Governments Give an Estimated $2 billion/day in corporate welfare to fossil fuel industry – why is this so hard to change?

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

[Updated May 11 2012: At last a  serious plan to phase out these subsidies will be on the table at the Rio+20 meet in June. I will be following this closely – with your help – Stephen ]

Experts say the subsidy madness must stop. With unemployment high can governments facing recession summon the will to end the fossil fuel industries’ FREE RIDE?

By Stephen Leahy

BERLIN, Jun 29, 2010 (IPS)

Every day, governments give away an estimated two billion dollars of taxpayer money to the fossil fuel industry. This unmatched largesse to a highly profitable sector by countries verging on bankruptcy or unable to feed large numbers of their own people is “complete madness”, according to many experts.

In Toronto Sunday, at the conclusion of G20 summit, countries agreed the madness must be constrained if not stopped.

“I was impressed. I think the commitment to phase out…

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Trashing the Oceans: 3 to 6 X More Trash Than Plankton – ‘Using Oceans as Universal Sewer’ — Cousteau

This is a repost from last year. Sad to see  little progress on this issue. — Stephen

“There is no reason for delay. Governments and industry need to take action and people have to stop pointing fingers at each other and get on with it.”

California nearly became the first U.S. state to ban plastic bags, but a multi-million-dollar lobby effort by industry killed the proposed legislation

By Stephen Leahy

HONOLULU, Hawaii, U.S., Mar 28, 2011 (IPS)

Every day, billions of plastic bags and bottles are discarded, and every day, millions of these become plastic pollution, fouling the oceans and endangering marine life.

No one wants this, but there is wide disagreement about how to stop it.

“Every time I stick my nose in the water, I am shocked. I see less and less fish and more and more garbage,” said Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the legendary marine ecologist Jacques Cousteau, who has spent four decades making documentaries and educating people about the oceans.

Please throw something in the tip jar before reading on. This is how I make my living.

On trips to the remote and uninhabited northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Cousteau found miles and miles of plastic bottles, cigarette lighters, television tubes, spray cans, broken toys, and thousands of other pieces of plastic on the beaches and thousands of tonnes of derelict fishing nets in the reefs.

“We are using the oceans as a universal sewer,” he told some 440 participants from the plastics manufacturing, food and beverage sectors, environmental organisations, scientists and policy-makers from over 35 countries at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, which ended Mar. 25. Continue reading

In North America the cost of owning and operating a private automobile amounts to 8,000 to 12,000 dollars a year of after-tax income, according to automobile clubs. Many families have two vehicles that their biggest expense by far. There better ways to be mobile.

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

Car Ownership Declines in Europe as Cities’ Focus on Walking, Bikes & Public Transit

Cost of Personal Car Ownership Tops $10,000 a year

By Stephen Leahy

CHANGWON, South Korea, Nov 1, 2011 (Tierramérica)

Berlin is a big capital city of a country famed for making excellent automobiles, but it can no longer afford roads and is now moving people by transit, bike and especially through walking.

Berlin is not alone. Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Bogotá, New York City and other major cities simply cannot afford the cost, the pollution, the noise and the congestion of more cars. They are embracing a new concept called EcoMobility – mobility without private cars.

“EcoMobility is not only walking, cycling and public transportation. It is about these three systems clicking together: connectivity is the key,” Gil Peñalosa, former director of parks and recreation in Bogotá, Colombia, told those attending the EcoMobility Changwon 2011 congress.

The…

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Eliminate GDP and Economic Growth to Create the Real Green Economy Indigenous Peoples Say

Wind-solar electricity generation built by indigenous Telengits community in Russia's Altai  Mountains.   Photo:  Foundation for Sustainable Development of Altai

Wind-solar electricity generation built by indigenous Telengits community in Russia’s Altai Mountains. Photo: Foundation for Sustainable Development of Altai

by Stephen Leahy

First published at National Geographic’s NewsWatch

The planet is in peril, 3,000 scientists and other experts concluded at the recent Planet Under Pressure conference in London. Climate change, overuse of nitrogen and loss of biodiversity are just three of the perils threatening to make much of our home uninhabitable.

World leaders will meet in Rio de Janeiro June 20-22 to address this at the Rio+20 Conference, 20 years after the very first Earth Summit.

Rio+20 needs to be the moment in human history when the nations of the world come together to find ways to ensure ‘the very survival of humanity,’ environmentalists and scientists have said.

A “Green Economy” will be one of the main ideas under discussion in Rio. The idea is to make a transition to an economic system that maximizes human well-being while operating within the planet’s environmental limits. Exactly how this could be accomplished has yet to be defined.

The current economic system rewards those who exploit and destroy nature, said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director, Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education).

The current system hinders and even blocks Indigenous peoples from practicing their traditional ways of living that actually represent “a real green economy” that can be sustainable, achieve well being and are climate-friendly, said Tauli-Corpuz, a member of the indigenous Kankana-ey Igorot community in the Philippines.

Please throw something in the tip jar before reading on. This is how I make my living.

Continue reading

Just a reminder to get involved on Sat May 5th no matter where you are.

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

Here’s a thoughtful article written by my son who is working on a farm in Tasmania. Normally he is a historical tour guide in Europe. He’s not part of any organization but just decided to take action for sake of his generation’s future.  It is amazing what he and his friends are up to. — Stephen 

By Derek Leahy

FRANKLIN, TASMANIA

I sat down in a café in Franklin, Tasmania the other day trying to sort out all that has transpired these past few weeks. You see, May 5thcould very well become a massive day of action. A lot of people from all over the world want to make their voices heard the week of May 5thInternational Stop the Tar Sands Day’s circle of friends just got bigger.

Anyway, I sat down in an practically empty café (Franklin is a pretty small town), opened…

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Canada spending $60 billion on war planes and ships. Canada’s GDP has tripled in 10 years but now extremist Harper govt budget slashes public service and health protection programs. It’s ideology at work here not ‘proper fiscal management’.

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

Environment budget slashed while PM Harper’s office places a gag order on government scientists. (And a $60 billion order for military equipment)

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 9, 2011 (IPS)

Canada’s Stephen Harper government is spending more than 60 billion dollars on new military jets and warships while slashing more than 200 million dollars in funding for research and monitoring of the environment.

Amongst the programmes now crippled is Canada’s internationally renowned ozone monitoring network, which was instrumental in the discovery of the first-ever ozone hole over Canada last spring. Loss of ozone has been previously linked to increases in skin cancer.

“The proposed cuts go so far the network won’t be able to do serious science,” said Thomas Duck, an atmospheric scientist at Halifax’s Dalhousie University.

Canada was the pioneer in ozone monitoring, developing the first accurate ozone measuring tool that led to the discovery that the world’s…

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