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A Green Digest of Biden’s Earth Day Summit

Authored by Paul Hellard, freelance journalist in Australia, and a member of the Global Greens COP26 Working Group.

The Global Greens COP26 Working Group has staged a virtual forum, as our response to the Biden Climate Summit, held on Earth Day in May 2021.  

In this Facebook Live webinar, we had Jill Stein, the US Presidential Greens Candidate for the Greens in 2016 and 2012, and a Harvard trained medical doctor.  We had Mohamed Awad, the President of Egyptian Green Party and Vice President of African Green Federation; Adam Bandt, the Leader of the Australian Greens, and Federal Member for Melbourne; and Professor Katharine Hayhoe, atmospheric scientist, Director of the Climate Science Centre, Professor of Political Science at Texas Tech University.

Our moderator for this international virtual forum was Davene Chavez, our first from the Global South. Davene is a representative of the Greens Party of Mexico to the Young Greens of the Americas, as well as a Sustainable Development Engineer and an environmental entrepreneur. 

This Facebook Live event was part of a series being produced by the Global Greens Working Group for the COP26 in Glasgow come November. The Global Greens are representing the vital presence of citizen activism around the world. We want the world’s people to be well and truly conscious of all the facts when the demand goes out to move to renewable energy at the “last chance COP”.

The Biden Climate Summit had 41 leaders brought together to encourage even stronger climate action. All looking ahead to the COP26 in Glasgow, taking place in November. There are 17 nations, responsible for 80% of emissions, and many of the speakers, the leaders from these countries, promised a whole lot of action.  But the question on everyone’s minds afterwards was, are these commitments going to do the job of holding the climate back from the carbon explosion?

Jill Stein focused on the commitments made by President Joe Biden and shared concerns that they may be a ‘smoke-screen for more of the same’.

“For decades, we have heard the rhetoric, but emissions have increased,” she said, “but, many of the tipping points are hanging in the balance right now, and what happens over the next decade is really critical.”

She cited Howie Hawkins, the 2020 Green Presidential Candidate and Bernie Sanders as well, proposing a relief program of more than US$1.75 trillion per year, on more of the scale of the Eisenhower Marshall Plan after World War Two, because, “this is that kind of emergency we actually face.”

“The state of emergency is missing in action, and we’re definitely not moving in the right direction here,” she added. “Biden recently gave the go-ahead to oil drilling in the Alaska North Slope, to oil and gas drilling in Wyoming as well as the Dakota Access pipeline, which does not even have a permit. There will be crop failures, famine, hundreds of millions of climate refugees worldwide, unless our leaders ignore those who feed them dollars in blood money, and see the only way to survive is to adopt renewables as fast as possible.”

On April 20 2021, the price of a barrel of WTI oil (West Texas Intermediate Crude) fell below zero, to -$37.63. But the oil itself hadn’t actually collapsed, because it hadn’t even been drilled. What collapsed in the real-world was oil’s financial viability.  ‘Black Monday’ showed that the traders know that oil is a liability. Watch the insurance industries, the volatile re-insurance industries and construction industries. They know what politicians won’t say out loud. Much like all fossil fuel exploration and extraction industries, they know the real story.

As mentioned, among the speakers was Professor Katharine Hayhoe, an Atmospheric Climate Scientist with a riveting overview of how the planet is fairing. This was also her very first day as Chief Scientist of the Nature Conservancy.  Hayhoe shared her screen to the audience, and included stark visualisations showing that with CO2 concentrations at 420ppm, the Earth’s atmosphere has not been this carbon intensive for millions of years, way before it was possible for human life to develop.

Mohamed Awad, the Leader of the Egyptian Green Party and VP of the African Greens Federation says the Global North has continued to develop while the South has continued to deteriorate.

“The Climate Crisis has accelerated this confrontation, while imposing on all of us a collective collapse unless a few conditions are met,” Awad said. “African countries have had to fight for their fair share of water resources, and the technology gap between the Global South and the North has become a barrier to a solution to this imbalance.” Awad called out the Southeast Asian invasion of Africa which has brought with it pollution and cheap technology. He also flagged how financial aid can become a backdoor for corruption, unless it is well controlled.

Adam Bandt is the Australian Greens leader who is a champion for hitting net zero carbon by 2035. He called in to the forum from Parliament House in Canberra, the nation’s capital.

“In Australia,” says Bandt, “the Greens have ten members in Parliament, …. but the two major parties openly take donations from the fossil fuel industry, and they largely write their policies accordingly.”  The Conservative Liberal government in Australia is now proposing to open a vast new gas basin in the North Territory, in Beetaloo, which has 35 billion tons of CO2.  The government has given the project $200 million to open it up and the Labor opposition has voted to support the venture.   “So, we have got a big challenge on our hands here,” said Bandt, “and both major parties are supporting this huge carbon bomb about to go off.”

The Biden Climate Summit has given the Australian community a lot to think about because it is the first time Australia has been put under significant international pressure, not just for our weak targets domestically but for our exports.  Australia’s biggest export customers, Korea, Japan and China, are all phasing out coal by 2050. This of course means Australia’s major export market will disappear a whole lot earlier.  This should toll the bell for that industry, right now.   The redoubling of efforts is so important.  The Australian Greens are the only party in the Australian Parliament, pushing for the cessation of fossil fuels.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this document are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of other members of this organization.


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