World Climate change tops agenda as Iceland heads to elections
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U.S. envoy John Kerry’s diplomatic quest to stave off the worst scenarios of global warming is meeting resistance from China, the world's biggest climate polluter, which is adamant that the United States ease confrontation over other matters if it wants Beijing to speed up its climate efforts. Rights advocates and Republican lawmakers say they see signs, including softer language and talk of heated internal debate among Biden administration officials, that China’s pressure is leading the United States to back off on criticism of China’s mass detentions, forced sterilization and other abuses of its predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region.
REYKJAVIK , Iceland (AP) — Climate change is top of the agenda when voters in Iceland head to the polls for general elections on Saturday, following an exceptionally warm summer and an election campaign defined by a wide-reaching debate on global warming.
All nine parties running for seats at the North Atlantic island nation’s Parliament, or Althing, acknowledge global warming as a force of change in a sub-Arctic landscape.
In German election, hunger strikers seek climate promises
BERLIN (AP) — After three-and-a-half weeks on a hunger strike, Henning Jeschke is frail and gaunt, but determined to go on, still hoping to pressure the three candidates for chancellor of Germany into meeting him for a debate about the climate crisis ahead of Sunday’s general election. For the first time in Germany, climate change is perhaps the most dominant issue in an election campaign, especially for young voters. It's at the center ofFor the first time in Germany, climate change is perhaps the most dominant issue in an election campaign, especially for young voters. It's at the center of televised debates among candidates, and five of the six main parties offer plans with varying degrees of detail for slowing global warming.
But politicians disagree on whether Iceland should take more urgent action to help curb climate change, or capitalize on it as an opportunity for economic growth — as the melting of glaciers and warmer weather offer immediate gains for Iceland’s key industries.
The current government is a coalition of three parties spanning the political spectrum from left to center-right and led by Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir of the Left Green Party. It was formed in 2017 after years of political instability.
Jakobsdottir remains a popular prime minister, but polls suggest her party could face a poor outcome, ending the ongoing coalition.
Iceland's Jews Beat Church Taxes and a Circumcision Ban. Now They Even Have a Rabbi
Jews in this frozen and volcanic land are thriving thanks to Avi Feldman, who has led their small community through three years of dramatic change. Reykjavik was the sole European capital city lacking a resident rabbi until the fall of 2018, when Rabbi Avi Feldman, now 30; his wife, Mushky; and their daughters, who now number four girls under the age of 6, moved in. Four years later, they are planning to invite members of Iceland's Jewish community, which Feldman estimates numbers 500 to 600, to share meals with them in a sukkah.
Still, pollsters say the number of undecided voters has never been higher this close to election day. And the number of parties likely to share the Althing’s 63 seats has also never been higher — the nine parties could all get in.
Polls show strong support for left-leaning parties largely campaigning on a promise to cut carbon emissions by more than what Iceland is committed to under the Paris Climate Agreement. Under their pledges, Iceland would reach carbon neutrality by 2040, a decade ahead of most other European nations.
Icelanders vote in volatile election with climate in mind
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Icelanders were voting Saturday in a general election dominated by climate change, with an unprecedented number of political parties likely to win parliamentary seats. Polls suggest there won’t be an outright winner, triggering complex negotiations to build a coalition government. A record nine parties could cross the 5% threshold needed to qualify for seats in Iceland's parliament, the Althing. Upstart parties include the Socialist Party, which is promising to shorten the workweek and nationalize Iceland's fishing industry.High turnout is expected, as one-fifth of eligible voters have already cast absentee ballots.
Minister of Environment Gudmundur Gudbrandsson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Iceland could lead the way in “bold and ambitious” climate policies precisely due to its size.
“Small is good for change,” he said, highlighting how Iceland is making the shift to electric vehicles faster than any other country except Norway.
Iceland has an outsized energy supply for its tiny population of just 360,000 people, due to massive hydroelectric power plants built to power aluminum smelters and other energy-intensive industries.
Of the nine running parties, three have pledged to stop the building of new energy plants that would expand energy-intensive industries, including cryptocurrency “mines” rapidly plugging into the grid for the past years.
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If Congress passes President Biden’s ambitious plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he will go down in history as the nation’s first leader to usher in a transformative climate change agenda. “The urgency couldn’t be greater,” Matthew Davis, vice president of civic engagement at the League of Conservation Voters, told Yahoo News. As climate change makes extreme weather events such as this summer's record wildfires and hurricanes more common, numerous studies show that humanity will pay the price for inaction for decades to come. Democratic congressional leaders are echoing those findings.
But others disagree.
Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, leader of the center-right Midflokkurinn, backs more energy-intense industries in Iceland because there they use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.
“If an aluminum plant moves from Iceland to China its greenhouse gas emissions increase nearly ten-fold,” Gunnlaugsson said at the launch of his campaign in August. “More production in Iceland is good for the planet and will at the same time improve our standards of living.”
Some plans have never been heard before on Iceland’s campaign trail. The upstart Socialist Party is going to give “everyone who can and wants” a job planting trees. The Pirate Party wants to support a plant-based diet among the population. And the center-right Vidreisn is going to declare a state of climate emergency if they get to govern.
How Republicans blocked cities from advancing climate solutions
The natural gas industry was losing in cities across the US. Then came an obscure tactic called preemption.While many answers to climate change require national and even international action, cities often have the unilateral power to craft local rules like building codes. But before the city of Tucson could even look at possible building reforms, the Republican-led state legislature took away its power to do so — by passing a state law that natural gas utilities are “not subject to further regulation by a municipality.
Many parties, left and right, also vow to change government subsidies to farmers for producing more vegetables and less meat. Farmers who want to reduce their livestock can already make up for the financial loss by planting trees.
Hermann Gunnarsson, a barley farmer in Eyja Fjord, said warmer temperatures are an opportunity to expand local production. “The climate coin has two sides,” he said. “But the politicians who talk the most about climate change are afraid to speak about the benefits, too.”
This year’s harvest, he said, has been the best on record. If the trend for warmer summers continues, the barley he now grows to feed his livestock could be sold to brewers and bakers for a premium price.
Climate change is not the only issue on voters’ minds — improving the national healthcare system after the pandemic ranks high, too — but it is the most discussed topic.
Pressure builds to address climate-induced migration
When Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, D-N.Y., witnessed the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, she noticed a connection between two of the thorniest issues facing lawmakers. A Puerto Rican native, Velázquez was struck by the move north of large numbers of Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of the devastating 2017 storm, and she told Speaker […] The post Pressure builds to address climate-induced migration appeared first on Roll Call.
That is partly because the country has continued to see extreme weather by local standards.
This summer, from June to August, Iceland clocked 59 days of temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit.) The capital Reykjavík saw forest fires on its outskirts. Mudslides have increased in recent years due to heavy rains.
Rising temperatures have left a dramatically changed landscape in Iceland: in the past 20 years the island’s glacial cover has decreased by 300 square miles (800 sq.km.), or roughly the size of New York City, according to a report by the Icelandic Met Office earlier this year.
That has been a boon for Iceland’s hydroelectric dams powered by glacial rivers. Glacial melting is expected to oversaturate watersheds in the next decades and increase the capacity of hydro-dams. Landsvirkjun, the state-owned national energy company, has reported about 8 percent capacity growth due to increased glacial melting, expected to peak around 2050.
Politicians disagree on whether to use the country’s energy abundance for economic growth or green solutions in the future.
Climate activist Tinna Hallgrimsdottir said the short-term benefits of climate change had “no meaning for an unsustainable future.”
She leads The Icelandic Youth Environmentalist Association which undertook an “climate audit” of the campaigning parties and ranked them based on effectiveness.
“Fancy promises are not enough,” she said. “We had to see a real plan for action.”
Climate activist Nakate seeks immediate action in Glasgow .
MILAN (AP) — Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate said Wednesday that youth delegates meeting in Milan want to see immediate action from leaders at the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland — not cheap, last-ditch grasps at supporting polluting fuels before getting down to business. Nakate is among 400 activists invited to Italy’s financial capital for a three-day Youth4Climate meeting that will draft a document for the 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties, which opens on Oct. 31.