EARTH DAY: Highlighting Committed Actors from Around the Globe

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In honor of Earth Day, we have compiled a list of global actors and initiatives that we would like to say “Thank You” to for their efforts in making our societies more sustainable.

“Years of Living Dangerously”, New Showtime Series 

The first of its kind, “Years of Living Dangerously” is a nine-part series documentary on climate change being aired on Sunday nights on Showtime.  Produced by James Cameron and Jerry Weintraub, the series addresses the impacts of climate change, “From the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy in the tri-state area to political upheaval caused by droughts in the Middle East to the dangerous level of carbon emissions resulting from deforestation.” Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jessica Alba, Michael Hall and Matt Damon are just some of the actors working as correspondents on the show.  The fact that such a documentary is now being aired, and that these prominent film-makers and actors have decided to get involved in raising awareness on climate change demonstrates that we are finally seeing a growing climate movement in United States, where unfortunately climate skeptic policymakers still serve as heads of  federal science and environment committees. The show has already aired two episodes, but check out their site to watch the first episode.

Eaarth, Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben

Although this book is four years old, Eaarth is not any less relevant to our world’s current situation- perhaps it is even more relevant now, as it’s four years later and little has been done on the climate change front. The setting of the book is a new world, Eaarth, where we have passed the tipping point for climate change and a different way of thinking and acting are required. McKibben focuses on the importance of local action and maintaining a strong and close community in order to deal with the consequences of climate change. This book is a must -read and is quite accessible to a wide-ranging audience and it accurately describes the fundamental changes that we need to undergo, those changes that many people are too proud, and to scared, to admit.

Sustainability in stock exchanges: South Africa’s JSE Ltd and BM&F BOVESPA in Brazil 

These are the two first stock exchanges in the world to require companies to provide information on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors to be listed on exchange, thus to be publicly traded. Their work actually started in 2010, but continue to lead the way. Systematic integration of ESG catapults transparency and incentives for companies not only to pay attention to the effects of their operations, but to improve environmental performance. Integration of ESG performance into investment decisions can have domino effects for companies and their suppliers around the globe. There is a proposal organized by CERES for requiring ESG information in the U.S. and part of global network released just last month (March 2014). This post is to acknowledge the step forward that these two stock exchanges have taken and show that it is possible to integrate considerations at this level and work on CERES to make it a global reality.

Twitter Campaign Against Keystone XL Pipeline

We are thoroughly grateful and inspired by the active dedication we have seen the past few months on twitter against the Keystone XL Pipeline. Unfortunately,  the final decision on building the pipeline just got pushed to November after mid-term elections. However, the twitter campaign highlighting the environmental effects of building the pipeline and expressing opinions against building it have been in full swing. This includes pics and posts of in person rallies all over the country, especially on February 17th. Campaign seen with hashtags such as #nokxl with efforts seen on behalf of individuals including Tom Steyer, students, and NGOs such as 350.org.

Ma Jun & the Growing Environmental Movement in China’s Cities

Many agree that Chinese citizens and activists are now the key to getting the Chinese government to act, and act quickly, on the problem of pollution facing many of China’s large cities. Chinese city residents are starting to demand that the government resolve the issue of pollution and reduce the levels of smog. Ma Jun, one of China’s best known environmentalists and founder of the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, works to increase pollution transparency in the country, confident that once the data and information is released to the public, individual citizens will pressure the government to act. At the end of February, Li Guixin, a resident of Shijiazhuang, capital of the northern province of Hebei, become the “first person in China to sue the government for failing to curb air pollution.” Although Li’s actions came from more of an economic and health standpoint than an environmental one, his actions were enough to grab the world’s attention, as well as the attention of other citizens & of the government, to the fact that residents have a right to clean air. In September of last year, a wave of environmental protesters, coming from China’s growing middle-class, took the streets to pressure the halt of a new petrochemical plant in Kunming, fearing the pollution that the plant would emit. These forces from the new environmental movements are increasingly “deeply unsettling” to Chinese authoritarian officials, as it is a “source of social instability and a bottleneck that will limit economic growth.” As long as the Chinese government avoids profound action, they will be seeing more protests and riots for clean air.

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