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Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 632-5309
Today the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the
Environmental Protection Agency to take action to reduce black-carbon pollution
under the federal Clean Water Act. The petition is the first to explicitly seek
protection of water in its solid form; it asks EPA to set water-quality
criteria for concentrations of black carbon on sea ice and glaciers under the
Clean Water Act - the first step toward reducing black-carbon emissions
from diesel engines and other sources due to their role in accelerating the
loss of sea ice and glaciers.
carbon, or soot, is not only dangerous to breathe but also a potent global
warming pollutant that is greatly accelerating the melt of Arctic sea ice and
glaciers around the world," said Matt Vespa, a senior attorney with the
Center. "The Clean Water Act provides important tools to reduce this
dangerous pollutant, which will slow global warming and protect public health."
from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass, black
carbon is a solid particle that warms the atmosphere in two ways. In the
atmosphere, its dark color absorbs heat and raises the temperature of the air.
When it lands on ice and snow, it darkens these surfaces, thereby absorbing
heat and increasing melting. Over the course of the Arctic spring,
black-carbon-contaminated snow and ice can melt weeks earlier than clean snow
and ice. Due to its warming effects in the air and on ice and snow, black
carbon is considered one of the largest contributors to global warming after
carbon dioxide pollution. In addition to its strong warming effect, black
carbon also has profound impacts on public health, contributing to hundreds of
thousands of premature deaths each year.
trends continue, many of the glaciers in the continental United States,
including all of the glaciers in Glacier National Park, will disappear
next 25 to 30 years. Scientists believe the Arctic
could be ice free in the summer by 2030. Summer sea ice has already
by nearly 40 percent, or one million square miles, from what was
present in the
black carbon stays in the atmosphere for less than a month, however, reductions
in black-carbon emissions yield immediate environmental and public health
benefits. "Reducing black-carbon pollution today buys critically needed
time to achieve the deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
gases that are ultimately necessary to preserve sea ice and glaciers,"
said Vespa. "But the window of opportunity to act, like the sea ice, is
EPA were to adopt water-quality criteria for black carbon, each state with
glaciers (Alaska, California,
Washington, and Wyoming)
or sea ice (Alaska)
would either need to adopt the EPA standard or set their own. Those standards
then become the basis for developing controls on the release of black carbon in
order to protect sea ice and glaciers from this dangerous pollutant. Emissions
from diesel engines, particularly from ships and older heavy-duty vehicles and
construction equipment, is a primary domestic source of black carbon.
A copy of the petition and other information on black carbon
can be found at https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/climate_law_institute/global_warming_what_how_why/black_carbon/pdfs/EPA_CWA_Black_Carbon_Petition_2-22-10.pdf.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.(520) 623-5252
"When these executives are dead and their bones are turned to dust they'll be remembered for destroying our planet," said one advocate who stood up in the middle of the meeting to condemn Shell and other fossil fuel companies.
About 100 climate campaigners on Tuesday demanded the attention of executives and shareholders at Shell's annual general meeting, refusing to be silenced as they spent several hours disrupting the profits-focused gathering to condemn the oil company for its continued planet-heating fossil fuel extraction.
Dozens of advocates gathered outside the Exhibition Center London (ExCeL) with banners reading, "We mourn the lives Shell has taken" and "Shell Profits Kill," while others entered the meeting and refused to allow the event to begin for more than an hour.
The campaigners sang, "Go to hell, Shell" to the tune of "Hit the road, Jack" and chanted, "Shut down Shell" before about 20 of the activists attempted to occupy the stage.
\u201cBREAKING: Chaos at Shell AGM as climate protesters sing \u2018Go to Hell, Shell\u2019!\n\n#ShutDownShell\u201d— Fossil Free London (@Fossil Free London) 1684835532
"As Shell continues to cause climate chaos, we will continue to do everything in our power to shut down Shell," said Fossil Free London.
Several people who headed toward the stage were stopped by security officers and carried or dragged out of the venue.
\u201cUPDATE: Climate protesters attempt to storm the stage of Shell AGM!!!\n\nAs Shell continues to cause climate chaos, we will continue to do everything in our power to #ShutDownShell\u201d— Fossil Free London (@Fossil Free London) 1684836899
Shell reported its highest profits in its 115-year history last year, raking in 36 billion euros (nearly $40 billion). Meanwhile, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition in the U.K. toldEuronews, more than seven million people in the country are struggling to afford essential energy services as prices have soared amid the war in Ukraine.
"People are struggling under swelling energy bills, yet Shell continues to rake in billions of pounds by profiteering from fuel poverty and war in Ukraine," Joanna Warrington of Fossil Free London toldEuronews. "If we want a safe climate and affordable energy, then we have to stop new oil and gas. That's why we're calling on [Shell CEO] Wael Sawan and the bosses of Shell to look beyond their fat paychecks and to shut down Shell. If they don't, an avalanche of protest will do it for them."
The International Energy Agency and climate scientists have been unequivocal in their increasingly dire warnings regarding fossil fuel extraction, with the former admitting in 2021 that policymakers must ensure the world begins an immediate transition away from oil, gas, and coal and toward renewable energy sources in order to avoid planetary heating well above 1.5°C, the threshold targeted by the Paris climate agreement.
One campaigner stood up at the company's annual general meeting on Tuesday and told shareholders and executives a number of deadly disasters that have already been linked to the fossil fuel extraction of firms including Shell, which is committed to continuing its development of drilling sites.
"Wildfires across Europe, famine in Madagascar, harvest failures, crop failures," said the woman as security officers approached to stop her speech. "People are already impacted by the effects of climate breakdown."
\u201c\ud83d\udea8BREAKING\ud83d\udea8 \nShell AGM disrupted again by ordinary people condemning the oil giant for fueling climate breakdown.\n#ShutDownShell #ShellLies\u201d— Extinction Rebellion UK \ud83c\udf0d (@Extinction Rebellion UK \ud83c\udf0d) 1684835866
"With every new well, every new gas field, every minute that you ignore the warnings of science, people die!" said activist and author Ashok Kumar, who also stood up to address the gathering.
\u201cWent to the Shell shareholders meeting. When these executives are dead and their bones are turned to dust they\u2019ll be remembered for destroying our planet. Shell is hell #shutdownshell\u201d— ashok kumar \ud83c\uddf5\ud83c\uddf8 (@ashok kumar \ud83c\uddf5\ud83c\uddf8) 1684835192
The company has begun to face some internal backlash from investors, including the Church of England's retirement fund and the U.K. government pension fund, the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST). Both have said they plan to vote against the re-election of Shell's chair, Sir Andrew Mackenzie, and NEST said it opposes Shell's "energy transition" plan, which includes a pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
"It is high time for politicians to put a stop to this unjust and excessive pollution and ban private jets."
More than 100 climate activists and scientists targeted the biggest private jet sales fair in Europe on Tuesday, chaining themselves to the gangways of luxury planes and placing tobacco-style health warning labels on the aircraft to decry their contributions to planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
"Geneva is home to one of the airports with the most private jet traffic in Europe," said Joël Perret, a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Genève. "This is where change must begin: we need to drastically reduce aviation to halt climate catastrophe and the destruction of life. The first step is to ban private jets now!"
The campaigners from Greenpeace, Stay Grounded, Extinction Rebellion, Scientist Rebellion, and other climate groups used the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva as an opportunity to call public attention to the "luxury emissions" of the world's super-rich, who contribute disproportionately to the climate crisis.
Activists protest the climate impacts of private jets during a protest at Geneva Airport. (Photo: Thomas Wolf/Stay Grounded)
According to the United Kingdom's policy manager for transport and the environment, the average private jet unleashes two tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per hour—a fifth of the average U.K. citizen's carbon footprint for an entire year.
Greenpeace notes that a private jet flight produces roughly 10 times more CO2 emissions than an ordinary commercial flight on a per-passenger basis.
"We're in a climate emergency," said Cordula Markert, a spokesperson for Scientist Rebellion Germany. "Therefore, it is no longer tolerable that the super-rich keep parading themselves in events such as EBACE and keep buying and flying in their private jets for their own benefit, while we know that this fuels the flames of climate breakdown, threatening all of us."
"They have to be stopped," Markert added, "and that's why scientists and activists from all over Europe joined together in Geneva, taking action against this madness."
\u201c\ud83d\udd34 BREAKING\n\n100 climate activists supporting @StayGroundedNet, \n@ExtinctionR, @ScientistRebel1 & @Greenpeace are blocking private jets at the biggest aviation sales event of Europe in Geneva, denouncing the outrageous luxury of mega-polluters. (1/6)\n#BanPrivateJets #EBACE2023\u201d— Scientist Rebellion (@Scientist Rebellion) 1684844259
The activists demanded a global ban on private jets—which they described as "luxury mega-polluters"—as sales of the aircraft continue to grow at a pace that climate campaigners say is unsustainable if the world is to adequately cut transportation emissions, a significant driver of global heating.
A joint report released earlier this month by the Institute for Policy Studies and Patriotic Millionaires found that the size of the global fleet of private jets has increased 133% in the last two decades, from 9,895 in 2000 to 23,133 in mid-2022."
"For over 20 years, Europe's super-rich have popped champagne behind closed doors at EBACE while shopping for the latest toxic private jets," Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace’s Mobility for All campaign, said Tuesday. "Sales of private jets are skyrocketing, and with them the one percent's hugely unfair contribution to the climate crisis—while the most vulnerable people deal with the damage.
"It is high time for politicians to put a stop to this unjust and excessive pollution and ban private jets," said Schenk.
Mira Kapfinger, campaigner from Stay Grounded, added that while "many can't afford food or rent anymore, the super-rich wreck our planet, unless we put an end to it."
Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he views federal spending freeze discussions as "inherently reasonable."
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Monday that he views discussions of a federal spending freeze—a real-term cut when adjusted for inflation—as "inherently reasonable," a position likely to rankle progressive lawmakers who have warned against giving an inch to Republican hostage-takers.
"We're willing to discuss freezing spending at current levels," Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters following the latest meeting between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Joe Biden on the debt ceiling—a sit-down that came with the U.S. government just 10 days away from possibly defaulting on its obligations.
Jeffries, who has fought with progressives throughout his political career, acknowledged Monday that "many in our party" might be uncomfortable with the idea of a spending freeze, which could cut spending by more than $1 trillion over a decade.
"But President Biden recognizes we're in a divided government situation," said Jeffries.
Lindsay Owens, an economist and the executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, was among the progressives who criticized the House Democratic leader's remarks.
"Jeez. Just showing everyone our cards," wrote Owens, who has warned that "any time you let Republicans control the terms of the debate around the debt ceiling, you're in trouble."
"Starting to think we need to ask the Nevada delegation to bring some poker players to the next caucus lunch for a briefing," Owens added Monday. "This is just amateur hour."
MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan also expressed dismay over Jeffries' comments:
\u201cDemocrats. Sigh. Democrats. \ud83e\udd37\ud83c\udffd\u200d\u2642\ufe0f\u201d— Mehdi Hasan (@Mehdi Hasan) 1684798013
After previously saying he would not be willing to attach any conditions to a debt ceiling increase—a stance that was backed by House Democrats across the ideological spectrum—Biden has voiced openness to reducing spending as part of a compromise with House Republicans, who have used the debt limit as leverage to pursue massive cuts to federal programs such as nutrition assistance and Medicaid.
Notably, Jeffries did not sign an April letter from House Democrats supporting a clean debt limit increase "without any extraneous policies attached."
On Friday, White House negotiators reportedly offered to accept a deal that would freeze 2024 military and non-military discretionary spending at 2023 levels.
"That would amount to a 5% cut when adjusted for inflation—a step back from the Biden administration budget request in March, which proposed increasing discretionary spending," Axiosnoted.
But Republicans dismissed the White House offer, pushing for a larger Pentagon budget and more severe cuts to non-military spending. GOP negotiators are currently pushing for around six years of federal spending caps, which would result in steep cuts to key agencies and programs and hinder the government's ability to respond to an economic downturn.
"The GOP is threatening to tank the entire economy in the name of 'fiscal responsibility.' What's responsible about tanking the economy, exactly?"
Pointing to the White House proposal, McCarthy told the press on Monday that "a freeze is not less, it's spending the same amount"—ignoring the impact of inflation.
The Republican speaker also made clear that the GOP—which slashed taxes for the rich and corporations in 2017, blowing a huge hole in the deficit—would not accept any tax increases as part of a debt ceiling agreement.
GOP negotiators have rejected White House offers to close tax loopholes, including the notorious carried-interest loophole exploited by rich private equity executives.
"I've been very clear with the president from day one. We're not going to raise taxes," McCarthy said Monday. "It's a spending problem."
Progressive lawmakers continued to push back against Republican demands for spending cuts on Monday as the White House and McCarthy both described their latest meeting in positive terms, signaling that a deal is possible before the June 1 deadline.
"Reminder: When House Republicans insist we 'spend less,' they mean public housing, food assistance, Medicaid, and addiction support," the Congressional Progressive Caucus tweeted Monday. "We cannot give in to this extortion."
\u201cThe GOP is threatening to tank the entire economy in the name of \u201cfiscal responsibility.\u201d\n\nWhat\u2019s responsible about tanking the economy, exactly?\u201d— Cori Bush (@Cori Bush) 1684772554
When asked about talk of a spending freeze, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) responded bluntly: "Look at what's being proposed in terms of cuts. Don't talk about spending in the abstract."
"Head Start—200,000 kids no slots, 100,000 kids without childcare," DeLauro, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said Monday. "Talk to me about what has been suggested."