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Category Archives: Environmental Law

Pandemic creates new billionaire every 30 hours — now a million people could fall into extreme poverty at same rate in 2022

As the cost of essential goods rises faster than it has in decades, billionaires in the food and energy sectors are increasing their fortunes by $1 billion every two days. For every new billionaire created during the pandemic — one every 30 hours — nearly a million people could be pushed into extreme poverty in 2022 at nearly the same rate, reveals a new Oxfam brief today. “Profiting from Pain” is published as the World Economic Forum — the exclusive get-together of the global elite in Davos — takes place for the first time face-to-face since COVID-19, a period during which billionaires have enjoyed a huge boost to their fortunes.  “Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes. The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them. Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive,” said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International. The brief shows that 573 people became new billionaires during the pandemic, at the rate of one every 30 hours. We expect this year that 263 million more people will crash into extreme poverty, at a rate of a million people every 33 hours. Billionaires’ wealth has risen more in the first 24 months of COVID-19 than in 23 years combined. The total wealth of the world’s billionaires is now equivalent to 13.9 percent of global GDP. This is a three-fold increase (up from 4.4 percent) in 2000.  “Billionaires’ fortunes have not increased because they are now smarter or working harder. Workers are working harder, for less pay and in worse conditions. The super-rich have rigged the system with impunity for decades and they are now reaping the benefits. They have seized a shocking amount of the world’s wealth as a result of privatization and monopolies, gutting regulation and workers’ rights while stashing their cash in tax havens — all with the complicity of governments,” said Bucher.  “Meanwhile, millions of others are skipping meals, turning off the heating, falling behind on bills and wondering what they can possibly do next to survive. Across East Africa, one person is likely dying every minute from hunger. This grotesque inequality is breaking the bonds that hold us together as humanity. It is divisive, corrosive and dangerous. This is inequality that literally kills.” Oxfam’s new research also reveals that corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors — where monopolies are especially common — are posting record-high profits, even as wages have barely budged and workers struggle with decades-high prices amid COVID-19. The fortunes of food and energy billionaires have risen by $453 billion in the last two years, equivalent to $1 billion every two days. Five of the largest energy companies (BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Exxon and Chevron) are together making $2,600 profit every second, and there are now 62 new food billionaires…”

in Ukraine, there is widespread pollution from war

Via Massachusetts Sierra Club: “In addition to the massive human and economic destruction (with concomitant embodied carbon losses) in Ukraine, there is widespread pollution from war. Examples: Bombing petrochemical infrastructure, power plants or fuel depots (military, airports etc.): Depot Power plant in Luhansk Building fires in general (note the thick black chemical smoke in some):… Continue Reading

3 surprising ways to cope with climate change

Mashable: “…In the U.S., one survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that more than two-thirds of Americans are somewhat or extremely anxious about climate change. Last year, the Lancet polled 10,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 25 from around the world and found that more than half reported feeling sad, anxious,… Continue Reading

This Norwegian Area Is Being Remade by Climate Change

Outside: “Tiny Svalbard, Norway, is the newest front line in the war against climate change. The archipelago, located just east of Greenland, has experienced record high temperatures in both the summer and winter in recent years. According to The New York Times, the warming is having a dramatic impact on the region’s economy—specifically its reliance… Continue Reading

Overview of the SEC Climate Risk Disclosure Proposed Rule

CRS Insight: Overview of the SEC Climate Risk Disclosure Proposed Rule, May 17, 2022 “On March 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-1 to issue sweeping proposed climate-related disclosure rules for public companies. In issuing the proposed rules, the SEC cited its existing statutory authorities under the federal securities laws— specifically, the… Continue Reading

State of the Global Climate 2021

“Four key climate change indicators – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification – set new records in 2021. This is yet another clear sign that human activities are causing planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean, and in the atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for sustainable development and… Continue Reading

EU launches database to help consumers on energy efficient products

“A new EU-wide public database enabling consumers to compare the energy efficiency class and other data about different household products has been launched by the European Commission this week. With detailed information on well over 1 million products, the European Product Registry for Energy Labelling (EPREL) breaks new ground in helping EU consumers become more energy… Continue Reading

Pollution and health: a progress update

The Lancet Planetary Health: “The Lancet Commission on pollution and health reported that pollution was responsible for 9 million premature deaths in 2015, making it the world’s largest environmental risk factor for disease and premature death. We have now updated this estimate using data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuriaes, and Risk Factors Study… Continue Reading

Drought in Numbers 2022 – restoration for readiness and resilience

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification – Drought around the world (1900-2022) “More than 10 million people lost their lives due to major drought events in the past century, causing several hundred billion USD in economic losses worldwide, and the numbers are rising (Guha-Sapir, D. et al., 2021) Severe drought affects Africa more than any… Continue Reading

1 in 6 Americans live in areas with significant wildfire risk

Washington Post: “When a wildfire tore through drought-stricken towns near Boulder, Colo., late last year, it reminded Americans that fire risk is changing. It didn’t matter that it was winter. It didn’t matter that many of the more than 1,000 homes and other structures lost sat in suburban subdivisions, not forested enclaves. The old rules… Continue Reading

The Atlantic Introducing an Expanded Books Section

The Atlantic: “…That quality of literature—and the criticism that helps make sense of it—is a large part of why we’re excited to be expanding books coverage at The Atlantic. Since its founding in 1857, this magazine “of Literature, Art, and Politics” has been home to great writing about the momentous books and literary debates of… Continue Reading

Redefining Walkability Examining equity and creating safer streets for all in DC

The Urban Institute’s walkability report: “When the District of Columbia launched its Vision Zero initiative in 2015, a pedestrian or cyclist had been dying on the city’s streets every 21 days. Now, seven years into an initiative intended to eliminate traffic-related deaths by 2024, the District has gone backward: in 2021, a pedestrian or cyclist… Continue Reading