Australia: on foot and on horseback, they demonstrate for sustainable energy

Thousands of Australians demonstrated Saturday in Sydney, on foot and even on horseback, to call for the halting of coal and gas mining projects in rural areas and the development of renewable energies.

The show was unusual in the city center, with horses trotting along the main avenues to join the protest, titled "Time2Choose" (It's time to choose) and which brought together environmental activists, aboriginals and grandmothers with their knit.

Across the continent, activists protest against developing mining projects near residential or agricultural areas, fearing that they will damage arable land.

"The coal and gas market is changing and global approaches to energy are changing, "one of the organizers of the demonstration, Georgina Woods of the Lock The Gate anti-coal group, told AFP.

 Sydney, on foot or on horseback, demand the abandonment of mining projects for the development of renewable energies (AFP - Peter PARKS)

Protesters in Sydney, on foot or on horseback, claim the abandonment of mining projects in favoring the development of renewable energies (AFP – Peter PARKS)

"We do not want our country to sacrifice sustainable agriculture and the population with short-term financial interests linked to mines that bring only long-term degradation environmental term, "she added.

Australia is one of the largest producers of coal and gas in the world, but projects under development, particularly for gas, are raising concerns and resistances due to extraction techniques and the use of hydraulic fracturing.

Some states and territories have banned these techniques in the name of environmental protection, others have increased their investment sustainable development projects

"Our farms are ruined, without water, there are drilling platforms or coal mines in the middle of the fields," Clare Twomey told AFP , one of the founders of Knitting Nannas Against Gas (grandmothers knitters against gas). "This is a huge disaster for our planet."

The debate has taken on a new dimension since last year with rising household energy bills, which some attribute to domestic shortages related to the suspension of onshore gas projects

Non-renewable energies such as coal and gas are the main source for electricity in Australia, despite a rise in recent years in the share of renewable energies.

Are the largest terrestrial animals already condemned?

Wildcats, bears, wolves, but also bison, zebras, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, great apes … The majority of the 101 species of large terrestrial herbivores and carnivores are in danger and some are already condemned to

According to the commonly accepted definition, terrestrial "megafauna" includes carnivores of at least 15 kilograms and large herbivores of more than 100 kilograms, a relatively modest total of 101 species.

But three-fifths of these iconic creatures are classified as threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including more than a dozen in the category "critically endangered" or "extinct in the wild."

 Photographed on December 5, 2016 in Nanyuki, Kenya, Sudan, the last white rhinoceros male of the North, died on March 20, 2018 at the age of 45 (AFP / Archives - Tony KARUMBA)

Shot on December 5, 2016 in Nanyuki in Kenya, Sudan, the last white rhinoceros male of the North, died on March 20, 2018 at the age of 45 (AFP / Archives – Tony KARUMBA)

"Scientists in charge of conservation will soon be busy writing obituaries for species or subspecies of megafauna as they disappear from the planet, "laments Bill Ripple, of the University of Oregon, principal author of an appeal signed in December by more than 15,000 of his colleagues warning humanity

New bad news this week: Sudan, the last male Northern white rhino died at the age of 45 in a zoo in Kenya while still at home less than 700 of its congeners in the wild at the time of its birth.

Then the specialists, formerly measured, do not mince words anymore.

– "Before our eyes" –

For some, the antelope Addax of the Sahara is "doomed to extinction". For others, the eastern gorilla, also hunted for its meat, "is only one step away" from extinction, like the orangutans of Borneo and Sumatra.

 Biodiversity threatened by the global warming (AFP - Nick Shearman)

Biodiversity threatened by global warming (AFP – Nick Shearman)

Fascinating animals still large enough to attract millions of tourists to Africa each year are also declining. [19659002] Lion, rhinoceros and cheetah populations have fallen by more than 90% in the last century; the number of giraffes, now classified as "vulnerable", has dropped by 40% in 30 years; and 30% of polar bears may disappear by the middle of the 21st century.

"It is very possible that we see these giants go extinct in nature during our lives, before our eyes", explains the director of IUCN Inger Andersen

And the broader context is not encouraging.

 Polar bear Tonja in Tierpark zoo Berlin 4 March 2018 (dpa / AFP / Archives - Paul Zinken)

Polar bear Tonja in Tierpark Zoo Berlin 4 March 2018 (dpa / AFP / Archives – Paul Zinken)

Scientists agree that a new "mass extinction" has begun, which sees species of all kinds and sizes disappear 100 times faster than normal. [19659002] The Earth has so far experienced five mass extinctions, the most recent of which, the dinosaurs, date back 66 million years.

Today, megafauna is the victim of multiple risks related to the human expansion, from habitat loss to poaching, conflict with livestock, and for example, polar bears, climate change.

– "Silent Savannah" –

"The first threat facing African wildlife is that we eat it, "notes Paul Funston, director of the program amme lions from the NGO Panthera. A situation described in some areas as "silent savannah syndrome."

 Imbi, western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) holds her baby gorilla at the Belo Horizonte Zoo (Brazil), May 12, 2017 (AFP / Archives - DOUGLAS MAGNO)

Imbi, western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) holds her baby gorilla at the Belo Horizonte Zoo (Brazil), May 12, 2017 (AFP / Archives – DOUGLAS MAGNO)

"Certain areas protected are totally intact, the woods, the birds, the bees, everything is there, but the big mammals are gone, because they have been eaten, "says Funston, noting the increase of the population on the continent

Despite the dismal record, conservationists do not lose hope and have allowed some species to recover from the beast.

But they must also be realistic, says Michael Knight, who leads the IUCN group charged African rhino.

"Africa no longer matches the dream landscapes where open run wild animals," they insist. And in 50 years, "the challenges will be ten, or maybe fifty times, more difficult."

For Paul Funston, the solution will come from strategic investments in national parks, while studies show a link between sums invested per km2 and survival rates of protected species

"We are almost ready for triage," he explains. "For lions, it's done, we have identified 14 key areas where money must be concentrated."

But "we urgently need to move away from a species-based approach," insists the expert .

"Blue", the bet of the positive film to awaken green consciences

New release of Disneynature, released Wednesday, "Blue" offers sublime and unpublished images of life in the ocean, a positive film on purpose, to try to educate a wide audience about the beauty and fragility of the nature.

The film, directed by two veterans of the animal genre, Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill, follows several charismatic characters in the clear wave, far from plastics or corals bleached by global warming: the dolphin "Blue" which learns to hunt alongside his mother, the humpback whale and his 4 meter cub, the dreaded orca …

Never-seen images that are just as patient (one year of filming in Polynesia in Mozambique) or the Bahamas), that new technologies (drones, cranes controlled remotely …).

The cameras show the night, approach closer to large animals as small, and capture crazy scenes: a school of sharks launched on u no grouping of groupers, dolphins forming "circles of sand" to trap the fish, a battle of male whales for the female …

 The two veterans of the animal kind, Keith Scholey (G) and Alastair Fothergill (D ), directors of

The two veterans of the animal genre, Keith Scholey (G) and Alastair Fothergill (D), directors of "Blue", photographed on April 25, 2012 in London (POOL / AFP / Archives – Chris Jackson) [19659007] History, served by the narration of Cécile de France, focuses on the wonders of nature, transmission, learning, solidarity, interdependence or intelligence.

Nothing that could offend the spectator, even if there are many rivalries, some predators … All invariably remains beauty and happy ends, even if the comment makes a quick mention of pollution, overfishing and the climate disrupted that today make the reality from the ocean

Jean-François Camilleri, founder of Disneynature ten years ago, assumes: "The idea is to create experiences, of wonder, so that the public, whatever the age, falls + in love + and wants to act" for the nature.

The subsidiary of Disney, which has produced "Oceans", "Felines" or "The Emperor", wants to be "a smuggler between specialists, scientists, and the general public."

" All can not be black, we are on the cinema of useful entertainment ", he adds. "But everything that happens is real, we do not disguise the reality," he insists. "Born in China", penultimate opus of Disneynature (2017), showed the death of the snow leopard …

– "We identify ourselves" –

How best to raise awareness of ecological issues? The debate is recurrent

In 2009, the "Syndrome of Titanic", advocacy for the planet of the very popular Nicolas Hulot, had not had the success expected by its author, criticized for its catastrophism.

 Jean- François Camilleri, founder of Disneynature ten years ago, April 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP / Archives - Charley Gallay)

Jean-François Camilleri, founder of Disneynature ten years ago years, April 12, 2015 in Los Angeles (California) (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP / Archives – Charley Gallay)

"If we put the drama forward, it is possible that the message is less good", Jean-François Camilleri says: "We identify with these mammals, parent-child relationships … we feel like we are seeing each other, and I think it affects more people," he says. Romain Troublé, President of the Tara Foundation, an environmental protection association which, the first week of exp loitation, will receive one euro for every child sold in cinemas CGR.

"Blue is primarily aimed at a young audience," he adds. "If I show my son a film where an orca eats a calf, it will only talk about that", which is not the goal. "The ocean, we do not know much about it, and it's an issue we need to talk about."

Gilles Benoît, biologist and former president of the Museum of Natural History , scientific advisor on the French narration, approves.

"The biggest animal that the earth has carried – the whale – is still with us, and we massacre it!", he indignant, reminding that "life was born in the ocean, today for example thousands of medicines are developed on the marine model."

Coal plant construction slows worldwide

CLOSURES. The group of researchers Coalswarm the American nature conservation association Sierra Club and the NGO Greenpeace assure it: the decline of coal as a source of electricity is in progress. According to the calculations of the three organizations, in the last two years the number of new plants entering service has fallen by 41% while the start of construction sites have decreased by 73%. Permits and planned projects have decreased by 59%. At the same time, between 2015 and 2017, 97 GigaWatts (GW) of capacity were closed. These plant shutdowns were mainly in the United States (45GW), where the policy is favorable to coal. China has scrapped for 16GW and the UK (which is giving up this type of energy) 8GW. There is therefore a "chisel effect". The authors of the report have indeed calculated that in 2022, the closures of coal-fired power plants will be more numerous than the openings. The share of this energy will begin to decrease sharply in the global energy mix.

This disaffection has several causes. In the United States, closures are linked to the growing production of shale gas that is more profitable than coal. Despite the efforts of the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, these economic rules condemn the country's mines. In addition, until now, closures were taking place in developed countries. These were mainly plants at the end of the activity. As a result, 290 GW capacity has reached the expected 39 years of life for such units. 144 GW are located in the United States and 59 GW in the European Union. An additional 315 GW will reach the age limit at the end of 2030.

Developing countries begin to turn away from coal

SCHISTE. The novelty is that this decade is marked by the abandonment of coal in developing countries. In East Asia (China, Japan, Korea), if 553 GW are under construction, 758 GW of projects have been abandoned, giving a 59% abandonment rate. In India, where the urgency is for the electrification of the whole country, only 17 power plants are in progress, and this, say the authors, because of the disaffection of the private investors. As in the United States, gas is the main competitor of coal. But the very competitive cost of renewables is also changing the game. The fact that solar and wind are now cheaper than fossil fuels is a phenomenon that dates back only half of the decade and the effects are beginning to be felt on investors' choices.

This decline is certainly a good news for the climate and the realization of the Paris agreement for a maintenance of the increase of the world temperatures to less than 2 ° C and if possible to 1,5 ° C (this increase is today of 1, 1 C). However the recorded decline is not enough. " The total CO2 emissions of coal-fired power plants around the world is 233 gigatonnes, higher than the total budget for 1.5 ° C and 2 ° C ," say the report's authors. To meet the 1.5 ° C threshold, all current construction projects should be canceled and most plants closed before 40 years of age. And even the goal of 2 ° C implies an accelerated closure of power plants in operation. This is the dark warning of the report.

Humanity puts itself in danger by overexploiting the planet

Humanity overexploits the planet and threatens its own welfare by causing the decline of flora and animals on Earth, facing the first extinction of species since the dinosaurs, Friday warned experts of the world

"We are sabotaging our own future well-being!" Robert Watson, Chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), told AFP

If nothing is done to stop the trend, the fish resource in the Asia-Pacific region will be depleted in 30 years and up to 90% of its corals seriously deteriorated by 2050.

In Africa, more than half of all bird and mammal species will be lost by 2100, warns this study compiled for IPBES in four huge regional reports.

"L state of biodiversity empire, "warned Mark Rounsevell, one of the co-authors of this vast study unveiled Friday in Medellin, Colombia.

– Threats on quality of life –

"This alarming trend threatens economies, livelihoods, security and the quality of life of people everywhere ", say experts at the origin of four regional reports 600 to 900 pages long.

For three years, more than 550 researchers have worked voluntarily on these assessments, which synthesize the data of about 10,000 scientific publications on the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Europe-Central Asia. The final result covers the entire Earth, apart from the international waters of the oceans and the Antarctic.

The reports were scrutinized by more than 750 experts and decision-makers from 115 of the 129 IPBES member countries all week in camera in Medellin, Colombia. They wrote summaries of about thirty pages each to guide the leaders in the protection of biodiversity.

"There are a lot of debates, the key messages were really discussed word by word", said to AFP Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of IPBES, stating that "the evaluation on Europe and Central Asia has requested eight sessions of three hours (…) and another, the last one that is over at 4:00 am

If Humanity does not change its unreasonable use of natural resources, we endanger "not only the future we want, but even our present existences," warned M Watson

"Too many people still think that the environment is a luxury, but that's not the case!", He lamented, linking "biodiversity and climate change that we We must consider together. "

In Europe and Central Asia," the population of the region con is more natural renewable resources than it produces, "said Swiss Professor Markus Fischer.

Before this sixth session, IPBES had already warned that the Earth is facing a" massive extinction " of species, the first since the disappearance of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago and the sixth in 500 million years ago.

"With the increasing effects of climate change (…) this loss could reach 40% by 2050" in the Americas where it already stands at 31%, she said Friday for this region

In the last century, two vertebrate species have disappeared each year on average from Earth. Another is on the verge of extinction with the recent death of Sudan, the famous white rhinoceros from Kenya and the last male of its species, decimated by poaching and of which only two females remain.

– Avenues for minimizing damage –

"If we continue like this, yes, the sixth extinction, the first one caused by humans, will continue!" Warned Watson, adding that "the good news is (… It is not too late. "

Because the IPBES reports also suggest ways to minimize the impact of human activities on the environment: to create more protected areas, to restore degraded areas and develop sustainable agriculture.

"We must take biodiversity into account in our way of managing agriculture, fisheries, forests, land," said the president of IPBES, aware that the population world will continue to grow, so its needs too.

"L The world is wasting about 40% of the food it produces (…) If we could reduce the waste of food, we will not necessarily have to double its production in the next 50 years, "he suggested.

On Monday, IPBES will launch a fifth report, the first of its kind on the state of the planet's soils, degraded by pollution, deforestation, mining and unsustainable agricultural practices.