Episode 7

Biodiversity, Amsterdam and cars, Beijing and electric scooters, Michael O'Leary and Ryanair

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On a super-important report on our biodiversity from IPBES, Amsterdam and cars, Beijing and electric scooters, Michael O’Leary, Ryanair as the new coal and the aviation industry

Modern Beijing / Wikipedia

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Episode Transcript:

Hi, I am The Angry Clean Energy Guy, Assaad Razzouk. Welcome to episode 7 of my podcast. I am so happy you’re here. Thank you. This week I am going to rant about the reception accorded to a super major, super important report on our biodiversity. I’m also going to rant about Amsterdam and finally, I’m going to rant about the aviation industry and in particular Ryan Air

IPBES BIODIVERSITY REPORT v. ROYAL BABY

So two days ago the United Nations body called the IPBES released a summary of its 1,500 page report on our biodiversity. Now biodiversity is basically everything. It refers to all the variety of life that can be found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms) as well as to the communities that they form and the habitats in which they live.

So this United Nations body releases a super important and super major report and the report says that nature is declining globally at rates fueled by us humans that are unprecedented, unprecedented in human history. The report also says that the rate of species extinctions is accelerating with grave impacts on people around the world. Now, who is the IPBES? Its full name is the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a United Nations body set up by 94 governments and administered by the United Nations Environment Program.

Thank you IPBES for your critically important report. This report, by the way, was compiled by 145 experts authors from 50 different countries who have been working over the past three years to put it together. They also gathered input from another 310 contributing authors and reviewed 15,000 scientific government and indigenous sources. Let me quote just one sentence from the report. Here we go. 

“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point, –  with 1 million animal and plant species now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.”

The report covers a very wide variety of topics that come under biodiversity. For example, one of its highlights about plastic pollution is that it’s up 10 times since 1980 with 300 to 400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other disgusting waste from industrial facilities dumped annually into the oceans, and fertilizers produced 400 ocean dead zones, an area greater than Britain.

So we’re not doing very well. We’re threatening the very life on the planet. We’re killing species at a rate unprecedented in human history and our own life support systems are in grave danger, but, and that’s the bit that makes me angry, in just the 24 hours following the report, other news that we had a royal baby in the UK, that president Trump had another go at China, that Turkey decided to rerun elections in Istanbul, that two journalists were released in Myanmar, even that Australia’s prime minister was hit by an egg, that one big bad oil company is proposing to take over another big bad oil company preventing a third big bad oil company from taking over the second one – all were featured instead of the IPBES report on most global media that I’ve scanned.

And that’s not just English media, that’s English media, French media, Spanish media, Japanese media, Chinese media, ah, everywhere.

In the 48 hours following the report, there was exactly zero coverage, zero coverage of that report in the American, British, French, Spanish, Arabic, Filipinos, Singaporean, Thai media for example that I scanned and that’s print and TV. Zero coverage. So we and another 1 million species are in the fast lane to extinction, annihilation, total wipeout. Yet our media doesn’t care enough to feature the story for more than 24 hours or it can’t think or it doesn’t want to. 

I’m not sure what the media is thinking, but it makes me so angry and I’ve been thinking about this problem for years. What is it about the media that it invariably ignores by and large, anything to do with biodiversity loss, extinction risks, climate change, environmental dangers and destruction, and instead chooses to focus on a royal baby. What is it? What is going on? People who work in mainstream media are all honest, diligent, hardworking and super smart. So clearly they are not the problem.

And you know what my conclusion is? We are the problem. We the readers. If our money was directed more intelligently towards media that’s reporting the really important stuff, all media and certainly mainstream media will follow. So make your dollars and pounds and euros and reals and rupees count, spend them on media that’s reporting what’s relevant and if all you want to read is about the royal baby and everyone is perfectly free to decide what they like, then by all means buy all these newspapers and subscribe to all these cable channels that think that that’s the most important story of the day. But if you don’t agree that that’s actually what you want to read than use your purchasing power to effect change. Be the change. And by all means shout from the rooftops because what we really need is we need a media that shines a spotlight on companies that are not paying the price for what they are doing in terms of destroying the environment, destroying biodiversity and changing our climate.

And this is isn’t just big bad oil and gas companies. It’s also palm oil businesses. It’s many agricultural businesses. It’s industrial forestry businesses, agrichemical manufacturers, agricultural manufacturing machinery manufacturers, people that produce construction materials, land speculators, property developers, builders of roads and railways and on and on. We have to filter these companies not only by their financial performance but also by their environmental performance. And those that have a conscience and are doing the right thing should have higher valuations than those that are not. And the banks and the funds that finance all the bad actors should also be penalized because what we really need is a big bang of entrepreneurial creativity to keep people fed, to keep people busy, to keep people innovating without at the same time destroying the world, and while at the same time restoring everything we’ve destroyed. That’s what we need and to do that, we need a media in the business of giving us useful information. So dear media, kindly name and shame big companies destroying everything in their pursuit of short term profits. That is the most important story of the day. Thank you.

AMSTERDAM

I want to talk about Amsterdam. Now, many news outlets came out in the past few days with a headline that says roughly that Amsterdam is to ban petrol and diesel cars and motorbikes by 2030. 

When you read the fine print, you find gems like Amsterdam will ban diesel cars older than 15 years next year as the first part of its anti pollution drive. 

What anti pollution drive is that, Amsterdam? That is no anti pollution drive. People are dying because Amsterdam and almost every other big city in the world aren’t actually doing anything that matters about pollution. They’re postponing problems until dates that are 10, 15, 20, 25 years later. They’re not taking action and they are just pushing problems to those politicians coming after them to run the city with all the consequences. And meanwhile we are breathing toxic air and eating plastic. That’s actually what’s going on Dear Amsterdam, and I have real news for you. You are lame, Amsterdam and you and other European cities and countries are sleeping at the wheel. China has already put 200 million electric two wheelers on the road. That’s 200 million. The result? Almost no more noise pollution or particulates, poisonous particulates from gasoline cars and motorbikes in big Chinese cities. Now China isn’t perfect on the environment, but it’s trying harder than you, Amsterdam. In Beijing alone today, nine out of 10 orders for new cars are allocated to electric cars. 100% of new taxis must be electric. Beijing alone has 2 million electric scooters on the road. Beijing alone has 4 million, 500,000 electric bicycles on the road. So I have a message for you, Amsterdam, Paris, London, Madrid, and all the big cities of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. How hard is it really to do the right thing? It’s not that hard, right? Just ban gasoline cars from your city centers by the end of next year and get those gasoline scooters off the road, pay owners to get their cars off the road and what we pay the owners you’re going to save. You’re going to save multiples of that in what we will not destroy of our environment and in what we will not breathe in terms of poison. 

2030 is too late Amsterdam and you know it.

RYANAIR 

Finally I want to talk about airlines. There was a story a few days ago that Ryanair has become the first non-coal company to join Europe’s top 10 carbon emitters. 

So the top 10 polluters in Europe are all coal plants except Ryanair. It’s the first time ever that a company that does not run a coal fired power plant made it on to this European list. Shame on you, Ryanair. 

Ryanair’s dirty emissions are up 7% in one year and 50% in five years. In fact, Ryanair is the new coal, and this is going to continue until the world realizes that the aviation sector is undertaxed and it’s under regulated. We need to bring it into line. We need to introduce mandates that force airlines and aircraft manufacturers to switch to zero emission aviation over however long it’s going to take us because at the moment they’re making zero effort.

Now at the same time, Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’leary, is on record dismissing climate change concerns as complete and utter rubbish, and I quote, and he said that in an interview two years ago. Aviation and its sister industry shipping both are industries that we need to pay close attention to because they’re doing very little to reduce emissions and pollution from their activities. 

Back in 1997 the United Nations gave responsibility for international aviation and maritime emissions to the International Civil Aviation Organization, in the case of airlines, and to the International Maritime Organization in terms of ships. Now 22 years, 22 years later, what have these two organization done? I can tell you what they’ve done. They’ve done very, very close to nothing. They’re still procrastinating. Even worse. They’re taking advantage of their customers by offering them the option to offset their travel through exorbitantly priced carbon credits, which allow the airlines to add to their profits while continuing to do nothing. And that makes me so angry. When you next see an airline offering you to offset your travel by buying carbon credits, do not do so. Certainly don’t do it unless you know that you’re buying them at the same price that the airlines are buying them and I can guarantee you that is not the case.

Thank you so much for listening to me, The Angry Clean Energy Guy, this far. 

My loser of the week is Ryanair because it has an irresponsible chief executive, publicly claiming climate change is a hoax for his self-serving, short term greedy purposes. Shame on you Ryanair. 

My winner of the week is the United Nations and the United Nations body called the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and its 145 experts for once again telling it like it is. Thank you United Nations and thank you IPBES. Ecological and climate catastrophe means, among much other suffering, the erasure of humanity’s past and future, our past and future. 

Thank you for listening and don’t hesitate to send my way any questions you have about clean energy, climate change, or whatever else do you like. And if stuff in the green space makes you angry, please get in touch. Have a great week.

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About Me

There is so much to be angry about, if you are a clean energy guy.

Every day, so many things that happen around the world make me angry when I look at them with lenses colored by the climate change chaos unfolding everywhere around us. And I am especially angry because I know we can solve the climate change crisis if we were only trying.


Each week, I will share with you a few topics that struck me and that I was very angry about – and this will generally have to do with climate change, solar or wind power, plastic pollution, environmental degradation, wildlife, the oceans and other related topics.

Assaad Razzouk

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