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Cooperatives as an engine for women’s empowerment

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Around the World.coop is  happy to announce our brand new column: the Toolbox. ATW has chosen an evocative name, an image that recalls the action of doing. Sometimes, in fact, in order to effectively finalize some action we need to use some specific equipment. We launch it today by putting inside the Toolbox the first tool: cooperatives as an engine for women’s empowerment.

Every month we would like to add a new tool to our box, we would love to fill it with all the useful keys to better read the cooperative world and to become, ourselves, conscious actors within our society.

So, let’s start! Empowerment is a process, more precisely it is the process that leads the individual to the acquisition of self-confidence and self-esteem. It allows the person to take control of his/her own life and it contributes to create awareness of one’s rights.

Empowerment is a dynamic and multi-dimensional concept, which can be easily applied in several contexts: today we focus on women’s empowerment, studying two case studies, the women cooperative in Morocco and in the United States. Ready to fly? Let’s go!

Similarities between Toudarté and Up&Go cooperatives

What do the Toudarte and Up&Go cooperatives have in common? Apparently, it seems nothing: different latitudes, different continents and not comparable sectors. Yet, there is a common thread that links the one that produces argan oil in rural Morocco with the one that offers domestic services in New York, the City by definition: women! Better say, the empowerment of women.

The female collective action is the real protagonist of these two stories; and collective action results a  crucial node as it activates and reinforces women’s empowerment.

Reading articles and papers, quite often we find the concept of empowerment combined with the specification “women”. That’s because recently, international agencies, governmental and non-governmental bodies as well as academics, have shed light on the centrality of women’s empowerment as an instrument for human development.

Development is the process that drives the expansion of people’s capabilities to live the life that one values or has reason to value, moreover development leads the individual to experience the political, economic and social opportunities. This process represents the base for the individual to exercise agency within the community

Women are crucial to achieve human development, both from an intrinsic and an instrumental point of view. In particular, from an instrumental perspective, women act as a driving force for the expansion of household’s and children’s capabilities. Despite women’s force, figures do not seem to be so comfortable: worldwide only the 55% of women participate in the labour market compared to the 78% of men.

 

In 72 countries, just the fact of being a woman represents an obstacle to access to financial resources and credit. Finally, women take the burden of unpaid work, such houseworks and childcare.

cooperatives as an engine for women's empowerment
cooperatives as an engine for women's empowerment
cooperatives and women's empowerment

How both Toudarté and Up&Go cooperatives contribute to raise awareness about the importance of women empowerment?

The cooperative stories of Toudarte and Up&Go contribute to raise awareness on two points: firstly, women’s daily commitments and tasks are not the same in all places. In rural Africa, for example, in addition to childcare and domestic chores, women have to fetch water and collect woods to cook. Certainly, in Europe and United States it will not be an easy task to find a woman that has to walk for hours and hours to collect water for domestic needs, anyway it will be quite easy to find women with a job that keeps them at least 8 hours away from their home every day, in addition to the inevitable domestic works and the care of children.

Secondly, although women have to finalize different daily tasks, they still feel the same needs. Whether they are in Morocco or in the United States, women want to make their voices loud, they want to be agents of their own lives and want to take an active role in societal changes. Let’s give a look on how the cooperative can trigger women’s empowerment.

Participation constitutes the first stimulus for trigger changes and enhances women’s empowerment. It acts through several transmission channels: an important one is economic empowerment. Participation in a cooperative can lead to the  achievement of  an adequate remuneration and a fair income for products and services offered. Aside from the mere, but still important economic aspect, this kind of empowerment is fundamental to reinforce women’s capabilities.

Women who have their own source of income have more decision-making power on how to spend it. Several empirical studies have shown that, especially in Sub-Saharan African Countries, women invest more resources on their children’s education and health, triggering a positive effect for future generations.

Furthermore, women who earn just remuneration got the possibility to work fewer hours per day, thus improving the quantity and the quality of their leisure time. We can find the direct evidence of that in the experience of the members of the cooperative Up&Go.

Cooperative as a catalyst for social development

Beyond human development, cooperatives are catalysts for social development: it represents a training ground to exercise democracy, to express individual and collective needs. Cooperative meetings become the perfect space to express member’s ideas and point of view, moreover they constitute the  space to raise awareness on the rights that everyone has. Not only the worker’s right, but and more importantly the rights as human beings.

Through active participation in the cooperative, one can build both the individual and the collective identity. The collective identity, which means that one can recognize herself in the other, contributes to enhance women’s empowerment.  This is well explained by Cirenia, a member of Up&Go, who sees all the other women as her sisters, as people she can fully trust.

Participation therefore seems to be the key to triggering and evolving women’s empowerment. However, the active participation is not always so immediate: in certain contexts, such as Morocco, women’s participation can be hindered by specific cultural conditions and by the resistance imposed by society.

Moreover, the obstacles can be legislative: in some countries, only the head of the household can participate in a cooperative and usually he is a man. However, even if women have the right to participate in a cooperative, they still have to balance paid work with domestic activities and childcare, hence women can face the lack of time as a constraint to take part in a cooperative. Finally, a woman may also choose not to participate because she has poor self-confidence, as a consequence of living in a society that does not encourage her participation in decision-making processes.

Hence, in contexts with specific rules and cultures, an all-women cooperative can represent a protected space where women can express themselves freely while strengthening each other.

Specifically, collective action gives the opportunity to the Toudarte members to overcome certain limits imposed by society. At first, as Fatima tells us, it was not easy to let women join the cooperative. However, her commitment and perseverance were important to convince at first only a few women, who then actually acted as pathfinders for all the other members. The idea of a woman fully empowered by collective action has produced enormous changes in the community.

Conclusion: cooperatives as an engine for women’s empowerment?

Therefore, the cooperative stories of Up&Go and Toudarte have shown us how the combination of women and collective action can trigger empowerment. These are stories of collective courage which make possible women’s empowerment and social and cultural changes. The presence of a protected space built by women and for women could be an ideal response in those contexts that actually prevent women’s empowerment within the society.

These spaces are a necessity, but they are anyway a first step: the process of women’s empowerment starts with women, but to be finalized it needs that the whole community is  empowered. Legislative, social and cultural changes in society as a whole have to come together  to the process of women’s empowerment, which is why the process of empowerment has to involve all the stakeholders within the society.

After framing  women’s empowerment, it comes natural that the next tool we will put in our Toolbox regard the process of empowerment in mixed cooperatives.  That new equipment will help us understand even more deeply the importance of cooperatives as an instrument for human development, furthermore we will understand what leads a community to choose one type of cooperative rather than  another and how cooperative’s action evolves over time.

Source: Around the World.coop

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Environmental Summit

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We all want clean air and water. Healthy, nutritious food. Health, well-being and prosperity.  But what are we getting?

Many of our existing policies, systems and services are based on Industrial-Age thinking.

“We are on the cusp of the fastest, deepest , most consequential transformation of human civilization in history, a transformation every bit as significant as the move from foraging to cities and agriculture 10,000 years ago.” –RethinkX

 

We have a choice to make. Do we want to continue as we have, fighting over resources, constant wars and struggles, or do we want a better life for ourselves and our children and future generations?  The reality is we already have everything we need to bring about a world that works for all.  The Big question is:

Community Power: Are We Ready?

“People all over the world are already living or implementing thousands of initiatives which embody justice and challenge the capitalist logic. Now we must expand them. The magnitude of the crises we face demands system change, and that system change will result in the creation of sustainable societies and new relations between human beings, and between human beings and nature, based on equality and reciprocity.”  – Karin Nansen, Chair of Friends of the Earth International

Humanity stands at the brink of global environmental collapse. Our environmental protection laws more often protect the very corporations that they are supposed to regulate, rather than our rivers, forests, mountains, and other ecosystems.

A global movement is starting to change that. Using indigenous value systems to create legally enforceable rights for nature, cities, towns, and counties across the United States are creating laws which recognize the rights of nature.

This session will include a segment on how to design and adopt “rights of nature” laws in your own community.

But right now, people within the community rights movement aren’t waiting for power brokers to fix the system. They’re beginning to envision a new sustainability constitution by adopting new laws at the local level that are forcing those ideas upward into the state and national ones. In doing so, they are directly challenging the basic operating system of this country—one which currently elevates corporate “rights” above the rights of people, nature, and their communities—and changing it into one which recognizes a right to local, community self-government that cannot be overridden by corporations, or by governments wielded by corporate interests.

Click here to sign up

What you will learn and receive

  • An understanding of how people in communities around the United States and around the world have risen to the occasion to protect the rights of nature in their own backyards
  • Alternative methods of  preventing climate change in your communities
  • A better understanding of how our actions create systematic problems
  • How a holistic perspective changes the outcome
  • Non licenesable legal actions that you can take that you don’t need to ask permission to take
  • How an engaged group of individuals has come to the aid of their communities
  • A better understanding of desertification and how solving that problem can be good for the planet
  • The Understanding of perfect timing and the types of messaging that work
  • The importance of soul in your marketing messages
  • The need for solutions journalism in your community

Confirmed Guests and Topics include:

  • Allan Savory, Keynote: Savory Center for Holistic Management: Harare, Zimbabwe and Boulder, Colorado
  • Thomas Linzey, Chief Counsel, Center for Environmental and Democratic Rights
  • Chuck O’Neal, Florida Rights of Nature Network
  • Rob Moir, Ocean River Institute: The things that you can do in your community to help stave off climate catastrophy
  • Howard Bloom, Celebrated Author and Superstar Publicist: The Stars are within you.

The Benefits you will secure:

  • You will have a better and more comprehensive understanding of what is happening at the national and multinational level
  • You will have a better understanding of what people are doing at the community level
  • You will have a better understanding of what you can do wherever you are in the world
  • You will have a better understanding of how you can amplify the wisdom you have secured so that more people can take part and take action

We are grateful to all presenters and show hosts.   If you are interested in participating or hosting one of our media summits,  please contact us here

From the Mobilized Archives:

  • Sir Richard Branson and Allan Zavod: An Environmental Symphony
  • Ed Begley, Jr.
  • Winona La Duke
  • Vandana Shiva
  • Kristin Lawless, Author, “Formerly Known as Food”
  • Sarah Savory, The African Center for Holistic Magament
  • Dr. Michael Ozner, “The Miami Mediterranean Diet”
  • Nickson Otieno,  Niko Green, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Dr. Elaine Ingham, PhD.  Soil Web School
  • David Korten
  • Helena Norberg-Hodge
  • Noam Chomsky
  • Evlelyn Zadjenwerg, Paulo Rodriguez and Matheus Mendonca, social Activists, Brazil
  • Sara Vicari, Around the World.coop, Rome, Italy
  • Jinan Kodapully, EK Foundation, India

 

Allan Savory, born in Zimbabwe and educated in South Africa (University of Natal, BS in Zoology and Botany) pursued an early career as a research biologist and game ranger in the British Colonial Service of what was then Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia) and later as a farmer and game rancher in Zimbabwe.

In the 1960s he made a significant breakthrough in understanding what was causing the degradation and desertification of the world’s grassland ecosystems and, as a resource management consultant, worked with numerous managers on four continents to develop sustainable solutions.

He served as a Member of Parliament in the latter days of Zimbabwe’s civil war and became the leader of the opposition to the ruling party headed by Ian Smith. Exiled in 1979 as a result of his opposition, he immigrated to the United States, where he continued to work with land managers through his consulting business. The growth of that business, a desire to assist many more people and the need for furthering his work led him to continue its development in the nonprofit world. In 1992 Savory and his wife, Jody Butterfield, formed a non-profit organization in Zimbabwe, the Africa Centre for Holistic Management, donating a ranch that would serve as a learning site for people all over Africa. In 2009Savory, Butterfield, and a group of colleagues co-founded the Savory Institute in Boulder, Colorado to serve the world through an international network of entrepreneurial innovators and leaders committed to serving their regions with the highest standards of Holistic Management training and implementation support. The Africa Centre became the first of the Savory Institute’s locally led and managed “hubs.”

Savory’s book, Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision-Making (Island Press, 1999), describes his effort to find workable solutions ordinary people could implement to overcome many of the problems besetting communities and businesses today.

In 2003, Allan Savory received Australia’s International Banksia Award “for the person or organization doing the most for the environment on a global scale,” and in 2010 Savory (and the Africa Centre) received the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s Challenge award for work that has “significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.” A TED talk Savory gave in 2013 has received over 3.4 million views and in 2014 was voted one of the 50 most intriguing TED talks of all time. The Savory Institute is one of 11 finalists in the Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25 million initiative for the successful commercialization of ways of taking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and keeping them out with no countervailing impacts.

 

 

Chuck O’Neal, You may have read about his campaign in the Guardian. And you may have heard about him from one of your friends or colleagues.

“Our waterways and the wildlife they support have been systematically destroyed by poorly planned suburban sprawl. They have suffered in silence and without representation, until now.”

A network of streams, lakes and marshes in Florida is suing a developer and the state to try to stop a housing development from destroying them.

The novel lawsuit was filed on Monday in Orange county on behalf of the waterways under a “rights of nature” law passed in November. It is the largest US municipality to adopt such a law to date.

Laws protecting the rights of nature are growing throughout the world, from Ecuador to Uganda, and have been upheld in courts in India, Colombia and Bangladesh. But this is the first time anyone has tried to enforce them in the US.

The Orange county law secures the rights of its waterways to exist, to flow, to be protected against pollution and to maintain a healthy ecosystem. It also recognizes the authority of citizens to file enforcement actions on their behalf.

Thomas Linzey serves as Senior Counsel for the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights (CDER), an organization committed to globally advancing environmental rights. He is the co-founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), and is widely recognized as the founder of the contemporary “community rights” movement which has resulted in the adoption of several hundred municipal laws across the United States. He also sits on the Board of Advisors of the New Earth Foundation.

Linzey is a cum laude graduate of Widener Law School and a three-time recipient of the law school’s public interest law award. He has been a finalist for the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Award, and is a recipient of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union’s Golden Triangle Legislative Award. He is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, and he is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the Third, Fourth, Eighth, and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. District Court for the Western and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania.

He is a co-founder of the Daniel Pennock Democracy School – which has been taught in twenty-four states across the country and which has graduated over 5,000 lawyers, activists, and municipal officials – which assists groups to create new community campaigns which elevate the rights of those communities over rights claimed by corporations. Linzey is the author of Be The Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community (Gibbs-Smith 2009), the author of On Community Civil Disobedience in the Name of Sustainability (PM Press 2016), the co-author of We the People: Stories from the Community Rights Movement in the United States (PM Press 2016), has served as a co-host of Democracy Matters, a public affairs radio show broadcast from KYRS in Spokane, Washington and syndicated on ten other stations, was featured in Leonardo DiCaprio and Tree Media’s film 11th Hour and We the People 2.0 (Official Selection of the Seattle International Film Festival), assisted the Ecuadorian constitutional assembly in 2008 to adopt the world’s first constitution recognizing the independently enforceable rights of ecosystems, and is a frequent lecturer at conferences across the country.

His work has been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, the Nation magazine, he was named, in 2007, as one of Forbes’ magazines’ “Top Ten Revolutionaries,” and, in 2018, Linzey was named as one of the top 400 environmentalists of the last 200 years in the two volume encyclopedia, American Environmental Leaders (3rd Ed. Grey House Publishing 2018). He is currently working on a new book, “Modern American Democracy (and other fairy tales)” (forthcoming Spring, 2021). Linzey currently resides in Spokane, Washington.

Rob Moir, Ph.D., President and Executive Director, Ocean River Institute

Dr. Moir is an educator, scientist, and activist with a proven history of institutional management and marine policy success. Dr. Moir has been a leader of citizen science and efforts to clean up Salem Sound and Boston Harbor, as president of the advocacy organizations Salem Sound Harbor Monitors, Salem Sound 2000 and later Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, and through his appointment by the Secretary of Interior to the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership.

When he was Curator of Natural History at the Peabody Essex Museum, he created the first bioregional management collaborative organization, Salem Sound Coastwatch in 1988. Dr. Moir established The James Baldwin Scholars Program at Hampshire College where he worked as a major gifts officer. He was formerly Curator of Education at the New England Aquarium and Executive Director of the Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts.

Dr. Moir was awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship from the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation, and the James Centorino Award for Distinguished Performance in Marine Education by the National Marine Educators Association, which he also served as president. He was Sea Education Association’s first assistant scientist contracted for multiple voyages of the R.V. Westward in 1979 and 1980 W45, W49, W50, W52, and W53, and served on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Cambridge School of Weston.

Dr. Moir has a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, a Masters of Science and Teaching from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire. a B.A. from Hampshire College, and certificates of studies from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole and the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island.

Howard Bloom is the celebrated author of “The Global Brain,” “The Lucifer Principle” and many other books and was instrumental in helping the original SPIN Magazine find its soul. As the founder of the Howard Bloom Organization,the long-time considered public relations firm where artists and record companies would go to achieve higher media status, Howard Bloom was able to tap into the heart and soul of clients such as Prince, Billy Joel, John Mellencamp, Amnesty International and hundreds of others by empowering the artists he represented to realize their true potential, by enabling journalists to understand the artists’ truth, the stories that enabled them to “bleed their souls” in the music that would eventually touch and move their audiences of millions.

 

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Systemic Change Driven by Moral Awakening Is Our Only Hope

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Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity.

The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.

The ecology movement in the 1970s benefitted from a strong infusion of systems thinking, which was in vogue at the time (ecology—the study of the relationships between organisms and their environments—is an inherently systemic discipline, as opposed to studies like chemistry that focus on reducing complex phenomena to their components). As a result, many of the best environmental writers of the era framed the modern human predicament in terms that revealed the deep linkages between environmental symptoms and the way human society operates. Limits to Growth (1972), an outgrowth of the systems research of Jay Forrester, investigated the interactions between population growth, industrial production, food production, resource depletion and pollution. Overshoot (1982), by William Catton, named our systemic problem and described its origins and development in a style any literate person could appreciate. Many more excellent books from the era could be cited.

However, in recent decades, as climate change has come to dominate environmental concerns, there has been a significant shift in the discussion. Today, most environmental reporting is focused laser-like on climate change, and systemic links between it and other worsening ecological dilemmas (such as overpopulation, species extinctions, water and air pollution, and loss of topsoil and fresh water) are seldom highlighted. It’s not that climate change isn’t a big deal. As a symptom, it’s a real doozy. There’s never been anything quite like it, and climate scientists and climate-response advocacy groups are right to ring the loudest of alarm bells. But our failure to see climate change in context may be our undoing.

Why have environmental writers and advocacy organizations succumbed to tunnel vision? Perhaps it’s simply that they assume systems thinking is beyond the capacity of policy makers. It’s true: If climate scientists were to approach world leaders with the message, “We have to change everything, including our entire economic system—and fast,” they might be shown the door rather rudely. A more acceptable message is, “We have identified a serious pollution problem, for which there are technical solutions.” Perhaps many of the scientists who did recognize the systemic nature of our ecological crisis concluded that if we can successfully address this one make-or-break environmental crisis, we’ll be able to buy time to deal with others waiting in the wings (overpopulation, species extinctions, resource depletion and on and on).

If climate change can be framed as an isolated problem for which there is a technological solution, the minds of economists and policy makers can continue to graze in familiar pastures. Technology—in this case, solar, wind and nuclear power generators, as well as batteries, electric cars, heat pumps and, if all else fails, solar radiation management via atmospheric aerosols—centers our thinking on subjects like financial investment and industrial production. Discussion participants don’t have to develop the ability to think systemically, nor do they need to understand the Earth system and how human systems fit into it. All they need trouble themselves with is the prospect of shifting some investments, setting tasks for engineers and managing the resulting industrial-economic transformation so as to ensure that new jobs in green industries compensate for jobs lost in coal mines.

The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes. The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors. After all, everybody loves technology. It already does nearly everything for us. During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined. Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose. But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology? Color me doubtful. I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity and demand adaptation. At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating and transportation) to electricity. Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution. When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth. The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management. That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse and recycle.” It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy. But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.

The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (“There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”). Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior. Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well. We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment. We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.

In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point. Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations. These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.

Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed? Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether. Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice. Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope. The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either. A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.

The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself.

The good news is that systemic change is fractal in nature: it implies, indeed it requires, action at every level of society. We can start with our own individual choices and behavior; we can work within our communities. We needn’t wait for a cathartic global or national sea change. And even if our efforts cannot “save” consumerist industrial civilization, they could still succeed in planting the seeds of a regenerative human culture worthy of survival.

There’s more good news: Once we humans choose to restrain our numbers and our rates of consumption, technology can assist our efforts. Machines can help us monitor our progress, and there are relatively simple technologies that can help deliver needed services with less energy usage and environmental damage. Some ways of deploying technology could even help us clean up the atmosphere and restore ecosystems.

But machines can’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path. Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had.

Source: EcoWatch

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Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy finds that existing coal, oil and gas production puts the world on course to overshoot Paris climate targets.

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Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy finds that existing coal, oil and gas production puts the world on course to overshoot Paris climate targets. The report analyses global renewable energy potential, and finds that every region on Earth can replace fossil fuels with renewable energy to keep warming below 1.5ºC and provide reliable energy access to all.

The world already has more than enough renewable energy potential to comfortably make the transition away from fossil fuels while also expanding energy access for all, finds new analysis by Dr Sven Teske and Dr Sarah Niklas from the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney.

Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy shows clearly through detailed modelling that, even if no new fossil fuel projects were built from today onwards, carbon emissions from existing projects are still far too high to stay on course towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. Modelling in the report demonstrates the world would produce significantly more fossil fuels than it can afford under a 1.5ºC climate goal by 2030, leading to 66% more emissions in 2030 than is compatible with 1.5ºC. Therefore, the world needs to actively wind down existing coal mines and oil and gas wells while increasing renewable energy.

The report shows that this transition is not only required but completely feasible. The world simply doesn’t need any more fossil fuels. In fact, all regions have enough renewable energy to provide energy access to all using existing technologies.

This suggests that it is possible to meet the twin challenges of phasing out fossil fuels and increasing electricity access at the speed required through scaling up renewable energy, according to Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy: An orderly wind down of coal, oil and gas to meet the Paris Agreement.

This report comes shortly after the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap that states clearly the world needs to stop investing in and expanding fossil fuels. The Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy report goes further by finding that it is also necessary to begin phasing down existing coal mines and oil and gas wells to have a chance of preventing catastrophic climate change.

Rebecca Byrnes, Deputy Director for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, said: “This report shows that a practical pathway exists where there are no new fossil fuel projects, existing projects are phased out, emissions are kept within a 1.5°C budget and energy access becomes universal, all while using existing and increasingly cost-competitive technologies. The hurdle is no longer economic nor technical; our biggest challenges are political. A cleaner future is within reach and, while international cooperation is essential for innovation and investment, nation-states can and should act now to regulate fossil fuel production decline”

The report, which builds on existing research on fossil fuel overproduction and renewable energy potential, analyzes fossil fuel phase out pathways that will be necessary to remain within a 1.5°C trajectory and compares this to a feasible scale up pathway for renewable energy. It does this while excluding technologies that are uncertain or require unreasonable amounts of land use, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), unlike scenarios provided by the IPCC and IEA .

Associate Professor Sven Teske, Research Director at the University of Technology Sydney: “National governments must establish binding limits for the extraction volumes for coal, oil and gas. A just transition for workers from the fossil to the renewable energy industry is essential. Any new investments in coal, oil and gas projects are not in line with the Paris agreement and would most likely be stranded due to favourable economics for renewables – especially solar and wind. The combination of renewable energies, storage technologies and renewable fuels such as hydrogen and synthetic fuels will provide reliable energy supply for industries, future travelling as well as for buildings. The fossil energy industry must be wound down.”

Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.Earth and Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative: “This new report shows clearly that we have more than enough fossil fuels above ground and under production and that we have the technology and renewable energy capacity to more than meet the world’s energy needs. Fast tracking a wind down of oil, gas and coal and focusing on expanding renewable production and infrastructure is not only possible, but it will save lives.”

Sanjay Vashist, Director of Climate Action Network South Asia: “There are no more excuses to further delay accelerated uptake of renewable energy and ending the age of fossil fuels. At a time when renewable energy has emerged as a reliable and cost effective alternative, to continue to expand the fossil fuel sector is a criminal waste of money that will have devastating climate and humanitarian consequences, especially on the poorest of poor and most vulnerable people of the global South. G7 leaders must set an example and shut down coal plants in their countries immediately and assist the developing world in leapfrogging to renewable energy with technological and  financial assistance.”

Iman Bashir, Programme Assistant at Power Shift Africa says: “It is clear renewables provide an opportunity for Africa to not only power its future in a safe and sustainable manner, but also a chance to gain a strong footing as a global clean energy leader. The report provides irrefutable proof that Africa can power its economic development using renewable energy pathways and leapfrog the exploitation of fossil fuels through a combination of national policy and international support.”

Ilan Zugman, 350.org’s Director for Latin America says: “For oil, gas and coal companies, this conclusion will probably be unwelcome, but it makes no sense to ignore it. There is no time anymore. We need public policies that promote clean energy infrastructure and financing, as well as access for all. And this must not happen in parallel to the expansion of fossil fuels, but rather by replacing them. The era of fossil fuels must end now so that the future is in the hands of humanity and not in the hands of this industry.”

Frode Pleym, leader of Greenpeace Norway: “We’ve known for a long time that the world has found far more oil and gas than we can ever use. This report emphasizes the urgency of the climate crisis. But it’s also encouraging to see it’s still possible to reach our climate commitments, without relying on risky and problematic technologies such as carbon capture and biofuels, if oil producing countries such as Norway start a just transition away from fossil fuels.”

Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Convener, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines & Fridays For Future Philippines: “My country has had the most number of extreme weather events for the past 20 years. I grew up with thunder and howling winds banging on my doors and windows. The current level of warming is already hell for us in the Global South. With all the destruction and devastation we have faced, expanding and supporting the dirty rotten fossil fuel industry when it will clearly put us past the 1.5°C limit is a death sentence to the most marginalized people. Global North countries have a historical debt to pay to the countries in the South that they have overexploited and that begins with an end to expansion of fossil fuel production, a phase down of existing production, and supporting renewable energy transition especially in the global south. With this report, it is even clearer to everyone that world leaders have no excuse. We must act now, the science and the people are united in calling for justice.”

Truls Gulowsen, chair of Friends of the Earth Norway: “Another expert report shows us that we have the technology required to phase out fossil fuels, and phase in cleaner, more efficient energy, without destroying enormous areas and worsening the parallel crisis of biodiversity loss. What we lack, as always, is political will, with Norway looking increasingly isolated globally in its seemingly unending faith in the continued profitability of petroleum. Norwegian politicians need to start telling the truth about the need for a just transition of the oil and gas industry; if not, we risk an unprecedented economic crash in addition to ever-worsening, more catastrophic climate change.”

The report’s main findings include:

  • Even if fossil fuel expansion ended overnight, too many fossil fuels are already under production in existing coal mines and oil and gas wells to remain within a 1.5°C budget.
  • To keep warming to below the temperature goal of 1.5ºC there must be both an end to expansion of fossil fuel production, and a phase down of existing production.
  • The world has more than enough renewable energy resources that can be scaled up rapidly enough to meet the energy demands of every person in the world.
  • The report shows that, by 2030, even without any new coal, oil or gas projects, the world would produce 35% more oil and 69% more coal than is consistent with a 1.5°C pathway.
  • Every continent in the world has enough renewable energy potential to provide 100% renewable energy access to its population.
  • As the cost of renewables has dropped, economic potential for renewables has grown alongside technical potential. Even when taking into account environmental safeguards, land constraints and technical feasibility, solar and wind energy could power the world more than 50 times over.
  • Continuing to expand the fossil fuel sector will only lock in further infrastructure that will become stranded assets, with devastating climate and humanitarian consequences.
  • The report was produced by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney and conducted in cooperation with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative. The full report is available below and a suite of report graphics, animations and charts can be downloaded here.

About the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is spurring international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods. Cities such as Vancouver and Barcelona have already endorsed the Treaty with more considering motions to endorse. Hundreds of organizations representing thousands more individuals join the call for world leaders to stop fossil fuel expansion.

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