In every conflict over the living world, something is being protected. And most of the time, it’s the wrong thing.
The world’s most destructive industries are fiercely protected by governments. The three sectors that appear to be most responsible for the collapse of ecosystems and erasure of wildlife are fossil fuels, fisheries and farming. In 2021, governments directly subsidised oil and gas production to the tune of $64bn (£53bn), and spent a further $531bn (£443bn) on keeping fossil fuel prices low. The latest figures for fisheries, from 2018, suggest that global subsidies for the sector amount to $35bn a year, over 80% of which go to large-scale industrial fishing. Most are paid to “enhance capacity”: in other words to help the industry, as marine ecosystems collapse, catch more fish.
Every year, governments spend $500bn on farm subsidies, the great majority of which pay no regard to environmental protection. Even the payments that claim to do so often inflict more harm than good. For example, many of the European Union’s pillar two “green” subsidies sustain livestock farming on land that would be better used for ecological restoration. Over half the European farm budget is spent on propping up animal farming, which is arguably the world’s most ecologically destructive industry.
While more food, energy and materials than ever before are now being supplied to people in most places, this is increasingly at the expense of nature’s ability to provide such contributions in the future, and frequently undermines nature’s many other contributions, which range from water quality regulation to sense of place. The biosphere, upon which humanity as a whole depends, is being altered to an unparalleled degree across all spatial scales. Biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems – is declining faster than at any time in human history
Nijmegen, November 22nd 2022
Major Nordic banks have increased their financing for companies active in Arctic oil and gas production, endangering a vulnerable ecosystem and worsening the climate crisis. This is the key finding of a report by BankTrack, ActionAid Denmark, Greenpeace Nordic, Fair Finance Guide Sweden, Fair Finance Guide Norway, and Friends of the Earth Finland.
An interesting take on physical degrowth.
A nutritional biologist among others presented the idea that all the carbohydrates and fat in our food today dilute the protein our bodies need, driving us to eat more calories to make up for the discrepancy.
Scientists Don’t Agree on What Causes Obesity, but They Know What Doesn’t
By the end of the century, Africa will be home to 40% of the world’s population – and nowhere is this breakneck-pace development happening faster than this 600-mile stretch between Abidjan and Lagos
Achieving the Paris Agreement will require massive deployment of low-carbon energy. However, constructing, operating, and maintaining a low-carbon energy system will itself require energy, with much of it derived from fossil fuels. This raises the concern that the transition may consume much of the energy available to society, and be a source of considerable emissions. Here we calculate the energy requirements and emissions associated with the global energy system in fourteen mitigation pathways compatible with 1.5 °C of warming. We find that the initial push for a transition is likely to cause a 10–34% decline in net energy available to society.
How have heads of government chosen to use this miracle? To extend our time on Earth, earning the gratitude of all the improbable humans of the future? No. They have chosen to do nothing. Nothing that has a realistic chance, in this contest of probabilities, of changing our trajectory. They had a choice at the Cop27 meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh of defending the habitable planet or appeasing their sponsors. They went with the sponsors.
Lately, one word has cropped up again and again in conversations about fashion and climate change: degrowth.
Why Does Fashion Love This Radical Anticapitalist Concept? “Degrowth” has been the buzzword of sustainable fashion conversations in 2022. But is it a realistic goal when the fashion industry only seems to be getting bigger?
What does it mean? Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist and proponent of the movement, has written that degrowth “is a planned reduction of energy and resource use designed to bring the economy back into balance with the living world in a way that reduces inequality and improves human well-being.”
The term, coined in 1972 by the French political theorist André Gorz, is becoming more common as consumers become more aware of catastrophic levels of global warming.
Degrowth is popping up on the bookshelves of Tokyo, where Kohei Saito, the philosopher, has published “Capital in the Anthropocene,” a popular book on the subject. In the debating parlors of London, the How to Academy is presenting events like “The Pursuit of Growth Is a Disaster for Our Country and Our Planet,” and degrowth shows up on TikTok too, through quirkily edited explanations that appeal to Gen Z.
“The richest countries…have dedicated $9.45 trillion to military spending in the last eight years, between 2013 and 2021. And that is 30 times more than they have dedicated to climate finance. … this military spending, it is very much tied to a very high-emitting situation, that we’re creating greenhouse gases with every dollar we spend on the military…we’re creating a situation where actually the military is contributing deeply to the crisis”. A new report by the Transnational Institute examines how military spending and arms sales not only increase greenhouse gas emissions, but also divert financial resources and attention away from tackling the climate emergency.
Berlin/Sharm El-Sheikh, November 15th, 2022
Oil, gas and coal companies are exploring or developing new fossil fuel reserves in 48 African countries.
89% of new LNG capacity in Africa is planned for export.
International investors hold over US$ 109 billion in companies driving fossil fuel expansion in Africa.
At the UN Climate Summit today, Urgewald, Stop EACOP, Oilwatch Africa, Africa Coal Network, 33 further African NGOs and BankTrack released the Report “Who is Financing Fossil Fuel Expansion in Africa?” The report identifies 200 companies that are exploring or developing new fossil fuel reserves or developing new fossil infrastructure such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, pipelines or gas and coal-fired power plants in Africa.