December 22, 2014

Photo by Daniel Schwen.

American transit ridership spikes

The American Public Transportation Association has recorded the highest number of transit riders since it began collecting data in 1974. About 2.7 billion people took rides on public transit in the third quarter of 2014, which is an increase of about 1.8 per cent or 48 millions trips compared to the same period last year. San Francisco, Chicago and New York have shown consistent increases in ridership thanks to improved reach, trip frequency and quality of transportation. The trend is especially notable because gasoline prices have been low, the New York Times reported yesterday. “While previous spikes in transit use resulted from increased gasoline prices, and people would typically get back in their cars when gas prices retreated, that relationship is unraveling as transit services improve,” said Michael Melaniphy, the president of the association.


Including women in climate change solutions

An analysis by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) found that only three climate change mitigation decisions made at the U.N. climate negotiations in Peru earlier this month address gender. Thanks to greater awareness that women suffer disproportionately from climate change, ten decisions on adaptation considered gender. This shows that the technical side of climate change – energy technology, transportation, carbon trading – is still very much a man’s world, Thomson Reuters Foundation reported on Friday. “With the big fixes – often because of the power structures we live in – women are not working in those spheres…most of the decision makers are men,” said Eleanor Blomstrom, program director for WEDO.


Abbott makes the opposite case for women’s involvement in climate change

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia, made a somewhat offbeat connection between women and climate change yesterday. When asked on Nine’s Today to name his greatest achievement for women while in office, he pointed to his government’s decision to repeal the carbon tax. “As many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget and the repeal of the carbon tax means a $550 a year benefit for the average family,” he said. Abbott is already being criticized for the comment, as well as his government’s decision to cut service to women, such as legal aid in domestic violence cases and housing support, the Guardian reported yesterday. “He might as well have said that by abolishing the carbon price he’s been able to give women more money to buy a new iron and stay at home and do the ironing more often,” said the leader of The Greens party, Christine Milne.


Naomi Klein calls out Michael Bloomberg

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate, spoke with Allen White, Senior Fellow at the Tellus Institute, about the root causes of the problems facing the planet. In the process, she calls out Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, for putting profits over the health of the planet. Corporate Knights wrote about the Risky Business report released earlier this year by Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and Henry Paulson, which makes an economic case for acting on climate change. Klein points out that the firm that manages Bloomberg’s money specializes in oil and gas investment. She said Bloomberg’s hypocrisy demonstrates that the attraction of high profits in the short-term outweighs longer-term considerations “even for the most ‘enlightened’ of businesspeople.”


Can the U.S. military solve climate change? 

Sharon Burke and Sharon Squassoni of The Weekly Wonk asked whether we should turn to the U.S. military for help with speeding up the development of low-carbon energy technologies. There are reasons to think this could work: the U.S. military has a direct stake in limiting the catastrophic effects of climate change, it is the largest single consumer of fuel in the United States and it has an interest in decreasing dependence on the global market. But the authors are pessimistic, mostly because of the way the military uses energy. “[Seventy five percent of the Department of Defense’s] energy use is liquid fuels for military operations. That means the Pentagon’s top priority for that energy is going to be to fight wars, not save on the electricity bill or lower greenhouse gas emissions or even to promote innovation,” they said. Climate change is not Sputnik, they conclude. Corporate Knights’ managing editor Jeremy Runnalls wrote in 2012 about the Pentagon’s many reasons for embracing renewable energy.

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