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COP19: campaign groups prepare mass walkout from Warsaw climate talks

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As crucial UN climate talks in Warsaw reach their 10th and penultimate day, hundreds of environmental activists have announced they are walking out of the negotiations in protest at the lack of progress made.

Members of campaign groups including Greenpeace, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and WWF will leave the discussions in the Polish capital’s national stadium on Thursday.  

In a statement, the NGOs and social movements say the decision was partly motivated by the failure of UN delegates to agree on plans to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to a level that can curb devastating climate change and by the series of controversies that have blighted the talks. 

They damningly warn that “the Warsaw Climate Conference, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing.”

Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, “The lack of urgency in these talks in Warsaw has been so monumental that we were left with no option but to walk out in protest. Most of the key governments are still a world away from taking serious action to prevent climate catastrophe. 

“Against the backdrop of the devastation caused by Super-Typhoon Haiyan, we have seen Australia, Canada and Japan giving up on previous climate commitments and blocking progress on issues of key concern to developing countries

He added, “This conference has been sponsored by fracking companies and airlines, and the Polish government ran a major coal conference at the same time.”

The early hours of the ninth day of the talks also ended with a walkout, as representatives of 133 countries abandoned talks over a mechanism of climate compensation. 

Through such a system, rich countries, which have historically contributed the most to climate change, would compensate the poorer countries that are set to suffer the most from its effects. Delegates agreed upon loss and damage at the last COP in Doha, but exactly how it would work has yet to be decided.

A number of NGOs and campaigners have urged governments to agree on a deal to see this concept realised.

However, the countries of the G77 and China walked out of discussions on this subject at 4am on Wednesday morning, after delegates from Australia blocked the talks – and allegedly turned up to the negotiations dressed in shorts and T-shirts.

EU negotiator Paul Watkinson tweeted, “It is one thing to be tired in a negotiation meeting, another to turn up in pyjamas.” 

Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development observed, “The negotiations were actually going on reasonably well […] It went on into the night, well into the early morning, discussing things in what I think was a spirit of cooperation.

“But then at the end, the Australian delegation just put brackets around everything. All that negotiation went to waste.”

In other surprising news from the conference, Marcin Korolec, the president of the event, has been sacked from his role as Polish environment minister. He will continue orchestrating affairs from his UN role for the remainder of the talks, but has been replaced by Maciej Grabowski.

Grabowski has already said that the development of environmentally damaging shale gas in Poland is his priority.

Further reading:

COP19: we have to ‘adapt or perish’, say African leaders at climate talks

COP19: coal must ‘change rapidly and dramatically’, says UN climate chief

COP19: report accuses sponsors of Warsaw climate conference of ‘greenwash’

COP19: NGOs call for loss and damage mechanism on climate action

COP19: rich countries ‘have a moral responsibility’ to disaster-struck developing nations

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Rawpixel.com -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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