Forget Paris?

New Internationalist

The Paris climate talks are looming. What – if anything – can we hope for? Jess Worth and Danny Chivers investigate.

You Shell not pass: First Nations activist and singer Audrey Siegl confronts the oil giant’s drilling rig on its way to the Arctic. © Emily Hunter / Greenpeace
You Shell not pass: First Nations activist and singer Audrey Siegl confronts the oil giant’s drilling rig on its way to the Arctic. © Emily Hunter / Greenpeace

At the end of September, something Earth-shaking happened. After 10 years and $7 billion, Shell abandoned its plans to drill in the Alaskan Arctic.

Shell’s U-turn wasn’t driven by government action or international climate agreements. It was years of public protest, direct action, online organizing and legal challenges – particularly by Indigenous communities – that delayed the project and ratcheted up the costs.

Add the global oil price slump and the technical difficulties of Arctic operations, and suddenly the entire project hinged on the success of a few months’ drilling. When that failed, Shell was done. In one swoop, the campaign to save the Arctic has succeeded in keeping more fossil fuel in the ground than 23 years of international climate negotiations.

Listening to the mainstream media, you might be tempted to believe that this is all about to change at the Paris climate talks, and that a ‘good deal’ on climate is finally within grasp. Continue reading Forget Paris?

South Africa in midst of ‘epic drought’

Mail & Guardian

South Africa is facing its worst drought since 1982, with more than 2.7-million households facing water shortages across the country.
AZAD ESSA

Some 6 500 rural communities across four provinces face water shortages. (Reuters)
Some 6 500 rural communities across four provinces face water shortages. (Reuters)

Lennox Mabaso, spokesperson for the Department of local government in KwaZulu-Natal, told Al Jazeera that the drought, concentrated in provinces of Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, was beginning to impact on livelihoods and draining the economy.

“The dams are at an all-time low. This is an epic drought and government is doing the best it can do. As you can imagine, it requires a lot of resources and its impacting everyone, rich and poor,” Mabaso said.

The ministry declared the KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces as disaster areas and warned that some 6 500 rural communities across four provinces face water shortages. Continue reading South Africa in midst of ‘epic drought’

Urgently Needed: Studies Linking Land Degradation, Migration, Conflict and Political Instability

InterPress Service

By Manipadma Jena

“A direct driver of land degradation is improper land use and this needs to change,” said Uriel N Safriel. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS
“A direct driver of land degradation is improper land use and this needs to change,” said Uriel N Safriel. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov 5 2015 (IPS) – Some 135 million people could be displaced by 2045 as a result of land desertification, according to a recent UK ministry of defense report. This figure could rise to 200 million who are displaced by other climate change impacts like natural disasters by 2050, said British environment refugee specialist Norman Myers.

These could have been little more than debatable numbers until Syria’s civil war refugees rose exponentially to over 4 million, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in a span of a little over 24 months, with more than 7.6 million internally displaced, together accounting for half of Syria’s population. As much distress and unrest that these figures have caused, they pale in comparison to the number of displaced that will likely occur due to desertification and climate change. Continue reading Urgently Needed: Studies Linking Land Degradation, Migration, Conflict and Political Instability

Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal, a Nightmare for Environmentalists

InterPress Service

By José Adán Silva

Hundreds of small farmers came to Managua from the Caribbean coastal region in southern Nicaragua on Oct. 27 to take part in the 55th protest against the construction of the inter oceanic canal, which is set to displace thousands of rural families. Credit: Carlos Herrera/IPS
Hundreds of small farmers came to Managua from the Caribbean coastal region in southern Nicaragua on Oct. 27 to take part in the 55th protest against the construction of the inter oceanic canal, which is set to displace thousands of rural families. Credit: Carlos Herrera/IPS

MANAGUA, Nov 3 2015 (IPS) – The international scientific community’s fears about the damage that will be caused by Nicaragua’s future inter oceanic canal have been reinforced by the environmental impact assessment, which warns of serious environmental threats posed by the mega project.

The report “Canal de Nicaragua: Executive Summary of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment” was carried out by the British consulting firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM) and commissioned by the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development (HKDN Group), the Chinese company that won the bid to build the canal.

The 113-page executive summary sums up the study, whose unabridged version has not been made publicly available by the government, ERM or HKND.

In the study, ERM says the mega project could be of great benefit to the country as long as best international practices on the environmental, economic and social fronts are incorporated at the design, construction and operational stages, for which it makes a number of recommendations.

But it spells out specific risks and threats to the environment in this impoverished Central American country of 6.1 million people with a territory of 129,429 square kilometers. Continue reading Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal, a Nightmare for Environmentalists

Close Up on Climate

CAFOD

The Close-up on Climate film project asked children and young people, aged between 5 to 18 years old, to get creative and produce short films about climate change and its impacts, and to share their films with their political leaders. Three films were selected from the entries as being particularly creative and inspiring, and will be shown to MPs as part of a parliamentary event on 4th November. These include two films from Catholic schools: St Mary’s Catholic Academy and St Mary Queen of Martyrs RC Academy.

All entrants have been invited to the parliamentary event in London, and will be campaigning about climate change.

Kenyan Youths Renounce Crime to Protect Forests

All Africa

Tharaka Nithi, Kenya — Groups of reformed youths who once sold drugs and stole from their neighbors are helping protect trees in rural central Kenya from illegal loggers.

The young adults, whose previous activities were a source of community tension, now report suspicious logging to village authorities. They are also contributing to an effort to boost Kenya’s forest cover from 7 percent to 10 percent by 2030.

It has been illegal to cut down trees in Kenya’s forests since 1999, but a new constitution in 2010 extended the ban to rural farms unless the feller has an official permit.

Murithi Ntaru, a member of the Muiru Youth Reform Group from the parched village of Weru in the lowlands of Tharaka Nithi County, finds his new calling more fulfilling than his former life dealing drugs.

“This is better than when I would hide from the authorities for days as a drug peddler,” said Ntaru, 34, who has a friend in prison for narcotics-related offenses. Continue reading Kenyan Youths Renounce Crime to Protect Forests

Pope Francis: Companies can become places of holiness

Independent Catholic News
Pope Francis addressed 7000 members of the Union of Italian Christian Business Executives in the Paul VI hall this morning (Saturday), and told them that companies can become places of holiness. The Union brings together Catholic entrepreneurs who set themselves the goal of being the architects for the development of the common good. He told them their emphasis on Christian formation and training, mainly through the deepening of the social teaching of the Church, was a noble work. He also spoke about the importance of having the right balance between work and family life.

The Pope noted how a company and the executive office of companies can become places of holiness, by the commitment of everyone to build fraternal relations between entrepreneurs, managers and workers, encouraging co-responsibility and collaboration in the common interest.

The Holy Father also noted that the call to be missionaries of the social dimension of the Gospel in the difficult and complex world of labor, economics and business, involved being open and close to diverse situations such as poverty. Continue reading Pope Francis: Companies can become places of holiness

South Sudan faces ‘concrete’ famine risk and needs urgent help, warn experts

The Guardian

Food security analysis highlights need for immediate action to ward off threat of starvation as difficulty of reaching conflict-wracked areas begins to tell.

Liz Ford

A man in South Sudan’s conflict-ridden Upper Nile state places his hand on parched soil. Restricted access to areas affected by fighting has raised fears of a possible famine. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA
A man in South Sudan’s conflict-ridden Upper Nile state places his hand on parched soil. Restricted access to areas affected by fighting has raised fears of a possible famine. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA

Famine in parts of South Sudan could be just weeks away unless urgent action is taken to address humanitarian needs.

In its latest assessment of food security in the country, published on Thursday, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) warned that there is a “concrete risk of famine occurring between October and December” unless more assistance is provided and access is given to aid agencies to reach affected areas.

Four counties in Unity State are among those principally at risk of famine, while Jonglei and Upper Nile states are also areas of concern. All three states have been wracked with conflict since December 2013, when a power struggle broke out between Salva Kiir, the South Sudanese president, and his former vice-president Riek Machar. The violence has left tens of thousands dead and displaced more than 2 million people. It has also shattered the nascent country’s economy.

Aid agencies have been  warning for months of difficulties in delivering assistance to these areas. Continue reading South Sudan faces ‘concrete’ famine risk and needs urgent help, warn experts