Ireland: Lead the Way in Divesting From Fossil Fuels

Target: Denis O’Donovan, Chair of Seanad, Ireland’s Upper Chamber of Parliament

Goal: Ensure that Ireland paves the way to protecting the environment with the use of renewable energy by requiring the government to sell its stakes in fossil fuels.

Ireland is on track to become the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels, if a bill passes the upper chamber of Parliament. The bill, which has recently passed the lower chamber of Parliament, would require the Irish government to sell its stakes in coal, peat, oil, and gas “as soon as practicable.” According to estimates by the aid organization Trócaire, this will get rid of over $370 million in holdings, setting Ireland on course to combat climate change and meet the conditions of the Paris Agreement.

By divesting itself of interests in fossil fuels, Ireland can focus instead on more sustainable energy sources without any financial conflicts. As Thomas Pringle, the lawmaker behind the bill, states, “Let us show the Irish public and the international community that we are ready to think and act beyond narrow short-term and vested interests, and will take the opportunities that lie ahead of us to bring in real change.” Sign below to demand the passage of this landmark bill that will make Ireland a leader in the protection of our planet.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Cathaoirleach O’Donovan,

Ireland is on course to become the first country in the world to divest entirely from fossil fuels, and it is critical that this be seen through. This would be a landmark victory for preserving the environment and combatting climate change. It is vital that this bill be passed as soon as possible.

Although Ireland has not been known for championing renewable energy in the past, this move marks a significant change that will benefit not only Ireland’s reputation but also—and even more importantly—other countries in the world who suffer most from the effects of climate change. As lawmaker Thomas Pringle says, “We must be very clear; people are dying today as a direct result of climate change through the increasingly frequent and intense disasters, through increased hunger, increased water scarcity, and significantly more will die or be forced into displacement if there is not a radical change in direction.” I urge you to ensure the passage of this bill into law and solidify Ireland’s divestment from all fossil fuels.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gerry Machen

Support Starbucks Ban on Plastic Straws

Target: Kevin Johnson, President and CEO of Starbucks

Goal: Support the initiative to eliminate plastic straws from Starbucks worldwide to save our environment from pollution.

Starbucks will replace its plastic straws with a recyclable and environmentally safe alternative, eliminating all plastic straws from its stores worldwide by 2020 in order to protect our earth and our oceans from plastic waste. This marks a major victory for conservation and paves the way for other companies to follow suit in a way that is sustainable and business-friendly. When the move takes full effect, Starbucks estimates that it will mean one billion fewer plastic straws each year.

The company’s alternative to plastic straws is a recyclable strawless lid that social media refers to as the “adult sippy cup.” Starbucks already uses it for certain cold drinks; it will soon be used for all iced beverages except the Frappuccino, which will be served with straws made from sustainable or compostable materials instead of plastic. As Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson stated, “For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways.” Sign below to support this move and the positive example it sets for conservation and preserving our planet’s future.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear CEO Johnson,

The commitment Starbucks has made to sustainability, conservation, and the protection of the earth from plastic pollution for future generations is not only admirable, but also necessary. Plastic waste is extremely damaging to the environment, especially to the oceans and marine life, and single-use plastic straws are one of the biggest parts of the problem. Therefore, Starbucks’ initiative to eliminate as many as one billion straws a year by removing them from store locations worldwide by 2020 is a hugely important step.

This move to replace plastic straws with sustainable materials and recyclable lids shows responsibility, and that the company values the lives and concerns of its customers. Additionally, this plan illustrates a functional and business-friendly method of prioritizing conservation and sustainability. It therefore paves the way for other major companies to follow suit, increasing the positive global impact still further. Thank you for prioritizing the preservation of our environment. I support Starbucks in its plan to eliminate plastic straws.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: StockSnap

Ban Iconic African Animal Trophies in California

Target: Edward Garcia, Chair of the Assembly Water, Parks, & Wildlife Committee

Goal: Protect African wildlife by passing The Iconic African Species Protection Act.

A vitally important animal welfare bill that will help fight trophy hunting and protect innocent wildlife from being cruelly killed for their body parts to be sold has advanced to the floor in California, and must be passed into law. SB 1487, The Iconic African Species Protection Act, was introduced by Senator Stern. It is a critical piece of legislation in a wave of forward motion for animal welfare in California, but it needs public support to ensure its passage and the continuance of this positive momentum.

The bill protects iconic African wildlife by banning the possession of their body parts. This discourages trophy hunting, and also sends a message regarding the priorities and values of the state. Among the animals protected by the bill are African elephant, African lion, leopard, giraffe, hippopotamus, striped hyena, and multiple species of rhinoceros and zebra. These animals must be preserved, not thoughtlessly killed for profit, and California can pave the way for the rest of America to no longer be complacent and complicit. Sign below to demand the passage of The Iconic African Species Protection Act.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Chairman Garcia,

The Iconic African Species Protection Act (SB 1487) is a critical piece of legislation in the battle for animal welfare and wildlife preservation. By banning the possession of animal parts, SB 1487 demonstrates the importance of compassion, humanity, and the future of our world—which must be prioritized over the cruelty and profits of trophy hunting.

Animals like lions, leopards, giraffes, zebras and many more are dying out, but this legislation can help protect them and ensure that they remain alive for future generations. By banning possession of any body part of these animals and others in California, trophy hunting is discouraged and California maintains its momentum and leadership in the fight for animal rights. I urge you to ensure that The Iconic African Species Protection Act (SB 1487) is passed into law.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Belinda Cave

Success: No More Permits Issued for Cruel Black Bear Killings

Target: Joe Stohr, Acting Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Goal: Comply with court ruling to stop issuing permits allowing brutal hunting and trapping of black bears on timberlands, and move toward shutting down the program entirely.

No new permits will be issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife authorizing inhumane methods of killing black bears, which were outlawed by state voters, on private timberlands. This is following outrage from activist groups and the public, including petitions like this one at ForceChange, and a recent ruling by a state court. The ruling comes as part of a case against the Department of Fish and Wildlife filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, challenging the legality of the program permitting the killing of certain bears as a whole.

After a winter of hibernation, bears are hungry, and when food is scarce they sometimes peel the bark from trees to eat the sapwood. The department’s program allows killing bears to protect commercial timberlands, but there is no evidence that the permits target tree-damaging bears—and even if there were, the unsporting methods of baiting, trapping, and using hounds are still illegal and unacceptable. In practice, the program only serves to create a private hunting season for favored hunters, completely disregarding the voices of Washington’s citizens as a whole.

A final decision will be issued by the court later in the year regarding the program in its entirety. In the meantime, the court’s ruling to stop any further issuing of permits is a much needed victory. As Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity states, “This ruling will save numerous bears from a cruel death, and that’s a big relief….In ruling against the department, the court recognized the risk to bears and the merits of our case against this inhumane bear-killing program. Now we’ll focus on shutting down the program for good.” Sign below to support this ruling and ensure that this inhumane program is stopped entirely.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Stohr,

The state court’s ruling that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife be suspended from issuing any new hunting permits for black bears on Washington’s timberlands is a vital step for the protection of innocent wildlife, as well as for Washington’s citizens, who voted to outlaw the inhumane hunting methods that your department’s permits allow. These unsporting methods like baiting, trapping, and using hounds are not acceptable under any circumstances, especially considering that there is no evidence that the program targets bears who have damaged property and are thereby excluded from the public’s hunting outlaw.

Your program effectively creates a private hunting season for those in the department’s favor, using methods deemed illegal by the people the government is supposed to represent. You have a responsibility to those people, as well as to your state’s wildlife, which your department should be protecting. As Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity says, “In ruling against the department, the court recognized the risk to bears and the merits of our case against this inhumane bear-killing program… We think the court will ultimately decide that those permits should never have been issued, and we urge the department to immediately suspend all outstanding permits.” Please heed this advice and protect Washington’s black bears.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Brigitte Werner

Save America’s Wolves: Do Not Remove Their Endangered Species Protections

Target: Bridget Fahey, Chief of the Division of Conservation and Classification, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: Do not expose wolves to trophy hunters and the threat of extinction.

Nearly all wolves across all of the lower 48 states of the U.S. may be left exposed to trapping, trophy hunting, and the threat of extinction, as the Trump Administration confirmed that it is considering a proposal to remove their Endangered Species protections. As Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity states, “It’s deeply troubling to see the Trump Administration trying to prematurely kick wolves off the endangered species list. Time and again the courts have told the Service that wolves need further recovery before their protections can be removed. But the agency is dead-set on appeasing special interests who want to kill these amazing animals.”

The Center for Biological Diversity reports that Gavin Shire, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chief of Public Affairs, said in an email statement that the department expects to propose reversing the gray wolf’s status “by the end of the calendar year.” It has already stripped the wolf of protections in the Great Lakes region, resulting in the cruel and unnecessary killing of hundreds of wolves. When the agency tried to extend this decision to apply to the rest of the country in 2013, courts not only ruled against it, but restored protections in the Great Lakes and later upheld both decisions. The courts said the Service’s removal of wolf protections in the Great Lakes region unlawfully ignored the consequences to wolf populations in other areas of the nation that are still recovering. These court rulings must not be ignored, or America’s wolves may face the threat of extinction due to trophy hunting and political corruption. Sign below to demand that wolves remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Chief Fahey,

As a leader of the Endangered Species Program, it is your responsibility to ensure the protection and restoration of our nation’s wildlife. Nearly all of America’s wolves will be put at risk if they are stripped of their Endangered Species protections. This is why courts have ruled to maintain these protections in the past. Wolf populations are still recovering and taking their protections away prematurely irresponsibly exposes these innocent creatures to threats of extinction through cruel trophy hunting and trapping.

It is vital that wolves’ protections under the Endangered Species Act be upheld. Political interests and the whims of trophy hunters must not be put before the survival and well-being of innocent creatures who are integral to the landscape of our country as we know it. As Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity says, “Like so many Americans, I treasure having wolves and grizzlies in the wild and don’t want to see them shot and trapped for blood sport or pelts. We’re ready for a fight, and we’re going to do all that we can to make sure the feds fulfill their obligation to restore wolves and grizzlies across the country.” I urge you to ensure the rejection of any proposal that would remove protections for America’s wolves.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mark Kent

Stop Sanctioning Cruel Wildlife Hunts on Nature Reserves

Target: Johannes Nobunga, CEO of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency

Goal: Do not allow wildlife hunting for sport at Kruger National Park or the adjacent private nature reserves—lands supposedly dedicated to “conservation.”

Tragically, a male lion was killed when he was most likely lured with bait out of Kruger National Park and into Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, allegedly by an American trophy hunter. Unconfirmed reports by the Daily Maverick suggest that this lion may have been the leader of his pride. If this is the case, his cubs will most likely be killed as well, as the other males of the pride vie for leadership. This tragedy should have been avoidable: the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), which owns the land where the lion was killed along with over 1,000 square kilometers of land supposedly meant for “conservation,” did not include this lion in its hunting quota. However, the Daily Maverick reports that permission to hunt was given anyway, under the licensing authority of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency. The organization allowed this despite receiving a Cease and Desist warning from two non-profits, EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading, threatening legal action if the hunt occurred.

This unfathomable cruelty is symptomatic of wider corruption. While the killing of this lion should have fallen outside the realm of permissible hunts as per the APNR quota sanctioned by the Kruger National Park and Provincial Authorities, many argue that no hunting should be allowed on these lands at all. The Daily Maverick article reports that the combined quota for hunting on the national private reserves Timbavati, Klaserie, Umbabat and Balule in 2018 was 4,467 animals, including “52 elephants plus a bull older than 50 in Umbabat which could potentially be a 100-pound tusker, which many argue should never be hunted. It also listed 36 buffalo (despite a 68% drop in numbers to 2,327 in 2017), 44 kudu, 19 warthogs, seven hippos, a lion, a leopard, eight hyenas, five giraffes and 4,171 impalas.” The killing of these innocent animals is a travesty that must be stopped. Sign below to demand that wildlife hunts be forbidden on national reserves and in Kruger National Park.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear CEO Nobunga,

The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency must stop allowing wildlife to be hunted on lands that should be meant for conservation. The tragic killing of a male lion, supposedly lured out of Kruger National Park by an alleged American trophy hunter and killed in Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, was not permitted by the 2018 APNR hunting quota for those lands and never should have been sanctioned by your agency. The existence of this quota is itself an unacceptable cruelty, and should be eliminated entirely.

The innocent wildlife allowed to be hunted on these reserves must be preserved, especially as their numbers continue to plummet. Conservationists, activists, and tourists alike are fighting to stop the killing of these animals. Your agency even received a Cease and Desist warning from the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading regarding the hunt of the male lion that you permitted to be killed. In addition to the cruelty of the unnecessary deaths of these animals, banning hunts would benefit the tourism industry, which relies on keeping these animals alive. I urge you to stop allowing wildlife to be hunted at Kruger National Park and the surrounding national private reserves.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Johan van der Merwe

Save Marine Life and Reduce Plastic Waste

Target: Dr. Wijam Simachaya, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Kingdom of Thailand

Goal: Stop mass amounts of mismanaged plastic waste from killing marine animals by minimizing the use of plastic.

A pilot whale that washed ashore in Thailand tragically died after five days in the care of veterinarians, who removed 17 pounds of plastic from the whale’s stomach. They pulled about 80 soaking wet plastic trash bags from inside the whale. Plastic debris is a global problem and is massively dangerous to wildlife—especially marine animals, because so much of this waste ends up in the ocean, where these animals mistake it for food. This is what scientists at the Thailand Department of Marine and Coastal Services say is the likely cause of this pilot whale’s death. As Nick Mallos of the Ocean Conservancy states, “Whether it’s a straw or whether it’s a bottle cap, those items can be eaten by animals, and they pose threats through getting stuck in their digestive tracts. It can tear their stomachs. So these products in their entirety are problematic, but what’s equally, if not even more, concerning is that over time these materials are in the ocean, they begin to break up into smaller and smaller pieces.”

According to a study in the journal Science, Thailand was among the six countries with the most “mismanaged plastic waste” in 2010. In light of the example of this whale’s death—which is one of the hundreds of thousands of marine deaths caused by plastic that go largely unnoticed by humans—many are calling on Thailand’s government to take action to reduce plastic by taxing either producers or consumers. As Enric Sala, a marine ecologist with National Geographic, points out, “Every minute [there] is the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic going into the ocean. The problem is so huge, but the solution is easy. We can stop plastic from getting into the ocean, and this has to happen at different levels.” Sign below to demand that Thailand do its part and reduce its plastic waste to save our oceans.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Simachaya,

The horrific death of a pilot whale that washed ashore on the beaches of Thailand with 17 pounds of plastic lodged in its stomach is indicative of the massive threat posed to our ocean environments and marine life by plastic waste. This threat cannot continue to go unchecked. According to marine ecologist Enric Sala, “Every minute [there] is the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic going into the ocean.” Thailand must do its part to help solve this problem.

A study reported that Thailand was one of the top countries with “mismanaged plastic waste” in the year 2010. This problem is rampant in the Asia-Pacific region in particular, and it is therefore your responsibility to ensure that your country does its part. Now is the time to reduce Thailand’s plastic waste and ensure that it is better managed, by imposing taxes either on companies that produce these plastics or on the consumers who use them. I urge you to protect our environment for future generations, and to save the lives of the innocent creatures being killed by human waste. Please take steps immediately to reduce Thailand’s plastic use and keep our oceans clean.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Fabi Fliervoet

Prevent Sale and Expansion of Dangerous Pipeline

Target: Steve Kean, President and CEO of Kinder Morgan

Goal: Do not sell the Trans Mountain Pipeline to the Canadian government, and stop any further expansion of the pipeline, which could have disastrous consequences.

In the face of protests from environmentalists and citizens, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will purchase the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline to ensure its expansion. This expansion is opposed by activists and indigenous groups, and it increases dangers relating to spills and the upswing of petroleum tanker traffic. It will also cost the Canadian government billions of dollars.

The purchase is expected to close in August, when Canada will buy the pipeline from its current owner, Kinder Morgan, for $3.5 billion ($4.5 billion in Canadian dollars). The prime minister says that the expansion of the pipeline is “a vital project in the national interest” and that it will create and protect jobs in Alberta and British Columbia. However, as Premier John Horgan of British Columbia says, “Tens of thousands of B.C. jobs depend on pristine coastal and inland waters. Our environment generates millions in economic activity, from tourism to film and fisheries. It does not matter who owns the pipeline. What matters is defending our coast — and our lands, rivers and streams — from the impact of a dilbit [diluted bitumen] spill.” He says that B.C. will continue to search for legal ways of stopping the pipeline expansion; meanwhile, Alberta’s leaders are in favor of it, pitting the two provinces against each other.

In addition to the costs of purchasing and nationalizing this immense energy enterprise, the Canadian government is also expected to spend billions more on the completion of the expansion itself. The sale is still subject to the discretion of Kinder Morgan and its shareholders. The expansion of this pipeline is hazardous to the environment and to the well-being of Canadian citizens and their livelihoods. Sign below to demand that Kinder Morgan stop the sale of the pipeline and its subsequent expansion.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Kean,

As many environmental advocates—as well as indigenous groups and concerned citizens—have argued, the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline is dangerous and must be stopped. The political, economic, and environmental hazards it poses are too costly and must not be ignored.

Your company has the opportunity to make an important, positive impact on the future of our continent. The expansion of this pipeline could cost many people their jobs, divides two Canadian provinces, and will cost their governments billions. Perhaps the biggest threat it poses is to the environment, where the risk of an oil spill could be catastrophic. As Premier John Horgan said, “It does not matter who owns the pipeline. What matters is defending our coast — and our lands, rivers and streams — from the impact of a dilbit [diluted bitumen] spill.” This is true not only of British Columbia, but of our earth as a whole. I urge you not to sell the pipeline, and to protect our future: help ensure that an expansion does not take place.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: William Chen

Support Harsher Sentences for Wildlife Poachers

Target: Najib Balala, Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya

Goal: Support the decision to enact more stringent laws to protect Kenya’s wildlife by making poaching a capital offense.

Following the tragic death of Sudan, the last male white rhino left on earth, Kenya has announced its intention to strengthen laws against wildlife poaching and ensure that criminals who break these laws face the most severe consequences. Kenya’s Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, made the announcement at an event to launch a commemorative stamp in honor of Sudan and raise awareness of the plight of animals like the white rhino. The new laws will face offenders of wildlife poaching with capital punishment.

Balala stated, “We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of $200,000 U.S. dollars. However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence.” He says that under the new laws, “offenders of wildlife crimes will face the death penalty in accordance with the laws of the land.” This is a momentous stand for humanity, compassion, and the preservation of wildlife. Sign below to support Kenya’s dedication to treating poaching as the serious offense it is, and ensuring that it is not condoned or tolerated.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Balala,

Your statement of Kenya’s intent to strengthen the consequences of and laws against poaching are an important victory for wildlife preservation and for humanity. Poaching is an inhumane and unacceptable crime. Thank you for recognizing that and taking action to discourage and punish poachers for breaking the laws of the land.

As you stated, the laws Kenya currently has in place are evidently insufficient in curbing poaching. Additionally, the move to make wildlife poaching a capital offense sets a positive example for other countries where poaching is a widespread problem. I support these new laws, and I thank you for taking a stand to protect wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bernard Spragg

Require Solar Panels on New Houses

Target: Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Follow in California’s footsteps and require that new homes be built with solar panels to protect our environment nationwide.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a major and dangerous contributor to global warming, but California has approved a proposal to great reduce greenhouse gases by requiring that all new houses constructed beginning in 2020 be built with solar panels. According to an EPA report on the consequences of climate change in California, global warming is tied to critical issues including the death of trees, retreating glaciers and warming waters, and catastrophic droughts and wildfires. However, the report also noted that the state’s “pioneering policies” have cut greenhouse gas emissions in spite of a growing population, which provides hope.

California will be the first state with this type of requirement, which has been passed by the California Energy Commission and now awaits approval from the Building Standards Commission. Although construction costs will be higher, this will be offset by lower utility costs and the significant benefits to the environment. A report commissioned by the state found that this measure will ultimately be cost effective, and is the only effective way of ensuring that homes produce as much energy as they use. Sign below to demand that our federal government do its duty to protect the environment and enact the same requirements for solar energy in newly built homes.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Administrator Pruitt,

The EPA has released reports that show the ties between global warming and environmental catastrophes, and has pointed out that California’s “pioneering policies” and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions despite a growing population provide hope for the future. One such policy is California’s recently approved proposal to require solar panels on all new houses built starting in 2020. As the leader of the EPA, it is your responsibility to protect and preserve our environment for future generations. Following California’s lead in these measures are the best way to do that.

Although solar panels will increase the price of building, those costs are projected to be balanced out by lower utility costs. Reports have determined that these measures are cost effective, and provide the only practical long-term solution to ensuring that homes produce as much energy as they deplete. These new measures do provide exceptions for structures that don’t get much sunlight, and are a huge step in the right direction when it comes to cleaner energy and hopefully combatting the devastating natural disasters that are shown to be tied to global warming. I urge you to preserve our environment and to emulate California’s example by requiring solar panels in the construction of new homes nationwide.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gray Watson