Waste plastics accumulation in Nairobi, Kenya

US accused of blocking ambitious global action against plastic pollution

From an Article by Sandra Laville, The Guardian, March 15, 2019

>>> Commitments agreed at UN conference in Kenya do not go far enough, say green groups.

Environmental groups involved in talks at a United Nations conference in Kenya have accused the US of blocking an ambitious global response to plastic pollution.

Representatives of countries at the UN environment conference in Nairobi this week agreed to significantly reduce single-use plastics over the next decade but the voluntary pledges fell far short of what was required, according to green groups.

Norway, Japan and Sri Lanka had put forward proposals for a legally binding agreement for nations to coordinate action against plastic litter in the oceans and microplastics. India also suggested strong action with a resolution to phase out single-use plastic across the world.

But a coalition of environmental groups at the conference condemned the US for blocking the ambitious attempts to tackle plastic pollution at the source as well as downstream.

An initial ministerial statement at the beginning of the event had proposed a commitment to “phase out single-use plastics … by 2025”, a far stronger promise than the compromise nations reached.

On Friday, a series of non-binding proposals were agreed, including the adoption of an action plan by the International Maritime Organization’s marine environment protection committee to reduce plastic litter from ships, and suggestions for better global management of data on plastic pollution. A final statement said countries would “address the damage to our ecosystems caused by the unsustainable use and disposal of plastic products, including by significantly reducing single-use plastic by 2030”.

In response, environmental groups including Break Free From Plastic, IPEN, Plastic Change, No Waste Louisiana and Coare said the proposals did not go far enough.

“Despite sweeping agreement by the majority of countries that urgent, ambitious and global action is needed to address plastic across its lifecycle, from production to use to disposal, a small minority led by the United States blocked ambitious text and delayed negotiations,” they said in a statement.

Countries most affected by plastic pollution including the Philippines, Malaysia and Senegal were against the resolution being watered down.

Large oil firms in the US are investing billions of dollars in petrochemical production over the next decade, particularly shale gas.

The new facilities, which are being built by ExxonMobile Chemical and Shell Chemical, among others, will help fuel a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade, according to industry experts.

The world already produces more than 300 million tonnes of plastic a year.

“It’s hard to find one solution for all member states,” Siim Kiisler, the president of the UN environment assembly, told Agence France-Presse before the final decision. “The environment is at a turning point. We don’t need verbose documents, we need concrete commitments.”

When asked whether the US had pushed to have the commitments watered down during the week’s negotiations, Kiisler said: “I will not answer that question.”

David Azoulay, from the Center for International Environmental Law, condemned the weakening of the commitment.

He said: “The vast majority of countries came together to develop a vision for the future of global plastic governance. Seeing the US, guided by the interests of the fracking and petrochemical industry, leading efforts to sabotage that vision is disheartening.”

Exponential growth of plastics worldwide

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U. N. Global Environmental Outlook is the most comprehensive study

With ‘Ecological Foundations of Society’ at Risk, Warns UN, Hope Resides in Urgent Global Action

From an Article by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, March 13, 2019

“What’s at stake is life, and society, as the majority of us know it and enjoy it today. We have no time to lose.”

A comprehensive United Nations report released on Wednesday found that while global human health is under dire threat from the climate crisis and industrial pollution, there is still a window for bold and urgent action if world leaders would but seize it.

>>> “We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now.” —Joyce Msuya, U.N. Environment

The United Nations Environment Programme’s Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6), described as the most rigorous climate assessment released by the international body in the last five years, warned that continued inaction from policy-makers could result in millions of premature deaths from air pollution and other factors throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa by mid-century.

The report also highlighted rapidly increasing rates of species extinction. “At present,” the authors note, “42 percent of terrestrial invertebrates, 34 percent of freshwater invertebrates, and 25 percent of marine invertebrates are considered at risk of extinction.”

Without “urgent action at an unprecedented scale,” the report said, the “ecological foundations of society” are at risk of collapse.

Joyeeta Gupta and Paul Ekins, co-chairs of the GEO-6 process, said in a statement that all the technology, policy ideas, and money needed to bring about ambitious global changes already exist.

“What is currently lacking is the political will to implement policies and technologies at a sufficient speed and scale,” they said.

To avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis and ensure a livable future for all, the report calls on policy-makers to focus on transforming the world’s food, energy, and waste systems by:

>> Aggressively moving to slash carbon emissions and investing in green energy;
>> Transitioning to more sustainable forms of food production and less meat-intensive diets; and
>> Creating a “circular economy” that “uses waste as a resource.”

“These transformations will not be easy, but they will offer enormous opportunities for those who are ready to seize them,” the report states. “What’s at stake is life, and society, as the majority of us know it and enjoy it today. We have no time to lose.”

“The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment,” Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of U.N. Environment, said in a statement.

“We are at a crossroads,” Msuya continued. “Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now.”

The U.N.’s Global Environmental Outlook comes as bold policy solutions like the Green New Deal are gaining traction in the United States, with one recent survey showing that over 80 percent of Americans support the idea.

The report was released just two days before hundreds of thousands of students in over 90 countries are set to strike to demand that political leaders immediately take action to secure a habitable planet for future generations.

“I think that change is on the horizon and the people will stand up for their future,” 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg told the Guardian.

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EurekAlert! Science News: Air pollution causes 800,000 extra deaths a year in Europe and 8.8 million worldwide

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U. S. Department of Labor says Pipeline Workers Must Receive Overtime Pay for Extra Work

March 16, 2019

U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Federal Court Ordering WV Company to Pay $3.7 Million in Back Wages and Damages News Release, US Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division Date March 13, 2019, News Release Number 19-0224-PHI MILLWOOD, WV – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division [...]

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Stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, an Unnecessary Gross Disturbance

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To the Editor: Tell Northam, Stop the Pipeline From: Atieno Bird, Crozet Gazette, March 12, 2019 PHOTO: Drone photograph of pipeline construction in West Virginia. I want to alert you to a threat faced by our neighbors south of us in Buckingham County that will affect our children, too, and ask you to write to [...]

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WV Needs It’s Coal Severance Tax, Tell the Governor

March 14, 2019

Will a Severance Tax Cut Put Coal Miners Back to Work? (Probably Not) From an Article by Sean O’Leary, WV Center on Budget and Policy, March 10, 2019 On Crossover Day, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed two bills that have the intended purpose of boosting coal production and putting coal miners back to [...]

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Let’s Pay for Solar Power, Not Bailout Nuclear Power

March 13, 2019

Bill introduced to subsidize nuclear power in Pennsylvania, save Three Mile Island From an Article AD CRABLE, Lancaster OnLine, March 11, 2019 Legislation calling for electric ratepayers to prop up nuclear power in Pennsylvania — and save Three Mile Island from closing — was introduced Monday in the state House. State Sen. Ryan Aument of [...]

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VA Water Control Board Decision Favors Mountain Valley Pipeline

March 12, 2019

State board’s vote in Mountain Valley Pipeline’s favor raises questions for opponents From an Article by Laurence Hammack, Roanoke Times, March 9, 2019 For nearly four hours, while members of the State Water Control Board huddled with their attorney behind closed doors, observers were left to wait and wonder what the board would do about [...]

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Denver Air Pollution Now Much Worse Due to Cars and Oil & Gas Industry

March 11, 2019

Breaking: Fossil Fuels Choke Denver With Air Quality 3 Times Worse Than Beijing From an Article by Andy Bosselman, Denver Streetsblog, March 6, 2019 Today from downtown Denver, the peaks of the Rocky Mountain foothills were barely visible through the brown cloud of pollution that covered the region with an unhealthy level of fine particulate [...]

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US Senate Holds Rare Hearing on Climate Change

March 10, 2019

U.S. Senate Republicans hold rare climate hearing, and more might be coming From an Article by Mark K. Mathews, E&E News, March 6, 2019 Senators Lisa Murkowski (R–AK, right) and Joe Manchin (D–WV, left), the senior members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, confer during a hearing yesterday on climate change. It’s [...]

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WV Rivers Coalition Replies to WV-DEP on Nationwide 12 Permits

March 9, 2019

To: WV Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water and Waste Management, 601 57th Street South East, Charleston, WV 25304 Re: 401 Water Quality Certification Program Submitted via: WQSComments@wv.gov West Virginia Rivers Coalition, on behalf of our members and the 19 organizations signed below, respectfully submit the following comments on the proposed modifications to the [...]

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