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‘Claim the sky’: a new climate movement for the Trump era

Robert Costanza writes in The Conversation (6.3.17) that, as President Donald Trump promises to pull America out of the Paris climate agreement, other countries need concerted civil action to turn our atmosphere into a public trust.

‘President Donald Trump is making it less likely the United States will meet the emissions targets it agreed at the 2015 Paris climate conference. These targets are themselves insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement’s overall goal of keeping global warming well within 2℃.

‘But there is another possibility for those who want action. The idea is called “claim the sky” and it would involve a global movement, working together with the most affected countries, to claim ownership over our atmosphere.

‘Trump has promised to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, appointed the former chief executive of oil giant Exxon as his secretary of state, and is planning huge changes to Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the Environmental Protection Agency.

‘It is true that the cost of renewables like solar and wind energy is dropping rapidly. It’s therefore conceivable that economic factors alone will drive the shift away from fossil fuels. But if nothing more is done, and America and other countries continue to dish out billions in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, it may take far longer than necessary to achieve the goals of Paris, if they can be met at all.’

Former ambassador Jeffrey Bleich: ‘Hottest places in hell’ reserved for those remaining neutral

The former US Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey Bleich, writes in The Conversation (3.3.17) that, with the Trump administration reversing long-standing positions on the environment, the economy, immigration and education, the “hottest places in hell” are reserved for those who “maintain neutrality” in times of “great moral crisis”.

‘While I’ve spoken at many of your universities over the years, it has always been in a non-partisan role – as either ambassador or now as chair of the Fulbright board. So, whenever I’ve been asked questions about politics or elections before, I always did what diplomats have long done. I thought very carefully, before saying …nothing.

‘But these are not ordinary times. The recent US election has evoked a profound sense of uncertainty across the political spectrum.

‘The things we had counted on, suddenly and surprisingly proved incorrect. We are not sure what we can rely on anymore, and it has shaken many people’s confidence about the path forward. It is times like these, when good friends like the US and Australia put aside conventions and get real about what we need to do together.’

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