The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference is from Sunday, 6 November, until on Friday, 18 November.
Sam Goodman joins us live from COP27. He will give us an overview of promises, problems, and progress from this important conference.
This month we discuss climate change and environmental justice in Africa. A continent with a vast colonial legacy and suffering the brunt of climate change, Africa has also emerged as a leader in innovative solutions for renewable energy.
ECCC Monthly Newsletter
Message from the Chair
💙 For those of you who thought no politicians were listening to the dire warnings on climate change, we finally have a Democratic administration making historic leaps both with $270 billion in climate legislation in the Inflation Reduction Act and $65 billion in an Infrastructure Bill promoting a green grid and clean energy. Get your ballots back to RENEW THE FUTURE with your vote! Only 14 days until the midterm elections! All hands on deck, folks, to keep this country moving in a positive direction for the environment, for women's rights, and for democracy itself.
Have you received and returned your ballot? If not, consult votefromabroad.com now! What more can you do? Make sure every friend and relative is vote-ready, both from abroad and stateside! You can also sign up to phone bank for DA; it's easy and fun, and we really need callers in this final stretch.
Please attend two great back-to-back events we are hosting next week: An Africa-themed Climate Café on the 26th and on the 27th, a global panel event called YOUTH v GOV Voices (part of the Delivering Democracy From Abroad series) with some of the extraordinary activists from the hit Netflix documentary of the same name! RSVP Below.
You make the road by walking...let's vote!
Chair, Environment & Climate Crisis Council
Submitted by Diana Powers - A Florida voter living in France.
Hydrogen has inspired and excited proponents of the Energy Transition as the missing link, the connective tissue that provides coherence to the disparate pieces of the future energy puzzle. Hydrogen is versatile. It carries energy. It is a feedstock for chemicals. It can link the electricity grid to the gas grid. It can power transportation from scooters to cars to trains and rockets and, in the future, ships and airplanes. It is envisaged as the successor to petroleum as the maker of nations and the remaker of geopolitics.
This tiniest of atoms links up by twos to create H2, the tiniest of molecules.
But not all hydrogen molecules are created equal. And the whimsical hydrogen community has color-coded the many and varied sources of hydrogen.Read more
Submitted Liz Clarey - A Pennsylvania voter living in the Czech Republic.
The Great Green Wall is an international initiative to regrow the once-fertile Sahel region, which stretches across the African continent on the southern edge of the Sahara. This area faces desertification due to climate change and unsustainable farming practices. The Great Green Wall was created in 2007 not only to combat global warming but to create jobs, grow food, and combat poverty across the continent. The African Union leads the initiative in partnership with 20 African countries, the World Bank, the European Commission, and others.
The Great Green Wall aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land, capture 250 million tons of CO2 and create 10 million jobs, all by 2030. It is Africa’s most ambitious reforestation project. Ethiopia has been a success story: the country has planted 5.5 billion seedlings on 151,000 hectares of new forest and 792,000 new terraces.
As of 2020, more than ten years after the program's start, the GGW had only planted 4 million hectares after an initial investment of $200 million. To achieve the GGW goal by 2030, this work needs to be doubled each year and requires an additional investment of $4.3 billion per year. The program's progress varies considerably by country, and one of the most pressing problems is the lack of sufficient monitoring and evaluation.
Experience showed that just planting trees was not effective. Luckily, the GGW has evolved to account for this. Where the initial idea was a wall of trees, the project has morphed into implementing various sustainable land use practices like water harvesting techniques, agroforestry, and regenerative agriculture. One large success has been the use of indigenous farming practices. These were initially discouraged by colonial legal frameworks but have proven to be the most effective in terms of growing yield and minimal land damage. Though the project might not succeed in terms of initial goals, it provides an example of the kind of multinational cooperation, flexibility, and community engagement needed to combat a changing climate.
Message from the Chair
💙 Less than 45 days until the midterm elections; we will indeed be voting on THE FUTURE WE CHOSE. To forward the Biden administration’s climate agenda (not to mention voting rights and reproductive rights), we must individually do everything possible to get Democrats elected up and down every ballot. Make sure you, your neighbors and friends, your family back home, and their networks are all registered and casting their ballots appropriately. Once that’s done, volunteer with us, phone bank, or join in a local registration drive.
🔔 The recent flooding in Pakistan covers 1/3 of its territory, putting at least 2 million at severe risk of disease and starvation. Hurricane Fiona has walloped Puerto Rico this month, a mere five years after the devastating Maria, and summer’s heat waves and fires have ravaged nearly every continent. These climate-related events are becoming more frequent and more severe, and scientists understand that it is just the beginning. Radical measures must be taken across every sector and nation to save our ailing planet.
🌎 Accordingly, representatives from nations worldwide have convened this week on the U.S. East Coast to attend the UN General Assembly and Climate Week in New York, with parallel climate forums taking place across the city. Also, in Boston, the finalists of the Earthshot Prize (a global prize for the environment designed to incentivize change and repair our planet) were announced in full fanfare. Climate is understandably big on the agenda, with calls for unity to meet this challenge. Appropriately, Al Gore called out the President of the World Bank, David Malpass, for being a climate denier. There is no place in our U.S. government or vital international institutions for powerful agents, holding the world’s purse strings, to ignore the scientific community.
🆘 One topic nearly every leader addressing the U.N General Assembly reiterated was the menacing global climate emergency. In addition to all the other efforts the administration is pushing to address this threat, President Biden must declare the crisis federally. Please sign our petition to urge the President to declare a National Climate Emergency!
Submitted Liz Clarey - A Pennsylvania voter living in the Czech Republic.
This past summer has seen a lot of movement toward electric vehicles (EVs). The Inflation Reduction Act will provide tax credits for EV purchases, and California, the largest car market in the US, announced they would ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. This means an increasing demand for lithium-ion batteries, which power EVs (in addition to smartphones, laptops, and power grids!). Lithium batteries are efficient and can store energy for a long period of time.
However, the metal is not completely environmentally friendly. Lithium is either mined from rock or extracted from brine and freshwater through an evaporation process. Unfortunately, lithium mining can pollute surrounding environments, and brine evaporation requires enormous amounts of water. Lithium costs are expected to skyrocket with increased demand, and there are concerns about its increasing scarcity.Read more
Written by Diana S. Powers, a Florida voter living in France.
California Governor Gavin Newsom took a giant step forward in climate change adaptation with the publication of “California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future ” (the ‘Strategy’) in August 2022. The Strategy admits that California is not merely in one of its usual swings between droughts and floods but that this balance has gone. Droughts last years longer. The less frequent rains and snows deliver less water. While trade-offs between water uses have already been tight and contentious, California faces a future of 10% less water before 2040. The Strategy plans to boost and optimize water resources through water recycling, desalination, and the more complete water capture from rarer flooding events.
Climate change impacts all living things in the biosphere largely through the water. Dry areas will become drier, while wet areas will become wetter. For California, however, drought and water scarcity are nothing new. In its gravity-defying attempt to meet the needs of an ever-growing population in an inhospitable, largely desert climate, Californians have begged, borrowed, stolen, and tricked to take water for both urban and agricultural needs for over a hundred years, as described in the riveting book and documentary, “Cadillac Desert.” No infrastructure project has daunted them when armed with the conviction that water is the basic need for all human activity. Emptying lakes, diverting rivers, and constructing dams all have been accomplished. Nature has paid the price, with many habitats permanently destroyed.Read more
Message from the Chair
🔥 As droughts, floods, and fires continue to plague communities and countries worldwide, more naysayers are now listening. We can no longer ignore this obvious threat to planetary health. It will take a world unified and determined to act, with the U.S. leading by example, to meet this pivotal moment. Accordingly, Democrats and the Biden administration have passed the most extensive package in history to combat climate change with the Inflation Reduction Act, and Biden’s pledge to reduce emissions has been significantly advanced. The hard work of bridging the emissions gap, reaching net zero, and securing environmental justice for our vulnerable communities still, nonetheless, lies before us.
🍃 The last loathsome ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June on W. Virginia vs. the Environmental Protection Agency also seems to have been mitigated propitiously in the text of the new Inflation Reduction Act. This SCOTUS decision stripped the EPA of much of its authority to fight climate change, citing a lack of congressional support to shift America away from burning fossil fuels. The text in the IRA, now passed in both houses, specifically amends the Clean Air Act, however, defining the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels as an air pollutant. The EPA may therefore have jurisdiction to regulate greenhouse gases and support the adaption of various alternative energies. The new legislation instructs federal agencies to curb or eliminate carbon dioxide and methane from power plants, automobiles, and oil wells under threat of federal fines. A sigh of relief!
🆘 Let’s take all the legislative wins to the bank this November for the midterms. Things are looking up, but we need all-hands-on-deck to (re)elect Democrats up and down the ballot, and we must continue pressuring the Biden administration to declare a National Climate Emergency.
Take Action! ✍️ Please sign the ECCC petition now. Please share it widely with your American friends, family, and colleagues in and outside the U.S. and on social media. It will be transmitted to the White House and Congress Our survival depends on the Biden Administration taking further action.
🗳️ The most powerful action you can take to impact climate change is voting. Please vote in the midterm elections because Democrats must maintain legislative control if we want sustained climate action Democrats Abroad is the margin of victory in many elections.