Medio ambiente

In the United States, as in France, cities such as Paris, New York and San Francisco are starting to file lawsuits against oil majors, asking them to limit their carbon emissions and pay for the health and environmental consequences. © Yamil Lage / AFP

On November 23, 1998, four big US tobacco companies signed the  Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement with the attorneys general of 46 states and six US territories. Big Tobacco agreed to pay the gigantic sum of $206 billion (2.3% of the country's GDP at the time) over 25 years to compensate for public health expenses incurred by these states due to smoking-related illnesses, and to finance large-scale campaigns warning about the dangers of tobacco. The agreement was signed after a series of legal actions by states demanding reimbursement from companies for their health expenses.

Faced with the immense humanitarian consequences of climate change -  hundreds of thousands of deaths and  millions of forced displacements every year - and the immense financial needs for adaptation in the most vulnerable countries, local and state governments are starting to sue fossil fuel companies, just like they did the tobacco companies 30 years ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

The World Took a Bold, Toothless Step Forward on Climate Justice

The United Nations climate conference that concluded last weekend in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, did not appear, at the outset, poised to deliver a major breakthrough. Unlike last year’s meeting in Glasgow, this year’s was not designed to produce new emissions pledges, and so the countries that pollute the most weren’t under particular pressure to offer any new promises.

Beyond Secretary General António Guterres’s fiery opening remarks, there were few high-profile rhetorical performances at COP27 by world leaders like those last year by Boris Johnson and then-Prince Charles of England, who engaged in a sort of Olympics of climate hyperbole. Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados brought to this year’s conference an exciting set of proposals to reshape the institutions of development and climate finance, at a time when the global community had been moved especially by the monsoon flooding in Pakistan to consider the injustices of warming and the need for “loss and damage” payments to vulnerable countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

El turismo del fin de los tiempos

El Parque Nacional y Reserva de la Bahía de los Glaciares de Alaska es una de esas joyas que suelen visitar más los turistas que los habitantes del estado. Cuando por fin fui allí el verano pasado, después de llevar 40 años viviendo en Alaska, lo hice como la mayoría de la gente: a bordo de un crucero, acompañado por algunos miles de turistas de todo el mundo.

Las cumbres elevadas a lo lejos, los fiordos tallados en hielo y las ballenas jorobadas, las orcas y los osos grizzly eran tan dignos de ver como me habían contado. Mientras los pasajeros se desparramaban en la cubierta de observación, deseando asomarse, una vistosa pirueta del barco ante una pared de hielo azul glaciar permitió contemplar la naturaleza romántica con toda su gloria atemporal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Walking under an array of potted succulent plants in the Green Zone of the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Loss and Damage fund is a historic moment

Anna Aberg

COP27 will go down in history as the UN climate change conference where the Loss and Damage fund was agreed. After decades of pushing, this is a momentous victory for climate-vulnerable developing countries.

The shift in the conversation – and in the positions of developed countries – since COP26 is remarkable. It is critical parties continue to build on the positive momentum created in Sharm as challenging discussions on how the new loss and damage fund will work – and who will contribute to it financially – ensue.

Tim Benton

Overall COP27 was a hectic, sometimes chaotic, event that advanced some matters but left others trailing behind where they need to be to drive ambition towards the sort of climate action required to keep alive the possibility of restricting climate change within the envelope of the Paris agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tourists walk across a flooded St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, on Sept. 27. ANDREA PATTARO/AFP via Getty Images

The spotlight at this year’s United Nations climate change conference (or COP27) has focused on “loss and damage”—a euphemism for climate reparations—which is on the official agenda for the first time. Climate-vulnerable developing countries seek compensation from the countries that have done the most to warm the planet. There is no chance of reparations commensurate with the true cost to developing countries, which studies estimate at hundreds of billions of dollars per year. What rich countries have committed to loss and damage has mostly come from Europe: about $250 million from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Scotland.

Europe’s contributions to loss and damage—and toward climate adaptation in the developing world—are commendable, but it must also remain focused on its own vulnerability to direct climate impacts.…  Seguir leyendo »

The death and destruction that result from the climate crisis disproportionally affect the world’s poorest countries and people. Yet they have contributed the least to global greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is already happening faster than many communities around the world can adapt to its effects, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That is with a mere 1.1°C of global warming—and we’re heading for 2.8°C.

Developing countries are therefore aiming to put climate-related “loss and damage” at the centre of the UN climate negotiations taking place in Egypt; and to demand support to cope with it. For example, Pakistan suffered devastating floods this year, with economic losses estimated at up to $40bn.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dar dinero contra el cambio climático no es una obra de beneficencia

Este año, la crisis climática alcanzó nuevos niveles de devastación para millones de personas en países vulnerables que no causaron el problema. Las inundaciones en Pakistán, la sequía en el Cuerno de África y los huracanes en la República Dominicana, todos intensificados por el cambio climático, acabaron con el sustento de varias personas y ocasionaron pérdidas tan inmensas que muchos en países ricos no pueden ni siquiera comprender.

Durante casi tres décadas, los países más vulnerables a los desastres climáticos les han pedido a los países ricos que los ayuden a pagar los daños, solo para ser ignorados.

En la conferencia climática anual de las Naciones Unidas de estas semanas, la cuestión aparece de manera formal en la agenda, lo cual es un avance en sí mismo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Paying for Climate Damage Isn’t Charity

The climate crisis has reached new levels of devastation this year for millions of people in vulnerable countries that didn’t cause the problem. Floods in Pakistan, drought in the Horn of Africa and hurricanes in the Dominican Republic — all intensified by climate change — have ruined people’s livelihoods, causing losses so immense that it is hard for many in richer countries to even fathom.

For nearly three decades, the countries most vulnerable to climate disasters have asked wealthy countries to help them pay for the damage, only to be stonewalled.

At the annual United Nations climate conference this week, the issue is formally on the agenda, a breakthrough in itself.…  Seguir leyendo »

Helena Gualinga's indigenous Amazon community took the Ecuadorian government to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights following oil exploration activities. John Lamparski/Getty Images for Grounded

This week, world leaders and diplomats are converging on the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El Sheikh for the 27th United Nations Climate Conference – better known as COP27.

Meanwhile, some 12,000 kilometers away from the sun-drenched beaches and high-level negotiations, another climate battle is already underway.

Among those attending COP27 is 20-year-old Helena Gualinga. She hails from a remote village in the Ecuadorian Amazon – home of the Kichwa Sarayaku community, who have been fighting for climate justice and indigenous land rights for decades.

And with historic results. In 2012, the Sarayaku community successfully took the Ecuadorian government to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, after it allowed oil exploration activities on their territory without their consent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Our planet's climate crisis is accelerating. From Greenpeace to the UN, many are insisting on an urgent effort to maximise carbon reductions by 2030. Others fret over the economic effects of any sudden transition. I question a tacit assumption that underlies those urging immediate action, which is that we already have the technologies for rapid, widespread decarbonisation. I think that old coal and natural-gas plants need to keep operating to meet the planet’s climate, social and economic needs while development of alternatives continues.

Is it more important to maximise reductions by 2030 or by 2050? Although we do not know when exactly certain climatic tipping points may be reached, I believe it is extremely important that net emissions zero out by 2050.…  Seguir leyendo »

The flame of a Saudi Aramco oil facility in the Khouris region, 160 km east of the capital Riyadh: the fossil fuel companies of Saudi Arabia, China and Russia are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and the main cause of climate change today. © Marwan Naamani / AFP

The COP27 climate conference opens in Egypt on November 6. Since the first Conference of the Parties ("COP") to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994, governments have been negotiating around two key ideas. First, that the richest states - initially the OECD member states which are historically the biggest polluters -- must reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions more and faster than others. Second, that the OECD countries must pay so that the poorest countries, which are the first victims of climate change effects even though they are responsible for only a small part of the GHG emissions, can adapt to it - i.e.…  Seguir leyendo »

Climate protest march in Brussels, Belgium ahead of the start of COP27 in Egypt. Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Although global attention on COPs fluctuates from year to year, ultimately all of them are important, even those where big decisions are not expected. One of the reasons for this is that the coming together of all parties can act as push mechanisms for new political leadership on climate to emerge, in sometimes unexpected ways.

At COP26, the US turnaround on climate following the election of President Joe Biden provided hope and momentum. For COP27, it appears likely Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil could be the star attraction, with the potential to inject new urgency into the process.…  Seguir leyendo »

Erakor island, Vanuatu, pictured in December 2019. Satellite data shows sea levels have been rising there since the early 1990s. Mario Tama/Getty Images

In 1991, the small island nation of Vanuatu raised a question on the global stage that rich nations have been avoiding ever since: Who should pay for climate catastrophe?

At the time, Vanuatu – on behalf of an alliance of small-island states – argued quite reasonably that polluters should pay for the costs of their pollution.

It was an urgent question – with remarkable foresight. Vanuatu is in a low-lying archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, and its territory is threatened as global temperature increases contribute to rising sea levels worldwide.

Indeed, entire nations could be lost if fossil fuel pollution continues unabated.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un incendio forestal en la región de la carretera Transamazónica, en el municipio de Lábrea, estado de Amazonas, Brasil, el 17 de septiembre de 2022. (AP Photo/Edmar Barros, File)

En Brasil estaremos viviendo días angustiosos hasta este domingo 30 de octubre, cuando se celebren las elecciones de segunda vuelta que enfrentan al actual presidente, Jair Bolsonaro, con el exmandatario Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Bolsonaro ha sido un terrible presidente en cuanto a la protección de los derechos de los pueblos indígenas y del medio ambiente. En los cuatro años de su gobierno, hemos vivido momentos de horror con el aumento en los asesinatos de líderes defensores del territorio y de las invasiones de tierras indígenas, además de una casi nula aplicación de la ley contra quien invade nuestro territorio.…  Seguir leyendo »

Smoke shrouding a bridge in Seattle, Washington, October 2022 Matt Mills McKnight / Reuters

“Geoengineering” can mean a number of things, but it usually refers to the attempt to offset the rising global temperatures that result from the greenhouse effect by introducing particles in a systematic and sustained way into the earth’s atmosphere so that it better reflects the sun’s rays. Although the idea sounds futuristic, the basic concept has been around for a long time. In 1965, a group of scientific advisers to U.S. President Lyndon Johnson suggested that some kind of tinkering with the planet’s mechanics might be necessary. “The climatic changes that may be produced by the increased [carbon dioxide] content could be deleterious from the point of view of human beings”, they noted.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿La sopa de tomate en el cuadro de Van Gogh ayuda a la causa climática?

Vincent van Gogh no es responsable de nuestra crisis climática. No fue director ejecutivo de una petrolera ni gasera ni tampoco comercializó carbón. De hecho, Van Gogh comenzó a dibujar y pintar mientras vivía entre fuego y cenizas en un distrito carbonero de Bélgica. Además de Los girasoles, una de sus pinturas más famosas es Esposas de mineros con sacos de carbón, en ella se ve a mujeres con el cuerpo doblado por el peso de los sacos; la historia del arte conoce pocas obras que capten con tanta fuerza la intolerable carga de la economía fósil sobre los vivos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Verdes

Scarlett Johansson lamenta que la hayan hipersexualizado en su carrera. Presentarse como sujeto pasivo no deja de ser sorprendente, dado que podía rechazar los papeles. ¿O es que acaso la protagonista de 'Match Point' era la pequeña Marisol de 'Tómbola'? Se trata de paternalismo (o maternalismo), de advertir a las jóvenes. Ella tenía que abrirse camino, sin embargo, las que vienen detrás deberían tener más cuidado. Las preocupaciones de Scarlett Johansson presentan la misma estructura moral que las del mundo desarrollado. El discurso oficial de los países que hicieron su revolución industrial también es paternalista y deplora la forma en que llegaron a ser lo que son.…  Seguir leyendo »

La paridad de género en organismos internacionales, el riesgo que viven las personas defensoras del medio ambiente y el fenómeno de la migración son tres ejes que marcan los debates en los salones de las recientes Asambleas Generales de OEA y Naciones Unidas. Temas que anuncian cambios acelerados para la nueva dirección del hemisferio.

En Nueva York, durante la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas en septiembre, uno de los eventos que convocó la conversación sobre el liderazgo de las mujeres fue el organizado por Co-impact y la fundación Clooney por la Justicia. Espacio en el que junto a gigantes del tema, como Melinda Gates, Olivia Leland, Christie Jones, Jarpa Dawuni y Amal Clooney, reflexionamos sobre cómo fortalecer el liderazgo de las mujeres en el derecho internacional.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Spanish Emergency Military Unit try to put out a wildfire near the village of Verin in northwestern Spain on Aug. 4. Migue Riopa/AFP via Getty Images

As the war in Ukraine continued this summer, with billions of dollars’ worth of military aid pouring into Kyiv from its allies and partners, governments around the world were also busy deploying their militaries to deal with a less conventional threat: climate change.

In Poland, troops disposed of thousands of fish on the banks of the Oder River that had died due to rising water temperatures and pollution. In Mexico, military airplanes tried to spur rain after weeks of drought by seeding clouds with silver iodide and acetone. In Switzerland, the army airlifted water to thirsty livestock in dry mountain pastures.…  Seguir leyendo »

Will our species still exist in a thousand years? Humans have been pootling around on this planet for a tiny slice of its existence, so it stands to reason that at some point in the future, it will be game over for our descendants.

If our time is up long before 3022, then it would be reasonable to assume that the world would not look so very different from today. The atmosphere would be cleaner, of course, in the absence of fossil fuels being burned. The landscape would be a lot greener too, with forests, flowers and weeds reclaiming cities and towns—nature takes back its territory once people disperse or disappear.…  Seguir leyendo »