terça-feira, 19 de fevereiro de 2019

Athens is being overrun by Airbnb | #GME

Não acordem ... não ...o tecido social e humano dos bairros mais autênticos de Atenas está a ser destruído ... A AIRBNB domina e determina o Mercado da habitação também nas cidades de Portugal!
Long-term residents of an Athens neighbourhood say they are being priced out by Airbnb. Koukaki has become one of the website's most popular tourist destinations, but the result has been skyrocketing rents and evictions

'Don't feed the monster!'

'Don't feed the monster!' The people who have stopped buying new clothes
A growing movement eschews fast fashion in favour of secondhand clothing. Is this the biggest personal change that can be made for the environment?

Paula Cocozza
Tue 19 Feb 2019 06.00 GMT Last modified on Tue 19 Feb 2019 09.13 GMT

Sarah Fewell, who runs a business selling secondhand and vintage clothes on the website Depop that now has 10 million users.

Lauren Cowdery is flicking through the rails of the Cancer Research charity shop in Goole, east Yorkshire. “Too bobbly!” she tuts at a ribbed top. “This skirt is big but it would be easy to take in … ” Cowdery appears to be shopping, but she is merely browsing. She is on a mission not to buy any new clothes, even ones that have recently belonged to someone else. “I think you have to pull back and ask: ‘Do I need this?’” she says.

Cowdery is one of a growing number of people who love clothes but try their hardest to resist buying them for reasons of sustainability. According to the charity Wrap, which promotes sustainable waste management, the average lifetime for a garment in the UK is just 2.2 years. An estimated £30bn of unused clothing hangs in UK wardrobes, and yet still we shop for more. “Each week we buy 38m items and 11m items go to landfill,” says Maria Chenoweth, chief executive of Traid, a charity working to stop clothes being thrown away. “We don’t have enough resources to keep feeding this monster.”

Chenoweth believes that consumers are switching to secondhand shopping, or adding a pre-owned element into their purchasing habits. She points to a 30% rise in turnover at Traid shops in 2018 compared with 2017. When she was a teenager in the 80s, her father banned her from jumble sales in case people thought the family was poor. She disobeyed him, and dragged her sacks of clothes through her bedroom window. Now, Chenoweth considers it “a huge gesture of activism to buy secondhand”, a necessary choice for those who “do not believe in damaging the environment and perpetuating this consumption and waste”.

So how hard is it to make the transition to a more sustainable way of shopping? In the UK, clothing has the fourth largest environmental impact after housing, transport and food. More than half of fast-fashion items are thrown away in less than a year, according to McKinsey’s State of Fashion report last year. But is buying secondhand really an antidote to fast fashion?

In Goole, where Cowdery works as a marketing officer for the Junction Theatre, there are ample local distractions for a lunch break: Dorothy Perkins, New Look, Peacocks. Cowdery used to buy things “because they were there”. In the evenings, she went on Asos. “I’d think: ‘Oh brilliant, a discount code! Free shipping! I’ll order stuff! Hmm … It doesn’t fit very well, but I can’t be bothered to send it back … I’ll keep it.’”

Each month, Cowdery bought two or three things. “At £20 a time, that starts to build up. There’s a wardrobe of stuff. Things with the tags still on … I took a look at myself and thought: ‘What are you doing?’”

 ‘It changed how I thought about clothes’: Lauren Cowdery of the Leeds Community Clothes Exchange:

Curious about a post she saw on Facebook, one weekend Cowdery dropped into the Leeds Community Clothes Exchange, a local swap shop. Four years on, she is one of its three directors, helping to oversee the 2,000 items – “designer stuff, vintage stuff, handmade things, wedding dresses” – that pass through the doors of the Woodhouse community centre each month.

Cowdery and I meet in one of those lunch hours that used to be spent shopping. Her skirt, top and cardigan are all from the Clothes Exchange; her boots are from the Autism Plus shop in Goole. “At the exchange, it’s one for one on everything,” she explains. There are no value judgments. A garment is saleable if all its buttons are present and there are no stains. Some prom dresses return again and again. “People take them, wear them, bring them back.” Regulars set aside pieces for each other. The fitting room is a place of encouragement.

As her involvement in the clothes exchange grew, Cowdery’s visits to Peacocks dwindled. Now, its shop floor struck her as “an explosion in a jumble sale”. She began to delete unopened emails from Asos and Topshop. She swore off buying new clothes for a year. “I thought I’d reach the end and think: ‘I’ve done that. I’ll move on,’” she says. Instead, “It changed how I thought about clothes.”

Cowdery still loves clothes – especially anything velvet – but she has found a safe way to consume them. The clothes exchange enables her to refresh her wardrobe without adding to it. She can be acquisitive, as long as she relinquishes in equal measure. Where she once bought three pieces a month, she now swaps 10 to 15 – mostly things she picked up at the previous exchange.

Clothes come and go at the Basingstoke home of Sarah Fewell, too. In fact, so many parcels come and go that she knows her postman by his first name (Jay). Fewell has always loved cutting up old clothes, sticking on studs, even at 14 when most of her friends were into Hollister. But now she has turned her passion for preloved clothes into a sustainable version of fast fashion.

Fewell runs a shop called Identity Party on the website Depop, which since being established in 2011 has offered its 10 million users a blend of eBay-style trading with Instagram-style posting. Her brand is “a lot of 80s, 90s, quite bohemian, grungy”. She especially loves “selling things with animals on, a good old ugly jumper and anything by St Michael.”

Two years ago, in the second year of a politics degree at Goldsmiths, University of London, Fewell was browsing the charity shops when she saw “a really nice dress that wasn’t for me”. She already had a Depop profile, having sold some unwanted clothes, so she bought the dress, listed it as “‘very Phoebe from Friends” and it promptly sold.

She bought and sold relentlessly during her third year. “When I left university, I thought, I don’t want a real job.”

Now with Identity Party, Fewell has professionalised her love of vintage.

She doesn’t totally eschew new clothes for her own wardobe; they make up about 10%. She buys gymwear new, for instance (“It would be a bit gross to wear secondhand gym clothes”). She even bought some on Black Friday: “That’s maybe contradictory of me to engage in Black Friday, but I just wanted gym clothes.”

 People used to watch hauls on YouTube and be like: ‘Yeah, great.’ Now they are a lot more aware
We are sitting in a cafe in a shopping mall in Basingstoke. Fewell, who is wearing an Identity Party top and jeans and an eBay jacket, runs through her working week: Monday, she posts; Tuesday, she photographs; Wednesday she uploads. A fourth day is spent scouring the charity shops of Basingstoke, Newberry and Reading. A fifth and a sixth on further photography and posting.

Fewell’s days are long. But all the hours spent cutting out shoulder pads and removing used handkerchiefs from pockets have made her one of Depop’s top sellers. Since that first dress, she has sold more than 3,000 items, and her customer base includes her own friends, who no longer find secondhand shopping “a bit niche”.

“A lot of people are getting really sick of fast fashion,” Fewell says. “People used to watch hauls [mass trying-on sessions of newly purchased clothing] on YouTube and be like: ‘Yeah, great.’ Now if you click on a haul and read the comments, everyone’s like: ‘Oh, there’s so much stuff, it looks really bad quality.’ People are a lot more aware.”

In 2017, when she posted that first dress, Fewell “wasn’t very conscious” of the sustainability benefits of secondhand clothing. “I wasn’t really thinking: ‘I could push this message.’” After a couple of months, “it got added in there”. Now she trades her “handpicked vintage gems” as sustainable fashion. Facts about clothing waste are printed on the reverse of her business cards. When a piece of clothing doesn’t suit a customer, she urges them to sell it on, to close the loop.

But does Fewell ever look at the floor of her parents’ spare room – now her stock room – at the sea of pink plastic packages waiting to be driven to the post office, and think that buying and selling secondhand clothing may not be the height of sustainability? In some ways, Depop mirrors fast fashion: consumers buy cheaply and often. Fewell points out that the bags are made of recycled plastic; she would like to afford biodegradable ones. “The downside, environmentally, is postage and packing,” she admits. “But people are always going to want to buy clothes. Buying secondhand is probably the best way they can do it.”

The key, says Stephanie Campbell from Wrap’s Love Your Clothes campaign, is “to keep clothing out of landfill”. Each year 430,000 tonnes of clothing are disposed of and not recycled in the UK. Meanwhile, the number of new clothes sold is rising: 1.13m tonnes in 2016, an increase of 200,000 tonnes on 2012.

 Zoe Edwards, who 11 years ago pledged never to buy new clothes.

“It’s a slow, gradual mindset change,” says Zoe Edwards, a sewing teacher and blogger who 11 years ago pledged never to buy new clothes. “It’s not like a switch goes on and all of a sudden, it’s: ‘Right, this is how I shop now.’”

Edwards was working for “a very fast-fashion, low-end clothing supplier” in London. Her job was to order the trims: labels, hanging loops, buttons, zips. The quantity of delivered fabric always varied, so she had to order a surfeit of trims, a routine waste that made her uncomfortable. She had always loved sewing, selling her handmade clothes on market stalls and Etsy. Now, her two ways of living jarred.

“I didn’t want to be part of fast fashion any more,” she says. She quit her job, sewed clothes, sold the clothes, taught sewing and blogged about it. In the past 11 years, Edwards has bought only “one or two things”. Her bras are new, and she thinks she may have purchased a top from Zara in about 2010. Even her knickers are what she calls “me-made”.

So how difficult is it to stop buying clothes? Tania Arrayales, a self-described “fashion disruptor”, has founded an organisation in New York called Fashion of Tomorrow to advocate a more sustainable approach to the clothing industry. Arrayales was a founding member of Style Lend, a peer-to-peer clothing rental site, and swore off all clothing purchases for a year, inspired by the documentary True Cost. But weren’t there times when she was desperate to break her self-imposed rule?

“The challenge was feeling a little bit … I wasn’t as trendy as I used to be. I couldn’t make an impact when I went to an event,” she says. “I didn’t have anything new and shiny. But I wanted to restructure the way my brain saw shopping.”

 “I started seeing pieces in a new light’: Tania Arrayales, a founding member of the clothing rental site Style Lend.

In her second year, she allowed herself to buy vintage clothes. The year after that, she bought the odd piece of new clothing from sustainable brands. Any time she felt her style “lack a little”, she rented what she needed from Style Lend (there are lending sites in the UK, too, but this is not yet a flourishing market). “I started seeing pieces in a new light. I discovered styling,” Arrayales says.

Cowdery has noticed a similar sense of exploration and play at the Clothes Exchange. “I’ve been more experimental, more free, with clothes. I don’t keep things for best. I wear them. And I don’t worry about the size on the label,” she says.

The fluidity around sizing is one of the pleasures of secondhand shopping. Depop sellers such as Fewell list clothes as fitting size eight to 14. Shoppers are encouraged to view their size as variable. “That’s the great thing about swapping,” Cowdery says. No one gets depressed because something their size won’t zip up. “You just look by eye, and ask yourself: ‘Will that fit?’”

Edwards has faced a similar confrontation with her personal taste. Sewing requires a lot of decision-making: the colour and weight of fabric, length of dress, shape of sleeves. She buys vintage fabric and refashions charity shop finds, but even so, she doesn’t think “sewing is necessarily the most sustainable way to dress yourself”. There is still the acquisition of fabric and materials. And a tendency to prize the making over the wearing, so that a lot of making goes on that never gets worn. “There is a big slow fashion movement within the sewing community,” Edwards says. “People are using their stash rather than buying new stuff.”

The volume of clothing of all kinds – new, secondhand and handmade – is challenging. And selling on secondhand clothes has its limits. To avoid swamping the secondhand market, or passing the problem on to others, including developing countries where many used clothes are sold in bulk, other technologies, such as fibre-to-fibre recycling, need to be encouraged.

“Clothing is a way to show who I am, what I feel, what I believe,” Edwards says. “It’s a way to communicate with the world. It’s got real social value, but it has got to be done mindfully.”

So what can a person who loves new clothes but wants to live more sustainably do? As Edwards says, if you are spending time on fashion sites, it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination or will to switch your browser to eBay, Depop, thredUP, Hardly Ever Worn It or any of the raft of “resale disruptors”. Chenoweth says that “not keeping stuff in your wardrobe is important if you’re not wearing it”. Donating clothes puts them back into circulation.

As Cowdery says: “Clothes have a story. If you wear something once then throw it in the bin, it hasn’t had a story. You want to know there’s life in these things.”

How the world got hooked on palm oil

The long read
How the world got hooked on palm oil
It’s the miracle ingredient in everything from biscuits to shampoo. But our dependence on palm oil has devastating environmental consequences. Is it too late to break the habit? By Paul Tullis

Tue 19 Feb 2019 06.00 GMT Last modified on Tue 19 Feb 2019 10.20 GMT

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there grew a magical fruit. This fruit could be squeezed to produce a very special kind of oil that made cookies more healthy, soap more bubbly and crisps more crispy. The oil could even make lipstick smoother and keep ice-cream from melting. Because of these wondrous qualities, people came from around the world to buy the fruit and its oil.

In the places where the fruit came from, people burned down the forest so they could plant more trees that grew the fruit – making lots of nasty smoke and sending all of the creatures of the forest scurrying away. When the trees were burned, they emitted a gas that heated up the air. Then everybody was upset, because they loved the forest’s creatures and thought the temperature was warm enough already. A few people decided they shouldn’t use the oil any more, but mostly things went on as before, and the forest kept burning.

This is a true story. Except that it is not magic. The fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis), which grows in tropical climates, contains the world’s most versatile vegetable oil. It can handle frying without spoiling, and blends well with other oils. Its combination of different types of fats and its consistency after refining make it a popular ingredient in packaged baked goods. Its low production costs make it cheaper than frying oils such as cottonseed or sunflower. It provides the foaming agent in virtually every shampoo, liquid soap or detergent. Cosmetics manufacturers prefer it to animal tallow for its ease of application and low price. It is increasingly used as a cheap raw material for biofuels, especially in the European Union. It functions as a natural preservative in processed foods, and actually does raise the melting point of ice-cream. Palm oil can be used as an adhesive that binds together the particles in fibreboard. Oil palm trunks and fronds can be made into everything from plywood to the composite body of Malaysia’s national automobile.

Worldwide production of palm oil has been climbing steadily for five decades. Between 1995 and 2015, annual production quadrupled, from 15.2m tonnes to 62.6m tonnes. By 2050, it is expected to quadruple again, reaching 240m tonnes. The footprint of palm oil production is astounding: plantations to produce it account for 10% of all global cropland. Today, 3 billion people in 150 countries use products containing palm oil. Globally, we each consume an average of 8kg of palm oil a year.

Of this, 85% comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, where worldwide demand for palm oil has lifted incomes, especially in rural areas – but at the cost of tremendous environmental devastation and often with attendant labour and human rights abuses. Fires set to clear forests and create land for more palm plantations are the top source of greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia, a country of 261 million people. The financial incentive to produce more palm oil is helping to warm the planet, while destroying the only habitat of Sumatran tigers, Sumatran rhinos and orangutans – driving them towards extinction.

Yet consumers are often unaware they are even using the stuff. Palm Oil Investigations, which dubs itself “the palm oil watchdog”, lists more than 200 common ingredients in food and home and personal care products containing palm oil, only about 10% of which include the telltale word “palm”.

How did palm oil insinuate itself into every corner of our lives? No single innovation caused palm oil consumption to soar. Instead, it was the perfect commodity at the right moment for industry after industry, each of which adopted it to replace ingredients and never turned back. At the same time, producing nations view palm oil as a poverty-reduction scheme, while international finance organisations view it as a growth engine for developing economies. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has pushed Malaysia and Indonesia to produce more.

As the palm industry expanded, conservationists and environmental organisations such as Greenpeace started to raise the alarm about its devastating effects on carbon emissions and wildlife habitat. (However, it is not impossible to produce palm oil sustainably, and several organisations certify sustainable producers.) In response, a backlash against palm oil has developed: last April, the supermarket Iceland pledged that it would cut palm oil from all its own-brand foods by the end of 2018. In December, Norway banned imports for biofuel production.

But by the time awareness of palm oil’s impact had spread, it was so deeply embedded in the consumer economy that it now may be too late to remove it. (Tellingly, Iceland found it impossible to fulfill its 2018 pledge. Instead, the company ended up removing its branding from foods containing palm oil rather than removing palm oil from all of its branded foods.)

Determining which products contain palm oil, let alone how sustainably it has been sourced, requires an almost supernatural level of consumer consciousness. In any case, greater consumer awareness in the west will not have much impact, given that Europe and the US account for less than 14% of global demand. More than half of global demand comes from Asia.

It was a good 20 years after the first alarms about deforestation in Brazil that consumer action slowed – not stopped – the destruction. With palm oil, “the reality is that the western part of world is [a small share] of palm oil consumption, and the rest of the world doesn’t give a shit”, said Neil Blomquist, managing director of Colorado-based Natural Habitats, which produces palm oil in Ecuador and Sierra Leone to the highest level of sustainability certification. “So there’s not much incentive to change.”

Palm oil’s world domination is the result of five factors: first, it has replaced less healthy fats in foods in the west. Second, producers have pushed to keep its price low. Third, it has replaced more expensive oils in home and personal care products. Fourth, again because it is cheap, it has been widely adopted as cooking oil in Asian countries. Finally, as those Asian countries have grown richer, they have begun to consume more fat, much of it in the form of palm oil.

Widespread adoption of palm oil began with processed foods. In the 1960s, scientists began to warn that butter’s high saturated fat content may increase the risk of heart disease. Food manufacturers, including the British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, began to replace it with margarine, made with vegetable oils low in saturated fat. By the early 1990s, though, it became clear that the process by which the oils in margarine were made, known as partial hydrogenation, actually created a different kind of fat – trans fat – that was even unhealthier than saturated fat. The Unilever board of directors saw a scientific consensus forming against trans fat and decided to get rid of it. “Unilever was always very conscious of the health interests of consumers of its products,” said James W Kinnear, a Unilever board member at the time.

The switchover happened suddenly. In 1994, a Unilever refineries manager named Gerrit van Duijn received a call from his bosses in Rotterdam. Twenty Unilever plants in 15 countries needed to remove partially hydrogenated oils from 600 fat blends and replace them with trans-fat free components.

The project, for reasons Van Duijn can’t explain, was called “Paddington”. First, he needed to figure out what could replace trans fat while maintaining its favourable properties, such as remaining solid at room temperature – a necessity for inexpensive butter substitutes as well as manufactured goods such as cookies. In the end, there was only one choice: oil from the oil palm tree – either palm oil (extracted from the fruit) or palm kernel oil (from the seed). No other oil could be refined to the consistency needed for Unilever’s various margarine blends and baked goods without producing trans fat. It was the only alternative to partially hydrogenated oils, Van Duijn told me. Palm oil and palm kernel oil were also lower in saturated fat than butter.

The switch at each plant had to occur simultaneously – the production lines couldn’t handle a mixture of the old oils and the new. “On a certain day, all these tanks had to be emptied of trans-containing components and refilled with trans-free components,” Van Duijn said. “Logistically, that was quite a nightmare.” (Purchasing additional tanks would have been too expensive.)

As Unilever had sometimes used palm oil previously, a supply chain was already up and running. But it took six weeks for the raw material to be shipped from Malaysia to Europe, and Van Duijn had three months to make the switch. He started to buy more and more palm and palm kernel oils, arranging for the shipments to be trucked in to the various plants on schedule. Then one day in 1995, with trucks queued up outside Unilever plants across Europe, it was done.

It was a moment that changed the processed food industry forever. Unilever was the trailblazer; after Van Duijn organised the company’s switch to palm oil, virtually every other food manufacturer followed. In 2001, the American Heart Association issued a statement declaring that “the optimal diet for reducing risk of chronic diseases is one in which saturated fatty acids are reduced and trans fatty acids from manufactured fats are virtually eliminated”. Today, more than two-thirds of palm oil goes into food. Consumption in the EU more than tripled between Project Paddington and 2015. That same year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave food manufacturers three years to get rid of all trans fats from every margarine, cookie, cake, pie, popcorn, frozen pizza, doughnut and biscuit sold in the US. Virtually all of it has now been replaced with palm oil.

For all the palm oil that now goes into food in Europe and the US, Asia uses far more: India, China, and Indonesia account for nearly 40% of all palm oil consumed worldwide. Where they once cooked with soya oil, palm oil has replaced it. Growth has been fastest in India, where an accelerating economy has been another factor in palm oil’s newfound popularity.

One of the commonalities of economic development, across the globe and throughout history, is that a population’s consumption of fat grows in lockstep with its income, and the subcontinent has been no exception. Between 1993 and 2013, Indian per capita GDP expanded from $298 to $1,452. Over the same period, fat consumption in rural areas grew by 35% and in urban areas by 25%, and palm oil has been a major ingredient in this escalation. Government-subsidised “fair price shops”, a food distribution network for the poor, started selling imported palm oil in 1978, mainly for cooking; two years later the 290,000 shops were unloading 273,500 tonnes. By 1995, Indian imports of palm oil had climbed to nearly 1m tonnes, reaching more than 9m tonnes by 2015. In those years, the poverty rate fell by half while the population climbed by 36%.

But palm oil is no longer just used for home cooking in India – today it is a big part of the country’s growing junk food industry. India’s fast food market grew 83% just between 2011 and 2016. Between them, Domino’s Pizza, Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts – all of which use palm oil – now have 2,784 stores in the country, according to reporting by the Nation. Packaged-food sales spiked 138% over roughly the same period; for pennies, you can buy dozens of packaged snacks containing palm oil.

Palm oil’s versatility is not limited to food. Unlike other oils, it can be easily and inexpensively “fractionated” – separated into oils of different consistencies – which disposes it to multiple uses. “It has a tremendous advantage because of its versatility,” said Carl Bek-Nielsen, chief executive director of United Plantations Berhad, a Malaysia-based palm oil producer.

Not long after the processed food business discovered the magical properties of palm oil, industries as diverse as personal care products and transport fuel would also begin using it to replace other oils. But just as trans fats were chosen for perceived benefits, only to turn out to be worse than what they had replaced, palm oil was initially adopted in large part for its perceived environmental friendliness.

As palm oil became more widely used in food the world over, it was also replacing animal products in cleaning products and personal care items such as soap, shampoo, lotion and makeup. Today, 70% of personal care items contain one or more palm oil derivatives.

Historically, soap often came from animal tallow, and shampoo, which originated on the Indian subcontinent, was first made with plant-based surfactants (a substance that acts as a detergent, emulsifier or foaming agent). Later, synthetic ingredients came into favour, with animal tallow joining them in the 20th century. In the 1980s, the personal care industry started to notice a consumer preference for “natural” ingredients, which “a lot of consumers figured was synonymous with plant-based rather than animal-based”, said Chris Sayner, vice-president for corporate sustainability at Croda, a chemical company. Croda’s customers started asking if it could come up with plant-based surfactant formulations without tallow.

Just as Van Duijn had discovered at Unilever, the composition of palm oil and palm kernel oil made them the perfect substitute. Manufacturers looking for alternatives found that palm and palm kernel oils contain the same set of fat types as tallow. No other alternative could provide the same advantages across such a wide range of products. “Alternate sources [to tallow] were looked at,” Sayner recalled. “Palm and palm kernel oil dropped in as the replacement.”

Sayner believes that the BSE outbreak of the early 1990s, when a brain disease among cattle spread to some people who ate beef, triggered a larger shift in consumption habits. “Public opinion, brand equity and marketing all came together to move away from animal-based products in more fashion-oriented industries like personal care.” Companies across Europe and the US that Croda supplied started to make the switch.

The change from animal-based fats to palm oil came with a certain irony. In the past, when tallow was used in products such as soaps, a byproduct of the meat industry – animal fat – was put to good use. Now, in response to consumers’ desire for ingredients perceived as more “natural,” the makers of soaps, detergents and cosmetics have replaced a local waste product with one that must be transported thousands of miles and that causes environmental destruction in the countries where it is produced. (Although, of course, the meat industry comes with its own environmental harm.) “What’s better environmentally than using a byproduct that exists on your doorstep?” Sayner asked.

A similar thing happened with biofuels – the intent to reduce environmental harm had unintended consequences. In 1997, a European commission report called for increasing the percentage of total energy consumption from renewable sources. Three years later it cited the environmental benefits of biofuels for transport, and in 2009 adopted the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which included a 10% target for the share of transport fuels coming from biofuels by 2020.

Unlike in food and home and personal care products, where palm’s chemical makeup makes it the perfect alternative, when it comes to biofuel, palm, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower oils all perform equally well. But palm has one big advantage over these rival oils: price.

The EU policies “created an unprecedented market for the uptake of palm oil,” said Kalyana Sundram, CEO of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, a trade group. Legislative attempts in the west to curb the environmental harm of fossil fuels – the US adopted its own biofuel mandate in 2007 – had severe environmental consequences in less developed countries, contributing significantly to global warming.

EU palm oil imports shot up 15% the year after the RED, reaching an all-time high, and 19% the year after that, as biofuel use tripled in the EU between 2011 and 2014; palm oil’s share of biofuel raw material leapt fivefold in that period. Half of the EU’s palm oil now goes to biofuel, double the share prior to the RED. Sustainability criteria were later added – although Oxfam and others have criticised their effectiveness – and earlier this month European commissioners proposed new limits on biofuel crops tied to deforestation. But the damage had already been done.

The oil palm is blessed with many attributes that have helped it on its path to dominance. It is perennial and evergreen, enabling year-round production. It is exceptionally efficient at photosynthesis for a perennial tree, and requires less preparation of the soil than other sources of vegetable oils, reducing costs. It can succeed in soils that can’t sustain other crops. Most importantly, it gives the highest yield per acre of any oilseed crop – almost five times as much oil per acre as rapeseed, almost six times as much as sunflower and more than eight times as much as soybeans. Boycotts of palm oil will only lead to its replacement by other crops needing far more farmland and likely more deforestation.

“The cost of production is far less than any compared [comparable] vegetable or animal fat,” said Sundram, of the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. “Industry is simply palming off the benefits to the consumer.”

For decades, palm’s production advantage went unrealised, until a Scot named Leslie Davidson instigated perhaps the most significant innovation in the industry’s history. Davidson had come to British Malaya in 1951 at the age of 20 to work on a Unilever plantation. Four years later, the company transferred him to Cameroon. The oil palm originated in west Africa, and had been introduced from there to Malaysia in 1875. In Cameroon, Davidson noticed that insects resembling rice weevils surrounded palm fruits. In Malaya, the plantations were employing hundreds of people to hand-pollinate the flowers, yet pollination occurred more efficiently in Cameroon.

When Unilever sent Davidson back to Malaya (now Malaysia) in 1960, he told his bosses he thought the Malaysian industry was going about pollination all wrong, and that insects were the natural pollinators of oil palm. “They told him to mind your own business and don’t get involved,” said Carl Bek-Nielsen, who knew Davidson.

In 1974, Davidson became vice-chair of Unilever International Plantations Group. He recruited three entomologists, led by the Pakistani scientist Rahman Syed, who travelled to Cameroon to investigate. Eventually Syed determined that Davidson’s hunch was correct: a particular species of weevil was pollinating the oil palm trees, and Davidson received permission from the Malaysian government to import some.

On 21 February, 1981, 2,000 Elaeidobius kamerunicus were released at Unilever’s Mamor estate in Johor. Results were seen immediately, with no adverse effects, and the pollinating weevils were distributed across Malaysia. The following year, the country saw an increase in yield of 400,000 tonnes of palm oil and 300,000 tonnes of palm kernels.

The new pollination technique was a key factor in palm oil’s growth. As yields climbed, and the cost of labour to manually pollinate the trees was more efficiently deployed for picking the fruit, there was an explosion in the volume of land devoted to oil-palm plantations. Davidson had radically changed the future of Malaysia and Indonesia.

But the changes wouldn’t have occurred without pushes from policymakers in both countries. “We’ve seen a lot of effort from both governments into supporting the sector because it’s an easy way to develop the economy,” said Raquel Moreno-Peñaranda, research fellow at United Nations University’s Institute of Advanced Studies in Tokyo, who studies agricultural systems and advises governments. Malaysia’s minister of primary industries, Teresa Kok, told the European Palm Oil Conference in Madrid in October: “Palm oil is synonymous with poverty eradication.” Malaysia began its programme to boost palm exports as a means of poverty reduction in 1961, four years after independence from Britain. Rubber had been a key crop, but with prices falling, the government initiated a programme to replace rubber plantations with oil palm. In 1968, Malaysia provided palm oil producers with a series of tax breaks. Industry subsequently invested heavily in milling technology to extract the oil from the fruit. In the early 1970s, fractionation was developed, expanding the applications of palm oil for both food and other uses.

More recently, plantation owners have found profitable uses for waste such as empty fruit bunches, palm fronds, palm fruit peels, and palm kernel shells. Mill effluent that was once dumped into nearby streams now produces electricity. These new revenue streams reduce planters’ risk by providing income even when palm oil prices are down (such as right now), and have helped them face headwinds such as the increasing costs of labour and fertiliser.

But the push for increased palm oil production has not only come from inside Malaysia and Indonesia. World Bank policies in the 1970s encouraged the Indonesian government to expand palm among small farmers. The 1998 economic crisis in Asia shattered exports of manufactured goods from the region, but commodity exports, which were sold in dollars, “came in like a life vest in rough choppy seas,” Bek-Nielsen recalled. The IMF’s bailout package for Indonesia required that it generate revenue by cultivating natural resources and erase export taxes the government had imposed to keep prices low at home. The measures further incentivised expansion of palm plantations. Alongside the IMF, private finance has helped boost production: Dutch banks alone provided more than $12bn in loans to Indonesian palm producers in the years 1995-99.

The short-term benefits to plantation owners and labourers, producer-nations’ governments and financiers have come with enormous long-term costs to the global climate. Forests destroyed for oil palm plantations are among the most carbon-rich in the world. When they are burned, that carbon is released.

Palm oil now accounts for 13.7% of Malaysia’s gross national income and is Indonesia’s top export. In October, at the European Palm Oil Association meeting in Madrid, government officials from the two countries trumpeted the successes in poverty reduction they had achieved thanks to palm oil (though growers in Indonesia, at least, have disputed these claims, calling on government and industry to do more for farmers independent of the big plantations). Officials further insisted that deforestation was being halted and sustainability achieved, even as another speaker told the attendees deforestation had actually increased in some areas over the previous decade. (In September, Indonesia’s president signed a three-year moratorium on new palm-plantation development.)

Commodity-producing countries need only answer to their buyers, though, while those buyers must respond to consumers. In 2004, the environmental NGO Friends of the Earth UK released a report detailing deforestation rates from palm-oil production. As the outcry spread, and concern rose among producers that the continued deforestation would become a risk to their reputations, the World Wildlife Federation that year convinced a small number of palm growers, manufacturers and retailers to establish the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. A decade later, most of the major users of palm oil had committed to production the RSPO deemed “sustainable” and 19% of global product was certified as such by the organisation. But the Environmental Investigation Agency, an offshoot of Greenpeace, three years ago found RSPO to be “woefully substandard” and “in some cases … colluding … to disguise violations”. (RSPO responded in a statement that it “takes very seriously the claims contained in the EIA report, and welcomes it as an opportunity for intensifying this dialogue, and further [improving] its certification system.”)

It is extraordinarily difficult to make sure that palm oil is being sustainably produced. A single palm oil mill – there are hundreds in Malaysia alone – can buy fruit from a multitude of suppliers, and with all its formulations and derivatives, palm oil has one of the most complicated supply chains of any ingredient. Even when the sustainability certification system is working as it is supposed to, environmentalists have criticised such programmes. For instance, a product can earn a “certified sustainable” label even if 99% of the palm oil it includes came from freshly deforested land. The RSPO says having less strict certification criteria encourages participation, the hope being that manufacturers of retail products will ramp up to higher levels once they see they can sell certified palm oil for a higher price.

Before the European Palm Oil Association meeting, RSPO’s head of European operations, Inke van der Sluijs, admitted that “very few companies do [the highest level of sustainability certification] because of the complexity and length of the supply chain”. RSPO is widely viewed by environmentalists as the most robust of several certification systems and encourages manufacturers to use RSPO-certified oil. Nevertheless, half of certified-sustainable palm oil isn’t sold as sustainable: until a sufficient number of consumers are willing to pay the higher price for certified palm oil, little will change.

Moreover, the vast majority of palm oil is traced only as far as the mill where it’s processed, not to the field where it’s produced. The WWF – the same organisation that spurred palm oil certification – said in a 2016 report that “mill traceability [on its own] wastes time and money without offering a solution to the issues of illegal product entering the supply chains”. There is now a growing effort to deploy technology to trace each bunch of fruit to a field and farmer, which would finally ensure new deforestation isn’t occurring to produce palm oil.

The other hope for halting deforestation for palm is increasing yields, the idea being that if more oil can come from existing plantations it will obviate the need to expand the planting area into biodiverse forest. Rajinder Singh, leader of the genomics group at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, a government agency, has been identifying genetic signatures associated with certain traits so high-yielding palms can be selected and land isn’t wasted on trees that don’t produce much. The best plantations currently yield around six or seven tonnes of oil per hectare, but Singh said, “we’ve seen individual palms that can give almost double” the amount of oil compared to common strains. As trees reach the end of their productive life of 25-30 years, they could be replaced by more prolific strains.

But even doubling yields won’t meet the near-quadrupling of demand expected by 2050. There is no easy solution. Replacing palm with other oils will only accelerate deforestation, since none of its competitors boast anywhere near its yield per unit of land: palm accounts for 6.6% of cultivated land for oils and fats, while delivering 38.7% of the output, according to the European Palm Oil Alliance, an industry group. Colombia is aggressively pursuing palm oil development in areas formerly devoted to illegal crops such as coca, but it has a lot of catching up to match Asia’s output.

Palm oil has become ubiquitous because it is the perfect ingredient for a number of growing industries, the perfect export for developing economies, and the perfect commodity for the globalised economy that links them. Wealthy consumers are capitalising on the cheap labour and valuable rainforest that developing nations have in abundance and are willing to part with at a discount to accelerate their economic growth.

But that model isn’t sustainable. If things continue, the forests and their creatures will be gone, and the cost of labour will increase as some workers move up the economic ladder and realise there are better things they could be doing than picking fruit. Palm oil producers and consumers will be left with nothing.

Products that are sustainable are those produced and consumed locally; when buyers are able to witness the production process, they will demand that it occur in line with their values. When it’s out of sight, it’s difficult to get enough of them to care. Changing that may require more than a little magic.

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O termóstato humano ( !? )

Mais um texto revelador da total e irresponsável imbecilidade de José Diogo Quintela e objectivamente revelador da sua mente, verdadeiramente fedorenta.

O termóstato humano 
José Diogo Quintela
12/2/2019, 0:01833

Quando sai uma notícia a dizer que Portugal é o 5º país da Europa onde é mais difícil aquecer a casa, na realidade quer dizer que somos o 5º país da Europa que melhor descarboniza. Parabéns a nós.

Quanto tempo demorou esta página a abrir? Se foram mais de 5 segundos, aposto que o leitor ficou impaciente. (Mais ainda ao perceber que esteve à espera para ler perguntas parvas). Se 5 segundos parecem muito, imagine 4,5 milhões de anos. É a idade da Terra. Tão velha, que, se fosse uma automotora, a CP pensava duas vezes antes de a usar.

Durante esses 4,5 mil milhões de anos, o clima foi sempre mudando. Ora ameno, ora tempestuoso, ora fresquinho, ora abafado. Há mais ou menos 300 mil anos, aparecemos nós. E o clima continuou a alternar entre quente e frio, farrusco e soalheiro. Eu sei, parece incrível, mas era assim que acontecia. Essas mudanças eram causadas pelo Sol, pelas nuvens, pela inclinação do eixo e pela velocidade de rotação da Terra, pelos raios cósmicos, pela composição da atmosfera, pelos oceanos e pelos vulcões, entre outras forças.

Funcionou assim até 1750, o início da Revolução Industrial. Subitamente, com o CO2 emitido pela queima de combustíveis fósseis, o clima passou a ser controlado pela humanidade. O resto, que trabalhara durante 4,499,999,731 anos, deixou de ter influência. É a única explicação para, agora, se achar que somos nós que mandamos no clima e que podemos alterá-lo à nossa vontade. No fundo, a humanidade é aquela criança que recebe um volante de plástico para colar nas costas do banco do condutor e, como o carro vira quando ela vira o brinquedo, julga que, a partir desse dia, é ela que guia o popó do papá.

Vivo com uma mulher friorenta que liga o aquecimento no máximo, e com 2 adolescentes que deixam as janelas sempre abertas. Se acho difícil controlar a temperatura de uma casa, é-me impossível compreender o conceito de controlar a do planeta. A ser verdade, a humanidade tem a obrigação moral de utilizar esse conhecimento para inventar um micro-ondas que aqueça a sopa por inteiro, em vez de ficar a ferver por cima e gelada em baixo, como uma feminista radical quando prega sobre masculinidade tóxica.

Mas vamos supor que a humanidade controla mesmo o clima e que o aumento de temperatura que, de facto, se verifica desde a Rev. Industrial é causado maioritariamente pelas actividades humanas. Suponhamos também que, tal como a fez subir, o Homem pode parar a sua subida. Basta aplicar o Acordo de Paris que, através de um encarecimento brutal da energia, limitará a 1,5°C o aumento da temperatura desde o fim do séc. XIX.

A questão é: para quê? É melhor ter apenas 1,5°C a mais, mas não ter dinheiro para ligar uma ventoinha? Ou é preferível que temperatura suba mais um bocado, mas haja ar condicionado em casa e nos transportes, frigoríficos, carros para nos levar à praia e computadores com Internet, para podermos ir ao Twitter insultar quem não acredita que o aquecimento global é culpa da humanidade?

É que a descarbonização exigida pelo Acordo de Paris vai acabar com a energia acessível e abundante. Energia essa que nos protege, justamente, dos cataclismos que, dizem, o aquecimento global já está a provocar. A diferença entre a aplicação ou não do Acordo é a mesma diferença entre os efeitos de um furacão na Florida e de um ciclone no Bangladesh: em ambos as populações põem-se em fuga, mas a forma como conseguem fugir é que é distinta. Na Florida é de carro em auto-estradas de 5 faixas; no Bangladesh é a pé por caminhos de lama. Quando não falecem nestas condições miseráveis (mas ecológicas), os bengalis vivem com um gasto energético virtuoso, próximo do que os proponentes do Acordo de Paris consideram ser o adequado para nós. Daí que, quando sai uma notícia a dizer que Portugal é o 5º país da Europa onde é mais difícil aquecer a casa, na realidade quer dizer que somos o 5º país da Europa que melhor descarboniza. Parabéns a nós.

(A propósito, já repararam que, mesmo nos filmes em que a Terra é destruída e há que emigrar para outro planeta, as naves que transportam a humanidade nunca são propulsionadas a vento? É sempre preciso queimar combustível. Nem a imaginação prodigiosa da ficção científica tem capacidade para fantasiar um cenário em que as renováveis salvam o dia).

Sempre houve cheias, tornados, secas e outros fenómenos climáticos extremos. E vai continuar a haver. A diferença é que agora temos mais e melhores meios para nos defendermos. Pelo menos enquanto não acabarem com eles: parece que a estratégia para nos protegermos dos cataclismos é deixar de usar o que nos protege de cataclismos. É como se Noé reunisse a família e anunciasse:

– Malta, falei agora com Deus. Parece que a Humanidade está a ser parva, de maneira que Ele vai mandar uma borrasca e disse para construirmos uma arca e meter lá os bichos todos.

– Vou buscar o serrote! – diz um dos filhos de Noé.

– E eu o martelo e pregos! – diz o outro.

– Nada disso – diz Noé. – Vamos cortar a madeira com golpes de karaté e colá-la com saliva.

– Isso é estúpido – dizem os filhos.

– Não, isso é transição energética – diz Noé.

– Vou ensinar os animais a nadar – diz a mulher de Noé.

É inegável que temperaturas têm aumentado nos últimos 150 anos. E é inegável que já aconteceram aumentos semelhantes ao longo da história, geralmente ligados a períodos de desenvolvimento civilizacional, como foi o caso do Período Quente Medieval. Também houve épocas mais frias, como a Pequena Idade do Gelo da qual saíamos há dois séculos, o que ajuda a explicar parte da subida. Daí que notícias como a da semana passada, sobre 2018 ter sido o 4º ano mais quente desde que começaram os registos em 1880, são irrelevantes. Significa apenas que dos 4,499,999,861 anos em que não se tomaram notas sobre a temperatura da Terra, este ano foi o 4º mais quente. Não devia chegar para nos obrigar a voltar ao Neolítico. Que foi uma época em que não se faziam registos anuais. Até porque não se sabia registar. Nem havia o conceito de “anos”.

A energia renovável é o futuro, mas, enquanto não se resolver a questão da intermitência e armazenamento, não pode substituir os combustíveis fósseis. Até lá, não faz sentido prescindir de energia acessível e barata. Como o demonstra esta nova conversa forjada com uma figura histórica. Desta feita, Gutenberg:

– Acabo de inventar a imprensa! Vamos exterminar os gansos, já não precisamos de penas.

– Mas quantas máquinas fizeste? – pergunta um amigo.

– Só uma.

– Chega para substituir a escrita à mão?

– Não, mas se já há um método novo, não faz sentido continuar a usar-se o antigo. É o futuro, pá. Aprender caligrafia é selvagem.

Este texto é o equivalente moderno da heresia. O discurso catastrofista, apoiado em previsões que têm falhado, mas são depois actualizadas para serem ainda mais assustadoras, é igualzinho às jeremiadas religiosas. “O mundo não acabou em 2010? Então vai acabar em 2020. E vai ser ainda pior!” A fórmula é a mesma: i) a humanidade tem-se portado mal; ii) a nossa geração é a que se tem portado pior; iii) o castigo será terrível; iv) mas a humanidade pode salvar-se, se corrigir comportamentos iníquos e assim apaziguar o Criador ofendido, neste caso, a Natureza. Portanto, há pecado, há Ser Superior, há profetas, há ameaça de fúria divina, há redenção e há aquele cheirinho a bazófia de “somos os escolhidos”. Há também fanatismo beato, como se vê na fúria com que atacam os blasfemos que se atrevem a duvidar da verdade revelada. Estou convencido que só não há autos-de-fé para não aumentar as emissões de CO2. E, claro, porque “auto” remete para o repugnante automóvel.

Resumindo – em mais uma aborrecida analogia para a qual peço paciência – o clima da Terra é como um transatlântico. A sua velocidade depende de muitos factores: do estado do mar, da condição dos motores, da sua potência, da visibilidade, da altura do dia, peso da carga, do número de passageiros, da qualidade do capitão e da tripulação. Mas alguém está convencido que, pendurando-se na proa como o DiCaprio no Titanic e soprando, consegue fazer com que o barco abrande. Só que esse alguém é uma criança. Asmática, ainda por cima. E, ao ver que os sopros não abrandam o barco, acha que a forma de melhorar a performance é deitar fora a bomba de asma.

RBTV: Entrevista com Conan Osiris

Este Osiris é a prova que descendemos de 'aliens' via o 'canal' Egipcio. Grande eloquência línguística que 'confirma' a 'necessidade' do Acordo Ortográfico.Síntoma preocupante do retrocesso degenerativo da espécie humana ...
Bué ...Bué ... Bué ... Curtir ... curtir ... curtir ... a cena ... a cena ... a cena ... tás a ver ... tás a ver ... tás a ver ...

segunda-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2019

Theresa May sets course for Brexit disaster


Theresa May sets course for Brexit disaster
The UK prime minister appears to be betting on a deal at the very last minute.

By           TOM MCTAGUE AND JACOPO BARIGAZZI            2/16/19, 9:00 AM CET Updated 2/18/19, 4:25 AM CET

LONDON — The emergency sirens are whirring for a no-deal Brexit — only this time it’s not a drill.

In European capitals there is now mounting alarm that Theresa May has set Britain on course for a diplomatic disaster, by fundamentally misjudging how far EU leaders are prepared to bend at the last minute in their summit just a week before Britain’s EU departure date.

A month after suffering the biggest parliamentary defeat in British history, May is doubling down on her strategy of winning her Brexiteer backbenchers and the Democratic Unionist Party over to supporting her deal by securing legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement she finalized with the EU in November. Her ministers have made diplomatic forays to Brussels, Strasbourg, Paris and Dublin in recent days and May herself has spoken to the leaders of Germany, Portugal, Austria and Sweden. Next week, she will be back in Brussels for talks with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Despite yet another defeat in the House of Commons Thursday — albeit on a symbolic motion — the strategy remains the same. "The government's position remains to resolve the issues of the backstop and then come back to parliament with a fresh meaningful vote," Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom told the BBC Friday.

"No news is not always good news" — Donald Tusk

But there is skepticism in Brussels about the substance of the current diplomatic flurry. “There are no real talks going on. It’s more May speaking to capitals, testing the water and trying to give the impression to her people at home that there are actual talks to gain some time,” said one EU diplomat. “There’s nothing on the table yet, we still hope to see it at least in March.”

"No news is not always good news," tweeted Council President Donald Tusk, "EU27 still waiting for concrete, realistic proposals from London."

Senior EU27 officials say May has failed to narrow her Brexit demands to a “single constructive proposal” to find a way through the impasse over the Irish border.

One minister from a major EU power was left so shocked after a meeting with a U.K. counterpart last week they concluded Britain is now hell-bent on pushing the crisis to the wire in the hope of a last-minute concession from EU leaders, which will not materialize.

The view is shared by some senior members of the U.K. Cabinet, who fear the PM is heading for a repeat of the diplomatic disaster at the EU leaders' summit in Salzburg last September. At that meeting she miscalculated the EU’s willingness to engage with her proposed Chequers “compromise” offer, leaving her politically humiliated amid mocking headlines and recriminations in Westminster.

Senior EU27 officials say May has failed to narrow her Brexit demands to a “single constructive proposal” | Pool photo Kirsty Wigglesworth/Getty Images

'Something big'
One EU official said the idea that “something big” would emerge at the last-gasp summit in Brussels is just as misplaced. “The idea that you can just leave it until the last minute is crazy,” the official said. “You’re really into too-little-too-late territory. The work has to be done way before then.”

A second senior official from an EU27 member state confirmed EU capitals are increasingly concerned May is misreading the situation and heading for calamity. “Yes, there are growing worries,” the top-level official said.

Two senior EU figures — one official and one minister from a major EU power — said May’s only chance of a breakthrough at the March summit is if she narrows her demands to a single concrete proposal plus a “technical extension” to Article 50 before EU leaders meet on March 21. Neither see any chance of the Withdrawal Agreement being reopened. Three U.K. government ministers — including two in the Cabinet — agreed with this assessment.

With no sign of a breakthrough, the uneasy political truce in Westminster — designed to give May one last chance to win a concession from Brussels — is beginning to fray amid growing panic from government ministers opposed to a no-deal exit.

One Cabinet minister said March 22 is “way too late” for a sizeable number of ministers, who would resign to force the issue before then. “[The beginning of] March is the deadline really,” the Cabinet minister said. “It can’t go later than that.”

A second Cabinet minister fiercely opposed to a no-deal Brexit said May needs to come back with evidence that her strategy to wring a significant concession out of the EU is working before the next parliamentary battle on February 27.

“It has to be now. This can’t hold much longer" — Minister

A third government minister involved in the so-called “Malthouse compromise” (agreed among Tory MPs to replace the backstop with unspecified “alternative arrangements") said May is quickly running out of time and needs to make an offer to Brussels within days.

“It has to be now,” the minister said. “This can’t hold much longer.”

The minister from a major power said they were shocked to hear from a U.K. counterpart that London is apparently intent on dragging things out until March 21. At that point, May would bring a menu of three or four ideas for changing the backstop from which EU leaders would be invited to choose. If they reject all of them, she would blame EU intransigence for the ensuing chaos.

More time
Among U.K. Cabinet ministers, diplomats and senior EU officials, speculation is growing about a short technical extension of the Article 50 exit period, which could be agreed in principle in early March to create the space for a showdown at the summit in Brussels later that month.

This would give the U.K. and EU time to implement whatever was agreed at the summit — or put in place the last-minute preparations for no-deal.

In this scenario, the March meeting of EU leaders would agree the final Brexit package while also officially signing off a short exit delay to allow the U.K. parliament to push through the agreement before British local elections on May 2.

However, senior EU27 officials and British Cabinet ministers are privately voicing fears that the U.K. prime minister is still misreading the extent of what is possible at the final summit.

This fear is not confined to European capitals. One senior Conservative MP said the PM is walking into the same trap she set for herself at the Salzburg meeting, and that colleagues have learned the wrong lesson from the euro crisis and the EU's treatment of Greece.

"That was the last time the U.K. thought it could all be sorted out politically” — Adviser

“There’s a constant theme here,” the MP said. “Every single Brexiteer says the same thing — 'the EU bailed out the Greeks, they will move at the death.' But, no, they f**king didn’t move for the Greeks. The Greeks got an even worse deal. There’s a real danger here that we are going to walk into the room with the same demands and get the same result.”

One adviser to an EU leader said there is a danger that London would repeat the miscalculation they made at Salzburg — that political leaders would step in and offer concessions.

“It was a big misunderstanding. They seemed to think this was the moment it would be taken out of the hands of [Michel] Barnier and become a political negotiation — that it was a unique moment, a unique solution. That was the last time the U.K. thought it could all be sorted out politically,” the adviser said.

The reality was very different. And if the same happens again there will be no time to rectify the crisis before the U.K. crashes out with no deal.

domingo, 17 de fevereiro de 2019

Thousands of UK students strike over climate change

 'The beginning of great change': Greta Thunberg hails school climate strikes
The 16-year-old’s lone protest last summer has morphed into a powerful global movement challenging politicians to act

Jonathan Watts
Fri 15 Feb 2019 06.00 GMT Last modified on Fri 15 Feb 2019 19.56 GMT

Greta Thunberg is hopeful the student climate strike on Friday can bring about positive change, as young people in more and more countries join the protest movement she started last summer as a lone campaigner outside the Swedish parliament.

The 16-year-old welcomed the huge mobilisation planned in the UK, which follows demonstrations by tens of thousands of school and university students in Australia, Belgium, Germany, the United States, Japan and more than a dozen other countries.

“I think it’s great that England is joining the school strike in a major way this week. There has been a number of real heroes on school strike, for instance in Scotland and Ireland, for some time now. Such as Holly Gillibrand and the ones in Cork with the epic sign saying ‘the emperor is naked’,” she told the Guardian.

With an even bigger global mobilisation planned for 15 March, she feels the momentum is now building.

“I think enough people have realised just how absurd the situation is. We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history and basically nothing is being done to prevent it. I think what we are seeing is the beginning of great changes and that is very hopeful,” she wrote.

Thunberg has risen rapidly in prominence and influence. In December, she spoke at the United Nations climate conference, berating world leaders for behaving like irresponsible children.

Last month, she had similarly harsh words for the global business elite at Davos. She said: “Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”

The movement she started has morphed and grown around the world , and, at times, linked up with older groups, including Extinction Rebellion, 350.org and Greenpeace.

Next week she will take the train – having decided not to fly due to the high carbon emissions of aviation – to speak at an event alongside Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, in Brussels, and then on to Paris to join the school strikes now expanding in France.

Veteran climate campaigners are astonished by what has been achieved in such a short time. “The movement that Greta launched is one of the most hopeful things in my 30 years of working on the climate question. It throws the generational challenge of global warming into its sharpest relief, and challenges adults to prove they are, actually, adults. So many thanks to all the young people who are stepping up,” said Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org.

Around the world, so many student strikes are now taking place or planned that it is becoming hard to keep up. On Twitter, a supporter who posts under the name The Dormouse That Roared, has compiled a Google map that pins all the reported or announced locations, stretching from Abuja and Bugoloobi to Sacramento and Medellín. “This is not perfect by any means. It’s an emergency after all,” the online campaigner told the Guardian.

The most recent version shows thick clusters of activity, particularly in the UK and northern Europe. “#climatestrike. The house is on fire. Just wow!” wrote @dormouseroared, who is also collecting the different terms for “climate strike” in different languages.

In reply, people on Twitter have written, “I’ve been dreaming of this”, “Power to the children”, “beautiful” and simply “hope”.

Australia was one of the first countries to mobilise. Last November, organisers estimate 15,000 students went on strike. Last Friday, students lobbied outside the offices of the opposition party. On 1 March, they will target the federal treasurer’s office. Two weeks later, they will join the global strike.

 They are demanding immediate political action to stop the Adani coalmine in Queensland, and a switch from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy.

On Thursday, three student activists from Castlemaine in Australia – Callum Bridgefoot, 11; Harriet O’Shea Carre, 14 and Milou Albrechy,14 – spoke with the leader of the opposition in the federal parliament. “It’s a good sign that he is willing to meet,” they said. “The prime minister condemned the strike.”

The resources minister Matt Canavan was still more hostile, saying students would be better off learning about mining and science. “These are the type of things that excite young children and we should be great at it as a nation,” he told a local radio station. “The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.”

In Belgium, there have been strikes by thousands of students for at least four consecutive weeks, with one now-famous placard – addressed to politicians and policymakers – reading: “I’ll do my homework when you do yours.”

More than 3,000 scientists have given their backing to the strikes. The Belgian government is clearly feeling the pressure. The environment minister was forced to resign after falsely claiming the country’s intelligence services held evidence that the striking children were being directed by unnamed powers. The allegation was quickly contradicted by intelligence chiefs.

Switzerland has seen some of the biggest actions. Local activists said 23,000 joined the strike on 18 January, followed by 65,000 on 2 February. They too are preparing for the global demonstration on 15 March. They want the government to immediately declare a climate state of emergency, implement policies to be zero-carbon by 2030 without geo-engineering, and if necessary move away from the current economic system.

Activists said they want to make clear that the problem is systematic rather than a matter of individual lifestyle choices. They have been criticised by right-wing politicians, but local governments have met student delegations to discuss short-term steps, such as a ban on any school trip that involves a flight. One regional authority has declared its support for the student movement. In an election year, state leaders have also expressed guarded support.

“For the moment, the government has reacted in a very paternalistic way. They say that it’s a good sign that the youth is demonstrating for its future but they don’t really do anything about it,” said Thomas Bruchez, a 20-year-old student at the University of Geneva. In two weeks, he said the organisers will prepare for the next nationwide strike, when they will consider how to involve workers and try to define more precise claims, such as free public transport financed by highly progressive taxes.

In Germany, activists told the Guardian there are mobilisations every week. Last Friday, there were 20,000 students striking in 50 cities. On 18 January, there were 30,000. And there will be another strike this Friday in at least 30 cities.

The global strike on 15 March is expected to be the biggest yet with mobilisations in 150 cities. “It is not acceptable that grown-ups are destroying the future right now,” said Jakob Blasel, a high-school student. “Our goal to stop coal power in Germany and fossil energy everywhere.” He said politicians have expressed admiration for their campaign, but this has not translated into action. “This is not acceptable. We won’t stop until they start acting.”

Until now 75% of the participants have been schoolchildren but increasing numbers of university students are joining. Luisa Neubauer, a 22-year-old, was among those invited to talk to senior cabinet officials. She told the German minister of economy that he was part of the problem because he was working for industry, rather than for people or the planet.

“What we need our politicians and our government to understand is that everything they do today comes at a price for future generations,” she said. “We are not doing this for fun, but because we don’t have a choice.”

But she too noted a new direction in the national discussion. “There is a debate now about climate and the environment, which is good. People for the first time in years are not talking about refugees but talking about the environment.”