350 Updates

Crowdfunded Solar in Oakland, CA

One of our 350.org offices in the US is based in Oakland, California, a city that a number of our staff also call home. It's an amazing community to be a part of: diverse, vibrant, and full of individuals and groups who are working to find solutions to some of our most challenging problems.

One of those groups is RE-volv, a nonprofit that helps people crowdfund solar energy systems. Last Tuesday, RE-volv launched a crowd-funding campaign to pay for a solar energy system that it will lease to the Kehilla Community Synagogue, near lake Merrit in Oakland. The lease payments from this system will be reinvested into their revolving fund for solar which over time will finance three additional solar energy projects. On the first day of the Indiegogo campaign, accessible at solarseedfund.org, RE-volv raised over $10,000 towards its goal of $65,000 from over 70 people.

“This is exciting news for the Kehilla community as well as the planet. The lease payments from this project will allow many more communities to go solar, multiplying Kehilla’s impact” said Andreas Karelas, Executive Director of RE-volv. “We are delighted to work with the Kehilla Community Synagogue that has played a meaningful role in the community for 30 years.”

The solar installation will provide 26 kW—85% of Kehilla's electrical needs, saving the community $150,000 in energy costs over the 25 year warranty of the system. As solar replaces traditional grid electricity to power the facility, the community will avoid the release of 18,570 pounds of carbon dioxide, 57 pounds of nitrous oxide, and 42 pounds of sulfur dioxide emissions each year of operation.

"Kehilla has been working for several years to ‘green’ our congregation, as part of our community's effort to address climate change” said Rabbi David J. Cooper. “We are so excited to be working with RE-volv to allow us to go solar and dramatically reduce our carbon footprint, while helping other communities go solar as well."

Kehilla is a spiritual home to more than 350 member households, striving to promote social and economic justice, pursue peace, and care for the planet.

RE-volv finished its first solar project with the nonprofit Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, CA in June earlier this year.

It's exciting to see innovative projects like this taking place--especially when they're right in your backyard. We're proud to call RE-volv and Kehilla neighbors. And we're very excited to see all that they're going to accomplish in the years ahead.

 

Mandela.

We just sent out this email to our friends around the world. Not on our email list yet? Sign up here to receive crucial updates from the climate movement. 


Dear friends,

The last great leader of the 20th century -- and an inspiration for this new millennium -- died here in South Africa yesterday.

Nelson Mandela touched all of us with his courage, his unyielding resistance, and his grace. He knew how to fight, and he knew when to make peace.

Inspired by Mandela's vision, climate activists made a video last June during the Global Power Shift convergence coordinated by our 350.org crew.

Please do watch and share the video:

www.350.org/mandela

Along the way, Mandela and his colleagues helped pioneer the divestment tactic that many climate campaigners are now emulating.

As a South African, I am filled with an overwhelming appreciation for a man that gave my country so much -- freedom, love, compassion, empathy, graciousness and of course, himself. His selfless determination is what we remember this great soul by, and we will continue to keep him very close to our hearts.

I think the tribute Nelson Mandela would like the most is the knowledge that people the world over are carrying on his work.

Onwards,

Lushendrie for the whole 350.org team

 

Climate-charged storm Xaver flooding northern Europe

Much of northern Europe – including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Sweden – is getting battered by winter storm Xaver, right now. The storm is expected to cause over $1 billion in damages and has already resulted in a number of casualties. It's already being called one of the most dangerous storms to hit Europe in the last 60 years.

How are storms like Xaver connected to climate change? There's no way to connect an individual weather event like Xaver directly to global warming, but the storm is a powerful reminder of why we need to take immediate action to address the climate crisis.

Much of the threat comes from storm-surge flooding. Global warming has already raised global sea level about 20 cm since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges. Scientists expect roughly 60 to 210 more cm of sea level rise this century, depending on whether or not we can limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Xaver is showing us the damage that a storm surge with 20 cm sea level rise can cause. It’s hard to imagine the damage with 60 to 210 cm of sea level rise – and how we would be able to adapt to it. Xaver has forced the UK and Netherlands to deploy their full storm-surge protection barriers, while in Hamburg, on St. Nicholas day, both schools and Christmas markets have been canceled due to record-level storm surge the likes of which “we have rarely seen in the last 10 or 20 years", said a city official on Friday. If these barriers are struggling to handle a storm surge with 20 cm of sea-level rise, how will they hold up against the storms of the future?

A 2013 study in Nature concluded that flooding could cost the world’s cities $60 billion a year, even with major investments in flood protection. If we don’t make those investments, the cost could be up to $1 trillion a year. Who is going to pay for all those investments? You guessed it: you and me.

Meanwhile, the biggest fossil fuel companies in Europe are trying to make the case that it's support for renewable energy, not their own profiteering and price manipulation, that is driving up energy prices across Europe. These companies aren't just causing the problem, they're actively blocking the solutions we need. As Europe works to strengthen its 2030 carbon reduction goals, it will be more important than ever to challenge the stronghold these companies have over our economy and political process. Right now, the Magritte Group, a coalition of the CEOs of Europe's largest energy companies, are actively campaigning to gut Europe's climate regulations. Xaver should be a powerful reminder of why it's renewable energy, not fossil fuel companies, that deserve government support.

Storms like Xaver are another reminder of why we must begin to divest from disaster. It's time to stop funding the companies that are driving sea level rise and the other problems associated with climate change, and start investing in the businesses, people, and programs that can help address the crisis.

 

Westpac: the bank that kicks you out for withdrawing $1!

Over the last week, people across New Zealand have taken part in a week of action targeting Westpac bank - a bank that claims to care about climate change, but in reality is busy funding five new coal mines in New Zealand. Ashlee Gross - who took part in the week of action tells us how and why she got kicked out of her bank. There's something she needs your help with - read how you can help at the end!


This Wednesday I got kicked out of my bank…

I won’t pretend I wasn’t expecting to get thrown out; after sending them letters for the past two months and meeting with them last week, I was pretty aware that genuinely listening to me as a customer wasn’t that high on their list of priorities. Also, I was with 15 other people wearing t-shirts asking them to “stop using our money to finance climate change”.  

My bank – Westpac - happens to be really proud of its crafted public image of caring about sustainability, and has purportedly strong policies on climate change.  When we first started getting people to write to Westpac to ask them to stop financing plans for 5 new coal mines, I thought this might actually make them inclined to listen when we pointed out that these mines were one of the largest new planned sources of climate change from New Zealand.

But at this point, I didn’t figure wearing our request on a t-shirt - that other customers and the general public could see - rather than sending a letter to the CEO, was really going to go down that well. But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, you probably want to know what actually happened on Wednesday…

Myself and about 15 other customers went in and tried to each take $1 out of our accounts. We wanted to send a message to the bank that as customers we were serious about wanting them to stop re-loaning out our money to a company called Bathurst Resources, who plan to open a series of 5 new coal mines on and around the Denniston Plateau on the South Island of New Zealand…and that we could end up taking out a lot more than a dollar.

As I said, we expected to get kicked out - and did after just the third or fourth person tried to take out a dollar. But I still felt surprisingly frustrated, genuinely let down by my bank, and well, honestly, just a bit flummoxed.

The problem with the global fossil fuel industry’s plans (including Bathurst Resources’ plans) to dig up five times the fossil fuels that we can afford to burn couldn’t get any clearer. It’s a great big maths problem, and we’re trying to have a conversation with a bank, an institution that is all about numbers – how can they not clearly see the solution?

Yet somehow, in sitting in a meeting last week with reps from Westpac, and in reading messages trotted out by the New Zealand Government on why they were approving permits for the mines despite the Denniston Plateau being supposedly protected conservation land (and a globally unique ecosystem), it seems to keep coming back to the idea that ‘we have to go ahead with opening these new coal mines for the sake of the economy.’ 

Apparently Westpac, Bathurst Resources and the New Zealand Government can’t see any other options for keeping the New Zealand economy afloat except to expand our coal mining regardless of the CO2 emissions, or to open up huge sections of our coastline to exploratory deep sea oil drilling, which also started happening just last week. 

Which leaves me thinking back to 7th grade algebra class and feeling like they’ve forgotten to balance both sides of the equation. That’s where I’m hoping you, as 350 supporters from around the world might be willing to help. 

I think that Westpac, Bathurst Resources and the NZ Government have forgotten to add to the other side of the equation one of the biggest parts of New Zealand’s economy; the value of our “clean, green”, “100% Pure” image.  I also think they are very clearly forgetting to add the costs of climate change. 

If you have 10 to 15 minutes over the next week, it would be great if you could help remind them of the value of these things. Whether you’ve been to New Zealand and valued it’s beaches and forests, or know the lost value of a clean environment or the cost of climate change.  It would be amazing if you could write a letter to the editor of the New Zealand Herald letting them know what you think the real value of a genuinely clean, green New Zealand is, letting New Zealanders know that you stand with us on hoping to see the Denniston Plateau saved from coal mining, and encouraging Westpac and its customers to do their part by stopping financing to Bathurst.  You can send a letter online at http://dynamic.nzherald.co.nz/feedback/letters/index.cfm?  Or get more info at http://gofossilfree.org/nz/westpacdumpcoal/

 

Answer us Dr Jim Kim.

Mundra a small town in the state of Gujarat, India was well-known for salt and spice trading in the past. Now the town stands as an ironic example of inequality and injustice. While the Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), Tata Power’s wholly-owned subsidiary, claims TATA Mundra to be India’s most efficient and clean thermal power plant, the people in Mundra narrate a different story. Since its inception, the plant has met stiff resistance by local communities and environment groups worldwide. The project proponents and government did their best to hide these protests and continued to project TATA Mundra as a proud achievement for India.

 

 

However the recent internal investigation by International Finance Corporation's(IFC) Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) into the controversial Tata Mundra project found widespread environmental and policy violations. Notwithstanding this, the report also mentioned serious violations of mandatory safeguards. The report brought with it fresh hope for people of Mundra and for those fighting for environmental justice. Little did they know the World Bank  would not just ignore CAO’s  hint to stop funding TATA Mundra, it would instead try its best to prove these aspects of the report as irrelevant.

 

World Bank president Dr Jim Kim’s  decision to defend IFC’s  support to the project and to sweep the report under the rug is not acceptable.  As the head of one of the biggest financial institution Dr Kim needs to answer people of Mundra about his decision support the TATA Mundra power plant. Soon after the release of the  report many groups wrote to Dr Kim seeking justification for his inaction. So far all we have received is silence. It is time that we gather more support for voices from Mundra.

 

Last year World Bank  started an innovative way to interact with Dr Kim. They encouraged the general public to ask their questions regarding World Bank’s policies directly and he answered selected questions via a video recording. So it is time we asked Dr Kim the much needed questions about World Bank’s position on TATA Mundra. To challenge World Bank’s stand,  all it would take is a simple tweet! We are trying to mobilize people around the world to use World Bank’s existing online platform and ask Dr Kim to stop financing destruction in Mundra.  

So on 5th December 2013, lets ask Dr Kim about TATA Mundra and see if he is willing to answer us. Send in your Tweets at #AskJimKim and let him know you are someone who is standing up for the communities in Mundra.

Visit 350.org/askjimkim to show your support for people of Mundra.

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott: Let us show you what Direct Action really looks like

In case you haven't caught up with the news from Down Under, there's a new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, trying to run Australia. Since taking power, Abbott and his Government have demolished any sense of sensible climate policy. They've decommissioned the Climate Commission and are routing the carbon price (amongst other things), which they are replacing with a weak policy called 'Direct Action.' In a recent survey, 32 out of 35 renowned Australian economists said that the Direct Action policy is both economically and environmentally inferior to the existing carbon price. The policy does not guarantee any emission reductions.

The only thing going for the Direct Action policy is its name -- because Mr Abbott, we wholeheartedly agree that it is time to take direct action to solve climate change. We're glad that you have legitimised the term. We're also now going to take this opportunity to show you the type of direct action that is required to genuinely reduce Australia's emissions.

That's why, tonight, as part of the launch of 'Summer Heat Australia’, the faces and names of hundreds of community members who have pledged to stand up to the fossil fuel industry were projected onto the side of the Minerals Council of Australia building in Canberra (which recently engulfed the Australia Coal Association).

690

Summer Heat campaign coordinator Josh Creaser said that the action was designed to tell the industry that even if Tony Abbott refused to take climate change seriously and halt these dangerous plans, the Australian community will.

“With the Abbott Government failing to lead on climate change, the community has decided to take real Direct Action. As the temperature rises over Summer, people from communities across Australia will be stepping up campaigns to target the industry and stop their radical plans.”

This isn’t a movement of radical activists. It is mothers and fathers, grandparents, church leaders, lawyers, teachers, nurses and students. This is a community standing up to an industry that is threatening our future.

“Australia has seen brutal summer heat in recent years; now it's time to turn up the heat on those responsible -- the out-of-control fossil fuel industry”, said 350.org Co-founder Bill McKibben from the US.

Fossil fuel companies currently have plans to double Australia’s coal and gas exports. Mines such as those proposed in the Galilee Basin would be the largest in the country and some of the largest in the world. These dramatic and dangerous plans would lead to more pollution, higher sea levels and more extreme weather events such as the recent bushfires in New South Wales and typhoon in the Philippines.

Summer heat is a national campaign of community members from around the country stepping up to the fossil fuel industry to say enough is enough, it’s time to act on climate change and end our dependence on fossil fuels.

“Today is just the start.” Creaser said.  “We will keep campaigning until these plans are stopped project by project and until this industry realises that they cannot continue to expand if we are to survive.”

For more information about The Summer Heat campaign: http://joinsummerheat.org

 
 

Standing in the rain - Why #Euromaidan in Kyiv can help to make safer climate for all

My friends Olga, Arthur and I reflect on how recent mass pro-European demonstrations in Ukraine and our participation in them make sense for climate movement. 
 
Olga: Yesterday, just like the day before, I went to #Euromaidan in Kyiv – a square, where thousands of people strike against president Yanukovych’s decision to suspend European Association progress. I met my friends, had tea with candies, made some pictures and listened to the uprising Ukrainian rap singers. #Euromaidan was the first place where I arrived after #COP19 conference in Warsaw. The feeling that I had during the climate march and walkout in Warsaw have risen inside me again. Since Orange Revolution I remember this buzz in a crowd full of smiling people who believe in changes. Well, looks like I’m an addict. I have big doubts that European Association will bring Ukraine manna from heaven. Though I know for sure that if someone imprisoned anyone from my organisation because of a peaceful action – as it happened with the Arctic 30 and Russian government, I would tear out their heart and eat it. Civic society culture is growing in my own eyes in Ukraine today. I am here for the people who share their dreams and stand for them until the end. The press-release below summarises what young Ukrainian environmentalists dream about as they stand in the cold November rain.
 
687 People gather at Maidan in Kyiv
Photo: Thousands started to gather at Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv last Thursday to protest President's decision so suspend association with the EU
 
Activists of Ukrainian climate movement support the free expression on popular will of Ukrainian people at Euromaidan. We have no illusion that association with the EU would solve all the problems in Ukraine. But for us the strike at Euromaidan is an opportunity to declare our vision of Ukrainian future and to step away from fossil fuel energy and environmental  injustice. People power, supremacy of law and high environmental standards are the European direction we are standing for here and now, with thousands of Ukrainian people. Only together we can develop progressive civic society, strong enough to fight social injustice and climate change.

 

Delivering relief, solidarity and a promise of justice to Haiyan survivors

An update from Leon Dulce and the 350 Pilipinas / Power Shift Pilipinas team

I just came home from a national relief caravan last November 21 to 25 organized by the Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (Cooperation for the People) or BALSA, of which Brigada Kalikasan is a part of. It was a remarkable and massive undertaking of various sectors and social movements, including peasant federations, trade unions, environmental advocates, political activists and even survivors from Typhoon Bopha, where we saw the mobilization of 600 volunteers from across the country travelling into the remote, least-served communities affected by Haiyan to deliver relief, services and solidarity.

Through the various efforts under BALSA, we were able to deliver food relief, psycho-social therapy and medical services to over 27,000 least-served families in the Leyte and Samar provinces! Despite the caravan’s long and hard travel across land and sea, it felt truly amazing to have touched the lives of our fellow countrymen, especially as they shared to us that they have not yet received aid from government two weeks after Haiyan ravaged their community.

This would not have been possible if not for those who quickly responded to our call for donations from Brigada Kalikasan’s networks and especially from the 350.org international community. As of November 26, we have already raised over ten thousand dollars (US$10,359.92) and several tons of relief goods, some of which we have contributed to the BALSA national relief caravan and other relief missions we supported in the Leyte, Samar and Panay island regions.

We encourage everyone to sustain the donation drive through the Brigada Kalikasan web portal as we prepare for the next national relief caravan this December, and as we move to the phase of infrastructure rehabilitation, livelihood recovery and climate change adaptation. Follow the website as well for calls for volunteers.

From solidarity to justice in the face of criminal negligence

Indeed, beyond delivering relief, we also brought the warm solidarity we shared in the various vigils held across the world. But the real, desperate needs of Haiyan survivors are very apparent and in need of continuing support. What our social movements are reaching is just a fraction of the entirety devastated by Haiyan: as of November 27, the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that a total of 2.1 million families (or 9.9 million individuals) were affected and estimated damages of up to P24.5 billion across 44 provinces in the 9 affected regions. Power lines are still out, and water, food and communication are still severely limited in the majority of the affected areas. Most schools, hospitals and other public service institutions have virtually come to a standstill.

We personally witnessed tent and candle towns rising above the debris amidst persisting rainfall. Fisher folks lost all their boats and other implements to the storm surges, while farmers can only stare at the hectares upon hectares of uprooted coconut trees and flooded rice fields. This plight is expected to continue months or even years after Haiyan’s landfall, largely due to what the growing public opinion is calling the “criminal negligence” of the administration of President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III before, during and after Haiyan’s extreme climate episode.

In a position paper released last week, the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment succinctly captured the Philippines’ disaster and climate crisis in the following statement:

“This has been the story of BS Aquino's governance for the past three years: year in and out, hundreds of billions of pesos in damages to infrastructure and livelihood, thousands of lives are lost and millions are adversely affected as politicians from the local governments up to the President himself continue to coddle environmentally destructive projects, pilfer public coffers, and condemn their constituents to chronic poverty and its consequent vulnerability.”

The Filipino public is fast realizing the need to claim justice from the government’s lack of both immediate and long-term responses to the country’s disaster and climate crisis. In the National Capital Region, families, friends and supporters of Haiyan survivors have initiated the Tindog Network (‘Tindog’ is ‘Rise Up’ in the local Waray language in Eastern Visayas) to demand from the government for faster relief and rescue, decent burial for the dead, adequate supply of basic needs, livelihood assistance and financial assistance and just compensation for the survivors.

The people have begun to connect the dots between Typhoon Haiyan and the need for climate justice. We hope for everyone’s continued support as we plan to tie together the massive disaster response efforts and the growing climate justice movements through the coming Power Shift PH campaigns in the first quarter of 2014.

Maraming salamat!