are a lot of environmental standards.”

Drue Pearce, a former Alaska State senator, said in an email to ThinkProgress that in Alaska the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 that regulates development, “and the rest of every permitting process, is more rigorous than anywhere else in the world.”

The Arctic region has nonetheless suffered ecological damages for years. Russia has struggled to enforce its environmental standards, although it holds stringent environmental laws, experts said. According to published reports, environmentalist and experts agreed that at least 1 percent of Russia’s annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year. Much of the spillage reportedly happens in the oil-rich Russian Arctic.

Alaska too, has had its share of issues with oil, most notably during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in the 1980s. Responding to environmentalist catastrophes — and other emergencies — is quite difficult and costly, experts said, and many resources need to be concentrated in developing safety systems.

Two Russian oil workers use a boat and shovels to gather oil and mud from the waters of a small river, a tributary of the Kolva River, some 37 miles north of Usinsk, an Arctic town six miles from the Arctic Circle in Russia, Friday, Oct. 28, 1994. (photo: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Two Russian oil workers use a boat and shovels to gather oil and mud from the waters
of a small river, a tributary of the Kolva River, some 37 miles north of Usinsk,
an Arctic town six miles from the Arctic Circle in Russia, Friday, Oct. 28, 1994.
(photo: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Yet Shadian said local communities that have inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years still don’t necessarily agree that their development should be discounted, particularly over climate change. The brunt of climate change, she said, didn’t originate in the Arctic. “What happens in the south doesn’t stay in the south, it goes straight to the Arctic.”

And with that, Shadian touched on how the world may be unfairly weighing on development and the environmental costs associated with climate change, an issue that has received increased attention in recent times. During the Paris climate talks for instance, the issue of how rich nations have benefited from fossil fuels while passing many of the costs to developing countries was front and center. This in turn emboldened the argument that resource demand in some areas drives resource extraction elsewhere, which when ill-managed exacerbates climate change and increases the risk for ecological disasters.

For the Arctic, this argument and the ecological paradox it carries is no different, and in part places the responsibility of what happens in the Arctic on the global consumer. That’s because economic theory says demand largely drives supply, and if that’s the case, then global demand will establish the rate of Arctic development, not the other way around.

Indeed, as commodity prices continue declining in value, costly Arctic development may very well be following the same trend, at least in the short term. “Right now mineral and oil and gas prices are so low that a little bit of a hype in the Arctic is dying down,” said Shadian, who like many others who’ve lived in the region, welcomed Arctic development, so long it’s environmentally responsible and sensible to local control.

“The Arctic is not any different when it comes to development or the right to do so,” said Inuuteq Holm Olsen, a Greenland diplomat, in an email to ThinkProgress. “For us, it is not a choice between development or the environment. The right to development is a universally recognized principle and that applies to the Arctic as well.”

Η Επόμενη Ημέρα της Φωτιάς στον Ασπρόπυργο

Mesogios SOS deltio typou image001

Αθήνα, 18 Ιουνίου 2015



Μετά το σβήσιμο της φωτιάς στην μονάδα ανακύκλωσης στον Ασπρόπυργο και την ανακοίνωση των αποτελεσμάτων εργαστηριακών αναλύσεων που πραγματοποιήθηκαν από το Εθνικό Κέντρο Έρευνας Φυσικών Επιστημών «Δημόκριτος», οι τρεις περιβαλλοντικές οργανώσεις, η Οικολογική Εταιρεία Ανακύκλωσης (ΟΕΑ), η Greenpeace και το Δίκτυο Μεσόγειος SOS, επισημαίνουν τα εξής:

Οι μετρήσεις που έγιναν και αυτές που πρέπει να γίνουν:

  • Θα περιμέναμε οι μετρήσεις να αφορούν πρωτίστως τους ρύπους εκείνους που μπορούν να περάσουν στην τροφική αλυσίδα και συνεπώς να έχουν δυσμενείς επιπτώσεις σε βάθος χρόνου. Επισημαίνουμε την έλλειψη αναφοράς σε άλλους ρύπους (π.χ. Πολυκυκλικούς Αρωματικούς Υδρογονάνθρακες – ΠΑΥ), που είναι καρκινογόνοι και μπορούν να έχουν δυσμενείς επιπτώσεις στην υγεία, καθώς και την έλλειψη μετρήσεων στις στάχτες, όπου οι διοξίνες και άλλοι επικίνδυνοι ρύποι αναμένεται να έχουν πολύ υψηλότερα επίπεδα και μπορεί να καθιστούν τα αποκαΐδια της φωτιάς τοξικά απόβλητα, που χρήζουν ιδιαίτερης διαχείρισης.
  • Ειδικά για τις διοξίνες, δεν είναι τόσο η πρόσληψή τους μέσω εισπνοής ή επιμολυσμένου νερού που ενέχει κινδύνους, όσο το πέρασμά τους σε τροφές (κυρίως πλούσιες σε λιπαρά).
  • Θα πρέπει άμεσα, οι μετρήσεις να ολοκληρωθούν (να γίνουν επιπλέον μετρήσεις διοξινών και ΠΑΥ και ιδιαίτερα στη στάχτη και σε αγροτοκτηνοτροφικά προϊόντα, εάν υπάρχουν, σε επαρκή απόσταση από τη μονάδα και στην βασική κατεύθυνση διασποράς των καυσαερίων). Από τα αποτελέσματα θα κριθεί αν είναι σκόπιμο να ληφθούν μέτρα για ενδεχόμενα ρυπασμένα αγροτικά προϊόντα.

Τα αίτια της φωτιάς:

  • Είναι φανερή η αδυναμία των αρμοδίων υπηρεσιών (ΥΠΑΠΕΝ, Περιφέρεια) να κάνουν συστηματικούς και αποτελεσματικούς ελέγχους. Η έλλειψη συστηματικών ελέγχων ουσιαστικά στέλνει το μήνυμα ότι «είναι οικονομικότερο να μην τηρηθούν καθόλου οι όποιοι όροι προβλέπονται». Ακόμη και εάν γίνει κάποιος έλεγχος (συνήθως μετά από καταγγελία) μέχρι την βεβαίωση της όποιας παράβασης και την εφαρμογή μέτρων, μεσολαβεί τόσος χρόνος και διαδικασίες, που καθιστά πολλές φορές τους όποιους ελέγχους αναποτελεσματικούς.
  • Η πρόσθετη εποπτεία του Ελληνικού Οργανισμού Ανακύκλωσης (ΕΟΑΝ) και των σχετικών Συστημάτων Εναλλακτικής Διαχείρισης σε αυτές τις μονάδες αποδεικνύεται εκ του αποτελέσματος ανεπαρκής.
  • Για τέσσερις δεκαετίες δεν έχουμε καταφέρει να συνεννοηθούμε στην Αττική και αλλού για να δρομολογήσουμε τις οριστικές και βέλτιστες λύσεις στο πρόβλημα της διαχείρισης των απορριμμάτων και άρα αφήνεται πολύς χώρος για παράνομη και επικίνδυνη διαχείριση σκουπιδιών παντού. Σήμερα έπρεπε η επίσημη και νόμιμη ανακύκλωση να είναι τουλάχιστον τετραπλάσια και άρα να λειτουργούν σε πλήρη δυναμικότητα αυτές οι μονάδες υπό καθεστώς νομιμότητας και σε συμμόρφωση με όλα τα μέτρα ασφαλείας.

Ποια είναι η επόμενη ημέρα:

  • Οι συστηματικοί έλεγχοι (όχι μόνο μετά από καταγγελία) σε εγκαταστάσεις περιβαλλοντικού ενδιαφέροντος, δεν είναι πολυτέλεια, αλλά απόλυτη ανάγκη για τη διασφάλιση της δημόσιας υγείας, αλλά και για την ασφάλεια και αποδοτική λειτουργία των ίδιων των υποδομών. Χρειάζεται μία ολοκληρωμένη και αποτελεσματική πολιτική για τους περιβαλλοντικούς ελέγχους, η οποία θα αυξήσει τους εκατοντάδες ελέγχους, που πραγματοποιούνται σήμερα ετησίως σε όλη την Ελλάδα, σε περίπου 10.000 που κρίνονται απαραίτητοι. Επειδή το κράτος έχει συνέχεια, ας αξιοποιηθούν τα συμπεράσματα και οι προτάσεις της ειδικής Ομάδας Εργασίας του ΥΠΑΠΕΝ, που είχε ασχοληθεί εμπεριστατωμένα με το θέμα πριν από δύο χρόνια, και στην οποία είχαν συμμετάσχει όλοι οι εμπλεκόμενοι φορείς.
  • Με ευθύνη του ΥΠΑΠΕΝ έχει καθυστερήσει αδικαιολόγητα η συγκρότηση του ΔΣ του ΕΟΑΝ, το οποίο άμεσα θα πρέπει να συγκροτηθεί και να οργανώσει την συστηματική παρακολούθηση των μονάδων εναλλακτικής διαχείρισης σε όλη την Ελλάδα. Δεν υπάρχουν περιθώρια να καούν και άλλες μονάδες εναλλακτικής διαχείρισης.
  • Τέλος, ας δουλέψουμε όλοι οι εμπλεκόμενοι, χωρίς αγκυλώσεις και προκαταλήψεις, πάνω σε ρεαλιστικές και οικονομικές προτάσεις, για να δρομολογηθεί επιτέλους η λύση του προβλήματος της διαχείρισης των απορριμμάτων και στη χώρα μας, στη βάση πολλών καλών παραδειγμάτων της ΕΕ και στην προοπτική της Μηδενικής Παραγωγής Αποβλήτων και της Κυκλικής Οικονομίας. Οι τρεις οικολογικές οργανώσεις έχουν καταθέσει διαχρονικά πολλές προτάσεις σε αυτή την κατεύθυνση, όπως και στην πρόσφατη διαβούλευση για το Εθνικό Σχέδιο Διαχείρισης Αποβλήτων (ΕΣΔΑ).

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες:

Φίλιππος Κυρκίτσος (ΟΕΑ) 210-8224281, 6936-140795,

Νίκος Χαραλαμπίδης (Greenpeace) 210-3806374, 6979 395108

Βαγγέλης Κουκιάσας (Δίκτυο Μεσόγειος SOS) 210-8228795, 6977-600247

Work of Prominent Climate Change Denier Was Funded by Energy Industry

climate change deniers4

By Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian UK, 22 February 15

Source: Reader Supported News

 A prominent academic and climate change denier’s work was funded almost entirely by the energy industry, receiving more than $1.2m from companies, lobby groups and oil billionaires over more than a decade, newly released documents show.

Over the last 14 years Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, received a total of $1.25m from Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and a foundation run by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, the documents obtained by Greenpeace through freedom of information filings show.

According to the documents, the biggest single funder was Southern Company, one of the country’s biggest electricity providers that relies heavily on coal.

The documents draw new attention to the industry’s efforts to block action against climate change – including President Barack Obama’s power-plant rules.

Unlike the vast majority of scientists, Soon does not accept that rising greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial age are causing climate changes. He contends climate change is driven by the sun.

In the relatively small universe of climate denial Soon, with his Harvard-Smithsonian credentials, was a sought after commodity. He was cited admiringly by Senator James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who famously called global warming a hoax. He was called to testify when Republicans in the Kansas state legislature tried to block measures promoting wind and solar power. The Heartland Institute, a hub of climate denial, gave Soon a courage award.

Soon did not enjoy such recognition from the scientific community. There were no grants from Nasa, the National Science Foundation or the other institutions which were funding his colleagues at the Center for Astrophysics. According to the documents, his work was funded almost entirely by the fossil fuel lobby.

“The question here is really: ‘What did API, ExxonMobil, Southern Company and Charles Koch see in Willie Soon? What did they get for $1m-plus,” said Kert Davies, a former Greenpeace researcher who filed the original freedom of information requests. Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center, of which Davies is the founder, shared the documents with news organisations.

“Did they simply hope he was on to research that would disprove the consensus? Or was it too enticing to be able to basically buy the nameplate Harvard-Smithsonian?”

From 2005, Southern Company gave Soon nearly $410,000. In return, Soon promised to publish research about the sun’s influence on climate change in leading journals, and to deliver lectures about his theories at national and international events, according to the correspondence.

The funding would lead to “active participations by this PI (principal investigator) of this research proposal in all national and international forums interested in promoting the basic understanding of solar variability and climate change”, Soon wrote in a report to Southern Company.

In 2012, Soon told Southern Company its grants had supported publications on polar bears, temperature changes in the Arctic and China, and rainfall patterns in the Indian monsoon.

ExxonMobil gave $335,000 but stopped funding Soon in 2010, according to the documents. The astrophysicist reportedly received $274,000 from the main oil lobby, the American Petroleum Institute, and $230,000 from the Charles G Koch Foundation. He received an additional $324,000 in anonymous donations through a trust used by the Kochs and other conservative donors, the documents showed.

Greenpeace has suggested Soon also improperly concealed his funding sources for a recent article, in violation of the journal’s conflict of interest guidelines.

“The company was paying him to write peer-reviewed science and that relationship was not acknowledged in the peer-reviewed literature,” Davies said. “These proposals and contracts show debatable interventions in science literally on the behalf of Southern Company and the Kochs.”

In letters to the Internal Revenue Service and Congress, Greenpeace said Soon may have misused the grants from the Koch foundation by trying to influence legislation.

Soon did not respond to requests for comment. But he has in the past strenuously denied his industry funders had any influence over his conclusions.

“No amount of money can influence what I have to say and write, especially on my scientific quest to understand how climate works, all by itself,” he told the Boston Globe in 2013.

As is common among Harvard-Smithsonian scientists, Soon is not on a salary. He receives his compensation from outside grant money, said Christine Pulliam, a spokeswoman for the Center for Astrophysics.

The Center for Astrophysics does not require scientists to disclose their funding sources. But Pulliam acknowleged that Soon had failed to meet disclosure requirements of some of the journals that published his research. “Soon should have followed those policies,” she said.

Harvard said Soon operated outside of the university – even though he carries a Harvard ID and uses a Harvard email address.

“Willie Soon is a Smithsonian staff researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a collaboration of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory,” a Harvard spokesman, Jeff Neal, said.

“There is no record of Soon having applied for or having been granted funds that were or are administered by the University. Soon is not an employee of Harvard.”

Both Harvard and the Smithsonian acknowledge that the climate is changing because of rising levels of greenhouse gas concentrations caused by human activities.

Pulliam cast Soon’s association with the institutions as an issue of academic freedom: “Academic freedom is critically important. The Smithsonian stands by the process by which the research results of all of its scholars are peer reviewed and vetted by other scientists. This is the way that the scientific process works. The funding entities, regardless of their affiliation, have no influence on the research.”

Nature Does Not Negotiate…


…Climate Catastrophe Is With Us Now

By Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace

08 December 14

As Typhoon Hagupit hits the Philippines, one of the biggest peacetime evacuations in history has been launched to prevent a repeat of the massive loss of life which devastated communities when Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the same area just over a year ago.

“One of the biggest evacuations in peacetime” strikes a sickening chord. Is this peacetime or are we at war with nature?

I was about to head to Lima, when I got a call to come to the Philippines to support our office and its work around Typhoon Hagupit (which means lash). In Lima another round of the UN climate talks are underway to negotiate a global treaty to prevent catastrophic climate change. A truce of sorts with nature.

But these negotiations have been going on far too long, with insufficient urgency and too much behind the scenes, and not so much behind the scenes, interference from the fossil fuel lobby.

This year, like last year and the year before these negotiations take place against a devastating backdrop of a so-called ‘extreme weather event’, something that climate scientists have been warning us about if we don’t take urgent action.

Tragically, we are not taking urgent action. Nature does not negotiate, it responds to our intransigence. For the people of the Philippines, and in many other parts of the world, climate change is already a catastrophe.

Only one year ago, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands, destroyed communities and caused billions of dollars in damage. Many survivors who are still displaced have this week had to evacuate the tents they have been living in as Typhoon Hagupit carves a path across the country as I write.

It’s too early to assess the impact so far – we are all hoping early indications will spare the Philippines of the same pain that was experienced after Haiyan.

Here in Manila, we prepare to travel to the impacted areas in the wake of Typhoon Hagupit, or Ruby, as it has been named. We will offer what minor assistance we can.

We will stand in solidarity with the Filipino people and we will call out those who are responsible for climate change, those who are responsible for the devastation and who should be helping pay for the clean up and for adaptation to a world in which our weather is an increasing source of mass destruction.

With heavy hearts we prepare to bear witness. We challenge those in Lima to turn their attention from the lethargy and process of the negotiations and pay attention to what is happening in the real world.

We call on them to understand that climate change is not a future threat to be negotiated but a clear and present danger that requires urgent action now!

Each year, the people of the Philippines learn the hard way what inaction on emissions mean. They might be slightly better prepared and more resilient, but they are also rightly more aghast that each year – at the same time – the climate meetings seem to continue in a vacuum, not prepared to take meaningful action, not able to respond to the urgency of our time and not holding accountable the Big Polluters that are causing the climate to change with ferocious pace.

Before leaving for Manila I also received a message from Yeb Saño, climate commissioner for the Philippines: “I hope you can join us as we bear witness to the impact of this new super typhoon. Your help would be very valuable in delivering a message to Lima loud and clear.”

Yeb was the Filipino chief negotiator for three years at the UN climate talks and recently visited the Arctic on a Greenpeace ship to witness the Arctic sea ice minimum. Two years ago in Doha, as Typhoon Pablo took the lives of many he broke through the normally reserved language of dispassionate diplomacy that dominates UN climate treaty talks:

“Please … let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to … take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”

I am joining Greenpeace Philippines and Yeb to visit the worst hit areas, document the devastation and send a clear message from climate change ground zero to Lima and the rest of the world that the ones that are responsible for the majority of emissions will be held accountable by the communities that are suffering the impacts of extreme weather events linked to climate change.

We will call on the heads of the fossil fuel companies who are culpable for the unfolding tragedy to examine their consciences and accept their historic responsibility. They say the truth is the first casualty of war, in this war against nature, the truth of climate science is unquestionable.

Please join us. Please add your voice by signing our petition calling on Big Polluters to be held legally and morally accountable for climate damages. After signing the petition you will be redirected to a site where you can make a donation to the relief efforts of partner organisations.

Source: Reader Supported News

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