Author: Renee Karunungan

The Danger of Allowing Polluters Inside the UN Climate Talks

The involvement of polluting companies inside the UN Climate Negotiations through organisations such as the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association, Fuels Europe, and the Business Council of Australia has long been a contentious issue. During the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris held last 2015, companies such as Engie, a European electric utility company that is the continent’s largest importer of natural gas and EDF, a French electric utility that operates several major coal-fired power plants, sponsored the biggest COP of the UN Climate Talks to date. Civil society organisations as well as many developing countries such as Ecuador, Guatemala, and Bolivia have called this “greenwashing” and have led to discussions with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat on whether or not these companies should be allowed inside the negotiations in the first place. These companies, according to civil society and the many countries that oppose their participation in the UNFCCC, poses a conflict of interest between what the negotiations aim to do and the nature …

On the current martial law in Mindanao

When I was in 7th grade studying in a very conservative Catholic school, I clearly remember one of my teachers telling our class, “Martial Law is good, it disciplines people. I would love to have Martial Law again to instil discipline in Filipinos.” I remember getting home that day and telling my parents the same. I remember getting a scolding from my parents who gave me a lecture on why Martial Law, especially because they were there to fight against the dictatorship of Marcos. But I was lucky, because not everyone would have people to correct these wrong views. Not everyone would have parents who are socially aware, when teachers fail to teach history lessons, or vice versa. Why am I saying this? Because in this whole discourse about the current imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao, the president himself said that he would be like Marcos. A statement, which, without any creative interpretation, means exactly what it is — an abuse of power. But what is scary, what is concerning, is the fact that …

Why even 1°C of global warming matters

The planet has already warmed 1°C from the pre-industrial period. But the question many people still ask is why does it matter? Isn’t 1 degree just small a number to be worried about? “The scales of the planet is different from the temperature scales we experience on a daily basis,” said Gavin Schmidt, director for NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, at the Congress International de Cambio Climatico (International Congress on Climate Change) held in Huelva, Spain last May 10-12. “One degree of warming matters. It is similar to one quarter of the ice age of 20,000 years ago to pre-industrial change,” Schmidt added. The difference of global temperature between the pre-industrial period and the last ice age is about 4-5 degrees celsius. However, 20,000 years ago, in the last quarter of the ice age, ice thawed because of an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which warmed the planet. This is according to a paper published in Nature. This warming caused the last deglaciation and within a few hundred years, seas have risen …

CLIMATE SCIENCE, SUSTAINABILITY, GOVERNANCE: FINDING SOLUTIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE

The Congreso Internacional de Cambio Climatico (International Congress on Climate Change) took place in Huelva, Spain last May 10-12, with the theme “Finding Solutions.” There were many sessions tackling different topics on how we can all find solutions to climate change. Here are 5 things I have learned from the conference:    We need to redesign our systems  Leyla Acaroglu, sociologist and designer, talked about the importance of disruptive design. “Destruction is about intent,” she said.  Design is the powerful silent social scripter that influences the world — from architecture, to urban spaces. But along with design, we need to remember that everything is interconnected and that we move in systems. “We either change the system or reinforce the system by the choices we make,” Leyla said. Leyla stressed the importance of our everyday decisions and choices, reminding us that the market is only as powerful as what the public consumes. Making conscious decisions can create ripples of change. One system we need to change is our linear model of economy, where we take, make, …

Will climate change bring about a zombie apocalypse?

If there’s anything we’ve learned about zombie apocalypse movies, it’s that it usually starts with a disease or a virus that affects the brain. Remember Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, and World War Z? One thing they have in common? A virus that started infecting people and turned them into zombies. And despite Brad Pitt’s disturbing moment at the vending machine drinking Pepsi while trying to save the world, we all thought if a zombie apocalypse actually happen in real life. After all, these apocalyptic movies begin merely with a virus. There have been many news reports of an increasing number of diseases linked to climate change — diseases and viruses rising from the dead and infecting people, an increase in brain invading parasites. Can climate change actually be the beginning of a zombie apocalypse? Just last week, news of a brain invading parasite, the rat lungworm infection, has reported to be spreading in Hawaii. Scientists fear that this is just another consequence of climate change. Last year, an anthrax outbreak in Northern Russia occurred …

Get to Know the Women leading the Climate Movement

wWomen have been at the forefront of fighting for the planet and its people. We asked you who are the women that has inspired your country or community and has created huge impact, and we have received a lot of submissions from you! In celebration of Women’s Month, get to know and be inspired by some of these women who are not afraid to #BeBoldForChange. SUNITA NARAIN Sunita Narain has been with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) from 1982. She is currently the Director General of the organisation. CSE is a public interest research and advocacy organisation based in New Delhi. It researches into, lobbies for and communicates the urgency of development that is both sustainable and equitable. Narain is a writer and environmentalist, who uses knowledge for change. In 2005 she was awarded the Padma Shri (fourth highest civilian award) by the Indian government. She has also received the World Water Prize for work on rainwater harvesting and for its policy influence in building paradigms for community based water management. In 2005, she …

Minimalism Trend: Will it save the planet?

There is a growing interest in minimalism, thanks in part to Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and her KonMari method — a method of decluttering and organising the home. Since then, many have sworn to the Kondo’s method of holding only onto things that “spark joy.” KonMari is the only one of many movements growing around the idea of a minimalist lifestyle. There is also Project 333, a minimalist fashion project that invites people to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months and 100 Thing Challenge, started by David Bruno, who challenged himself to own only 100 things. And then there is also the tiny house movement, a movement that encourages simple living by living in, yes, tiny houses. Add to that the zero waste movement, challenging people to live with, you guessed it, zero waste. And so it seems that these days many people have found happiness in minimizing the things they own, having the mantra of “less is more,” where owning less is equated to freedom …