Climate Weekly: The kids are all right

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School strikers in Berlin (Pic: Flickr/


It is easy to be cynical about children skipping school to go to a protest. Who doesn’t want to dodge double maths, amirite?

In fact, thousands of kids going on “climate strike” on Friday have learned enough to know that, when it comes to climate change, the numbers don’t add up to a safe future.

Too young to vote, members of the budding movement told Natalie Sauer they had to take to the streets to get politicians’ attention.

In the UK, political opinion divided broadly on right-left lines. Conservative prime minister Theresa May criticised the teenagers for disrupting teachers’ plans, while the Sun and Spectator ran articles defending the status quo. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn tweeted in support of the strike and the Guardian ran sympathetic coverage at the top of its UK homepage.

Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres is fully on the strikers’ side, calling on governments to ramp up their national targets.

Quote of the week

“It’s time to heed the deeply moving voice of youth and schoolchildren, who are so worried about their future that they need to strike to make us pay attention” – Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief

GND spreads

UK Labour is jumping on board the Green New Deal bandwagon, Karl Mathiesen reports – but there are internal tensions over what it means.

Zack Exley, advisor to US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, visited Britain this week, sparking interest in grassroots mobilisation on climate change.

The progressive wing is up against traditional trade unionists who back any large job-creating project, green or brown, including the controversial Heathrow airport expansion.

Climate conversations

Another dam fails in Brazil – Bolsonaro must not respond by gutting protections – Fabio Feldmann and Suely Araújo

Stalemate in Poland revealed central tension of Paris Agreement – Jackson Ewing, Duke University

In the High Atlas mountains, the future hinges on water – Peter Jacques, University of Central Florida

Sweden sails ahead

The Swedish Shipowners’ Association is preparing to end the industry’s use of fossil fuels by 2045, in line with national climate law.

The lobby group is working with government initiative Fossil Free Sweden on a roadmap (chart?) to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Shipping companies are looking for incentives to develop more efficient technology and alternative fuels, with an eye to leading global efforts on clean marine transport.

Irish uncertainty

Sara Stefanini has been in Dublin, where the energy sector is seeking to fast-track electricity connections with mainland Europe, amid Brexit uncertainty.

Energy security concerns are also being cited in a push to open up oil and gas drilling in Irish waters, and build LNG import capacity.

Biofuel clampdown

Biofuels made from palm oil will no longer be classed as renewable, under draft legislation by the European Commission, to be considered in the next two months.

The new criteria reflect concern that palm oil plantations drive rainforest clearance, emitting more greenhouse gases than are saved by switching from hydrocarbons.

Campaigners welcomed the move, but warned that certain loopholes could undermine the effectiveness of the law.

Read more on: Climate politics