One of the most influential international economic is calling for a bigger push to combat climate change. The Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Angel GurrÃa, gave a talk this week (above) advocating for greater international effort to reach a sustainable economy in regards to the environment. He argued that we need to think beyond national policy agendas in order to curb global emissions and reduce climate risks.
It’s fantastic to see a conservative organization like the OECD openly calling for nations around the world to get one board with an economy that doesn’t kill the planet.
Mr Gurria said the risks of stranded communities as well as of stranded assets would increase if policy action was delayed. While rapid advances in technology would continue to drive the transformation, he said, “the pace and scale of the transformation required to meet the Paris goals cannot be achieved without the positive feedbacks between strong government policies and the transformative potential of non-state actors.”
Mr Gurrria said economic conditions in many countries provide a window of opportunity to take action now to boost growth and investment that will drive the transition to a prosperous and inclusive low-emissions, resilient future. Ambitious climate policy is simply good policy, he said, adding that: “Governments should move faster to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which still amount to around half a trillion dollars a year”.
Nuclear weapons are an existential threat to humanity. If they are used in violence it is likely that the planet would enter a period of nuclear winter – meaning that if you don’t die in the initial waves of explosions you’ll die from starvation. Not a good thing to think about.
Thankfully, yesterday 122 members of the United Nations signed a treaty committing them to a ban on nukes. Countries like the USA, France, and other nuke-loving countries didn’t sign it, still it sends a clear message: the rest of the world doesn’t want anybody to use nuclear weapons. The timing of the signing is quite symbolic given what Trump said during his speech at the UN earlier this week.
â€œThe Treaty is an important step towards the universally-held goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. It is my hope that it will reinvigorate global efforts to achieve it,â€ he added, acknowledging the contributions made by civil society and the hibakusha â€“ the atomic bomb survivors.
At the same time, Mr. Guterres, highlighted the difficult road ahead by recalling that there remain some 15,000 nuclear weapons in existence. â€œWe cannot allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our childrenâ€™s future,â€ he said.
Geothermal energy is very simple in principal: drill a hole into the hot earth and use the naturally occurring heat to get turbines spinning. In practice it can be very hard. To bridge the practical difficulties getting geothermal around the world running leaders behind the technology are gathered in Florence to discuss ways to accelerate adoption. They are in the process of creating a framework to share knowledge and expertise to ensure that this form of renewable energy gets used in more places.
From their press release:
Minister of Environment, Mr. Gian Luca Galletti stated: â€œItaly considers the Paris Agreement to be irreversible and non-negotiable and therefore strives to promote geothermal and other renewable energy sources as a vital component for the planet’s sustainable development.â€
â€œGeothermal’s vast potential is currently untapped,â€ he continued. â€œWe must develop new technologies and encourage new investments to ensure we cover this gap. The Alliance will multiply its efforts to guide this process, and Italy will provide its contribution with its long experience and know-how.â€
Ms. Teresa Bellanova, Italyâ€™s Vice Minister of Economy and Development, said: “Geothermal energyâ€™s consistent and continuous availability make it a highly precious source of renewable energy both in Italy and many countries all over the world. Through our knowledge of the industry, Italy can play an important role in achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement, in addition to stimulating sustainable job creation.”
Director General of IRENA, Mr. Adnan. Z. Amin, said: â€œThis meeting has, without question, allowed both the policy and industry communities to identify common ground in the pursuit of what is a renewable energy source with tremendous potential.
â€œIf we can identify and implement mechanisms that deliver a greater level of certainty to investors and developers, then we will move beyond meaningful dialogue to decisive action that accelerates geothermal production,â€ continued Mr. Amin, â€œcontributing significantly to decarbonisation of the global economy, whilst creating jobs and supporting growth around the world.â€
Guatemala is a gorgeous country with a rich Mayan history, particularly around Lake AtitlÃ¡n (and the more famous Tikal). The country will now be home to a UNESCO project toking at best practices for underwater archaeology. The main idea is to work with the local population to ensure cultural sensitivity and to match that care with environmental concerns. When the practices are outlined UNESCO will expand their underwater archeology knowledge to the world’s researchers with some locations already identified.
UNESCOâ€™s technical mission to Lake AtitlÃ¡n (southwest of Guatemala) will take place in the autumn. It will be funded by Spain and will be carried out by the experts of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body of UNESCOâ€™s Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. MarÃa Helena Barba Meinecke, head of the Yucatan Peninsula underwater heritage programme of Mexicoâ€™s National Institute of Anthropology and History will lead the mission, which will examine the archaeological sites in the lake and propose a management plan in consultation with the local communities, for whom these vestiges are of great cultural importance.
Several submerged archaeological sites were discovered in 1996 in Lake AtitlÃ¡n, the deepest lake in Central America. Among them is a Mayan villages known as Samabaj, which retains the remains of domestic structures and religious monuments. The village appears to have been built on an island that was submerged, possibly because of a volcanic eruption, a landslide or another natural disaster.
Donald Trump ran a campaign that championed the need to renegotiate the North American Free trade Agreement (NAFTA) to better help Americans. Trump’s erratic behaviour means we won’t know if NAFTA will ever be renegotiated, however the need to talk about trade in a new lens is needed (of course, we have no idea what Trump would want to change in NAFTA). Ed Broadbent has been calling for Canada to put people first when discussing trade with other countries, including NAFTA. Historically, trade deals (NAFTA, WTO, CETA, etc.) have the sole goal of making companies richer at the cost of environmental protections and human rights. This has sent global civilization on a race to the bottom.
Broadbent argues this does not need to be the case; we can use trade deals to help people and the environment.
The coming renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement and the possibility of a trade and investment deal with China should not be occasions to replicate past errors. Rather, they should be used as an opportunity to address this serious democratic deficit. While job losses and the shift of income from wages to profits have been in part due to technological change, the latest report of the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook notes that global competition has also produced a drop in the share of labour income in middle-class jobs in advanced economies as well as a drop in the workers’ share of income within developing countries. Together with the decline of unions, such competition has contributed to the marked rise in inequality within most countries around the world.
In renegotiating NAFTA and pursuing trade talks with China, Canada should avoid, not repeat, the errors of past trade agreements. Why should agreements provide effective enforcement mechanisms to protect the property rights of corporations but deny the human rights of workers? Why should we protect the one per cent at the expense of the majority?