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#EuropeanGreenDeal to be presented in plenary by Commission president


MEPs will debate the ‘European Green Deal’ to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent today (11 December) at 14:00, in an extraordinary plenary sitting in Brussels.

Following the Commission’s expected announcement of the European Green Deal on Wednesday 11 December, the European Parliament will have a first debate on it with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, who will close the debate.

The European Green Deal will focus on the fight against climate change and other environmental objectives in areas such as transport, energy, pollution, agriculture, circular economy and biodiversity.

The Commission’s communication is expected to include a timeline for the upcoming proposals. Parliament has already stressed that the EU should cut emissions by 55% by 2030 to become climate neutral by 2050 and that an ambitious long-term EU budget for 2021-2027 is needed urgently.

Debate: Wednesday, 11 December 14.00-16.00

Procedure: Statement by the President of the Commission, followed by debate

Press Conference: Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the European Green Deal, at 16.00-17.00 in the Anna Politkovskaya Press Conference Room – Spaak building, room 0A50

The European Green Deal sets out how to make Europe the first climateneutral continent by 2050, boosting the economy, improving people’s health and quality of life, caring for nature, and leaving no one behind

The European Commission has presented The European Green Deal – a road map for making the EU’s economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all.

President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy – for a growth that gives back more than it takes away. It shows how to transform our way of living and working, of producing and consuming so that we live healthier and make our businesses innovative. We can all be involved in the transition and we can all benefit from the opportunities. We will help our economy to be a global leader by moving first and moving fast. We are determined to succeed for the sake of this planet and life on it – for Europe’s natural heritage, for biodiversity, for our forests and our seas. By showing the rest of the world how to be sustainable and competitive, we can convince other countries to move with us.”

Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans added: “We are in a climate and environmental emergency. The European Green Deal is an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of our people by transforming our economic model. Our plan sets out how to cut emissions, restore the health of our natural environment, protect our wildlife, create new economic opportunities, and improve the quality of life of our citizens. We all have an important part to play and every industry and country will be part of this transformation. Moreover, our responsibility is to make sure that this transition is a just transition, and that nobody is left behind as we deliver the European Green Deal.”

The European Green Deal provides a road map with actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution. It outlines investments needed and financing tools available, and explains how to ensure a just and inclusive transition. The European Green Deal covers all sectors of the economy, notably transport, energy, agriculture, buildings, and industries such as steel, cement, ICT, textiles and chemicals. To set into legislation the political ambition of being the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050, the Commission will present within 100 days the first ‘European Climate Law’. To reach our climate and environmental ambition, the Commission will also present the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the new Industrial Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan, the Farm to Fork Strategy for sustainable food and proposals for pollution-free Europe. Work will immediately start for upping Europe’s 2030 emissions targets, setting a realistic path to the 2050 goal. Meeting the objectives of the European Green Deal will require significant investment.

Achieving the current 2030 climate and energy targets is estimated to require €260 billion of additional annual investment, representing about 1.5% of 2018 GDP. This investment will need the mobilisation ofthe public and private sectors. The Commission will present in early 2020 a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan to help meet investment needs. At least 25% of the EU’s long-term budget should be dedicated to climate action, and the European Investment Bank, Europe’s climate bank, will provide further support. For the private sector to contribute to financing the green transition, the Commission will present a Green Financing Strategy in 2020. Fighting climate change and environmental degradation is a common endeavour but not all regions and Member States start from the same point. A Just Transition Mechanism will support those regions that rely heavily on very carbon intensive activities. It will support the citizens most vulnerable to the transition, providing access to reskilling programmes and employment opportunities in new economic sectors. In March 2020, the Commission will launch a ‘Climate Pact’ to give citizens a voice and role in designing new actions, sharing information, launching grassroots activities and show-casing solutions that others can follow. The global challenges of climate change and environmental degradation require a global response.

The EU will continue to promote its environmental goals and standards in the UN’s Biodiversity and Climate Conventions and reinforce its green diplomacy. The G7, G20, international conventions, and bilateral relationships will be used to persuade others to step up their efforts. The EU will also use trade policy to ensure sustainability and it will build partnerships with its neighbours in the Balkans and Africa to help them with their own transitions. Next steps The Commission invites the European Parliament and the European Council to endorse the Commission’s ambition for Europe’s future economy and the environment and to help realise it. The Commission will bring forward the measures announced in the European Green Deal roadmap. Background Climate change and environmental degradation present an existential threat to Europe and the world. To overcome this challenge, Europe needs a new growth strategy that transforms the Union into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, where economic growth is decoupled from resource use and where no one and no place is left behind.

The European Union already has a strong track record in reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases while maintaining economic growth. Emissions in 2018 were 23% lower than in 1990 while the Union’s GDP grew by 61% in the same period. But more needs to be done. The EU, given its extensive experience, is leading the way in creating a green and inclusive economy. The Green Deal Communication sets the path for action in the months and years ahead. The Commission’s future work will be guided by the public’s demand for action and by undeniable scientific evidence as demonstrated most comprehensively by IPCC, IPBES, Global Resources Outlook and EEA SOER 2019 reports (important to bring these key sources of evidence out; add proper references). Our proposals will be evidence-based and underpinned by broad consultation. An overwhelming majority of Europeans consider that protecting the environment is important (95%). Almost 8 in 10 Europeans (77%) say that protection of the environment can boost economic growth. The results of the Eurobarometer survey concerning environmental attitudes of EU citizens confirm the wide public support for environmental legislation at EU level and EU funding for environmentally friendly activities.

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Australia fires: blazes ‘too big to put out’ as 140 bushfires rage in NSW and Queensland | Australia news


Dozens of fires will burn across Australia for weeks, fire authorities say, including a “mega-fire”, already the size of greater Sydney, that is too big to put out.

At 6am on Sunday there were 96 bush and grass fires in NSW – 47 of which were not contained. Five fires are at a watch and act level.

Conditions eased on Sunday morning, allowing firefighters a chance to do critical back-burning and containment work ahead of Tuesday, when the mercury is tipped to soar into the 40s in parts of the state.

NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said overnight conditions had improved.

“We’ve got much more benign conditions, particularly a dominant easterly influence which will stretch pretty much right across most of our fire grounds,” he told Seven News.

“Which means hundreds – as a matter of fact more than 1600 – firefighters are around again today doing really important and critical back burning and containment-line consolidation to try and gain the upper hand before we see those conditions deteriorate into Tuesday.”

Already this fire season, six people have died and more than 1,000 homes have been lost across NSW and Queensland.

The largest conflagration, the “mega fire” at Gospers Mountain near Sydney’s north-western outskirts, was likely to burn for weeks until substantial rain falls, likely at the end of January or early February.

The NSW Bureau of Meteorology said the largest fires simply could not be extinguished by water-bombing aircraft or firefighting crews on the ground.

“The massive NSW fires are in some cases just too big to put out at the moment … they’re pumping out vast amounts of smoke which is filling the air, turning the sky orange and even appearing like significant rain on our radars,” the bureau said.

The bureau has forecast a grim week ahead, with strong winds forecast for fire-affected areas and no rain relief in sight. A months-long drought in eastern Australia has left bushland tinder dry and prone to ignition, especially from dry lightning strikes.

Temperatures are expected to reach 43C in western Sydney, and 44C in the Hunter region immediately north of Australia’s largest city.

Temperatures will also soar in the state’s north-west, where they are forecast to hit 44C in Bourke and 43C in Colbar.

In Queensland late on Saturday, a shipping container filled with fireworks exploded and residents were forced to flee their homes as an unpredictable fire threatened homes in Bundamba, on the outskirts of the state capital, Brisbane.

Residents within an three-kilometre-squared exclusion zone were ordered out as the firefront was waterbombed but fire crews warned they might not be able to stop the fast-moving blaze.

Conditions have eased off, a spokeswoman for Queensland’s Fire and Emergency Services said on Sunday morning, however are expected to pick up later in the day.

A high fire danger rating is in place for the Darling Downs and Granite Belt to Cape York Peninsula, and will ramp up to severe in the Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders on Monday.

One home was reportedly destroyed in the Bundamba fire on Saturday night.

The chief scientist at the Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dr Bidda Jones, said that, beyond the human cost of the fires, the widespread blazes would have a “major impact of biodiversity”.

“Depending on the intensity of the fire, it will have had a massive impact on wildlife,” she said. “And not just on those iconic species like koalas. You have to think of this in terms of how it affects the entire ecosystem.

“You have animals relying on the eucalyptus trees for their primary diet – greater gliders are another example of that. Then you have a whole range of other species living off nectar or the insects in that environment, and there’s going to be a considerable loss of insect life in those fires.”

Jones said animals often preferred old large trees for nesting, the trees most likely to be destroyed by the fires.

“And then with fires that have been burning even at low intensity, leaf litter and all the understorey is gone. That’s providing food and refuge to animals there and the animals they would eat.

“So if you look at the overall picture … the damage has been so extensive, it’s going to have a major impact on biodiversity.”

Much of Jones’s own property, which backed on to national park at Braidwood near the Australian capital, Canberra, was lost to fires this week.

“At this point almost all of that has been burnt, all of that continues forest, up to 31,000 hectares,” she said. “The big trees are still there and we have greater gliders that live in the forest, as well as powerful owls.

“So I’m hoping that they’ll be OK. They’ll have lost nesting holes because the big trees have fallen and it’s the big old trees that have the nesting holes.”

Jones’s property was home to a huge variety of birds, as well as eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies and red wallabies.

“We were going out and meeting kangaroos and red neck wallabies that were moving away from the fire,” she said. “A lot of wombats, I’m not sure what they’re going to eat. All of the forest floor, any grass any shrubs, are gone.”

Jones said her rainfall records showed last month to be the driest November in 40 years. The November average is about 100ml but this year it was 18ml.

The role of climate change in contributing to Australia’s unusually early and fierce fire season has been the subject of acute political debate. The federal government has refused to concede that climate change – and in particular Australia’s continued rising carbon emissions and massive fossil fuel exports – have played any role in the current fire crisis.

The Australian, prime minister Scott Morrison, has consistently said it was “no credible scientific evidence” linking climate change with the fires. This has been rejected by climate scientists, who have said politicians are “burying their heads in the sand while the world is literally burning around them”.

“Anytime I hear ‘don’t talk about climate change’,” Jones said, “anyone in my situation has absolutely no doubt these conditions are extreme and are connected to climate change.”

with Australian Associated Press



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Thanksgiving: Heavy Snow Closes I-5 ‘Grapevine’ North of Los Angeles



Heavy snow caused local authorities to close Interstate 5, the “Grapevine,” north of Los Angeles, as a winter storm continued to pound California on Thanksgiving morning.

Snow had already fallen in the area on Wednesday morning, as the storm began overnight, dumping rain on Los Angeles and snow on the surrounding mountains.

Local ABC affiliate KABC-7 reported Thursday:

Interstate 5 over the Grapevine has been closed Thursday morning due to heavy snow as a Thanksgiving storm continues hitting the area, authorities said.

The California Highway Patrol ordered the shut down of both directions of the freeway shortly before 4:40 a.m.

Authorities with Caltrans said it will assist vehicles already on the pass to the other side and then clear the roadway. It was not immediately known when lanes will open.

California High Patrol officers escorted drivers through the Grapevine for several hours amid heavy snowfall Wednesday morning.

Drivers were urged to use the Highway 101 as an alternative.

The Los Angeles Times reported that some ski resorts were forced to close because the snow was too heavy and blizzard conditions created logistical problems.

The winter weather may have caused nightmares for some Thanksgiving weekend travelers, but it is a boon to the state’s farmers and fisheries.

Thanksgiving is the traditional start of the rainy season. The state depends on winter precipitation to supply water to the rivers and reservoirs for the rest of the year.

Snow falling on the mountains is most important of all: aside from the benefit to ski resorts, the snowpack creates a vast natural reservoir that melts throughout the spring and early summer.

For five years, from 2011 to 2016, very little rain fell during the winter months, causing the worst drought in the state’s recent history.

However, since the winter of 2016-17, California has enjoyed rainy winters. In that sense, the winter of 2018-9 is off to a good start.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.





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Climate Change Protesters Storm Field at Halftime of Harvard-Yale Football Game



NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — The 136th edition of The Game between Harvard and Yale has been delayed at halftime after protesters took over the field.

Students from both schools occupied midfield after the Yale band had finished performing. Some held banners asking their colleges to act on climate change and Puerto Rican debt relief.

“Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go,” some protesters chanted.

After a few minutes, hundreds more people stream onto the field. A public address announcement asked them to leave “as a courtesy to the players.”

“As a courtesy to both teams, the game must resume.”

Police were on standby.

With Yale hoping to clinch an Ivy League title, Harvard led 15-3 at halftime.





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