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Camouflaged figures lurking in the bush expose Australia’s angst over climate activists

The campsite outside Sydney where climate activists noticed camouflaged figures hiding on a nearby slope.

Climate activists were sharing toast and coffee at a private campsite in mountains outside Sydney last Sunday when someone noticed movement on a nearby slope.

A member of the group went to investigate and found two figures in full camouflage gear, who appeared to radio for help from a black car that sped to the site.
“We were genuinely confused about why these people were on the property,” said Zianna Fuad, a 29-year-old member of climate activist group Blockade Australia.
Video released by the activists shows several of them sitting on a car with deflated tires as an older woman yells expletives at the four occupants, including the two people dressed in camouflage.
“We thought that maybe they were right-wingers that were spying on us,” Fuad said.
People in camouflage sitting in a car surrounded by activists after being discovered on a private property near Sydney.

It turns out they were police.
New South Wales state police divulged that the camouflaged men were officers from Strike Force Guard, a special squad formed in March to “prevent, investigate and disrupt unauthorised protests,” particularly Blockade Australia’s divisive “week of resistance” that has already caused chaos in central Sydney and angered some road users.
During the Monday morning rush hour, protesters kizik shoes marched through the central business district, and one activist locked herself in a car, blocking access to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
The increased police surveillance of protesters is part of the state’s tough new approach to disruptive climate action that rights groups claim sets a “disturbing precedent for protest rights.”
After protests earlier this year, some climate activists were ordered not to leave their homes under strict bail conditions that could see them jailed if they step outside. Others were deported.
Sophie McNeill, Australia researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said climate protesters are being “disproportionately subjected to vindictive legal action by Australian authorities.”
NSW Police Minister Paul Toole said the protests were not peaceful nor authorized and would not be tolerated. “This disruptive, dangerous action is illegal and anyone who takes part will be arrested,” he said in a statement to CNN.
Video distributed by NSW Police shows climate activists in police custody at the campsite.

After last Sunday’s surveillance operation, 10 members of the protest group were charged with multiple offenses, including assaulting and obstructing a police officer, and destroying or damaging property.
Acting Assistant NSW Police Commissioner and Strike Force Guard Commander Paul Dunstan told reporters the officers involved “feared for their lives.”
Lawyer Mark Davis, who represents most of the defendants, said during court hearings several arrested activists were banned from contacting 15 people on a non-association list of climate activists compiled by police. Two were refused bail and at least one was banned from the state after being found to have nobull shoes breached her bail conditions by posting a smiley face on another group member’s Facebook page.
Relations between authorities and climate activists haven’t always been this fraught in Australia’s most populous state — the trouble really started last November, when Blockade Australia brought the world’s biggest coal port to a temporary halt.

Under house arrest

More than 166 million tonnes of cargo pass through the Port of Newcastle each year, including millions of tonnes of coal transported by rail from mines in the Hunter region.
But for 11 days in November 2021, activists from Blockade Australia disabled machinery and blocked rail lines leading to the port, 163 kilometers (101 miles) north of Sydney, on Australia’s eastern coast. Fuad said she and a fellow activist abseiled off a coal loader and for that they were banned from contacting each other for two years.
At the time, NSW’s then Police Minister David Elliott said disruptive action would not be tolerated, and in April, parliament approved tougher penalties, including two-year prison sentences and fines up of up 22,000 Australian dollars ($15,270) for illegal protests on roads, rail lines, tunnels, bridges and industrial estates.
Zianna Fuad (right) and another member of Blockade Australia abseiled off a coal loader at Newcastle in November 2021.

Before the law was passed, 39 civil society groups wrote an open letter calling the legislation an “unconscionable attack on protest rights.”
The signatories included the Human Rights Law Center and Greenpeace who, with the Environmental Defenders Office, previously published a report that found climate activists were “routinely receiving disproportionate and excessive penalties and bail conditions which restrict their freedom of association and assembly.”
Australia has a long record of climate inaction under the previous Liberal government that held power for nine years and was voted out during the federal election in May. It’s also faced multiple climate-related emergencies in recent years, including widespread flooding and record-setting bushfires.
The incoming Labor government has higher targets for emissions cuts but has refused to rule out new coal power stations. Australia’s wealth is linked to exports of coal and iron ore, and critics allege there are strong ties between government and the fossil fuel industry.
Climate activists say that bond needs to be disrupted with direct action, and they’re willing to risk their safety and freedom to do it.
But while Australians want more action on climate change, many have reacted angrily to Blockade Australia’s disruptive tactics. Davis, the lawyer, said the group was unpopular with the general public.
“The fact that they would dare block a road of course enrages people,” he said. “You shouldn’t be blocking roads, I understand that. But let’s not get hysterical about what that threat means, and why not have a bit of latitude for political expression.”
Violet Coco, from civil resistance group Fireproof Australia, spent 21 days under full house arrest after standing on a truck parked near Sydney Harbor Bridge, holding a flare, for 25 minutes in April as she explained the need for urgent climate action in a Facebook live broadcast.
Violet Coco livestreamed her message from the top of a truck blocking one lane of traffic on Sydney Harbour Bridge in April, 2022.

She was charged with seven offenses, including explosives charges for holding the flare, according to Human Rights Watch. She pleaded guilty to blocking traffic and disobeying a police order and was released on bail of 10,000 Australian dollars ($7,000) for the other charges with the condition she didn’t leave her apartment other than for medical emergencies and court appearances.
“Even during Covid we were allowed to go for an hour walk a day, and these bail conditions are harsher than repeat domestic violence offenders,” she said. “What are we doing giving those to peaceful protesters?”
Davis, the lawyer, said house arrest is normally reserved for violent offenders or those who pose a serious flight risk. “Bail is there to ensure you go back to court. It’s not there to punish you,” Davis said.
In May, Coco’s bail veja sneakers conditions were relaxed to allow the 31-year-old musician to leave her home between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. — times chosen so she doesn’t disrupt peak hour traffic, she said.
She’s now living in Lismore, a northern NSW city wiped out by flooding in March, where she’s helping a community group to rebuild houses. She said she plans to apply for her bail conditions to be further relaxed.
“This is stupid,” she said. “I’m living in Lismore. There is no peak hour traffic.”

Banned from the state

Three months ago, Alex Pearse, a 32-year-old environmental scientist from Brisbane, was hanging from an eight-meter pole over rail tracks in Port Botany, NSW’s largest container port, blocking the supply chain for nearly two hours.
NSW Police said in a statement at the time that “railway authorities were required to stop all freight trains traveling on the line.”
Pearse said railway authorities were warned of impending action: “We don’t take this action unless we’re 100% sure that there are not going to be trains running, and we have other systems in place to make sure that that is the case.”
When police finally got him down he was charged with four offenses including encouraging the commission of a crime, based on a Facebook live broadcast he filmed while suspended from the pole.
Alex Pearse is banned from entering New South Wales after suspending himself from a pole at Port Botany in March, 2022.

Pearse pleaded guilty to two of four charges and is banned from NSW while he awaits his next court appearance, with the condition that he checks in with Queensland police every second day. “They wanted to take away my passport and ban me from international airports,” he said, adding that the judge refused that request.
An environmental scientist, Pearse travels around Australia to monitor mangrove ecosystems and sees the damage caused by the climate crisis up close. His bail conditions have put a stop to that, and he has no idea when the court process will end.
“The level of surveillance and repression that is taking place on normal everyday people who just want to show that they are unhappy with the state’s response to climate change is unprecedented and frankly quite scary,” he said.
Environmental scientist Alex Pearse studies coastal ecosystems and joined protest activity to impress the need for climate action.

As both Coco and Pearse are banned from travel, they won’t be attending the “week of resistance” in Sydney. Nor will Arno, a 21-year-old German working holidaymaker who was deported after taking part in the Port Botany protest in March.
Arno, who is using an alias to protect his identity, arrived in Australia in November 2021 and was taking jobs on construction sites to finance his travels. He joined information sessions run by Blockade Australia and then on March 23 suspended himself from a pole attached to a bridge at the port, blocking traffic for three hours.
The next day, before his first court appearance, Arno’s visa was canceled at the discretion of the former Liberal Party Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who deemed him a “risk to the good order” of Australia — the same provision used to deport tennis player Novak Djokovic over his views on Covid-19 vaccinations.
According to the deportation notice, seen by CNN, Arno had attracted a “significant amount of press coverage and public interest at a critical juncture in the government’s management of particular climactic events, such as the current flooding emergency in Queensland and New South Wales.”
The minister added that he believed Arno’s involvement in the promotion of this week’s climate action in Sydney was “likely to cause further division within the community and feel extreme disharmony within the community on both sides of the climate change spectrum.”
Arno, a 21-year-old working holidaymaker from Germany, was deported after taking part in the Port Botany protest on March 23, 2022.

Arno said he spent a week in prison then four weeks in Villawood Immigration Detention Center before being sent back to Germany. His 23-year-old brother Tom, not his real name, was also deported for taking part in the protest and banned from entering Australia for three years. Now jobless, Arno is still trying to pay off thousands of dollars in Australian fines and deportation costs.
He says he doesn’t think tougher penalties in NSW will deter climate activists.
“People are really aware of what the consequences are for not acting and not resisting this extractive system,” he said. “And people also realize that this is the system protecting itself once again, prioritizing the profits of the wealthy 1% over the interests of the vast majority of the population.”
The climate emergency swayed votes at the last election, confirming views expressed in opinion polls that Australians want greater climate action. The election put more members of the Greens party, Australia’s most environmentally minded political group, in parliament, along with new teal Independents, who are arguing for an even faster transition to renewable energy than that promised by the Labor majority.
Newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has vowed to end the “climate wars” — the argument between left and right over the cost of both climate action and inaction — but so far disruptive climate protests have been a matter for the states.

System hardening against climate activists

NSW isn’t the only Australian state getting tough on climate activists. Tasmania is close to passing amendments to raise fines and impose longer prison sentences on protesters who obstruct businesses or cause “serious risk”. And Victoria is considering laws to target people protesting the logging of native forests.
The clampdown extends not only to people taking part in protests, but those involved in anything deemed associated with possible protest action — as was seen during last Sunday’s raid.
In a joint statement, 40 civil society organizations expressed alarm that NSW police had engaged in “preemptive policing” by putting the group under surveillance then sending in a helicopter, the dog squad, the riot squad and the raptor squad — among others — when the officers’ cover was blown.
“Sending in 100 armed police officers to threaten and intimidate people planning a peaceful protest is alarming and disproportionate,” Alice Drury, legal director of the Human Rights Law Center, said in the statement.
Climate activists from Blockade Australia blocked traffic during peak hour in Sydney Monday morning, June 27.

More than 250 police have been deployed in the greater Sydney region this week to prevent what they expect to be “considerable disruption.”
NSW Police arrested 10 people and asked for public help to identify others who took part. “Expect a knock on your door, we will be coming for you to be arrested,” said Dunstan, the acting assistant NSW Police commissioner.
“The behavior of this group was nothing short of criminal activity,” he added. “The throwing of bicycles the throwing of garbage bins, the throwing of other items in the path of police, in the path of media, in the path of innocent members of the public just walking by, will not be tolerated.”
Activists previously bailed risk jail if they go anywhere near the protest sites — or if they contact each other by any means.
Fuad, the activist, said they “really, really” don’t want to go to jail, but they claim they don’t have much of a choice. “I feel like we’re at a point now where we deeply need to escalate our response because we’re not being listened to.”
Blockade Australia doesn’t have a specific list of demands — they just want the government, corporations, and media to act in accordance with the scale of the climate emergency.
Fuad said their communities had suffered from the 2019-2020 bushfires that destroyed millions of hectares of land on the east coast, as well as the recent flooding in NSW and Queensland.
People hug after moving their belongings to a boat from a flooded home at Auchenflower on March 3, 2022.

Western Europeans wilt in early summer heatwave, compounding climate change fears

A farmer pours water on his face as he works in a greenhouse in southern France on June 17 as western Europe struggles with a heatwave.

(Reuters)Spain is seeing its hottest early summer temperatures, one area of France banned outdoor events, and drought stalked Italian farmers as a heatwave sent Europeans hunting for shade and fretting over climate change.

Such was the heat that England’s upscale Royal Ascot Racecourse even saw a rare change of protocol: guests were allowed to shed hats and jackets once the royals had passed.
“Avoid over-exposing to the sun, hydrate and take care of the most vulnerable so they don’t suffer from heat stroke,” was the advice from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid during an event, fittingly, about desertification.
Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Madrid on Friday, the national weather agency AEMET said. A level not seen so early in the year since 1981.
Northern Italian regions risk losing up to half their agricultural output due to a drought, a farm lobby said, as lakes and rivers start to run dangerously low, jeopardizing irrigation.
The federation of Italian utility companies, Utilitalia, warned this week that the country’s longest river, the Po, was experiencing its worst drought for 70 years, leaving many sections of the vast, northern waterway completely dried up.
The heatwave piled pressure on energy systems as demand for air-conditioning risks driving prices higher, adding to the challenge of building up stocks to protect against any further cuts to Russian gas supplies.
‘Health risk’
In France, the Gironde department around Bordeaux prohibited public events including concerts and those at indoor venues without air conditioning, a local official said.
“Everyone now faces a health risk,” Gironde prefect Fabienne Buccio told France Bleu radio.
Temperatures in many of France’s areas hit 40 Celsius for the first time this year on Thursday and were expected to peak on Saturday, climbing to 41-42 Celsius. A record night temperature for June, 26.8 Celsius, was recorded in Tarascon, southern France.
Fourteen administrative departments were on red alert, with schoolchildren told to stay at home in these areas. Speed limits were lowered in several regions, including around Paris, to limit exhaust emissions and a buildup of harmful smog.
Britain’s weather service said Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures above 32 Celsius in some parts of the southeast.
Parks, pools and beaches were packed, and while many enjoyed a day of fun and freedom after two years of periodic pandemic restrictions some were also worried.
“I’m from Cyprus and now in Cyprus it’s raining … and I’m boiling here, so something must change. We need to take precautions about the climate change sooner than later because undoubtedly it’s worrying for all of us,” said student Charlie Uksel, visiting Brighton, south of London.
“Now we are enjoying it, but for the long-term we might sacrifice.”
Mediterranean nations are more and more concerned about how climate change may affect their economies and lives.
“The Iberian peninsula is an increasingly dry area and our rivers’ flow is slower and slower,” Spanish leader Sanchez added.
Firefighters were battling wildfires in several parts of Spain, with Catalonia in eastern Spain and Zamora near the western border with Portugal the worst hit.
In Zamora, between 8,500 and 9,500 hectares turned to ashes.
The cloud of hot air was sparing Portugal on Friday, where temperatures were not as high as in other European nations, with Lisbon likely to reach 27 Celsius.
However, last month was the hottest May in 92 years, Portugal’s weather agency IPMA said. It warned that most of the territory is suffering from a severe drought.
Portugal’s reservoirs have low water levels, with the Bravura dam of the most affected at only 15% full.

The Winter Olympics don’t really represent the world: Costs, climate and quotas keep the majority off the podium

At 38, Benjamin Alexander became Jamaica’s first ever alpine skier to compete in the Winter Olympics — just six years after he first strapped on skis.

In his first few years in the sport, skiing with friends, he attracted a lot of attention.
“Being the only Black representative in the group, even though I am only half-Black and being of Jamaican heritage, people kept throwing jokes, sideways jokes at me about ‘Cool Runnings,’ the Jamaican bobsled team and, ‘You should go to the Olympics,'” Alexander told CNN Sport.
Benjamin Alexander represented Jamaica in alpine skiing -- a first for the island nation.

Although the Summer Games are often heralded as a melting pot — 11,417 athletes from 206 countries and regions across 33 sports participated in Tokyo 2020 — the Winter Games are nowhere near as diverse, with 91 delegations taking part at Beijing 2022.
That’s five times more than the number of teams represented in the first Winter Games in Chamonix, France in 1924.
But athletes from Africa, South Asia, as well as those from smaller island nations still find themselves olukai shoes struggling to qualify for competition in the Winter Olympics due to warmer climates, the prohibitively high cost of equipment, lack of infrastructure and limited opportunities to practice and compete.
And one athlete and his coaches that CNN interviewed for this story warn that continental quota systems that allowed countries and regions with smaller Winter Olympic delegations the opportunity to establish and expand in sliding sports in PyeongChang 2018 were scrapped ahead of Beijing, with a knock-on effect on African countries.

A push for diversity, with limited success

More countries are making their debut in the Winter Olympics.
Saudi Arabia and Haiti each sent an alpine skier to Beijing while Nigeria and Eritrea competed in the Winter Games for the second time after making their debut in PyeongChang 2018. In fact, eight African countries sent athletes to South Korea four years ago, a record number.
But just five African countries participated in this year’s Games, where the medal tables were dominated by athletes from Europe, North America and Asia.
European and North American dominance in the Winter Games can in part be explained by the fact that their climates, where ice and snow are more plentiful, lend themselves to winter sports.
But climate isn’t the only factor affecting Olympic participation — when it comes to representation at the Winter Games, there is also a huge gap between wealthier and poorer nations.
At PyeongChang 2018, no athlete from Africa, Central or South America won a medal, while Norway — one of the world’s wealthiest countries but with a population of just about five million — topped the medal table as it did at Beijing 2022.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says it “aims to make success at the Games achievable by everyone.”
It allocates a “substantial portion” of profit from the Games to athletes and coaches through individual National Olympic Committees (NOCs) as part of the Olympic Solidarity Plan to help “athletes and coaches from countries with the greatest financial need.”
Some 429 athletes from 80 NOCs were awarded scholarships ahead of Beijing to “support qualification efforts,” according to the IOC. But European athletes nabbed nearly 69% of 429 scholarships awarded by the IOC before the Beijing Games. African athletes took home around 4% of those 429 scholarships.
Only NOCs “whose athletes had a proven winter sports track record” had access to the program, the IOC said.
Meanwhile, 236 athletes (139 men and 97 women) who received these individual athlete scholarships eventually qualified to take part in the Games.
Athletes in Europe benefited the most from these scholarships, receiving more than $5 million. Athletes in Asia received $955,003, the Americas $944,917, Oceania got $441,000 and Africa $177,000.

European athletes received most funding from Olympic scholarships ahead of 2022 Winter Games

Of the $7.5 million in scholarships issued ahead of Beijing 2022, athletes from Europe collectively received more than $5 million while athletes in Africa received just $177,000, according to the 2017-2020 IOC Olympic Solidarity report.

Olympic Scholarships for athletes allocated to National Olympic Committee (NOC) ahead of Beijing 2022

Scholarships make up just a part of Olympic Solidarity assistance programs designed jointly by the IOC and NOCs, which also direct funds — derived from Olympic revenue — towards training of coaches, sports administrators and promoting the Olympic values, according to the IOC.
CNN has reached out to the IOC for a further breakdown of funding.

Racial diversity not reflected

On a national level, the composition of delegations often isn’t very racially diverse.
“There have been Black medalists from the US and Canada and from Germany. I don’t know of any other Black medalists except for those three countries,” Olympic historian Bill Mallon told CNN Sport.
Black athletes have proven crucial to Team USA’s Olympic and Paralympic success in the Summer Games.
But even as Black athletes won medals at Beijing — speedskater Erin Jackson brought home gold, while bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor became the most decorated Black athlete in Winter Olympics history — White athletes still made up the majority of Team USA at the Games this year.
Prior to Beijing, the US has only had around 25 Black hey dude representatives on all of their various Winter Olympic teams, with over half of them in bobsledding, according to Mallon.
In 1988, Debi Thomas became Team USA’s first Black Olympic Winter medalist, winning bronze in the ladies’ figure skating competition, and Vonetta Flowers became the first Black athlete to ever win gold in the Winter Games, when she drove to victory in the two-woman bobsled with Jill Bakken in 2002.
Hockey player Jarome Iginla became the first Black man to win gold at the same Games when Canada triumphed over the US.
Four years later, speedskater Shani Davis became the first African American athlete to win an individual gold medal in Turin, Italy.
Overall, there have been a relatively small number of Black figure skaters, and they have rarely excelled at the Olympic level. Though she demonstrated technical excellence in her routines, Black French skater Surya Bonaly never won an Olympic medal.
Surya Bonaly of France performs a backflip in her free skate routine in the women's Olympic figure skating in Nagano on February 20, 1998.

Bonaly performed a one-bladed backflip at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics — an illegal move that was perceived as an act of defiance to the judges — which she landed on one foot.
That move is still illegal and has never been tried since in an Olympic competition.
“They want to keep the girls pretty, in a special way,” Bonaly told CNN Sport as she reflected on her career. Though now, according to Bonaly, “people are changing and trying to challenge themselves, and try to have more personality in their own style. And that’s good. And it’s more accepted.”
Bonaly added: “Now, back then … you only came from one mold, one way.”
Black athletes are now prevalent in sliding sports: African American women comprise a majority of America’s Olympic bobsled team.
Nathan Chen skates during the Men's Free Skating program at Beijing 2022 on February 10, 2022.

Asian American athletes, including figure skater Nathan Chen and snowboarder Chloe Kim, have also had a commanding presence at this year’s Games.
Four of the six Team USA singles figure skaters were Asian American: Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Alysa Liu and Vincent Zhou. Madison Chock competed in the ice dancing event, while Abby Roque was the first Indigenous women’s hockey player in US team history.

Pay to play economics

Experts say that economics — not just talent — plays a huge part in whether athletes are able to participate in the Olympics.
“That notion of economics is very key because we’re looking at sports such as skiing, bobsledding, figure skating — and that equipment alone costs so much,” Akilah Carter-Francique, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change at San Jose State University told CNN Sport.
“Pay to play is not accessible to anyone but people with money,” Shireen Ahmed, senior contributor with CBC Sports, told CNN.
“It becomes not just a racialized issue, it’s a class issue, and those red wing boots two things go hand-in-hand. Not everybody’s going to be a working-class hero,” she said.
With stories of parents remortgaging their homes, working long hours and reducing expenses to facilitate their children’s Olympic dreams, it comes as no surprise that financial barriers in winter sports can be prohibitive.
Ghana’s first skeleton Olympian Akwasi Frimpong told CNN Sport that competing at an elite level costs around $250,000 a year, which would pay for a dedicated full-time sliding coach, a push coach, a strength and conditioning coach, physical therapist, a mechanic, sliding equipment, hotel, air travel, ground transportation and food.
“This does not include also having a family and a mortgage to pay,” he said, adding that sliding sports athletes would expect to pay $80,000 to compete in smaller, non-Olympic events, outside of the Olympic season.
Jamaica’s first Olympic alpine skier Alexander told CNN: “I’m competing with people that have been skiing since the age of two, ski racing since the age of four, and their parents have put $50,000 a year into their improvements while they were young.”
“And now, their national ski federation or local club is putting in $150,000-250,000 a year for their advancement,” he said.
In 2020, 58% of nearly 500 athletes surveyed by the athletes’ rights group Global Athlete said they did not consider themselves financially stable.
The athletes who participated in the survey hailed from 48 countries. 44% were actively competing with sport as their primary profession and 31% of the athletes were Olympians.
Shiva Keshavan, a six-time Olympian and India’s only Olympic competitor in luge in the 2018 Winter Games told CNN that European delegations, which have a better system of recruitment and employment for athletes, dominate Olympic winter sports.
“Athletes that come from developing sport nations generally have more of a challenge because you don’t have the systems in place that enable a successful career.
“Often, athletes are having to deal with training with less, with worse equipment or having to do their own logistics and, sometimes, without a coach,” he added.
Many elite skiers, snowboarders and ice skaters take expensive private lessons, hire coaches or attend private schools to facilitate their training as they’re growing up.
Bode Miller — the most decorated US Olympic skier, with one gold, three silver and two bronze medals — attended Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine on a scholarship and said in 2021 that he “wouldn’t have been able to go if not for generous people in my small town of Franconia.”
Parents with means can expect to pay as much as $64,050 to send their children to the academy, which boasts that it has “earned more Olympic medals for skiing and snowboarding than some small countries.”
Privately educated athletes constituted 30.3% of athletes who participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Public Health.
The study analyzed sociodemographic data for all athletes representing Canada, the US, Great Britain and Australia in Sochi. 94.9% of winter athletes were White.
“If your parents ski, almost certainly, you will ski,” Alexander told CNN.
“If we look at minorities in America or in England, most of them are first- or second-generation immigrants, so they don’t have as much disposable income as their White counterparts,” Alexander said.
Adding that he doesn’t think” winter sports are racist at all,” Alexander says diversity will continue to grow in winter sports.
“I just think that as more and more minorities get equal treatment, get equal pay, and as more and more minorities spread out from urban centers by virtue of technology … then I believe the tide will turn.”
In a statement sent to CNN, the IOC said it “fully supports diversity and inclusion in the Olympic Games, as well as clear and fair qualification systems that apply equally to all athletes wishing to qualify for the Olympic Games.”
“We have to strike a balance between attracting the best athletes in the world and universality,” it added.
“Some sports in all reality are more accessible,” James Macleod, IOC Director of Olympic Solidarity and National Olympic Committees Relations told CNN Sport, referencing running the 100 meters.
“But you can’t sail a sailing boat tomorrow, unless you’ve got access to one, or ride a horse or ski down a mountain. And there’s factors in that that are socio-economic, that are political, that are climate driven,” he said.
“And that’s not something that us at the IOC are going to change.
“All sports have different levels of access,” Macleod said, adding that this is something the international federations of each sport “tries to look at.”
The IOC said that qualification systems are developed and put in place by international federations “to ensure a fair and credible process for athletes to qualify for the Olympic Games according to their sports’ structures and priorities.”
“Collectively, the qualification systems allow diversity at the Olympic Winter Games, however, this is not necessarily reflected at each discipline level in every sport,” it added.

Infrastructure challenges

Winter sports infrastructure is well established in some parts of Asia — notably in Japan, South Korea and China. But it remains an “unexplored market” in India, Keshavan said.
“For India, a country that has a lot more natural resources for winter sports, compared to China, or Japan or Korea because of the Himalayan Mountain range, it is a big opportunity.
“We don’t really have the kind of infrastructure: ski resorts, big sports facilities,” he said.
This year, a single athlete, Mohammad Arif Khan, represented India’s nearly 1.4 billion people, having qualified in the slalom and giant slalom events.
Khan finished 45th in the giant slalom. India has never won a medal at the Winter Games and does not have a prominent winter sports federation, Keshavan told CNN Sport.
Shiva Keshavan of India reacts following run 3 during the Luge Men's Singles on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

“Of course, it is more difficult for athletes from these countries to train at an elite level because you need access to a certain standard of ice quality which is maintained. You need to have modified slopes, you need to have certain equipment,” he said.
“Skiers from India and Pakistan, even all over Southeast Asia, Oceania, have to travel and go to Europe for training,” he added.
Athletes and politicians alike are hopeful that South Asia will become a winter sports destination: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan recently expressed optimism that the northern city of Skardu would turn into a world winter sports destination in years to come.
Frimpong, the Olympian from Ghana, told CNN that people don’t necessarily see the lack of diversity in winter sports as illogical because many countries get little to no snow.
“But that doesn’t matter,” he explained. For six months of the year, skeleton athletes can train in pushing the sled, he said.
“You can do most of that in your own country in Africa. We do track and field training, we do weightlifting, I’ll be able to test for three, four months at a time in areas where there are tracks. It’s not like it’s impossible,” he said.
“Infrastructure is not something that the IOC invests in,” Macleod told CNN adding: “That’s within the remit of the national government.”
“Often, when we have this discussion about African participation and in winter sports, the reality is that within African countries, there is not the infrastructure,” Macleod said.
“We as the IOC are not going to start building ice rinks across Africa — that is not something that is in our mission. That has to come through the national governments, but the programs that we offer are grassroots and talent identification programs,” he added.
“Each of the 206 National Olympic Committees in the world has different priorities. When a NOC looks at our programs or looks at their own development opportunities, they will say, ‘Actually, we’re not going to invest in winter sports because that’s not a priority for us.’
“‘We’re going to invest in athletics, rowing or whatever.’ And they will always have to make that choice of where they’re going to put their funding and what programs from our side they’re going to apply for,” he said.
“We put at the disposal of our stakeholders — whether it’s NOCs or the IFs (international federations) — a range of opportunities, but we are not going to go into a country and say this has got to be your priority. They are going to decide on their own priorities,” he said.

Representation matters

Carter-Francique told CNN that while the Olympics is billed as an opportunity for all to participate, this is not reflected in delegations’ final offerings.
“For many, the key to involvement in a particular sport is seeing yourself,” she added.
In winter sports especially, there are a lack of development programs to encourage underserved communities to participate, said Carter-Francique.
“If you don’t see yourself as a representative in that space, the likelihood that you would push to try to enter a space and be the first or be the only is one that not many people would do,” she added.
Some sports, like soccer, basketball, and even tennis, are more accessible because training facilities and equipment can be cheaper, Carter-Francique said.
“But the opportunity to access a ski resort, a figure skating rink, a bobsled facility — and have the bobsled — is very limited in general,” she added.
Ahmed also points to an absence of Muslim representation in the Winter Olympics, which is contrary to the Summer Games.
“We see a general trend in … Summer Games — you’ve got Central Asian athletes doing a lot of weightlifting. You’ve got Middle Eastern women doing judo, judokas, or karate, artists and athletes,” Ahmed added.

Ditching continental quotas a step backwards for inclusion

Frimpong and Nigeria’s Simidele Adeagbo became the first African skeleton racers to compete at PyeongChang 2018 following the introduction of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation’s (IBSF) continental quota system.
But the IBSF and the IOC opted to revoke the continental quota for the Beijing Games — something coaches had warned would deliver a “crushing blow” to African athletes hoping to participate in winter sports.
Coaches Brian McDonald and Zach Lund warned the IOC in a December 30, 2021 email seen by CNN that “inequitable quotas that didn’t take into account the massive hurdles African athletes must clear in order to train and aspire to be Winter Olympians.
“The dream of so many Africans to watch and be inspired by fellow Africans competing in the Winter Olympic Games will bear long-lasting fruit for Olympic sport,” they wrote.
Akwasi Frimpong of Ghana starts his men's skeleton training session at the Olympic Sliding Centre, during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 12, 2018.

Simidele Adeagbo of Nigeria reacts as she finishes a run during the Women's Skeleton on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 17, 2018.

“An exclusion will be a crushing blow to African athletes who worked so hard and who dared to dream what once seemed impossible,” they added in the email.
The quota for sliding sports was removed ahead of Beijing — a decision which directly affected Frimpong.
“Giving an athlete a quota place, which is not according to the qualification criteria, would consequently imply the exclusion of another athlete qualified in the current qualification system,” an IOC representative told Frimpong’s coaches in a January 12 email seen by CNN.
“I qualified as Ghana’s first skeleton Olympian, and the first Black male skeleton athlete ever in history at the Olympic Games, both in the world as well as for Africa,” Frimpong told CNN.
Frimpong was 99th in world rankings ahead of PyeongChang and qualified through the quota system.
“Now, I am 36 points higher than I was, which means I am 63 on the world ranking. I needed to be in the top 60 which is the prerequisite to qualify for this Olympic Games — to be able to qualify outright,” he told CNN.
On December 29, hoping to compete in three final races and obtain enough points to make the top 60, Frimpong tested positive for Covid-19 and was unable to compete. He did not qualify for the Winter Olympics.
Frimpong said his pre-Covid rating meant “I could possibly almost qualify outright, meaning that I am as good — maybe not as good as the gold medalist or the top 10 Europeans or whatsoever — but I’m good enough to be in the world class sport that is dominated by Europeans, westerners.”
Frimpong said his coaches emailed the IOC asking them to reinstate a continental quota for all winter sports “for qualified African athletes who can safely compete.”
“We’re not asking them to take away a spot from any other nations, we’re not asking them to give us a free way, or a free card.
“But if there are African athletes in winter sports that are close to qualifying, which means they are competitive and qualified and can safely compete, that quota should be in place until there’s enough African athletes,” he added.
In a statement sent to CNN, the IBSF confirmed that the continental quota spot was not included in the Olympic Qualification System for Beijing 2022.
“To address Emerging Nations and their needs, the IBSF established a wider Development Program which focused as mentioned on Emerging Nations but equally on gender equity in supporting athletes on their qualification pathway to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022,” the organization said in a statement.
No athlete representing an African NOC has ever won a medal.
“We were looking forward to seeing more and more Africans compete in 2022. And now it’s less than half, or at least half of what it was in 2018, so it’s disappointing. The message is clear that inclusiveness is not a priority,” Frimpong added.
But there is hope — even if only for a select few athletes.
American bobsledder Meyers Taylor’s bronze in the two-woman bobsled on Saturday gave the 37-year-old her fifth Olympic medal as she surpassed Davis’ four. Meyers Taylor is now the most decorated woman Olympic bobsledder ever.
When asked about passing Davis’ record saying, she said: “That is overwhelming. It’s so crazy to hear that stat and to know that I’m part of a legacy that’s bigger than me. Hopefully, it just encourages more and more Black athletes to come out to winter sports and not just Black athletes, winter sports for everybody.
“We want everybody to come out regardless of the color of your skin. We want winter sports to be for everybody, regardless of race, regardless of socio-economic class. I think the more diversity we have, the stronger our sport can be.
“So, hopefully, this is just the start of more and more people coming out and trying winter sports.”

Thousands left homeless and hungry at Christmas as Philippines faces up to climate crisis reality of super typhoon

Usually, Jay Lacia wakes at midnight on Christmas Day to start the festivities — but this year, all he wished for was enough food to eat.

“We always celebrated Christmas, but for now, it’s too hard,” the 27-year-old father of one said, as he sat among rubble in the typhoon-hit city of Surigao, at the northeastern tip of Mindanao in the Philippines.
Broken wood, scraps of metal, and plastic waste line the shore, where an exhausted stray dog sleeps. The stench of waste and dead fish engulf the air.
More than a week after Super Typhoon Rai — known locally as Odette — slammed into hoka shoes for women the Philippines, Lacia has given up trying to salvage whatever is left of his home. Not a single house stands anymore in his village on nearby Dinagat Island.
“Everything was gone, including my house,” Lacia said. “The roof, and any wood that we built with, was gone.”
Jay Lacia sits among crumbled homes, fallen trees and broken power cables. He lost everything when Super Typhoon Rai hit the Philippines on December 16.

Nobody expected the wrath Rai would unleash when it struck the archipelago on December 16. It was the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, killing nearly 400 people, while displacing hundreds of thousands more.
The Philippines experiences several typhoons a year, but the climate crisis has caused storms to become more unpredictable and extreme — while leaving the nation’s poorest most vulnerable.
Families like Lacia’s lost everything. And now, they face the nearly impossible task of rebuilding their homes without enough food to eat or water to drink.
“We thought we were safe because we tied up our house. We thought that was enough to keep it from collapsing,” he said. “We put a weight on our roof to keep it from being blown away. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.”

Homeless at Christmas

Nearly 4 million people across more than 400 cities were affected by Typhoon Rai, according to the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
More than half a million remained displaced during Christmas — one of the most important holidays in the Catholic-majority nation.
“Families have nothing,” Jerome Balinton, humanitarian manager for Save the Children said. “Bright lights and Christmas music is replaced with dirty, humid evacuation centers. Their only wish this Christmas is to survive.”
Jovelyn Paloma Sayson, 35, from Surigao City evacuated to her community’s parish church before Rai struck. Her hoka shoes fragile hut made from wood, plastic and metal, did not withstand the storm’s powerful gusts of wind.
“The roofs of every house were flying everywhere,” the mother of seven said as she sat amid the ruins of her home. “Our house was the first one to collapse. First the roof flew off. Then the foundation crumbled. After my house was destroyed, my mother’s house collapsed.”
All of the family’s food was destroyed by floods. Their stock of rice — a staple for the Southeast Asian country — was floating in muddy water next to broken pieces of wood. Sayson’s children’s clothes are ruined from the rain, and her furniture reduced to fragments.
Sayson’s kitchen appliances were stolen in the aftermath. She cannot afford to rebuild from scratch, she said.
“We need money to rebuild our house,” she said. “We are not dreaming of having a mansion. All we want is to have our own house to live in so that our children are safe.”
Despite the trauma, her family still gathered to celebrate the holiday.
“We had nothing to eat,” Sayson said. “Someone gave us sliced bread, and canned goods. Even though we are poor, we have a party every Christmas.”
Residents salvage what's left of their damaged homes following Typhoon Rai in Cebu, central Philippines on December 17, 2021.

Prolonged displacement and suffering

More than 1,000 temporary shelters have been set up to house those whose homes have crumbled, according to the NDRRMC.
For many of the displaced families, the trauma and suffering is unbearable.
Alvin Dumduma, Philippines project manager for aid group Humanity and Inclusion, said it’s “exhausting” for families to try and rebuild their homes “while starving and thirsty.”
Cramped inside unsanitary evacuation centers with no running water, he is concerned about the potential spread of diseases, including Covid-19.
“The conditions in the evacuation centers are far from ideal. It’s unhygienic. Thousands are sleeping under one roof with no clean water,” he added. “Children aren’t going to school. There is no electricity either. They will be stuck like this for a long time.”
Dumduma said the disaster has also devastated these families’ livelihoods.
Toppled electrical posts line a street in Cebu, central Philippines, after Typhoon Rai on December 17, 2021.
“Many are from fishing or farming communities whose boats and land have been destroyed,” he said. “They will struggle a lot to build back their business.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the government will raise money for the rehabilitation and recovery of typhoon-ravaged areas. The United Nations has also promised more than $100 million in aid.
But Dumduma said much more needs to change at government level to avoid such devastation from future storms.
“Chaos unfolded because the government was not prepared. They must strengthen their disaster and response program,” he said. “We need more training, more preparation and early action.”
CNN has reached out to the NDRRMC for comment but did not hear back before publication.
Motorists speed past fallen coconut trees at the height of Super Typhoon Rai along a highway in Del Carmen town, Siargao island on December 20, 2021.

Effects of the climate crisis

Located along the typhoon belt in the western Pacific Ocean, the Philippines regularly experiences big storms — but the climate crisis has caused these events to become more extreme and unpredictable.
As the climate crisis worsens, cyclones are becoming more intense and destructive. Rai evolved olukai shoes rapidly from the equivalent of a Category 1 to a Category 5 storm in just 24 hours, packing winds of up to 260 kilometers (160 miles) per hour.
And the country was not prepared for a disaster of this scale.
Kairos Dela Cruz, deputy head of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said developing countries are reaching their limit of being able to handle natural disasters on their own and those that live in low-lying, coastal areas will soon lose their homes to rising sea levels.
A study published in November by researchers at the Shenzhen Institute of Meteorological Innovation and the Chinese University of Hong Kong found typhoons in Asia could have double their destructive power by the end of the century. They already last between two and nine hours longer and travel an average of 100 kilometers (62 miles) further inland than they did four decades ago.
Rescuers help residents over floodwaters caused by Typhoon Rai as they are evacuated to higher ground in Cagayan de Oro City, southern Philippines on December 16, 2021.

The climate crisis also exposes systemic problems in the Philippines, Dela Cruz said.
“We need more resources to help us and (we should) play a stronger role internationally to push for more climate finance,” he said.
According to Dela Cruz, a storm of Rai’s scale in December is unusual for the Philippines, which usually experiences typhoons from June to September.
For Alita Sapid, 64, the effects of the climate crisis are clearly visible.
“We have had typhoons before, but this was extremely strong,” she said of Rai. Sapid stayed at home in Surigao with her husband, daughter, and four grandchildren when the typhoon hit, but as the water seeped in, they decided it was time to evacuate.
Alita Sapid's roof blew off her family's home during Typhoon Rai.

“I told my husband to get out of here because we might die here,” she said. “My grandchildren had to crawl on the roads because the wind was so strong.”
The roof of Sapid’s home is completely destroyed. With nowhere to go and no money for now, the family have no choice but to sleep in their exposed home — whatever is left of it.
“Aside from thinking about what we were going to prioritize in the repair, we are also thinking about how we can get our food,” she said.
“We have not received any help yet. We are just waiting for someone to help us.”

A long road to recovery

Lacia, from Dinagat Island, will relocate with his wife and child to Surigao. It is safer there, he said.
“My neighbors are no longer (in Dinagat). Most of them have left because there is nothing left in our neighborhood,” he said.
All he has left to his name are some matchsticks, a box of rice, dried fish, and canned goods.
“In my family, we really need help so we can rise again and return to our livelihood,” Lacia said.

Activists arrive at COP26 with strong messages urging swift climate action



Friday’s protest took place against the backdrop of the United Nations’ climate summit, COP26, which began Oct. 31 and runs through Nov. 12. The aim of the conference is for negotiators from countries worldwide to agree on plans to prevent global temperatures rising beyond 1.5 degrees celsius. Inside the summit, less than a mile down the road from the protest, delegates and negotiators were taking part in youth day.

“Wherever I have been in the world, I sperry shoes have been struck by the passion and the commitment of young people to climate action,” said COP26 President Alok Sharma. “The voices of young people must be heard and reflected in these negotiations here at COP.”

It was out on the street where young people were making their voices heard. They carried signs with slogans like, “You’ll die of old age. I’ll die of climate change” and, “I’m missing my lessons to teach you a lesson.”

The march began at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow’s West End around midday, where protestors kicked up autumn leaves as they began their two-mile walk to the city-center rally. Some of the young people marching were delegates at the summit but had chosen to take part in the march rather than head to the conference center on Friday.

“We’re happy to be at the strikes, because we’re finally feeling like we’re doing something … whereas inside the Blue Zone it hasn’t been the case at all,” said 19-year-old Lia Jimenez, a student from France, who was referring to the summit’s main venue.

“Actually this is the real youth empowerment,” said Selma Vincent, also 19. “Today’s supposed to be youth empowerment, but the youth isn’t actually being listened to properly [or] included in the decision making processes.”

Thunberg spoke last at the event, emerging to rapturous cheering and applause. As soon as she began her speech, the square descended into total silence. “The people in power can continue to live in their bubble filled with … fantasies like eternal growth on a finite planet and technological solutions that will suddenly bluetooth headphones appear seemingly out of nowhere and will erase all of these crises just like that,” she said. “Leaders are not leading.”

Alongside Thunberg, Indigenous speakers from Brazil, Ecuador and Guatemala asked the crowd to help them protect the Amazon rainforest and the spaces their people have occupied for centuries.

Speakers from Colombia talked about how the country was the most dangerous in the world to be a climate activist, and paid homage to people who’d been assassinated while battling to protect the environment. Representatives from Fridays for Future read out testimonies from young Afghan activists who’d been evacuated from the country after being persecuted by the Taliban.

Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate gave a speech painting a picture of a world in which climate justice had taken hold. “Three things should stay with us as we continue to organize and mobilize and strike and speak up and demand for climate justice,” she said. “That is: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these things is love. Because when we continue to love the people, when we continue to love the planet, that will be the strength we need to fight for a future that is sustainable, that is healthy, that is clean and equitable for all of us.”

Greta Thunberg slams COP26 climate summit, calling it a ‘PR event’

At a rally in Glasgow, Scotland, during the UN climate conference there, the Swedish activist declares COP26 a failure and a “celebration of business as usual.”


Greta Thunberg at a rally in Glasgow.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed an audience of thousands in Glasgow, Scotland, on Friday, telling them that the COP26 climate change summit taking place in the city this week was a PR exercise and a failure.

“COP26 has been named salomon boots the most exclusionary COP ever,” she said at the rally in the city’s George Square. “This is no longer a climate conference. This is now a global North greenwash festival, a two-week long celebration of business as usual, and blah, blah, blah.”

She added that leaders knew they were actively creating loopholes and frameworks that would continue to benefit them without solving the climate crisis. The conference has become “a PR event where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets, while behind the curtains the governments of the global North countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action” she said.

The 18-year-old Thunberg spoke following a protest where local children joined with activists from around the world to walk across the city as part of the Fridays for Future climate strike. They were advocating for climate justice, a movement that sees the climate crisis as not just a scientific problem but also an issue of social injustice. The group advocates in favor of those who are suffering the worst as a result of climate change.

John Kerry: COP26 is creating ‘more climate ambition than the world has ever seen’

The US climate envoy says he’s heading to the Glasgow summit as an “optimist.”

John Kerry, the US special envoy for climate, calls COP26 the “last, best chance” for solve the climate crisis.

With four days to go until the UN climate summit known as COP26, John Kerry, the US special envoy for climate, has already declared the conference a success — at least when it comes to ambition.

“Glasgow has already summoned more climate ambition than the world has ever seen,” said Kerry, speaking at an event at the London School of Economics on Thursday. “And in that regard, Glasgow has achieved success.”

Kerry has already called COP26, which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, the world’s “last, best chance” to solve the climate crisis. The goal of the summit is to gather the world’s leaders together to support the goal of hoka shoes ensuring temperature change remains “well below” the 2 degrees Celsius agreed to by UN signatories in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Kerry conceded that not all of the world’s countries are fully aligned with what the science says they must do to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis, but added that more countries than ever before are stepping up. He had previously stated that he thought it was possible that countries may not be able to meet the target for cutting fossil fuel emissions at the summit, but said on Thursday that he’s heading into Glasgow “an optimist.”

The former US secretary of state spoke of how being in public life meant making hard decisions every day, where cost and benefit are often closely balanced. “This, my friends, is not a hard choice,” he said. “Addressing the climate crisis is the only choice, and in every way, the cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of action.”

Reiterating President Biden’s commitment to helping developing countries meet climate targets with a $100 billion fund and increasing support sixfold by 2024, Kerry said it’s important for wealthy countries to stand together with those in the most vulnerable nations. “They did not create this crisis, but they and their people are on the front lines,” he said.

Without equitable, inclusive adaptation plans, said Kerry, it may be that 150 million people a year by 2030 need international humanitarian assistance as a result of climate-related disasters. If those plans are put in place, that number could be hey dude shoes cut to 10 million by 2050 — which, he conceded, is still “too many.”

Kerry also spoke of his own roots as a climate activist back in the 1970s, and “having doors slammed in my face.” He appealed to today’s young climate activists to not let the fight stop after COP26.

“Glasgow is the new beginning of this decisive decade,” he said. “The day after Glasgow, we need you to keep this fight going. And together my friends, let’s get this done. It’s doable.”

How to meet America’s climate goals: 5 policies for Biden’s next climate bill

<span class="caption">President Joe Biden wanted to have a clear plan before the U.N. climate conference starting Oct. 31 in Scotland.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/president-joe-biden-speaks-about-his-bipartisan-news-photo/1349024147" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images">Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images</a></span>
President Joe Biden wanted to have a clear plan before the U.N. climate conference.

President Joe Biden’s new climate strategy, announced after his original plan crumbled under opposition in Congress, will represent a historic investment in clean energy technology and infrastructure if it is enacted. But it is still not likely to be enough to meet the administration’s emissions reduction goals for 2030.

As director of the Fletcher School’s Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University, I analyze ways governments can manage climate change.

As the new plan comes together, and the steve madden shoes administration considers future steps, here are five types of policies that can help get the United States on track to achieve its climate targets. Together they would reassure the world that the United States can honor its climate commitments; help stave off the effects of a carbon border tax planned in Europe; and, if designed right, position U.S. workers and firms for the low-carbon economy of the 21st century.

Industrial policy

The United States’ ability to compete in low-carbon and resilience technologies such as energy storage has eroded over the past two decades.

Part of the problem has been the political impasse in Washington over clean energy and climate policies. Over the past 20 years, tax credits, loan guarantees and regulations have started and stopped, depending on the political whims of whoever is in power in Congress and the White House. U.S. companies have gone bankrupt while waiting for markets to materialize.

Meanwhile, European companies, with backing from their investment and development banks, and Chinese companies have surged ahead, using their home markets to demonstrate new technologies and build industries. Wind turbines are a good example. European companies, led by Denmark’s Vestas, controlled 43% of the wind turbine market globally in 2018, and China controlled 30%. By contrast, the United States accounted for only 10%.

I believe the United States as a country needs to make choices about where it has comparative advantage, and then the federal government can chart a clear course forward to develop those industries and compete in those global markets. Will it be electric vehicles? Electricity storage? Technology for adaptation such as sea wall construction, flood control or wildfire management? Independent advice could be provided to the administration and Congress, perhaps by the National Academies of Science, and then Congress could authorize an investment plan to conditionally support these industries.

Tempting as it is to support all technologies, public dollars are scarce. Companies that receive subsidies must be held accountable with performance requirements, and taxpayers should get a return when those companies succeed.

Two men standing on a slanted roof preparing to install a solar panel
Workers install solar panels on a Virginia church. 

As part of industrial policy, officials also need to squarely face up to the fact that some workers, states, cities and towns with industries closely tied to fossil fuels are vulnerable in the transition to cleaner energy.

On an expert panel convened by the National Academies of Science and recent study, colleagues and I recommended that the government establish a national transition corporation to provide support and opportunities for displaced workers and affected communities. These dr martens boots communities will need to diversify their economies and their tax bases. Regional planning grants, loans and other investments can help them pivot their economies to industries that contribute less to climate change. Establishing a U.S. infrastructure bank or green bank to fund low-emissions and resilience projects could help finance these investments.

Equally important is investing in the workforce needed for a low-carbon economy. The government can subsidize the development of programs at colleges and universities to serve this economy and provide scholarships for students.

Fiscal tools

Other policies can help generate the revenue needed to support the transition to a clean economy.

Obviously, removing subsidies for fossil fuel industries is a crucial step forward. One analysis estimated, conservatively, that the U.S. provides about US billion a year in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industries. Estimates of indirect subsidies are much higher.

Tax reform can also help, such as replacing some individual and corporate income taxes with a carbon tax. This policy tool would tax the carbon in fuels, creating an incentive for companies and consumers to reduce use of fuels with the greatest impact on the climate. To avoid overburdening low-income households, the government could reduce income taxes on lower-income households or provide a dividend check.

Tax credits, loan guarantees, government procurement rules and investments in innovation are all useful tools and can shape markets for American companies. But these fiscal policy tools should not be permanent, and they should be phased down as technology costs come down.

Investing in markets as well as innovation

The government has the ability to both “push” and “pull” climate technologies into the marketplace. Government investments in research and human capital are “push”-type policies, because supporting research ensures that smart people will keep moving into the field.

The government can also “pull” in technologies by creating vibrant markets for them, which will provide further incentives to innovation and spur widespread deployment. Carbon taxes and emissions trading systems can create predictable markets for industry because they hey dude provide long-term market signals that let companies know what to expect for years ahead, and they at least partially account for a product’s damage to the environment.

An electric vehicle charging next to an EVs-only parking space
Electric vehicles are among the examples of a new market.

While the United States is investing in clean-energy research, development and demonstration, it has been less successful than China or Europe – both of which have emissions trading systems – in developing predictable, durable markets.

Performance standards

A tried-and-true U.S. policy tool is the use of performance standards. These standards limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions per unit, such as fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles, energy efficiency standards for appliances and industrial equipment, and building efficiency standards at the state level. Fuel economy standards on automobiles since 1975 have saved about 2 trillion gallons of gas and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 14 gigatons, roughly three times the country’s annual emissions from energy in 2020.

Performance standards give companies the flexibility to find the best way to comply, which can also fuel innovation. The Biden administration could develop new performance standards in each major emitting sector – vehicles, power plants and buildings. Federally imposed building codes, which are set at the state and local levels, would be a difficult political lift.

The laws that established the government’s authority to set standards, such as the Clean Air Act and Energy Policy Act, have some ambiguities that can leave standards vulnerable to court challenge, however. Legal challenges have led to a zigzag in regulations in some sectors, most obviously the power sector.

Nature-based solutions and state legislation

A final area where policy is needed is for nature-based solutions. These might be fiscal incentives for restoring forests, which store carbon, or protecting existing lands from development, or they might be regulations.

Laws and regulations at the state level can also be enormously powerful in changing the U.S. emissions trajectory.

Biden’s Plan B

The centerpiece of Biden’s original climate plan was a program designed to reward and pressure utilities to shift electricity production away from fossil fuels faster. With the Senate split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin’s opposition sank the plan.

The Biden administration’s new Plan B has a number of heroic assumptions and relies heavily on fiscal and regulatory tools, along with lots of state-level actions.

Missing from Plan B is the emphasis on innovation and industrial policy, both of which might have a larger impact on U.S. emissions. The elephant in the room that cannot be ignored is that the United States needs a climate bill that puts its targets for reducing emissions by 2030 and 2050 into law, gives the right government agencies the authority to set policies and addresses industrial and workforce needs.

What Iceland’s landmark carbon removal project means for the fight against climate change

When the world’s biggest facility for sucking carbon dioxide out of the air and burying it underground opened in rural Iceland last week, it may have sounded like a miracle cure for climate change had finally arrived.

But while the first commercial carbon removal and sequestration factory represents a breakthrough in the goal of achieving net-zero global emissions by midcentury — as well as a beacon for eventually removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere — the technology steve madden shoes won’t be economically viable on a wide scale for some time. Crucially, scientists say, it will prevent catastrophic climate change only if it is used in addition to, rather than instead of, massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other technologies that are cheaper.

“It’s a baby step, but it’s a baby step that will be remembered if the industry ever develops into a mature industry,” David Morrow, the director of research for the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy at American University, told Yahoo News.

The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Hellisheidi, Iceland, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Startups Climeworks AG and Carbfix are working together to store carbon dioxide removed from the air deep underground to reverse some of the damage CO2 emissions are doing to the planet.
The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland. 

First, it’s important to understand what carbon removal is for, and how it differs from the older and more widely deployed technology of carbon capture. Carbon capture occurs when emissions are captured at the source — a coal-fired power plant’s smokestack, for example. The CO2 can then be either reused for something else or, if the goal is fighting climate change, stored underground. There are already natural gas processing plants in Wyoming and Texas, for example, that capture millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually and inject the gas into oil fields to force the oil toward wells. (The net result of that process is lower emissions, but not low enough to reach the targets that the Intergovernmental ecco shoes Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, says are needed.)

The new plant in Iceland, on the other hand, performs the more challenging task of finding carbon in the atmosphere and removing it.

So far, though, the Icelandic plant is on pace to remove only 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. For comparison, the United States’ net emissions in 2019 were 5.8 billion metric tons. And while Climeworks, the Swiss company that built the factory, is selling credits to companies such as Microsoft that want to go carbon-neutral, it currently costs the plant $600 to $800 per ton of carbon removed from the atmosphere — more than 10 times what carbon offsets trade for on the market.

Carbon removal is a very energy-intensive process. In Iceland, abundant geothermal energy is cheap and clean, but in the U.S., which still burns fossil fuels to generate electricity and heat, the carbon footprint of removing carbon currently could be as much as one-quarter of the carbon removed.

The &#39;Orca&#39; direct air capture and storage facility, operated by Climeworks AG, in Hellisheidi, Iceland, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (Arnaldur Halldorsson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The ‘Orca’ direct air capture and storage facility, operated by Climeworks AG, in Hellisheidi, Iceland, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. 

But experts say that doesn’t mean carbon removal won’t be viable by the time it’s relevant. “It’s hard to extrapolate from this very early plant to what the technology might look like 10, 20, 30 years from now,” Morrow said.

That is when carbon removal may really be needed. According to the IPCC, staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming — the level that scientists say would begin a cascade of catastrophes — requires reaching net-zero emissions by midcentury. nike sneakers Carbon can be removed from the air through natural means, like planting trees, but at this point the science increasingly suggests there will also be a need for projects that perform “direct air capture” of carbon, such as the one in Iceland.

Currently, the money that would be spent on sucking carbon from the air using fossil fuel sources of energy would deliver greater environmental benefit if it was spent on replacing those fossil fuels with solar or wind energy, electrifying cars and so on.

Once a transition to renewable sources of energy is undertaken, getting from a low-carbon economy to a net-zero or even net-negative emissions economy is where carbon removal comes in. It could compensate for sources of climate pollution that are the hardest to eliminate, such as agriculture or airplanes, and even reverse the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere, so that if the world blows past 1.5 degrees Celsius, it could eventually get back under it.

Wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm in Whitewater, California on June 3, 2021. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm in Whitewater, California on June 3, 2021. 

“Are negative emissions important? Absolutely. It’s almost going to be impossible to get to absolute zero [emissions], that’s why people talk about net zero,” said Howard J. Herzog, a senior research engineer at the MIT Energy Initiative. But, he cautioned, “negative emissions are not a substitute for reducing emissions. [We] have to reduce emissions as much as we can.”

There are already promising signs of prices coming down and the amount of carbon that can be removed by one plant going up, scientists say.

Climate scientists say that, while the world decarbonizes, the price and energy efficiency of carbon removal could improve dramatically. Climeworks units that extract carbon are being built one at a time. “If you imagine a car company trying to build their cars by hand, each one is going to be very expensive, nike store but their goal is to mass-produce these things,” said Morrow.

“What you see in a new technology is, they’re not terribly efficient, but you have the potential to get 20 times more efficient before you run into the laws of physics,” said Klaus Lackner, director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions. “In a way, direct air capture is much better positioned than renewable energy was in the ’60s and ’70s. [Wind and solar] were 100 times too expensive, and they came down the learning curve and did it. Direct air capture is 10 times too expensive.”

Ultimately, the deployment of these technologies will depend on politics as much as science. Carbon capture and storage at the source of emissions is cheaper than carbon removal from the atmosphere. The reason the former hasn’t been adopted on every coal-fired or gas-fired power plant is political: As long as it’s free to dump your carbon pollution into the air, that’s what utilities will do.

“You need a regulatory framework that says you must not dump CO2 in the atmosphere,” said Lackner. “If you don’t have that, of course it’s always cheaper to ignore the problem.”

Climate Change Batters the West Before Summer Even Begins

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, where temperatures have soared past 115 degrees this brooks shoes week and doctors are warning that people can get third-degree burns from the sizzling asphalt.

At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water.

In Texas, electricity grids are under strain as residents crank their air-conditioners, with utilities begging customers to turn off appliances to help avert blackouts. In Arizona, Montana and Utah, wildfires are blazing.

And it’s not even summer yet.

“We’re still a long way out from the peak of the wildfire season and the peak of the dry season,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Things are likely to get worse before they get better.”

Global warming, driven by the burning skechers shoes of fossil fuels, has been heating up and drying out the American West for years. Now the region is broiling under a combination of a drought that is the worst in two decades and a record-breaking heat wave.

“The Southwest is getting hammered by climate change harder than almost any other part of the country, apart from perhaps coastal cities,” said Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan. “And as bad as it might seem today, this is about as good as it’s going to get if we don’t get global warming under control.”

With temperatures expected to keep rising as nations struggle to rein in their planet-warming emissions, the Western United States will need to take difficult and costly measures to adapt. That includes redesigning cities to endure punishing heat, conserving water and engineering grids that don’t fail during extreme weather.

This month has offered glimpses of whether states and cities are up to that task and has shown they still have far to go.

From Montana to Southern California, much of the West is suffering from unusually high temperatures. Some 50 million Americans face heat-related warnings. Records have been tied or broken in places like Palm Springs, California, Salt Lake City and Billings, Montana.

As 115-degree temperatures cooked Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row Arts District on Tuesday, Timothy Medina, 58, was perched on a black metal platform 12 feet above hey dude the sidewalk, finishing the blue lettering of a sign for a coffee shop. “It’s brutal — that heat against the wall,” he said. “Let me take a quick swig of water.”

Construction workers, landscapers and outdoor painters like Medina have few options but to bear the heat. He wore jeans to avoid burning his skin, along with a long sleeve fluorescent yellow shirt and a $2 woven hat. But soon the heat was winning.

“I start feeling out of breath, fatigued,” he said.

Extreme heat is the clearest signal of global warming, and the most deadly. Last year, heat killed at least 323 people in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, a record by far.

Outdoor workers are particularly at risk, along with older people and anyone without adequate shelter or access to air conditioning.

Across the country, heat waves are becoming more frequent, lasting longer and occurring earlier in the year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Severe heat early in the spring can be especially dangerous because it catches people off guard, experts say.

Cities like Phoenix are struggling to keep up. While the city runs air-conditioned cooling centers, many were shut down last year amid the pandemic. And ensuring that the centers are accessible to everyone is a challenge.

Kayla and Richard Contreras, who sleep in a skechers outlet blue tent on a baking sidewalk in a homeless encampment near downtown Phoenix, said the cooling centers were not an option because they have a dog and they worried about leaving their belongings unattended in their tent.

They said they knew 10 homeless people who died in the heat last year.

Richard Contreras, 47, fills water bottles from the spigots of homes he walks by. Kayla Contreras, 56, said she saves food stamps to buy ice pops on the hottest days. “This is what keeps us alive,” she said, as she handed an orange pop to a friend. “I feel like I’m in hell.”

Sundown brings no relief. In Las Vegas, where the National Hockey League playoffs are taking place, forecasters expected the mercury to push past 100 degrees when the puck dropped Wednesday evening.

Last month, the Phoenix City Council approved $2.8 million in new climate spending, including creating a four-person Office of Heat Response and Mitigation.

“That’s a good start, but we’re clearly not doing enough yet,” said David Hondula, an Arizona State University scientist who studies heat’s consequences. Drastically reducing heat deaths would require adding trees and shade in underserved neighborhoods and increasing funding to help residents who need help with energy bills or who lack air conditioning, among other things, he said.

“Every one of these heat deaths should be preventable,” he said. “But it’s not just an engineering problem. It means tackling tough issues like poverty or homelessness. And the numbers suggest we’re moving in the wrong direction. Right now, heat deaths are increasing faster than population growth and aging.”

Severe heat waves also pose a challenge for power grids, particularly if operators don’t plan for them. Rising temperatures can reduce the efficiency of fossil-fuel generators, transmission lines and even solar panels at precisely the moment that demand soars.

This week, the Texas power grid was stretched near its limit as electricity demand set a June record just as several power plants were offline for repairs. golden goose sneakers Grid operators asked Texans to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees to conserve power.

Victor Puente, 47, stood Tuesday under the shade of the porch on his blue wooden home in Pueblo de Palmas, outside the border city of McAllen, Texas. He said he tries to shut off his air conditioner during the day to conserve energy, so that it might be available for sleeping.

“The last thing we need is to lose electricity for long stretches,” he said.

In California, where temperatures have hit 110 degrees, the grid operator has warned it may face challenges this summer, in part because droughts have reduced the capacity of the state’s hydroelectric dams.

Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, noted that strains on the grid illustrate the nonlinear effects of climate change. “Most people might not notice that it’s getting a bit hotter each year,” he said. “But then the temperature reaches a certain threshold and all of the sudden the grid goes down. There are a whole bunch of these thresholds built into our infrastructure.”

This spring, the American West has been ecco shoes in the grips of a severe drought that has been more widespread than at any point in at least 20 years, stretching from the Pacific Coast, across the Great Basin and desert Southwest, and up through the Rockies to the Northern Plains.

Droughts have long been a feature of the West. But global warming is making things worse, with rising temperatures drying out soils and depleting mountain snowpack that normally supply water during the spring and summer. Those parched soils, in turn, are amplifying this week’s heat wave, creating a blast more severe than it otherwise would be.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” said Swain of UCLA.

Dry conditions also suggest a potentially devastating fire season, coming a year after California, Oregon and Colorado saw unusually destructive blazes.

The drought has strained water supplies throughout the West, shriveling reservoirs. In one California lake, the water became so shallow that officials identified the wreckage of a plane that had crashed into the lake in 1986.

The Inverness Public Utility District in Marin County, California, will vote next week on whether to impose rationing for 1,100 customers, assigning each household a set amount of water. It would be a first for the town, which this past July asked residents to stop washing cars and filling swimming pools.

The drought has forced farmers to take drastic measures. Sheep and cattle ranchers are selling this year’s stock months early, and some dairy farmers are selling their cows rather than come up with the 50 gallons of water each animal needs per day. Farmers are planting fractions of their usual amount, or leaving part of their land fallow.

“We’ve been through droughts. This is one of the driest we can remember,” said Dan Errotabere, 66, whose family has grown fruits, vegetables and nuts near Fresno, California, for a century. He is keeping 1,800 acres fallow and cut back on garlic and tomatoes to divert water to almond and pistachio trees.

The effect on farms could cause supply issues and higher prices nationwide, said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. California produces two-thirds of the country’s fruit and one-third of its vegetables.

Many California farmers are already using micro-irrigation, drip hoses and other water conservation methods. “We’ve stretched every drop,” said Bill Diedrich, a fourth-generation farmer in Fresno County.

Agricultural communities are in peril if the crops and trees die without water.

“When you are operating a long-standing family farm, you don’t want to be the one to lose it,” said Eric Bream, the third generation in his family to hey dude shoes run a citrus farm in California’s Central Valley. Today he still has enough water. But “tomorrow everything could change on a dime.”

Elsewhere in the West, states are bracing for the prospect of further cutbacks.

Lake Mead, which was created when the Hoover Dam was finished in 1935, is at 36% capacity, as flows from the Colorado River have declined more quickly than expected. The federal government is expected to declare a shortage this summer, which would trigger a cut of about one-fifth of water deliveries to Arizona, and a much smaller reduction for Nevada, beginning next year.

Experts have long predicted this. The Colorado Basin has suffered through years of drought coupled with ever-increasing consumption, a result of population and economic growth as well as the expansion of agriculture, by far the largest user of water in the West.

“We need to stop thinking of drought as a temporary thing to get through,” said Felicia Marcus, a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Water in the West program, noting that global warming is expected to reduce the Colorado River’s flow even further.

Many cities have been preparing. Tucson, Arizona, is among the nation’s leaders in recycling wastewater, treating more than 30 million gallons per day for irrigation or firefighting. Cities and water districts in California are investing billions in infrastructure to store water during wet years to save for droughts.

Still, experts said, there’s a lot more that can be done, and it’s likely to be costly.

“The Colorado River basin is ground zero for climate-change impacts on water supplies in the U.S.,” said Kevin Moran at the Environmental Defense Fund. “We have to plan for the river that climate scientists tell us we’re probably gong to have, not the one we want.”