4 creative ways cities are transitioning to a clean energy future

April 1, 2019 by  
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The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge is accelerating community climate leadership.

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4 creative ways cities are transitioning to a clean energy future

Is coastal tourism in danger of going underwater?

March 20, 2019 by  
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In late 2018, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists released a startling report about the impending impacts of rising temperatures. On our present track, the world is predicted to warm by 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels by 2040.For the coastal tourism industry, a 2-degree Celsius rise in temperatures would be catastrophic.

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Is coastal tourism in danger of going underwater?

Is coastal tourism in danger of going underwater?

March 20, 2019 by  
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In late 2018, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists released a startling report about the impending impacts of rising temperatures. On our present track, the world is predicted to warm by 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels by 2040.For the coastal tourism industry, a 2-degree Celsius rise in temperatures would be catastrophic.

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Is coastal tourism in danger of going underwater?

NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change

March 19, 2019 by  
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On Thursday March 14, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City unveiled a $10 billion plan to prepare lower Manhattan for the inevitable invasion of sea level rise predicted with climate change. The plan was announced alongside the release of the Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study , which provides a complete assessment of predicted climate risks, including sea level rise, storm surge, extreme rainfall and heat waves. The plan includes extensive construction of permanent and smartly integrated “pop-up” barriers, as well as a proposal to extend the city’s footprint by 500 feet between the Brooklyn Bridge and the South Ferry Terminal. Lower Manhattan gets expanded According to the study, the buildings between the Brooklyn Bridge and South Ferry Terminal are too close to the coast and too densely concentrated with utility and subway lines for the integrated barriers planned for other neighborhoods. Space for additional infrastructure is highly limited. The proposed concept is to build out the land by approximately two blocks at a higher level, so as to act as a raised barrier (called a berm) that protects the Financial District from high tides. Related: Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean — here’s why De Blasio’s plan to expand the city’s footprint into the East River is not unprecedented. In fact,  Gizmodo  reports that Ellis Island, Rikers Island, the FDR Drive, the World Financial Center and Battery Park City are all built on in-filled land. Before urbanization, Manhattan was a marshy island that served as a natural buffer, bearing the brunt of waves and protecting mainland – so it’s no wonder the city built on this land is vulnerable. New York City’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg had also proposed a similar land addition during his term. Other adaptation measures New York City’s new climate change plan also includes $500 million for resilience projects to protect other lower Manhattan neighborhoods, including some affordable housing projects. These resiliency projects include flip-up walls and barriers that can be deployed if a storm is approaching. The discrete, low-impact designs maximize recreational space – such as parks, coastal walkways and fitness areas — but can be flipped-up to provide a fortified wall during emergencies. Other planned adaptation measures include: -a five-mile sea wall around Staten Island – sand dunes around the Rockaways -$165 million to elevate the esplanade in the Battery (construction to begin in 2021) -a combination of flood barriers and deployable walls in Battery Park City -$3.5 million for water and sand-filled temporary barriers in Two Bridges and Financial Districts (to be installed in preparation for the 2019 hurricane season) Mayor de Blasio argues that some of the funding for this expansive project should come from federal funds. In an op-ed in New York Magazine , de Blasio argued that protective measures to address climate change-related risks, such as the invasion of the sea , should be just as important as any federal military equipment. “It will be one of the most complex environmental and engineering challenges our city has ever undertaken and it will, literally, alter the shape of the island of Manhattan,” de Blasio wrote. “The new land will be higher than the current coast, protecting the neighborhoods from future storms and the higher tides that will threaten its survival in the decades to come.” New York City at risk The Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study was funded in part by city and state funding from post-Hurricane Sandy recovery dollars. The hurricane that pummeled the city in 2012 was a wake-up call for city officials and demonstrated the imminent threat of sea level rise and storm surge. Sandy caused $19 billion dollars of damage and claimed 43 lives. Electrek reported  that 72,000 buildings in New York City, worth a combined $129 billion, are within a predicted flood zone. By other estimates , 37 percent of lower Manhattan is at risk of storm surge by 2050, and by 2100 the level of the ocean is expected to be 18-50 inches higher than its current level. Related: Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests Equitable and environmental concerns Environmentalists are concerned that the build-out will have negative impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems and point out that the Mayor’s plan lacks an in-depth assessment of the environmental repercussions and cost-benefit analysis. Still others argue that the plan focuses on the big banks and big business areas of lower Manhattan but ignores other economically vulnerable areas throughout the five boroughs. Given the magnitude of the build out and the expected permitting processes, the additional land may not be a reality for at least five years, during which time environmental impact assessments could be carried out. Most city officials, however,  argue that with “$60 billion of property, 75 percent of the city’s subway lines, 90,000 residents and 500,000 jobs,” the proposed lower Manhattan area is a clear, though perhaps not equitable, priority for the city and ideally for the nation. + NYC Economic Development Corporation Images via Shutterstock

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NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change

Students around the world join climate strike on March 15

March 13, 2019 by  
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On Friday, March 15, tens of thousands of high school and middle school students in more than 70 countries plan to walk out of their classrooms and protest at town and city halls. Young people are uniting around the world in a coordinated demand for their leaders to take radical action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and slow down the impacts of climate change. How did the climate strikes start? The international youth climate strike movement began in August 2018 when 16-year-old environmental activist, Greta Thunberg skipped school to protest outside the Swedish Parliament. Since August, her actions caused a ripple effect throughout the world and snowballed the movement to include teens throughout the world. Related: 8 women leading the change for a better world Since Thunberg’s protest, students have similarly skipped out on school to hold up “Youth Climate Strike” and “School Strike for Climate” signs outside government buildings in the U.K., U.S., Japan, Uganda, Germany, Thailand, Switzerland and France, among others . Frustrated by inaction— or insufficient action— from politicians throughout their young lives, these students are panicked about the scientific predictions for the future and unwavering in their call for change. In New York, for example, 13-year-old Alexandria Villasenor has forgone her classes for the past twelve consecutive Fridays in order to sit outside the U.N. headquarters and protest. On Friday, March 15, thousands of others will join what the young people have virally hashtagged as #FridaysForFuture . Find a Climate Strike near you To date, there will be over 700 strikes in 71 countries, however the number continues to grow as rallies are added to the map. Check out this world-wide map  to see the incredible number of strikes across the globe. This U.S. climate strike map  is tracking all of the registered climate strikes in the U.S. Students are rallying around the hashtags #FridaysforFuture and #YouthClimateStrike , in honor of Thunberg and other student activists who have skipped school to protest for climate action in the past months. The strikes are supported by outspoken environmental groups such as the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion. Climate Strike leaders are calling on students to walk out of their classes on Friday, March 15, to protest outside of the nearest town or city hall, and of course post a photo on social media. Not all students get a free pass Many of the U.S. climate strikes will take place at local House or Senate representatives’ offices where the youth plans to push for acceptance of the Green New Deal, a radical environmental proposal championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Similar protests have already met with dismay by representatives such as Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein, both Democrats from California, who feel the students are naively confident in the Green New Deal without understanding the complexities of politics and party relations. Related: Rep. Ocasio Cortez releases green new deal In the U.K., the Prime Minister condemned the climate strike as wasteful of teachers’ time. In Australia, despite support for the protests by labor unions, the Minister of Education announced that all students and teachers who leave school on Friday will be punished— to which Greta Thunberg quickly tweeted back “we don’t care.” Isra Hirsi, daughter of freshman Representative, Ilhan Omar (D-MN), is one of the young leaders of the behind U.S. climate strikes, but she also expressed concern about the movement’s lack of intersectionality– in other words its lack of recognition and inclusion of climate leaders from many different, overlapping and often disadvantaged, demographic groups. Early this week, Hirsi tweeted about the importance of recognizing that indigenous leaders, not young white students, have been leading climate activism long before these hashtags. What are the students asking for? The strikes are largely a response to a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change report, which indicates that the world has less than 12 years to implement radical change or the impacts of global warming will be devastating and irreversible. Mark Hertsgaard from The Nation wrote of the students: “They grasp what many of their elders apparently never learned: The climate struggle is not about having the best science, the smartest arguments, or the most bipartisan talking points. It is about power — specifically, the power that ExxonMobil and the rest of the fossil-fuel industry wield over governments and economies the world over, and their willingness to use that power to enforce a business model guaranteed to fry the planet.” While students around the world have different demands from their respective leaders, they are united in their call for swift and decisive action to curtail carbon emissions and for politicians to adopt firm environmental platforms. Such platforms, though, might look drastically different in each country. Columnist for The Guardian , George Monbiot, argued that the students must develop and articulate a clear position, or else he fears they will be divided, co-opted or worse– ineffective at ultimately influencing the actual legislation that will save their futures. Via The Nation Images via Mike Baumeister , niekverlaan

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Students around the world join climate strike on March 15

The push to mainstream investments in adaption and resilience

March 12, 2019 by  
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Watch for guidelines from a new working group of the Climate Bond Initiatives in June.

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The push to mainstream investments in adaption and resilience

International Women’s Day Spotlight: Meet the 8 women leading the change for a better world

March 8, 2019 by  
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International Women’s Day is just one of the 365 days per year that it is important to recognize and celebrate the contributions and advancements female leaders have bestowed onto the environment, society and culture from around the world. While there are thousands of women who are fighting to help conserve and preserve our planet, below we highlight eight brave women from across the globe who are making headlines for their innovative impact in the environmental, conservation and sustainability fields. Melina Laboucan Massimo Indigenous Rights & Clean Energy Campaigner (Canada) Massimo , a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation, grew up in a small community where the only jobs were in the oil and gas industry. Following a devastating oil spill that contaminated the water and land that her community depended on for generations, Massimo was inspired to take action. She is a Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace, journalist, film producer and an indigenous rights activist. She advocates for a equitable transition to clean and renewable energy sources that prioritize local jobs, ownership and environmental protection. Related: Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean — here’s why Vandana Shiva Food Sovereignty Advocate (India) Shiva is an eco-activist and agroecologist who focuses on sustainable agriculture , local food systems and the working conditions of farm workers in India. She is a vocal opponent of genetically modified organisms and her work has helped preserve and prioritize indigenous seed diversity and traditional knowledge. Forbes named Shiva one of the Seven Most Powerful Women on the Globe. Christiana Figueres U.N. Leader and Climate Optimist (Costa Rica) Christiana Figueres was the driving force behind the monumental Paris Agreement of 2015, in which 195 nations signed on to legally-binding, time-bound commitments to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming . After serving as the Executive Secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010 to 2016, Figueres turned her attention to speaking, writing and advising major companies on climate sustainability. Figueres also leads Mission 2020 and Global Optimism, organizations focused on making the world’s ambitious climate visions into a reality. She recently won the prestigious US$1 million Dan David Prize for her work in combating climate change. Paula Kahumbu Elephant Conservationist (Kenya) Kahumbu is the Executive Director of WildlifeDirect in Kenya and leader of a muti-year campaign to both raise awareness about elephant poaching and pass conservation legislation. Her local and international efforts to stem poaching from all angles have won her numerous awards, including the Whitley Award and the National Geographic Howard Buffet Award for conservation leadership in Africa. Basima Abdulrahman Green Re-Building Pioneer (Iraq) Abdulrahman is the Founder and CEO of Iraq’s first green design and construction consulting company. Her goal is to help her war-torn country build back in a way that is “sustainable, inclusive and economically productive through making buildings and infrastructures healthy, environmentally responsible, and resource-efficient.” Abdulrahman was the co-chair of the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January 2019. Related: Permaculture feeds and empowers refugees in Uganda Amy Jadesimi Sustainable Business Leader (Nigeria) Jadesimi is the CEO of a 100 percent Nigerian-owned Industrial Free Zone in Lagos. She is a trained medical doctor, entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable business as the only viable business model for progress. In 2018 she spoke at the U.N. about “the potential for private sector to take a lead in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.“ Jadesimi is confident that market growth in Africa, guided by the Sustainable Development Goals, is essential to provide jobs and improve environmental and social problems at the scale needed for a successful and sustainable future. Greta Thunberg Teen Climate Crusader (Sweden) In 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg sat outside the Swedish Parliament for three weeks, demanding national leaders radically prioritize climate change . Since then, her example has launched a ripple-effect of youth protests in over 270 cities around the world. Faced with living out the impacts of climate change, young people are taking the lead to speak out for stronger commitment and follow-through from world leaders. The New Yorker called Greta a “voice of unaccommodating clarity.” Heba Al Farra Women in the Environment Sector Connector (Palestine) Al Farra was recognized as a UN Young Champion of the Earth  for her organization, Women in Energy & Environment at MENA Region (WEE), which is building a professional network for Middle Eastern and North African women working in environmental fields. WEE connects women with resources and a supportive community. An environmental engineer, Al Farra left Palestine for Kuwait when the violence in Gaza disrupted her studies and is dedicated to linking women from her home country with the skills they need to succeed professionally. Images via David Suzuki Foundation , Frank Schwichtenberg , UNclimatechange,   Pop Tech , World Economic Forum , Danish Maritime Days , UNEP , bones64 , Molly Adams , Shutterstock

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International Women’s Day Spotlight: Meet the 8 women leading the change for a better world

America can afford a Green New Deal — here’s how

March 6, 2019 by  
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Implementing the GND seems expensive, but the costs of not addressing the climate and inequality are greater — and will only continue to grow.

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America can afford a Green New Deal — here’s how

Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-stigma’

February 26, 2019 by  
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Scientists are warning that the proof for man-made climate change is now at a gold standard level. The announcement increases the call to limit greenhouse emissions to help prevent future rises in global temperatures. “Humanity cannot afford to ignore such clear signals,” a team of U.S. scientists noted in their findings. Scientists say the evidence that humans are responsible for contributing to global warming is overwhelming and is now at the level they term “five-stigma.” This means that there is about a one-in-a-million shot that people are not part of the problem. This standard is the same one scientists used to establish the existence of the Higgs boson particle in 2012. Related: Climate twins: which city will your city feel like in 2080? The lead scientist in the study, Benjamin Santer, hopes that the conclusions will make people realize that the scientific community understands what is causing global warming at a high degree of certainty. Santer, who conducted the research from California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that narrative about the uncertainty of global warming needs to change. “The narrative out there that scientists don’t know the cause of climate change is wrong,” Santer explained. Experts agree that we are witnessing an increase in droughts, flooding, heat waves and higher ocean levels because of fossil fuel emissions. Despite the evidence, some politicians in the United States have tried to argue that global warming is not real and that being a part of the Paris climate initiative is a bad idea. Fortunately, more and more Americans are starting to believe that humans are the cause of climate change. In fact, a poll from last year found that 62 percent of residents in the U.S. believe climate change has a human element. This is a big jump from 2013, when only 47 percent of Americans believed it was true. Some scientists involved in the study, which used data gathered by satellites over the past decade, argue that the level of certainty about human involvement in climate change should be increased to closer to 99 or 100 percent. Via Reuters Images via Shutterstock

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Man-made climate change now at the level scientists call ‘five-stigma’

A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park

February 21, 2019 by  
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Flexible, transportable and cost-efficient, the modular classrooms created by local design studio Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ offer a sustainable new way to activate Barcelona’s public parks. Inspired by timber cabins, the prefabricated pop-up classroom is a multipurpose space sheathed in wood and crafted with a focus on environmental education for school groups and families. The architects recently installed a classroom prototype, AULA K, in the Parc de Can Zam with a built area of nearly 1,200 square feet. Constructed primarily of timber, the prefabricated classroom is designed to blend into the park surroundings with the future aim of providing habitat to certain species of animals, including insects, birds and bats. “It is a pavilion destined to give more life to the parks, complementing the offer of leisure, recreational and sports with the educational dimension,” the architects said in a statement. “It must be a space open to the outside; it is necessary that one could see the trees from the classroom, to perceive the light and feel the climate.” To create flexibility in the design, the classrooms can comprise any combination and configuration of three modules — a service module, classroom module and pergola module — so as to best meet the needs of each site. The modular architecture is prefabricated in a factory and can be installed on site in just a few weeks. The prototype at Parc de Can Zam consists of the service and classroom modules and is topped with sloped roofs optimized for solar panel installation and rainwater collection. Related: Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round The use of prefabrication helps reduce the time and cost of producing the classrooms, which share a uniform wooden envelope and a large opening on the facade to let in natural light and views of nature. The classrooms can be modified to generate energy, return rainwater to underground aquifers, reuse stormwater runoff as garden irrigation or provide habitat for local fauna. + Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ Photography by  Marcela Grassi via Baena Casamor Arquitectes BCQ

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A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park

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