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"Η γη δεν μας ανήκει. Την έχουμε δανειστεί από τις επόμενες γενιές. Ας επενδύσουμε όλοι στις ανανεώσιμες πηγές ενέργειας. Είναι μία επένδυση ζωής για εμάς και μία κληρονομιά ελπίδας  στα παιδιά μας!"

 

 

Alternative and

Renewable

Energy

Systems,

Technological

Innovations

 

 

 

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Which country is most likely to repair their electronic gadgets?

What happens when your mobile phone dies? Which country is most likely to recycle? And do people repair their phones or just simply throw them away? We did the research to find out...

Believe it or not, the humble smartphone puts enormous strain on our environment - from the moment they’re produced to when they’re disposed of to be buried in a huge pile of e-waste. That’s why we commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct a survey across six countries: USA, Germany, Russia, Mexico, South Korea and China. We wanted to find out what people look for in a smartphone, what their habits are - do they repair, who do they think should be responsible for recycling?

And the findings surprised even us!

Check it out.

1. Keeping up with the Jones’ is tiring! Most people think too many new phone models are being released.

People take pictures at a Donald Trump campaign rally in Plymouth.

More than half of respondents surveyed think that mobile phone manufacturers release TOO MANY new models, and agree that they could live with changing their mobile phone models LESS often.

2. Who should recycle your phone when it dies: you or the company that produced it?

Broken smartphones with damaged display screens on a variety of smartphones.

What do you do if your phone dies? Does it sit in your draw, end up in a e-waste site in Ghana, or does it get recycled and reused?

Nearly half of respondents surveyed in all countries think that mobile phone manufacturers are the MOST responsible for providing access to recycling to their customers. Wouldn’t it be cool if companies made it as easy as possible to recycle, from the way it’s designed, to collecting it for re-use?

3. *Nearly* everyone wants a mobile phone that lasts longer.

A group of volunteers takes a smartphone repair class at the Greenpeace Mexico office given by a local repair group, Fix Friends. Greenpeace is working with a wide movement of creatives, tech lovers, and activists to redefine innovation and call on the electronics industry to create truly smart gadgets: repairable, durable, clean and toxic free.

This seems obvious. 4 in 5 respondents believe it is important for a new smartphone to be easily repaired if damaged. This rises as high as 95% in China, 94% in Mexico and 92% in South Korea.

But with nearly three million metric tonnes of e-waste generated from small IT products alone such as mobile phones, it still seems a LOT is going to waste!

4. China leads the world in getting their phones repaired!

A group of volunteers takes a smartphone repair class at the Greenpeace Mexico office given by a local repair group, Fix Friends. Greenpeace is working with a wide movement of creatives, tech lovers, and activists to redefine innovation and call on the electronics industry to create truly smart gadgets: repairable, durable, clean and toxic free.

....Well, at least out of the six countries we surveyed! We found that respondents in China (66%) and Korea (64%) are more likely to have had their phones repaired, compared to those in the US (28%) and Germany (23%).

5. Hazardous chemicals in my smartphone? No thanks!

A small Chinese child sitting among cables and e-waste, Guiyu, China. Much of modern electronic equipment contains toxic ingredients. Vast amounts are routinely and often illegally shipped as waste from Europe, USA and Japan to countries in Asia as it is easier and cheaper to dump the problem on poorer countries with lower environmental standards.

I bet you didn’t know that many hazardous chemicals are used to make your smartphone. For instance, some hazardous chemicals that are used in the manufacturing processes, like benzene and n-hexane, are carcinogenic while others can cause various adverse health impacts.

4 in 5 respondents consider it important that a new smartphone is produced without using hazardous chemicals.

So what does this all mean?

It seems most people are sick of the way phones are so easily disposable and the way we are marketed a never ending cycle of new trends. But really, we just want to own a phone that lasts, is easily repairable, and can be recycled. What’s more, we don’t want it produced with nasty hazardous chemicals or disposed of in e-waste sites around the world.

It’s time tech companies catch on.

That’s why we’re helping bring together techies, designers, and people that love their gadgets together to demand a new way of thinking about our electronics. We need gadgets as innovative for the planet as they are for our lives...

The future is in our hands, let's change it! Find out how YOU can get involved.

Chih An Lee is the Global IT Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, based in Taipei

Globalisation’s dark side

Although concerns about immigration appeared as factors in Britain’s exit from the European Union, the Brexit vote was also a referendum on the failures of globalisation. Traditional economists promoted globalisation based on the theory that nations can best compete in capitalist markets by specialising, exporting resources for cash, often sacrificing local manufacturing, culture and self-reliance.

In 1957, European nations formed a “Common Market,” allegedly for economic protection, but the deal primarily protected the corporate elite. By the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher in the UK, Ronald Reagan in the US and François Mitterrand in France, presided over a neoliberal takeover, privatising economies and eradicating public power. They claimed that the benefits of enriching the rich would “trickle-down” to the peasants, but of course, this did not happen.

Guarani citizen Noemi Cruz bears witness to forest destruction by industrial soy farming in Argentina for the international market. 24 Aug, 2005  © Greenpeace / Julio PantojaGuarani citizen Noemi Cruz bears witness to forest destruction by industrial soy farming in Argentina for the international market. Photo: Greenpeace / Julio Pantoja

Privatisation 

European and American manufacturing declined as corporations moved to sweat shops in poor nations with cheap wages and corporate-friendly laws. A leaked World Bank memo, signed by Chief Economist Lawrence Summers, openly urged rich nations to export pollution and ecological destruction. Poor nations sank into debt and suffered from plundered resources, cultural disruption, war, loss of security and a rising income gap between rich and poor. 

The harsh impact of these policies finally sparked riots at the 1999 World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle, and an anti-globalisation movement emerged. By 2008, the free-wheeling investment banks, enriched by swindles and propped up by debt, collapsed, then demanded bail-outs from the working poor and middle class taxpayers. 

The Brexit movement in England was, in part, a rebellion by those for whom globalisation’s “trickle” never arrived, the working poor, who suffered unemployment, austerity policies and degraded social welfare. Nations in the European Union lost economic sovereignty to the banks and corporations, who punished small nations such as Greece and Cyprus for defying their orders. Former Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, blamed “the EU’s anti-democratic institutions,” that made it “impossible to stay in the single market and keep your sovereignty.” Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan told the Guardian: “Brexit [will have a] domino effect with anti-European parties gaining a lot of support".

Globalisation and neoliberalism eroded public health, education and social security, replacing local self-reliance and common decency with an industrial corporatocracy that undermined family and community. Globalisation appears now as a privatisation scheme, designed for the rich to seize control of economic and political power.

Pollution havens

In 1987, the Brundtland report introduced the idea of “sustainable development,” suggesting that market economies could continue to grow, and that market forces could be used to regulate the environmental impacts of globalisation. However, the market-driven environmental policies hastened consumption and resource depletion, increased fossil fuel consumption and global warming, enriched the rich and left a trail of toxins, dry rivers and depleted soils in the world’s poorest nations.

The real costs became evident in 1984, when a methyl isocyanate gas leak at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India killed about 4,000 citizens immediately, some 20,000 over the next two decades, and left over 100,000 people suffering from respiratory dysfunction, deformities and blindness. In 1991, Bhopal courts charged Union Carbide’s CEO, Warren Anderson, with manslaughter, but neither the American nor Indian government helped extradite him for trial. The practice of corporations exporting their environmental impact became known as the “Pollution Haven Effect.”

In 2013, a ten meter sperm whale washed up dead on the coast of Spain with 17 kilograms of plastic garbage in its stomach. Annually, human enterprise adds some 15 billion kilograms of garbage to the oceans from consumer waste and container ship spills. Fish and marine mammals eat the plastics, which cannot be digested, their organs become blocked and they perish from starvation and gastric rupture.

Globalisation has encouraged, and in some cases forced, nations to relax environmental laws. The result has been deforestation, the spread of harmful invasive species, a loss of global biodiversity and a diminished genetic diversity among agricultural crop varieties. 

In 2003, David Ehrenfeld, at Rutgers University in the US, published “Globalisation: Effects on Biodiversity, Environment and Society” in the Conservation and Society journal. “The market cannot be relied on to control the environmental and other costs of globalisation,” he concluded. “The architects of globalisation have ignored the social, biological and physical constraints on their system.”

Social and economic impacts

Warfare has been the most destructive social cost of globalisation. The suffocating global arms trade, driven by transnational corporate profiteering, undermines real security around the globe.

Globalisation enriched a few elite in poor nations, but the net effect has been a wider income gap between the rich and poor, lost jobs, low wages, sweat shops, union-busting and diminished human rights. In debt, and under pressure from the World Bank, nations cut public services. 

The economics have proven predominantly one-sided, favouring westernised corporations and plundering the poorer resource colonies. Building a national economy on a single resource export has proven disastrous. In the 1970s, the UK and Dutch economies experienced the North Sea oil and gas boom, giving the illusion of prosperity while eroding local manufacturing and economic security. Britain’s corporate-friendly Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, used the oil revenues to subsidise corporate expansion, wage war and enrich banking empires. 

Resource exploitation can make a nation's currency appear stronger for a while, but this makes their exports more expensive, undermines manufacturing and local economy and leaves working class citizens without jobs or security. In 1977, The Economist magazine coined the term “Dutch disease” to describe these effects.

In The Paradox of Plenty, author Terry Karl explains that oil is a “resource curse” as experienced by Nigeria, Indonesia, Venezuela, Iran, Canada and other nations. Oil rich nations attract oil industry patrons, who finance friendly political candidates. These resource colony nations suffer human rights atrocities and see their environments devastated. In Canada, the petroleum-backed former government handed out over CND$14 billion in subsidies to fossil fuel companies, while losing over 340,000 industrial jobs. 

Globalisation put pressure on nations to privatise public assets, devalue their own currency to keep exports prices “competitive” and to abandon tariff structures that protect local economies. Neoliberal policies shifted taxation away from corporations and onto working class citizens. Finally, centralised global banking made the entire world vulnerable to the schemes of a few banks, as the world experienced in 2008. 

None of this appears as an accident of history, but rather as the design of neoliberal corporatocracy. 

Trade deals

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, 1994), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP, 2016) and other trade deals were designed to serve corporate profits. NAFTA and TPP allow corporations to sue governments — in private, secret tribunals — for enforcing environmental or human rights laws that limit profits.

In 2013, when the Canadian province of Quebec passed a moratorium on oil and gas fracking to stop the contamination of land and water, US oil and gas company Lone Pine Resources filed a $250-million NAFTA lawsuit against Canada, claiming that the moratorium was an “arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation" of the company’s right to mine oil and gas. When the province of Ontario passed a Green Energy Act, Texas energy company Mesa Power sued them. When the Canadian government banned MMT, a neurotoxin linked to Alzheimer’s disease, the Ethyl Corporation demanded and won US$13 million. Canada has been sued by S.D. Myers, a US toxic waste disposal company for banning PCB exports; by the US Sun Belt corporation for passing water protection legislation; and by other corporations, for hundreds of millions of dollars. When the US rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline, Canadian company TransCanada sued for $15 billion.

Exxon Mobil, Dow Chemical and other corporations have launched over 600 similar lawsuits against governments around the world. Economists Joseph Stiglitz and Adam Hersh wrote in Marketwatch that these trade deals “restrain open competition and raise prices for consumers … applied even where rules are nondiscriminatory and profits are made from causing public harm.” 

This is the face of globalisation, a corporate coup d'etat against democracy. Smart nations can reverse these trends, localising rather than globalising. In 2008, Iceland presented the model by taking criminal bankers to court rather than bailing them out. They established new boards and management in the banks, capitalised them and regulated and supervised the banks to safeguard public interests. They devalued the currency, the Krona, by 60 percent, which kept wages high, limited imports and encouraged a renaissance in local manufacturing, fishing and tourism. 

Localisation is the cure for the sickness of globalisation, a first step in restoring human rights and protecting a nations’s ecosystems. 

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International. The opinions here are his own.


Notes and sources:

“Globalisation: Effects on Biodiversity, Environment and Society”: David Ehrenfeld, Conservation and Society journal 

“Globalisation’s Direct and Indirect Effects on the Environment,” Carol McAusland, 2008: Global Forum on Transport and Environment in a Globalising World

“Twelve Reasons Why Globalization is a Huge Problem”: Gail Tverberg, 2013, Our Finite World.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership charade: TPP isn’t about ‘free’ trade at all”: Joseph E. Stiglitz, Adam Hersh, 2015, Marketwatch

“Environment and Globalization: Five Propositions”: Adil Najam, et.al, International Institute for Sustainable Development 

The Paradox of Plenty, Terry Lynn Karl, University of California, 1997.  

“Four reasons to reject TTP”:  Greenpeace USA  

“Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Harm Our Environment,” Sierra Club

“TPP in Depth,” Council of Canadians  

“Brexit, Globalization and the Bankruptcy of the Globalist Left,”  Global Research

“Brexit is a rejection of globalisation,” Larry Elliott, Guardian 

Destructive palm oil company IOI let off the hook too easily by RSPO

A major palm oil company, which had its sustainability certificates suspended for violating rules designed to prevent the destruction of Indonesia's forests and peatlands, has had those certificates reinstated. This shocking decision by the industry's own sustainability group to lift the suspension sends a message that it's OK for palm oil companies to continue trashing forests in pursuit of profits.

Tree stump in the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.Tree stump in the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

IOI, one of the biggest palm oil suppliers in the world, was suspended by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in April 2016 for clearing peatland areas and developing land without obtaining required permits. As a result, many of its big-name customers walked away such as Unilever, Cargill, Mars, and - after tens of thousands of you emailed its boss - General Mills, maker of Betty Crocker cake mixes.

Yet even though IOI still cannot demonstrate it can produce palm oil in a responsible manner and has not shown how it will restore the forests and peat it has damaged, the RSPO last week announced it was lifting the suspension. This means IOI can once again promote its dirty palm oil as 'sustainable'.

This has happened because, as far as the RSPO is concerned, IOI has a plan to deal with the specific details of the complaint raised against it, which relate to a couple of its subsidiary companies working in a particular part of Kalimantan. However, these are minor corrections affecting only a small part of IOI's operations, while the company continues to create problems elsewhere.

Drone footage near the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, reveals the impact of repeated forest fires. Drone footage near the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, reveals the impact of repeated forest fires. 

Over the years, IOI has left a trail of devastation across Indonesia. Back in 2008, we revealed how the company had destroyed peatland forests as well as areas of orangutan habitat. More recently, it was clearing areas which its own assessment surveys identified as being of particular value for conservation and carbon storage, contravening its own policies. And just this year, our investigations showed IOI had planted oil palm saplings in areas burnt during last year's catastrophic fires, despite government instructions to the contrary.

Previous complaints about IOI have been raised in public and with the RSPO and each time IOI has promised to lay out new plans or policies to show how it will become a more responsible palm oil company. Each time it has failed to live up to the promise of substantial change.

The policy IOI published this week in response to the most recent RSPO complaint continues this tradition - it makes no attempt to address the most serious problems IOI faces and lacks a solid plan with clear dates when improvements will be made on the ground. There's also the question of how IOI will repair the damage done to the peatlands it has drained - the Indonesian government has instructed plantation companies to immediately re-wet peatland areas in an effort to reduce fire outbreaks.

Our 2008 report, “How Unilever Palm Oil Suppliers are Burning Up Borneo” revealed how IOI had destroyed peatland forests as well as areas of orangutan habitat.Our 2008 report, “How Unilever Palm Oil Suppliers are Burning Up Borneo” revealed how IOI had destroyed peatland forests as well as areas of orangutan habitat.

Letting IOI back into the fold so soon is a big mistake. The RSPO is supposed to be preventing its members from destroying forests, but this alarming decision sends the message that even the worst offenders will be let off with little more than a slap on the wrist.

It also highlights just how weak the RSPO's standards are - many of its members have palm oil policies much stronger than its own, undermining the RSPO's claims to be pushing the industry towards true sustainability. It also suggests the RSPO is more concerned about giving the all-clear for IOI's old customers to start buying its palm oil again, rather than forcing it to make any kind of serious reforms.

However, many of IOI's ex-customers have said they will only start buying again once it has shown it can radically improve its approach to protecting forests and peatlands. A sensible decision, because until IOI proves it's serious about ending its role in deforestation and peatland drainage, resuming business with this toxic company will be a decidedly risky business.

Annisa Rahmawati is the Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia

4 stories of Indigenous Peoples’ struggle for climate justice

Racism, deforestation, powerful mining companies, colonialism, the oil industry – Indigenous People across the world are fighting so many things in the struggle for climate justice.

The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu village, in the heart of the Amazon, for generations.  © Otávio Almeida / Greenpeace

From Canada to Honduras to Brazil to Finland, Indigenous Peoples face systematic oppression, government ambivalence and corporate greed - and with a changing climate their battles have gotten even bigger. When your life, existence and culture is threatened, you can't run away - speaking truth to power is the only way to live.

It is only Indigenous People that can tell us what it’s like to be at the forefront of Indigenous resistance. That’s why, in honour of Indigenous Peoples Day, I spoke to Indigenous People from across the world. Here’s what they had to say about the struggles they face.

Arnaldo Kabá Munduruku - General Chief – Cacique

Dams in the Tapajos region of the Amazon could be about to force the Munduruku Indigenous People to leave their home against their will, losing their way of life, culture and livelihood. One million people worldwide have backed the Munduruku’s call for an end to destructive dams in the fragile Amazon, and the world is beginning to listen. Just last week, the license for the first dam was cancelled. The Munduruku people are now fighting to stop the other dams which threaten their land. Most importantly, they are fighting to get their land recognised by the government. Respect for their ancestral home will stop the dams for good.

Arnaldo Kabá Munduruku, Cacique-geral (general-chief) of the Munduruku, by the banks of Cururu river, a major tributary of the Tapajós river.  © Fábio Nascimento / GreenpeaceAs with all of the people I interviewed for this article, Arnaldo is full of the kind of energy and determination that makes it clear that he will win. Here is why Arnaldo continues to fight:

"The river and the forest give us everything we need to survive. They give us our food, our water, our medicine. If they build this dam they will kill the river, they will kill my people, our culture. The future of our children is threatened by the ambition of the companies and the government. The forest is also important for other people from other countries because its belongs to everybody."

Jenni Laiti - Saami – Artist and Activist - Souhpanterror

Jenni, a member of the Saami People, is an artist and activist. She is a climate warrior with an unstoppable energy that can make the impossible possible. The Saamis, and their way of life, are currently under threat. They have won in the past and they will continue win.image courtesy of Jenni Laiti

"We are not included, we are not questioned nor answered, and we are not in the agenda. It's all the same with all the politics in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia and these countries are devastating and dividing us. We use our land in sustainable ways with traditional Saami livelihoods, but at the same time we have to live in colonial countries with their systems and their legislations where our own Saami customary law is not recognised. Our heritage, language and traditional knowledge vanishes everyday while it's covered under the Settler's culture.

"They see Sápmi and its last wilderness in Europe through a colonial perspective; they see us as an empty territory that they can still colonise, take away and practice any type of extractive and land grabbing activities. Once someone asked 'What local people?' We local people! We are not only fighting against colonialism and capitalism every day, but we are fighting against climate change as well: we see that our way of life is threatened and we are standing on the edge. For us to survive, there is no space for colonialism. There is nothing more to give for capitalism, we are already standing on the edge. I feel that me - my family, my people, my area - we are all threatened."

Gaspar Sanchez - COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras)

Gaspar is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. He is part of the Lenca Indigenous Peoples and a member of the Indigenous Lenca organisation COPINH co-founded by Berta Cacerés. There are 51 concessions for hydroelectric projects in the area and COPINH has complaints against 49 of them. Their struggle has taken away the lives of the people fighting against them.

image courtesy of Gaspar Sanchez"All of these projects are illegitimate and illegal. Illegal because they don’t follow international conventions such as article 169 that establishes the right to prior, free and informed consent (article 169 of the International Labour Organisation Convention). It's illegitimate because not one or the other decision is taken with any type of consultation from us.

Our territories are vastly militarised. When the communities decided to raise their voice and make it loud and clear, they are criminalised, harassed and killed. Comrades have been murdered because they protect our rivers, our territories. In the case of the defence of the sacred Gualcarque and Blanco rivers five comrades have been killed. Six, counting Berta Cáceres assassination. But, before them, there have been others because it’s clear than in this country there are no institutions to respond to the need of Indigenous Peoples. Currently we are defenceless: the State and any of the public institutions work together with politicians and corporations in collusion with drug traffickers, organised crime and there’s absolutely nobody left to protect Indigenous Peoples."

Clayton Thomas-Müller - Mathais Colomb Cree Nation - Stop it at the Source Campaigner, 350.org

Clayton, a member of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation (Pukatawagan) in Northern Manitoba, Canada, spends his time being one of the coolest and most wonderful human beings I’ve ever met. He is a Cree activist for Indigenous self-determination and environmental justice.

image courtesy of Clayton Thomas-Müller"I feel very strongly that the shared consensus among many Indigenous Peoples here in Canada on the discourse of mitigating climate change and the development of adaptation programs to the global crisis is: the solutions lie in a much deeper dive into addressing colonialism and reconciliation. For Canada’s current economic model to be successful, They must enact policies that lead to the removal and dispossession of Indigenous Peoples from our lands to extract natural resources to sell to the highest bidder on the international free market. This must change.

The neo-colonialism playing out through Canada's economic extractive policies in Indigenous territories is a double-edged blade. Here, in our lands, we are disproportionately affected by industries' impacts and also by climate change which affects our constitutionally protected inherent rights to hunt, fish and trap. G8 economies are using the climate crisis for profit. Through free trade agreements and institutions like the World Bank, Canada is banking on using carbon offset initiatives such as REDD and REDD+. By privatizing forests through the international carbon trading facility to be bought and sold as commodities, Canada can plant a million palm oil trees in the Global South to justify expanding controversial developments like the tar sands in the north. We have such a huge responsibility on our shoulders to keep the oil in the soil living in a region with the second largest carbon pool on the planet. If Canada’s tar sands are developed to the fullest of its capacity it's game over for humanity"

So what can be done to support Indigenous Peoples?

When asked what people could do to support Indigenous struggles Clayton said "Check your privilege at the door" and continued, "When organising, my resources are not focused on the ruling class. Instead, I look to communities whose liberation is tied to my liberation; whose oppression is tied to my oppression: solidarity is the most powerful device we have in our social movement's toolkits."

There are various ways you can put solidarity into practice: get versed in the issues, spread the word, send a message of solidarity, pressure companies and governments and take direct action. We need to build a diverse and inclusive movement, understand how race and class are barriers across the globe and ask ourselves: how can we work alongside and in solidarity with front line communities?

For more information about Indigenous struggles:

Indigenous Environmental Network

Indigenous Climate Action

Environmental Justice Atlas

Indigenous Rising

No REDD

Martin Vainstein is a social media intern with Greenpeace UK

With contributions by Suzanne Dhaliwal, co-director UK Tar Sands Network.

Rio Olympics: Why the opening ceremony’s spotlight on climate change matters

As a Brazilian, it saddens me to see so much bad press around my country now that the Olympics Games are happening. Two years ago, during the World Cup, it was a great conversation starter. People would ask if I was excited about it, and if I was going to the stadium to watch the teams play. Now, when someone wants to talk to me about my country, they ask me if I am glad that I am not there for the Games.

Performance around climate change during Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony. Credit: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil/Wikimedia CommonsPerformance around climate change during Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony. Credit: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil/Wikimedia Commons

There is such a complex mix of political, social and economic issues happening in Brazil right now, it is hard to know where to start. Should I mention the president’s impeachment? What about the corruption scandal involving so many Brazilian politicians right now? And don’t get me started on the Zika virus.

I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve seen talking about the water pollution in Rio and concerns for the health of the athletes and tourists. Even though I knew deep down that Brazil was not going to be able to meet the world’s expectations — or my own — before the Olympics started, I really hoped that they would somehow figure it out. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

Don’t get me wrong, amongst so much bad media, there is still good news. Brazil just celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Soy Moratorium, an agreement that helps protect the Amazon from deforestation for soy farming. And I cannot forget to mention the huge news that the license for building a mega-dam in the heart of the Amazon was cancelled just last week. But there is always more to be done.

Brazil may have missed the opportunity to have the sustainable event it planned, but the silver lining is that in this international spotlight, Brazil’s leaders can make the right choices for the environment. There are still other hydroelectric dam projects in the Amazon that should be cancelled. Brazil’s focus needs to be on clean energy options like solar and wind instead — energy sources that protect Brazil’s biodiverse ecosystems and the climate.

Maracanã Stadium lit up with fireworks during Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony. Credit: Getty Images/Clive BrunskillMaracanã Stadium lit up with fireworks during Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony. Credit: Getty Images/Clive Brunskill

Watching the opening ceremony, I was glad to see that at least one opportunity was not missed: bringing climate change front and center. Two powerful messages were delivered during the event. The first was a video about global warming. Seeing Amsterdam, Rio, Florida and so many other places around the world being flooded due to the rise of sea level gave me chills. These are the real consequences if the whole world does not commit to fight against climate change. The second message announced that more than 11,000 trees will be planted in Rio, representing each Olympic athlete.

This part of the opening ceremony was just a symbolic act, but I hope that both messages serve as a wake up call for everyone who watched it — and that the sense of togetherness it provided can make people feel that it is possible to make a difference, even through small acts like planting a tree. The fight against climate change is everyone’s fight. Even some Olympic athletes are recognizing the role they can play.


The whole ceremony was amazingly beautiful, inclusive and exceeded my expectations. It made me feel proud of being Brazilian, because it showed the whole world our culture, history and diversity. And it reminded us all that, if we are capable of joining forces to celebrate Olympic Games together, we can make the world a better place as well.

Diego Gonzaga is the Americas Communication Hub Intern at Greenpeace USA.

Survivors of nuclear warfare in Japan are calling for an end to nuclear weapons

This week marks 71 years since atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and devastated the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Often we do not mark a 71st anniversary - unlike a 25th or 50th anniversary, a 71st is simply one more year among many. To many however, 2016 doesn’t feel like just any year. It’s been a year of conflicts, of political turmoil and instability in many countries, of violent and indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations.

Peace doves fly on the eve of the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing in 2005. The message of peace reads: "No More Hiroshima" Peace doves fly on the eve of the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing in 2005. The message of peace reads: "No More Hiroshima" 

The media depicts a world that is unpredictable and at times frightening, and it feels appropriate to take time to listen to the voices of people who - more than most - have lived through the aftermath of conflict and war, and are asking the world to hear their words as a compelling plea for peace and action.

Earlier this year the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings - the Hibakusha, as they are known in Japan - launched an initiative to get hundreds of thousands of people to join them in asking the world to completely ban all nuclear weapons by the year 2020.

The people in this photo - all women and young children - lived in Nakajima-honmachi, the place that is now the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park. The flash from the blast sent temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees C, completely obliterating them. There were no bodies to recover.  The people in this photo - all women and young children - lived in Nakajima-honmachi, the place that is now the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park. The flash from the blast sent temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees C, completely obliterating them. There were no bodies to recover. (Photo provided by Mr. Noboru Katayama)

In their own words:

“The average age of the Hibakusha now exceeds 80. It is our strong desire to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world in our lifetime, so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again. You, your families and relatives, or any other people, should not be made Hibakusha again.”

These heartfelt words are having an impact: people from around the world have added their voices to those of the Hibakusha, and the call for a nuclear-free future continues to build.

President Obama amplified this message when he met with some of the survivors in Hiroshima in May, the first time a sitting President has ever done so. He spoke of them, and of all those who died in the horrific aftermath of the bombings when he said:

“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are, and what we might become… (there) is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

Monks pray beside the A-Bomb Dome Memorial during the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing in 2005.Monks pray beside the A-Bomb Dome Memorial during the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima Atomic Bombing in 2005.

It is of course, not enough that we reject only nuclear warfare. As humans, we have to strive to reject violence of all kinds, to find and embrace peaceful ways to resolve our conflicts. But this week, as we join our hands and voices with the Hibakusha and call for the abolishment of all nuclear weapons, we make a start, and in a small way we pay homage to all those who have gone before us, irreparably impacted by the devastations of war.

Add your voice.

Join Nihon Hidankyo, a local non-government organisation in Japan that is gathering signatures before September from people in Japan and around the world to deliver to the United Nations, calling for nuclear disarmament. Please email your name and address to <kj3t-tnk@asahi-net.or.jp>

Tamara Stark is acting Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan.

News worth celebrating! Megadam in the heart of Amazon cancelled

Munduruku Children Swimming in Tapajós River in the Amazon 5 Jul, 2016  © Otávio Almeida / Greenpeace

This Wednesday, I had barely had breakfast when I was surprised by some absolutely amazing news: the Brazilian environmental agency – IBAMA – announced it would cancel the process for licensing the São Luiz do Tapajós (SLT) megadam in the heart of the Amazon. Once my heart rate returned to normal, I started to call my colleagues and Munduruku leaders, seeking confirmation.

Today, it’s official: IBAMA has cancelled the São Luiz do Tapajós megadam. It’s time to celebrate this incredible news! I'd like thank all of you who stood with the Munduruku Indigenous People and helped make this victory possible. 

Over these last months we truly believed that sooner or later IBAMA would need to recognise the megadam project's significant environmental and social impacts in the region. Now, with IBAMA's decision, the approval process for the megadam cannot move forward.

More than 1.2 million people around the world joined the Munduruku Indigenous People to say no to the SLT dam and pressure multinational companies like Siemens to distance themselves from the project.

Other Brazilian agencies like FUNAI (National Indigenous Foundation) and federal public prosecutors in the Brazilian state of Pará had recommended that IBAMA cancel the license because the project would displace Munduruku communities, making it unconstitutional. Part of the Munduruku Indigenous land called Sawré Muybu – an area in the process of been officially recognised as Indigenous Land – would have been flooded by the dam. 

Now that the megadam’s license has been cancelled, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice must recognise its obligation and move swiftly to officially demarcate the Sawré Muybu territory.

Although, we are celebrating this incredible victory, we know there is a lot more to do to keep the Tapajós and other Amazon rivers free from hydrodams. Our campaign has not finished yet!

There are 42 other hydrodam projects planned in the Tapajós basin and hundreds earmarked across the Amazon rainforest - part of an aggressive economic model that doesn't consider the critical importance of protecting the Amazon forest and its inhabitants. Previous dams build in the Amazon have negatively impacted local communities, devastated the environment and even been mired in corruption scandals.

We need to stop them, one by one! 

Rainbow over Tapajós River in the Amazon 11 Jul, 2016  © Todd Southgate / Greenpeace

There is another way. Brazil must focus on truly renewable energy and become a world leader in wind and solar. With the right investments, it is possible to generate the same amount of energy that dams like São Luiz do Tapajós would produce, by harnessing the power of wind and sun.

Danicley Aguiar is an Amazon campaigner for Greenpeace Brazil.

6 amazing plastic bans from around the world

Good news! Plastics bans across the world have been hitting the headlines lately.

From the US to India and Morocco, governing bodies are taking control of the plastic pollution problem, bringing in either complete bans on plastic, or bans on specific forms like polystyrene.

Underwater image of turtle with plastic bag. 10 March, 2006 © Troy Mayne / Oceanic Imagery Publications© Troy Mayne / Oceanic Imagery Publications

1. Karnataka, India

In March this year, the Indian state of Karnataka completely banned the use of plastic across the state. No wholesale dealer, retailer, or trader can now use or sell plastic carrier bags, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, cling film, or anything of the sort. Since the ban came into effect four months ago 39,000kg of illegal plastic has been seized from Bengalaru, the state capital.

They even made sure to ban microbeads while they were at it! Go Karnataka!

2. The US (okay, so there’s a few places in the US)

Back in 2007, San Francisco became the first US city to ban plastic shopping bags and in 2014, the city banned plastic water bottles on city properties. Last month, San Francisco joined Los Angeles and Portland and enforced a ban on styrofoam. Styrofoam is the material used for packaging peanuts, the contents of beans bags (do people still have bean bags?). It’s expanded polystyrene, also known as thermocol. 

egg cartons from storePolystyrene is a problem plastic because it's very difficult to recycle. In the US, it's largely used for packaging eggs, meats and fruit, and so a ban on this particular form of plastic will have a larger impact that you may first think.

In July 2015, Honolulu, Hawaii introduced a ban on single use plastic bags (with small exceptions, e.g. for medical use). The bill was passed by County Councils, rather than by the state legislature, which was a real victory for the local grassroots organisations. People power! 

3. Coles Bay, Tasmania

Leading the way back in 2003, Coles Bay, Tasmania was the first town in Australia to ban disposable plastic bags. During the first year of the ban 350,000 fewer plastic bags were used in the area!

4. Ethiopia

In 2011, Ethiopia passed a ban preventing the manufacture and import of disposable (aka single use) plastic shopping bags. This ban was in conjunction with a decision to develop wind power and geothermal energy projects, as part of Ethiopia’s Green Growth Strategy.

5. France
plastic bag

Last month, France brought in a ban on single-use plastic bags (‘less than 10L capacity’ and with a thickness of less than 50 microns, you know...microns!), like the ones handed out by major supermarkets globally. This is part of a wider EU crackdown on plastic use, acknowledging that plastic has a major impact on the environment and must be addressed.

6. Morocco

Morocco is (or was) the world's second largest consumer of plastic bags after the US. Their ban is pretty comprehensive, it includes a stop on the production, import, sale and distribution of plastic bags, prompting a major rush on plastic bag stockpiling just before coming into effect. The resistance to the ban shows just how ingrained plastic and plastic bags are in our day-to-day habits and highlights the importance of a ban. Go Morocco!

These are just a few of the main plastics bans in place across the world, which is great, so why is it important? 

Plastic in the oceans is a real problem, already, huge gyres swirl with polluting plastic. And we've seen the dire consequences of marine life mistaking plastics for food. 

Greenpeace is campaigning hard to end plastic pollution in our oceans. Add your name to the Plastics Pledge to help cut plastic pollution!

Fiona Nicholls is an Oceans campaigner with Greenpeace UK.

Why Pacific Islanders will lead the fight against climate change

Most of us know the story of coal miners and their caged canaries. When my seven-year-old daughter heard it, she was sad that the canaries had to give up their lives to warn the miners to get out. She asked me if miners still use canaries today and I reassured her: "No, we have come a long way since those days." 

Young girls playing on a fishing boat in the village Te O Ni Beeki in Betio, on Tarawa Island, Kiribati. The Pacific Island nation is threatened by climate change and overfishing. Young girls playing on a fishing boat in the village Te O Ni Beeki in Betio, on Tarawa Island, Kiribati. The Pacific Island nation is threatened by climate change and overfishing. 

The truth is, sometimes I fear that we Pacific Islanders are the closest thing to those canaries.

True, we are not choking on poisonous gases, but we are cornered and caged by incremental sea level rise, high tides that reach farther inland than ever before and saltwater intrusion. We do not drop dead like the canaries, but we brace ourselves for hurricanes that have become more frequent and stronger.

But this is not the story I tell my daughters. Instead, I remind them of who we are, where we come from and what we are made of. I tell them that it is in our history and in our nature that we protect our land and oceans.

I weave tales that explain how we are all connected by this one ocean. I tell them how the actions of other people reach into our lives, like shells, bottles and broken toys that wash up from foreign places on our beaches. I also tell them how our existence depends on the decisions the world makes, and why we can’t leave those decisions in the hands of others.

My daughter Janah, with her cousin Waisea.My daughter Janah, with her cousin Waisea (photo: Joeteshna Zenos)

Writing a new story for Pacific Islanders

As I write this, I smile because the rising oceans are churning a new story that I can also share with my daughters. It’s the story of how Pacific people have proposed the world’s first international treaty to ban or phase out fossil fuels. Pacific civil society groups, including Greenpeace, developed the proposal for a regional climate treaty and sent it to Pacific leaders in July at their annual meeting.

Fourteen Pacific Island nations will now consider the treaty, which could herald the end of the fossil fuel era. If adopted, this landmark treaty will also be a framework that will provide support and guidance to Pacific Islanders’ governments to meet their national renewable energy targets.

So I do not tell my daughters that we are sinking. Instead I tell them how we chose to lead the struggle to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C, because a 2C limit is inadequate and unacceptable. I tell them how we take on more than our fair share of the burden of arresting global warming, because our connection to the land and the ocean demands it from us.

Children from Point Cross Village on Pentacost Island, Vanuatu. In March 2015, the island was devastated by Cyclone Pam.Children from Point Cross Village on Pentacost Island, Vanuatu. In March 2015, the island was devastated by Cyclone Pam.

Finding our own path

One day, a long time from now, I will tell my daughters of the time when the elders of the world gathered to find a way to soothe this warming planet. And how, at that gathering, our big brothers and our neighbours across the oceans turned their backs on us. How they set timid goals and halfway measures to curb the warming that threatened to sink us all. I will tell them how Pacific Islanders chose to set an example to the rest of the world and find our own path to clean energy.

I will tell them that we did all of these things and more for their benefit, for the future of their children and for the planet. It may be years before this story reaches its end, but in the meantime I hope that the world will match the tempo of urgency that rings in the voice of the Pacific people. And I hope that you too will be part of this amazing story.

Joeteshna Zenos is the Head of Pacific Net for Greenpeace Australia-Pacific

Five reasons why CEOs of fossil fuel giants must answer to the Filipino people

Typhoon Hagupit Devastation in The Philippines. 9 Dec, 2014 © Alanah Torralba / Greenpeace

For the first time ever, a national human rights body has ordered the world's largest fossil fuel companies to respond to allegations that they have contributed to human rights abuses in the Philippines. Last year, disaster survivors, community-based organizations, and individual Filipino citizens, side-by-side with Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), filed a petition with the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (Commission) asking for an investigation into 47 industrial carbon producers (big polluters) for putting their fundamental human rights at risk from climate change.

The Commission heeded the petitioners' call to investigate these wrongs, and the probe is now at a critical juncture. This week, the Commission enjoined the companies to submit responses to the allegations. While some companies might stick to business as usual and ignore the order, or even worse, attempt to silence those who are seeking justice, others may change tack, and come to the table. Then we can start rapidly changing behaviors, investments, politics and policies, prevent further harm to people vulnerable to climate change, and move towards the inevitable renewable energy future.

Here are five good reasons why CEOs of fossil fuel companies should respect the lives and livelihoods of those living on the front lines of climate change and answer the Filipinos' petition.

1. Deadlines focus the mind

The Commission has ordered the big polluters to respond to the petition within 45 days. The issues raised should come as no surprise. Shareholders have repeatedly requested that fossil fuel companies submit business plans in light of the urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This year, a whopping 38% of Exxon shareholders supported a resolution requiring Exxon to publish an annual report explaining how it will adjust to a 2 degree world. Like Exxon's shareholders, the petitioners in the Philippines want the big polluters to submit plans on how the business model will change in light of urgent need to limit temperature rise and prevent human rights impacts.

Fossil fuel CEOs should be under no illusions. It is now in their job description to consider how their company's business strategies must change to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

2. The writing is on the wall

The Paris Agreement signals the end of the fossil fuel era. Business-as-usual is no longer a viable option. The divest-invest movement is unstoppable. A recent report explains that with 'over 500 hundred institutional investors and tens of thousands of individuals, the assets under management of divesting institutions exceeded $3.4 trillion'.

Last year, Greenpeace Norway and many others successfully campaigned to get the country's $900 billion sovereign wealth fund to divest from coal, impacting 122 companies across the world. Money is now flowing away from fossil fuels, and the world's energy system is rapidly transitioning to be powered by the sun and the wind. All of the CEOs can use the opportunity to report to the Commission on the company's position on the transition into this new era of renewable energy.

3. Honesty is the best policy

Some companies may have tried to hide the truth about climate change, in order to protect profits. Recent investigations revealed that despite understanding the risks of climate change years ago, Exxon has been involved in a disinformation campaign aimed at confusing the public and investors about these risks. Meanwhile, it was using this information to make its business plans.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has called on fossil fuel companies to stop disseminating misinformation on climate change. CEOs should report to the Commission on efforts to completely cut ties with front groups, contrarian scientists, elected officials, and any others who undermine climate science in order to derail action.

4. Talk now or get sued later

Climate change litigation is a material risk. Delaying action to address the human rights impacts of fossil fuels will only heighten the risk of lawsuits for CEOs and corporations. In a recent letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Greenpeace USA and other NGOs commented that some companies and directors face the real possibility of tort and fiduciary liability if they fail to consider the legal risk of continuing to contribute to climate change or misleading the public and investors about the threats of climate change. Fossil fuel corporations could face lawsuits similar to tobacco companies for misrepresenting harms from cigarettes, and they were held accountable for lying to the public.

Smart CEOs can head off high-profile investigations and lawsuits by ending climate denial and embracing the renewable energy transformation. One company has already acknowledged that some fossil fuel reserves will have to stay in the ground.

5. Have a good answer for your grandchildren

What will a fossil fuel CEO say when her or his grandchild asks, what did you do about climate change? It will be embarrassing for a CEO to say that they were adding kindling while Rome burned. Instead, he or she could explain to their admiring grandchild that they did everything possible to help humanity avert the climate crisis.

Anna Kalinsky, the granddaughter of James Black, a former Exxon scientific advisor, explained that in 1977 her grandfather "warned Exxon executives that the world was just a few years away from needing to rethink our energy strategy to prevent destructive climate change;" but "instead, Exxon chose to mislead people about the risks of climate change - and continues to mislead people today." The grandchildren of CEOs will remember what they said and did. They can start to make their grandchildren proud right here and right now.

The investigation in the Philippines is a catalyst for companies and CEOs to do the right thing. It is time for them to change their corporate behaviour and take steps to eliminate the devastating impacts of climate change. To learn more and stay involved in this ground-breaking effort, please sign up on Greenpeace Southeast Asia's website to receive updates on the investigation.


        

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