Balance/Sustainability — Green NGO Staff Members Launch Week of Action in May
Hundreds of workers from some of the nation’s largest environmental nonprofits joined forces on Friday to launch a week of action through May.
Workers represented by unions will fight for fair working conditions and a greener worker-led future, according to a press release from the groups.
“Earth Day to May Day” runs until May Day, International Workers’ Day, in what the groups describe as “unprecedented momentum in the green labor movement”.
Groups represented include Defenders of Wildlife, The Public Interest Network, Greenpeace USA, Sierra Club, and the Sunrise Movement, among others.
“There is undoubtedly a wave of union organizing across the country, which is also gripping workers in environmental organizations,” Zack Gerdes, president of the Progressive Workers Union and employee of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
“We know that to build a just transition to a greener and more peaceful future, we must also look within and strengthen the systems and policies that guide our organizations,” added Gerdes.
welcome to balance, a newsletter that follows the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. We are Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin. Send us tips and feedback. Subscribe here.
On this Earth Day, we will head to Europe, where officials are urging their citizens to take environmental action at home to reduce dependence on Russian energy. And in France, energy policy plays a key role in an upcoming presidential election.
EU: citizens can reduce their dependence on Russia
The European Union (EU) is encouraging its citizens to work from home, use public transport and turn off radiators to reduce the bloc’s dependence on Russian fuel.
If EU residents adopt a prescribed list of energy-saving measures, together they can “save enough oil to fill 120 supertankers and enough natural gas to heat nearly 20 million homes”, according to a plan published by the European Commission and International Energy (IEA) on Thursday.
Decrease in dependence on Russia, greenhouse gases: The plan, titled “Play my Part,” aims to reduce the bloc’s dependence on Russian energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, explained a press release accompanying the plan.
“The Russian war in Ukraine is a human tragedy and a humanitarian catastrophe, and we are all wondering what we can do ourselves – what can we do professionally and what can we do personally,” said the director general of Energy from the European Commission, Ditte Juul. Jørgensen during a virtual summit on Thursday.
Assume personal responsibility: “The one thing everyone can do – each of us can do, individually at home and at work – is to save energy,” added Jørgensen.
This, she explained, will save Europeans on their energy bills, improve climatic conditions overall and help Ukraine.
The EU imports about 150 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia per year. However, Jørgensen explained that the implementation of European Green Deal policy initiatives could reduce around 100 billion cubic meters by 2030 by accelerating and expanding renewable energy.
“But the most effective measure, and the absolutely necessary measure, is energy savings,” Jørgensen said. “We can cut immediately.”
Specific recommendations put forward by EU leaders:
- Turn down the heat and use the air conditioning less
- Adjust boilers to more efficient settings
- Work at home
- Use cars more economically
- Reduce highway speed
- Leave cars at home on Sundays in major cities
- Short walks or bike rides instead of driving
- Use public transport
- Skip the plane, take the train
Lowering the thermostat by just 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) would save around 7% of the energy used for heating, according to the plan.
Setting an air conditioner 1 degree C warmer, meanwhile, could reduce the amount of electricity used by up to 10%.
Additional benefits of staying home: With a typical one-way car journey in the EU of around 15 kilometers (9 miles), working remotely three days a week could reduce household monthly fuel bills by around 35 euros ($38) – even in taking into account the increase in energy consumption at home, the plan explained.
Motorway journeys can be expensive: The plan also estimates that reducing speed on highways by around 10 kilometers per hour could save drivers around 60 euros ($65) each year, according to the plan.
“A big, big, big challenge”: “We are, in my opinion, in the first global energy crisis. It looks like this crisis will be with us for some time to come,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said during the virtual summit.
Birol pointed out that even if the EU’s liquefied natural gas import capacity worked at 100% – which he described as “a big, big, big challenge” – the bloc would still need an amount substantial extra gas to get through the next winter.
Countries will therefore have a choice between government rationing of energy supplies to consumers or “we do it ourselves”, Birol said.
Practical steps for a firm pushback: The steps outlined in the plan, he explained, are actions consumers can take in “the most efficient and practical way,” Birol said.
“You save money, at the same time you push back against Russia and you are on the front line with the Ukrainians against Russia,” he said.
INVITATION TO A VIRTUAL EVENT
The hills Durability Imperative—Wednesday, April 27 and Thursday, April 28—2:00 p.m. ET/11:00 a.m. PT daily
Sustainability is not optional, it is imperative and everyone has a role to play. On April 27-28, The Hill will host its second annual festival bringing together political leaders and practitioners from across the sustainability ecosystem, featuring interviews with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Environmental Quality Council Chair Brenda Mallory, actress Sigourney Weaver and After. RSVP today to reserve your spot.
French politicians divided on renewable energy and nuclear
Voters in the European Union’s second-largest economy head to the polls on Sunday to choose their next president.
The election has major implications for France’s energy sector, including the survival of its wind and solar sections as well as the shape of its nuclear industry.
The two right-wing candidates Marine Le Pen and centrist president Emmanuel Macron believe that France’s energy future requires a big investment in nuclear power.
It is also, however, the only energetic point on which they agree – even in broad outlines, the BBC reported.
“Skeptic” versus “hypocrite”: During a fiery debate on Wednesday, Macron lambasted his rival for what he described as her “all-nuclear strategy”.
“It’s not possible,” he said, calling her “climate-skeptical”, according to Le Monde.
“I am absolutely not a climato-skeptic, but you are a bit of a climato-hypocrite”, retorted Le Pen.
Le Pen argued that reliance on products made far away – rather than locally – “is responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions”, the BBC reported.
This line of “localism” could be an attempt by Le Pen to win over the supporters of his former far-left opponent, Jean-Luc Mélenchon – a staunch climate populist who did not reach the second round and whose supporters are courted by both sides, Reuters reported.
Between frustration and despair: Le Pen correctly diagnosed the climate left’s frustration with Macron, but many European environmental activists believe she poses a greater threat, according to Le Monde.
“Mr. Macron’s program, imprecise and incomplete, is stagnating us, while Ms. Le Pen’s program, empty and dangerous, is setting us back,” said Morgane Créach of the Climate Action Network, an alliance of 36 organisations, at the world last week.
THE END OF WIND POWER IN FRANCE?
Both presidential candidates agree that France’s power base must be satisfied by an intensified nuclear program.
This prospect puts the two at odds with neighboring Germany, where even a war-induced fossil fuel shortage is not leading Berlin to restart its nuclear program, as reported by the Financial Times.
But Le Pen wants 20 new large nuclear power plants, which would start operating by 2031, while Macron wants 14, which will start operating in 2035, Bloomberg reported.
Is either one possible? It is doubtful. Although nuclear power is now seen as a ‘green’ energy source in Europe – opening up new funding potential – even Macron’s lesser target of 14 new reactors by 2050 would be difficult to achieve at once. due to funding and time constraints, according to S&P Global.
But the power has to come from somewhere: And Le Pen has campaigned for a rollback of the country’s onshore wind and solar program, which currently accounts for 10% of France’s electricity production, Bloomberg reported.
Le Pen went so far as to describe wind turbines as “horrors that cost a fortune”, according to Reuters. She also offered to cut wind and solar subsidies, using the money saved to subsidize the price of gasoline and diesel, Bloomberg reported.
And Macron? The incumbent wants to increase solar power tenfold and double onshore wind, and build 50 offshore farms by 2050, S&P Global reported earlier this month.
While an ambitious plan, it also represents a compromise with anti-wind sentiment – as Macron pushed back the target date from 2030 to 2050 following pressure from landowner groups, according to the trade newspaper. Refill News.
Such projects have been “systematically targeted” by rural French plaintiffs alleging health impacts, Recharge reported in November.
Who is likely to win? Macron has a small but steady lead, according to The Guardian. Nonetheless, his victory is far from guaranteed, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
“The game is not over and dusted off,” Castex said.
FOLLOW UP FRIDAY
NASA aims for the moon with a public-private lunar program
- Technology company Lonestar has submitted a proposal to establish a data center on the surface of the moon. It’s just one of the crazy moves funded by NASA’s $250 million Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, in which risk is part of the deal, Ars Technica reported.
Maine airline orders fleet of electric planes
Soaring food prices will affect vulnerable people
Please visit The Hill’s Sustainability section online for the web version of this newsletter and more stories. We’ll see you on Monday.