Mining in Minnesota halts as government considers 20-year ban

October 22, 2021 by  
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The Biden administration is considering a U.S. Forest Service application requesting a 20-year mining ban on national forest land in Minnesota. The agency wants over 200,000 acres of land south of the Boundary Waters in Minnesota to be exempt from all proposed mining activities. If the application is successful, the ban would stop Chilean mining company Antofagasta’s Twin Metals Minnesota subsidiary from constructing a $1.7 billion underground copper-nickel mine in the area.  The Interior Department announced that it will carry out a two-year review to determine the potential impacts of mining on natural and cultural resources in the area. During this period, all mining activities will be halted. If the department is convinced that mining is detrimental to nature , it may recommend a permanent ban on all proposed mining activities. Related: Largest nature reserve in Jordan threatened by copper mining “A place like the Boundary Waters should be enjoyed by and protected for everyone, not only today but for future generations,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Today the Biden Administration is taking an important and sensible step to ensure that we have all the science and the public input necessary to make informed decisions about how mining activities may impact this special place.” Antofagasta has mining leases on the land that date back to 1966. Operating as Twin Metals Minnesota, Antofagasta has been trying to mine the land for years. Its activities in Minnesota have been a cause for national debate. During President Barack Obama’s tenure, the subsidiary’s leases were revoked due to concerns about mining’s effect on nature. However, the revocation order was abandoned by the Trump administration, and the company was allowed to proceed with its plans for 2019. This push and pull has been caused by personal and collective political interests. Some reports show that the Trump family has ties to Andrónico Luksic, the Chilean billionaire behind Antofagasta. Democrats and environmental groups have applauded the recent announcement, saying that it is a positive step for the environment. Becky Rom, national chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, said, “You don’t allow America’s most toxic industry next to America’s most popular Wilderness. The Boundary Waters is a paradise of woods and water . It is an ecological marvel, a world-class outdoor destination, and an economic engine for hundreds of businesses and many thousands of people. This is a great first step on the pathway to permanent protection.” Via HuffPost Lead image via Pixabay

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Mining in Minnesota halts as government considers 20-year ban

Indigenous communities are crucial in protecting the Amazon

October 8, 2021 by  
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It is impossible to protect the Amazon rainforest without involving Indigenous communities, according to environmental activists fighting for the forests. To this end, many activists say that to maintain a healthy ecosystem, the Brazilian government must protect the country’s Indigenous people. For years, Indigenous people have been the best guardians of the forest. They co-existed with nature in the forest for hundreds of years before modern exploitation of resources started. Environmentalists now say that these Indigenous communities know better how to protect the forest, and their rights must be respected. Related: Indigenous Amazon communities use tech to protect the forest While speaking at an Impact Conference organized by media group Reuters on Monday, several activists called out Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies that have been unfavorable to Indigenous communities. They argued that the rights of Indigenous people have been undermined and disregarded since the president took office. “What we are seeing is an attack on indigenous people, on their rights, their lives and territories,” said Leila Salazar-Lopez, executive director of Amazon Watch. Ginger Cassady, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network, also lamented Bolsonaro’s policies. Cassady argues that Bolsonaro and his government have continued to increase deforestation by watering down available protection laws. Bolsonaro took office in 2019 and immediately started to promote laws that put the forest at risk. Reports show that deforestation has risen sharply since he took office. Despite a public show of efforts to reduce deforestation, Bolsonaro is known to promote policies that embolden land grabbers, farmers and developers in the forest. Activists have also urged banks and other financial institutions to help protect Indigenous communities. They say that banks and investors could protect these communities by refusing to invest in areas protected under the law, or on Indigenous land. “Indigenous people are the best protectors of the Amazon forest and of biodiversity around our planet … because they have intrinsic spiritual and cultural connections to the land,” Salazar-Lopez said. “They have the most to lose and so they will do anything to protect the land, which is everything to them.” Via Reuters Lead image via Pexels

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Indigenous communities are crucial in protecting the Amazon

Climate protests are coming to the White House, and you can join

October 4, 2021 by  
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The Build Back Fossil Free coalition will descend on Washington D.C. in protests this October. Planned for Oct. 11-15, the protests aim to push the Biden administration to take action against the climate crisis. Among the demands on the table is for President Biden to declare a climate emergency and end fossil fuel exploration. Build Back Fossil Free wants the government to make even stronger commitments to fighting the climate crisis during COP26. The People vs. Fossil Fuels week of action will occur ahead of this key United Nations climate summit in Glasgow. Related: Youths in the Philippines protest for climate action “President Biden, you cannot claim to be a climate leader when you are still supporting fossil fuels. Stand with frontline communities, stand with future generations, stop approving fossil fuel projects, declare a climate emergency now,” Build Back Fossil Free said in a statement. According to the protest schedule, there will be five days of peaceful protests. Each day will have a theme to help raise awareness on key issues. On Monday, the theme honors Indigenous Peoples Day. On Tuesday, the protests will center on fossil fuels driving the climate crisis. Wednesday’s theme is “Climate chaos is happening now,” while Thursday’s is “We need real solutions, not false promises.” The final day of protests will be youth-led, with the theme “We did not vote for fossil fuels.” Joye Braun, Frontline Community Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, says that recent climate change-related events such as forest fires , drought and tsunamis warrant action from the government. “The fossil fuel industry has brought devastation to our homelands and it’s time that we bring this fight to Biden’s doorstep,” said Braun. “Despite President Biden’s climate rhetoric, his administration has failed to stop major projects like the Line 3 tar sands pipeline , defended oil drilling in the Arctic, promoted fossil fuel exports, and allowed drilling, mining and fracking to continue on Native and public lands.” Organizers also point out the government’s slow implementation of any serious action against the climate crisis. “President Biden came into office promising bold action to transform our economy with renewable energy and good jobs, but he passed the buck to a dysfunctional Congress,” said Jean Su, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice program. Those interested in joining the protests can find more information that the People vs. Fossil Fuels website . Via Common Dreams Lead image via Mark Dixon

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Climate protests are coming to the White House, and you can join

Conservationists continue fighting despite Line 3’s completion

October 4, 2021 by  
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On Thursday last week, Enbridge, the Canadian oil company in charge of the Line 3 project, announced that work on the pipeline was complete. The pipeline is expected to start ferrying oil across Minnesota this Monday. The $3 billion project was given to Enbridge. The new line replaces an old, corroding pipeline from the 1960s and doubles its capacity. Related: Stop Line 3 protests continue at Minnesota capitol Despite the setback, activist groups that have been fighting to stop the project vowed to continue opposing Line 3. “The Line 3 fight is far from over, it has just shifted gears,” wrote the Indigenous Environmental Network. “We will continue to stand on the frontlines until every last tar sands pipeline is shut down and Indigenous communities are no longer targeted but our right to consent or denial is respected.” In June this year, about 250 people were arrested in one day while protesting Line 3. More recently, over 2,000 protestors showed up at the Governor’s office in Minnesota demanding an end to the project. From when the project began to now, roughly 900 protestors have been arrested, according to Honor the Earth, an Indigenous environmental group. “The U.S. has tragically failed once again to honor our treaties and protect the water that sustains all life on Mother Earth,” the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a statement following the recent developments. Margaret Levin, director of the Sierra Club’s North Star Chapter, has lamented the pipeline’s opening. Levin singled out the Biden administration for ignoring calls from conservation groups to end the project. “President Biden and the other politicians who chose to do nothing as treaty rights were violated, waterways were polluted , and peaceful protesters were brutalized have placed themselves on the wrong side of history,” said Levin. Via Grist Lead image by Lorie Shaull

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Conservationists continue fighting despite Line 3’s completion

Fact-checking Bolsonaro’s environmental claims at the UN

September 29, 2021 by  
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When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the  U.N.  General Assembly last week, he confused onlookers by boasting about his environmental record. Haven’t we been hearing about how the Amazon rainforest is collapsing on his watch? Science news service Newswise did some fact-checking to get to the bottom of Bolsonaro’s claims. After bragging about  Brazil’s  environmental protections, Bolsonaro claimed that Amazon deforestation was reduced by 32% this August compared to the previous August and that 84% of the forest is intact. Newswire consulted its trusted sources and concluded Bolsonaro’s statement was half true. Related: Annual Amazon deforestation rate hits highest levels in a decade According to The Guardian, the rainforest shrank by 10,476 square kilometers between August 2020 and July 2021. This is 13 times the size of New York City. Brazilian research institute Imazon said destruction in the  Amazon  is moving at its fastest pace in the last decade. Brazilian National Institute of Space Research reported that 80% of the Amazon rainforest remains intact. Carbon offset programs haven’t made up for the gap left by deforestation. Early this year, a study in Environmental Research Letters   demonstrated that new forest growth had offset less than 10% of carbon emissions from Amazon deforestation. Bolsonaro’s Amazon approach has been a mixed bag. The president has been blamed for encouraging development in the Amazon and weakening government environmental agencies that try to stop illegal logging and mining. On the other hand, he’s deployed thousands of soldiers to battle illegal fires and  deforestation . Meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s approval rating continues to tank. In August, a poll found that 54% of Brazilians rated him as “bad, terrible,” while only 23% said he was “good or great.” The previous month, those figures had been 52% and 25%, respectively. By September, protestors across Brazil organized marches against the president. Many Brazilians have not been impressed with Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic. The president has denounced masks, vaccines and lockdowns, while more than 580,000 Brazilians have died of the virus. Via Newswise , United Nations Lead image via Anderson Riedel / PR

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Fact-checking Bolsonaro’s environmental claims at the UN

Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London

September 29, 2021 by  
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This past summer, a herd of 100 Asian elephants made their way across The Mall in front of London’s Buckingham Palace. They weren’t live animals , however, but life-sized elephant sculptures that were handmade by Indigenous community members from the jungles of Tamil Nadu in South India. The environmental art exhibition is called CoExistence. It was headed by Elephant Family and The Real Elephant Collective, a British Charity and non profit socio-environmental enterprise aimed at raising awareness for the Indian elephant. Meant as a response to the increasing overlap between humans and animals, the campaign’s goal is to trigger a movement of global empathy for members of the animal kingdom who, like the majestic elephant, have found themselves sharing natural habitats with overwhelming human populations. Related: “Extinction – The Facts” explores the global extinction crisis and its consequences The sculptures were made using an invasive weed called lantana, whose removal coincides with benefits to wildlife in protected areas, and supplemented with fragrance created by Xerjoff perfumes. The scent emitted from the lantana elephants is designed after the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India where the elephants began their migration. Flying alongside the elephant are sculpted flocks of bird species that have been declared extinct or endangered in the UK, such as the nightingale, curlew, dalmatian pelican and turtle dove. The project helps demonstrate this unique time in history where the worldwide reduction in human activity from COVID-19 has had an overall positive effect on certain pockets of wildlife species around the planet. “Today marks the first significant step on the herd’s 13,000 mile migration around the world . Over the past 18 months, many countries have gone into lockdown,” said Ruth Ganesh, Creative at The Real Elephant Collective and Elephant Family Trustee. “Brought about by tragic circumstances, this ‘great pause’ – coined the ‘anthropause’ – is providing crucial guidance on how to best share space with animals in our crowded planet . The elephants are here to tell their story about the inspiring ways we can coexist with all the other living beings that make our world magical – from tigers and orangutans, to nightingales and elephants.” + CoExistence Via My Modern Met Images via Grant Walker

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Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London

US and China make big climate pledges at UN General Assembly

September 23, 2021 by  
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Two of the world’s largest economies — and by far the largest carbon contributors — have committed to stop financing the climate crisis. On Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly in New York , the U.S. and China pledged to cut off financing for activities that fuel the climate crisis. These commitments are good news, especially as leaders struggle to build momentum for COP26 in November. According to President Xi Jinping, China will no longer build coal-fired plants overseas. When this policy is implemented, China could cut off up to $50 billion in foreign investment. Consequently, this could mean the end of coal power exploration, given that China is currently the largest investor in coal-powered plants internationally. China has up to 47 coal plants planned in 20 countries; these plans may be canceled as financing is cut off. Related: Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations While speaking to members of the press, Joanna Lewis, an expert on China, energy and climate at Georgetown University, elaborated on China’s climate promises. “It’s a big deal. China was the only significant funder of overseas coal left. This announcement essentially ends all public support for coal globally,” said Lewis. “This is the announcement many have been waiting for.” As for the United States, President Joe Biden pledged to increase funding to underdeveloped countries to fight climate change . “In April, I announced the United States will double our public international financing to help developing nations tackle the climate crisis, and today, I’m proud to announce that we’ll work with the Congress to double that number again, including for adaptation efforts,” Biden said during his U.N. General Assembly address on Tuesday. While the news of the U.S. increasing its support for underdeveloped countries is welcomed, the action needed by developed countries to fight the climate crisis is still below expectations. For instance, the U.S.’s current climate pledges amount to $11.4 billion annually, despite statements from the independent Overseas Development Institute estimating that the country would need to contribute $43.4 billion to reach its “fair share.” Via EcoWatch Lead image via Patrick Gruban

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US and China make big climate pledges at UN General Assembly

Harvard University pledges to divest from fossil fuels

September 13, 2021 by  
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Harvard University president Lawrence Bacow has announced that the institution will divest from its fossil fuel holdings. The announcement came Tuesday, stating that the institution has already been cutting its investments in fossil fuels. Currently, Harvard University’s investment arm, Harvard Management Company, oversees the institution’s endowment of about $42 billion. The company has been steadily divesting its interests from fossil fuel entities. Today, the university has no direct investment in companies exploring further reserves of fossil fuels, according to Bacow. Related: Harvard’s new Science and Engineering Complex is an example of ‘healthy’ design Harvard’s final fossil fuel -related investments come from legacy investments in several private equity funds. Bacow says these indirect investments constitute less than 2% of the university’s total endowment. While the indirect investments will not end immediately, Bacow claims they are in “runoff mode” and will end when the partnerships are liquidated. The decision comes after many years of intense lobbying and protests . Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, a campaign started by students at the university over a decade ago, declared the recent news a victory. “It took conversations and protests, meetings with administration, faculty/alumni votes, mass sit-ins and arrests, historic legal strategies, and storming football fields. But today, we can see proof that activism works, plain and simple,” Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard wrote in a statement. Former Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore also welcomed the news via Twitter . “Let this be a strong signal to other institutions that the era of fossil fuels is coming to a close,” Gore tweeted. Harvard has committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 across its investment portfolio. The university has pledged to continue supporting its investment arm and aligning it with decarbonization goals. “Given the need to decarbonize the economy and our responsibility as fiduciaries to make long-term investment decisions that support our teaching and research mission, we do not believe such investments are prudent,” Bacow wrote. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Harvard University pledges to divest from fossil fuels

Supply Chain Sustainability: Moving From ‘Why’ to ‘How’

September 13, 2021 by  
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Date/Time: October 12, 2021 (1-2PM ET / 10-11AM PT) Today, supply-chain and sustainability executives are being held to a higher degree of responsibility from both customers, regulatory officials and investors. A global study by Unilever found one in three customers purchasing from brands with perceived social or environmental impact. As a result, more companies are leveraging technology to incorporate measurable sustainability improvements in their supply chains. Leading brands are setting internal targets, adjusting sourcing and procurement policies to align with the company’s ESG policies, engaging with suppliers on ESG performance and joining industry and sector networks to get educated on best practices. However, companies may have thousands of suppliers of different sizes in different locales with different ESG-related mandates, making it difficult for companies to maintain complete visibility of supply chains and hold suppliers accountable to sustainability-related goals. In this one-hour webcast, you’ll gain new insights in supply-chain transparency trends and challenges, and how companies are addressing them. You’ll also learn about new tools and technologies companies are turning to. Among the things you’ll learn: How customer expectations are changing supply-chain transparency The role technology plays in shaping supply-chain ESG compliance How to develop custom but effective sustainability programs How industry-leading organizations are finding success with ESG Moderator: John Davies, Senior Vice President & Analyst, GreenBiz Group Speakers: Mike Ford, Global Lead, EHS & Sustainability, Avetta If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast.

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Supply Chain Sustainability: Moving From ‘Why’ to ‘How’

This lake house shows how nature inspires seamless design

September 13, 2021 by  
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Organic Shelter sits in the middle of a forest, with a lake transitioning smoothly away from it. Nature is all around, creating stunning views for everyone inside. This beautiful modern home is the latest project from Studio Organic’s Aga Kobus and Grzegorz Goworek. Kobus and Goworek decided to make the lake and the landscape part of the home design itself. Nature surrounds the house, unspoiled, wild and pure. The house is not an intruder into this natural world; it’s made to be a part of it. Related: This house by the lake erases the barrier between inside and outside The house is made from natural materials such as stone and wood. Polish limestone gives the home its distinct look, alongside burned larch wood that creates black planks. These elements combine for a simple, elegant and modern design with clean lines. Inside, the minimalist style continues. Japanese design influenced the flow of the interior spaces. Glass surfaces allow plenty of natural light, and the rooms have light colors to keep the spaces feeling airy and open. The walls and floor are oak, with matching oak boards on the ceiling. Upholstery and fabrics in the space are made of natural linen and cotton. Lamps woven with wooden strips hang over the table. Soft edges and simple lines define the space. Organic Shelter’s minimalist, beautiful design takes nothing away from the amazing natural views outside. The living area is full of curving sofas that look out over the lake and the trees . This creates a continuous effect, bringing the home and lake into a seamless flow. As Studio Organic explained in a press release, “The house flows smoothly into the surface of the lake, surrounded by a forest , with the southern exposition. It sounds like a dream of every nature lover. This is what the latest project of the Studio Organic looks like.” + Studio Organic Images via Studio Organic

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This lake house shows how nature inspires seamless design

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