Praise Costa Rica for Banning Fossil Fuels

Target: Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica

Goal: Praise Costa Rica government for banning fossil fuels.

President Carlos Alvarado has announced a complete ban on fossil fuels in Costa Rica. This establishes the small country as a major leader in political action that fights against climate change. While announcing the ban, Alvarado said: “Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first. We have the titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy to make way for the use of clean and renewable energies.”

The country has already committed to using renewable energy resources. Costa Rica gets over 99% of its electricity from renewable energy and last year the nation went 300 days without the use of fossil fuels for electricity. Although no specific plans were unveiled around the compete ban of fossil fuels, Costa Rica seems poised to be one of the first nations to succeed in using only renewable energy sources.

Sign this petition to praise the Costa Rican government for its commitment to phase out fossil fuels.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Alvarado,

Your recent announcement on the ban of fossil fuels in Costa Rica sets up your nation to be one of the first to move to using 100% renewable energy. This ban shows a huge commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable Costa Rica; it also invites other nations to follow in your wake. I urge you to continue to enact policies that support environmental sustainability and I congratulate you on your decision to phase out fossil fuels.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: John

Reduce Toxic Fumes in Rural India

Target: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister for Environment, Forest, & Climate Change

Goal: Reduce air pollution threatening rural populations in India.

Air pollution in India threatens rural citizens’ health, but monitoring and regulations focus on urban areas. With 70% of India’s population living in rural areas, the majority of India remains unprotected from inhaling hazardous air pollutants.

Researchers have modeled concentrations of ozone and particulate matter in the air across India and correlated these to premature mortality. Of the 7.6 million air pollution-related deaths per year worldwide, one million are estimated in India. The majority of these premature deaths are in rural populations from circulatory and respiratory conditions due to low air quality. Although the rural areas lack the industry and high transportation numbers generally associated with significant air pollution, rural areas experience other contributors such as indoor cooking over open flame and rural energy fueled primarily by wood, dung, or biomass. These, in addition to the pollution from factories and increasing use of cars in urban areas, contribute significantly to India’s air pollution, which disproportionately impacts often overlooked rural populations.

Monitoring and regulations associated with tracking and minimizing air pollution often focus on industrial and/or urban areas. However, as is the case in India, rural populations suffer as much if not more from the ill effects of poor air quality. Sign the petition to encourage Indian officials to focus pollution control efforts on their rural populations.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Vardhan,

Industry, increased transportation, and the use of wood, dung, and biomass as fuel in rural areas is polluting India’s air. An estimated one million Indians die prematurely every year due to circulatory or respiratory conditions related to toxic air pollution. Many come from rural areas of India, where 70% of your population is living. Yet most of the resources and research on the effect of air pollution is focused on urban areas. This leaves the majority of your populations vulnerable to the adverse health effects of increased ozone and particulates in the air, taking an average of 3.4 years off the average lifespan of your citizens. Industry and transportation are often targeted in urban areas as the major polluters, but the burning of wood, dung, and biomass as primary fuel sources in rural areas are significant contributors to declining air quality.

Monitoring and research is required to understand and evaluate the health effects of inhaling these toxic pollutants. Education will also help in reducing the significant contributors to air pollution from rural life. Minister Vardhan, please, focus resources on curbing air pollution not just in urban areas but in rural areas, where the majority of India’s population suffers.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: McKay Savage

Do Not Bail Out Dirty Energy

Target: Rick Perry, Secretary of the United States Department of Energy

Goal: Stop intervention into the energy industry on behalf of aging coal-fired power plants.

A leaked memo from the Department of Energy revealed plans by the Trump Administration to force power grid operators to purchase electricity from declining coal-fired power plants in order to prevent their shutdown.

The proposal would use two federal laws, the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act, to direct electricity grid operators to purchase power from “more reliable” sources that have fuel located on-site, i.e. coal-fired, power plants. These plants are noncompetitive with cleaner, cheaper power plants that use natural gas and renewables, and are facing decommissioning and switchovers to other fuel sources. The leaked memo cites national security issues in encouraging the support of struggling dirty energy plants, however, grid operators and other experts reject the administration’s premise that there are reliability concerns with the current mix of natural gas and renewables for power generation. Instead, the Trump Administration is feeding into public concerns for national security in order to support ailing industries that should be eliminated by attrition in the marketplace.

This is an unacceptable intervention by the government to instill fear and force an agenda of dirty energy. Sign the petition to discourage the Department of Energy from intervening on behalf of aging coal-fired power plants and instead bolster our energy independence using clean, renewable energy.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Perry,

The bailout of dirty energy companies under the guise of national defense is despicable. Coal-fired power plants are rightfully being eliminated by attrition because they cannot compete with cheaper, cleaner power such as natural gas and renewables. The energy industry is not experiencing any of the alleged reliability issues used to justify this unprecedented intervention.

This is not an issue of energy security or national defense, but one of politics. America wants cleaner energy, not a federal bailout of coal-fired power plants undergoing decommissioning. Do not collapse under pressure from President Trump to promote an agenda of dirty energy.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Rahm Emanuael

End Illegal Importation of Hazardous Waste

Target: Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand

Goal: Crack down on illegal importation of electronic waste from other countries.

Since the Chinese ban on waste importation went into effect, the surrounding countries, especially Thailand, have been under siege by the illegal importation of hazardous electronic waste. Many companies are now taking advantage of China’s initiative to protect its environment by illegally accepting wastes that no longer have an outlet for disposal. This is putting an extreme strain on Thailand’s resources and threatens the health of the environment and Thailand’s citizens.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, comprises nearly any item with an electric cord or battery and contains metallic components that can be separated out and recycled. The waste processing required to do this also exposes workers to the hazardous components of e-waste, which include lead, cadmium, and mercury. Many workers in waste processing plants reportedly have minimal protections from inhaling significant amounts of toxic fumes. Prolonged exposure to these materials can cause cancer and other serious health conditions.

Thai police recently seized many tons of illegally imported e-waste from facilities that were not permitted to import foreign e-waste. Since this e-waste was allegedly imported using a loophole for secondhand appliances, acceptance and processing is essentially unregulated and threatens Thailand’s environment and citizens. This is especially true for employees of waste processors which handle this illicit material.

Thailand has laws in place to limit movement of e-waste across borders, but these are insufficient and at times unenforced. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has pledged increased inspections throughout the country to discover this hazardous material, but this only helps after the material has entered the country. Additional regulations and enforcement need to be in place to prevent its importation. Sign the petition for the prime minister to implement and enforce broader regulations to protect Thai citizens from exposure to hazardous e-waste.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Chan-ocha,

China’s ban on the importation of waste, particularly electronic waste, has opened the doors for increased illegal importation by waste processors in neighboring countries such as Thailand. This puts a strain not only on law enforcement officials to seek out and prosecute offenders, but on human health and the environment as well. The processing of electronic waste in order to recover the recyclable components also exposes the toxic components of electronic waste such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. These are known to cause serious health conditions, including cancer. It is critical to the protection of Thailand’s citizens that these materials be regulated to prevent adverse health impacts to workers and potential contamination if these toxins are leaked into the environment.

Ratification of the Basel Convention to prevent importation of hazardous materials has been insufficient in limiting these materials from entering the country. It is not enough to increase inspections in order to discover the material after it has been imported. Regulated processing of hazardous e-waste is critical to the protection of human health and the environment. Please, expand and enforce regulation of this dangerous material.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Fairphone

Praise Chile for Nationwide Plastic Bag Ban

Target: Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile

Goal: Congratulate Chile on being the first nation in the Americas to institute a nationwide plastics ban, and ask that it encourage others to do the same.

Chile just became the first country in the Americas to institute a nationwide ban on plastic bags. Chile’s leadership is crucial in beginning a trend of similar legislation all over this part of the world.

Outspoken support of the plastic bag ban by the president resulted in a vote that was near unanimous in Chile’s Congress for passing the legislation, with wide public support as well. The ban was originally focused only on Patagonia, the southernmost tip of Chile, but was broadened to include the entire country. Within the next six months, all major retailers will no longer be allowed to use plastic bags. Smaller businesses will have two years to comply with the ban. Chile’s previous president had already banned the use of plastic bags in many coastal regions.

Plastics pollution, especially single-use plastics, plagues the ocean environment and marine life all over the world. Estimates by Sea Turtle Conservancy reveal that marine mammal deaths from plastics pollution total around 100 million per year. This nearly incomprehensible statistic is just one of the reasons for instituting plastic bag bans around the world, as has already been done by Bangladesh, Rwanda, Kenya, and other nations. Sign the petition to congratulate Chile on their nationwide plastic bag ban as an important step in protecting Chile’s coastline, as well as the ocean in general.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Piñera,

Your government’s ban on the use of plastic bags is monumental, both in its protection of the environmental and its importance in beginning this trend in the Americas. The ocean is of vital importance, as are its inhabitants. However, they are plagued by pollution all over the world.

Conservation organizations estimate marine mammal deaths in the millions per year due to plastic pollution, so eliminating Chile’s 3.4 billion plastic bags per year is commendable. I applaud your leadership in reducing the threat of plastics pollution to marine life and ecosystems. I hope you encourage your neighboring countries to do the same.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Andrew Latham

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

Reduce Air Pollution Choking Chinese Provinces

Target: Xi Jinping, President of China

Goal: Curb the deadly pollution enveloping industrial areas of China.

Despite attempts to limit emissions from factories, especially the steel industry, air pollution has continued to increase in industrial areas of China. Concentrations of particulate matter are on average more than double the recommended limits for exposure and at times exceed greater than ten times these amounts, leading to serious public health implications.

Reports on emissions from January to April of this year have indicated that even with limitations on manufacturing during winter months, emissions have continued to increase. The World Health Organization’s recommended limit on particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM 2.5) is 25 micrograms per cubic meter for 24 hours of exposure; industrial provinces in China are experiencing average levels of 55 to 64 micrograms per cubic meter. Any successful reductions in particulate matter are often counteracted by weather events, such as sandstorms and conditions which promote smog formation. Particulate matter emissions can increase the likelihood of developing lung and heart conditions and exacerbate pre-existing conditions such as asthma, especially in vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.

Limitations on industries are put in place yet emissions levels continue to rise. Steel production reached its highest level in the past four years and will likely continue, with no end in sight for smog, particulate matter emissions, and the associated adverse health impacts. Only certain pollution levels will trigger reductions in activities, despite these levels already being above those recommended for exposure. Sign the petition to encourage Chinese officials to enact stricter emissions regulations and implement better control technologies, especially for industrial areas suffering the severe health impacts.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Xi,

Concentrations of particulate matter were on average more than double the limits for prolonged exposure in the first four months of this year. PM 2.5 concentrations in the air ranged from 55 to 64 micrograms per cubic meter in your industrial provinces compared to 25 micrograms per cubic meter recommended by the WHO based on the health impacts related to this pollution. Weather events such as sandstorms, or conditions which promote smog formation, can increase these levels even higher, even as stricter emissions standards are enacted for industries.

As steel demand and production increases, so too will particulate matter emissions. This will result in adverse health impacts to China’s populations, especially in provinces with significant industry. It is not enough to pledge to reduce pollutant emissions in a graduated manner, especially with the extreme weather events seen in these areas which only exacerbate particulate matter concentrations in the air.

As your industries thrive, your citizens experience increased pollution and its health effects. Even as levels continue to stay above concentrations recommended for exposure, only cases of extreme pollution trigger limitations on industrial production or allow citizens to stay indoors and away from work. Please, don’t allow your population to continue to suffer from increased asthma, respiratory conditions, and heart and lung diseases. Reduce particulate air emissions to the allowable recommended levels for health by requiring stricter pollution controls on factories.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kentaro IEMOTO

Block Destruction of Protected Wildlife Reserve

Target: Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank

Goal: Stop construction of enormous hydrodam in Selous Wildlife Reserve that could irreparably harm the habitats of many protected species.

A proposed hydrodam project in Tanzania is threatening the habitat of many endangered species. The dam is proposed to be constructed in the Selous Wildlife Reserve, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest protected wild areas in Africa. A large number of protected animals could be lost, including elephants, endangered African wild dogs, and the critically endangered black rhinoceros.

The dam is proposed to be constructed in the Rufiji River starting in July. The 430-foot tall, 2,300-foot wide dam would provide 2,100 megawatts of electricity to Tanzania and create a 463-square-mile lake, covering much of the area where the protected animals congregate during the dry season, according to scientists. Over 2.6 million trees would need to be felled to make way for the project. It is estimated that the damming of the river would impact approximately 200,000 farmers and fishermen downstream, by shutting off water and nutrients to farms and fisheries. Many endangered species who live in the area will also be impacted, facing extreme loss of habitat.

Tanzania has called on the African Development Bank for funding of this hydropower project, but there is still time to stop this environmentally destructive project. Development of any kind is strictly prohibited by UNESCO on World Heritage Sites, yet the Tanzanian government is moving forward with the project in direct violation of these restrictions and without regard for the environmental consequences. Bids for logging the area to be flooded, an activity that is prohibited in the reserve, have already been accepted, and Tanzania has not conducted the proper environmental assessment of the project. Sign the petition to discourage the African Development Bank from funding this destructive project and end the threat to protected species in the Selous Wildlife Reserve.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Adesina,

The hydropower project proposed by Tanzania in the Selous Wildlife Reserve will irreversibly damage one of the largest protected wild areas in Africa, impacting numerous species of endangered animals. The Tanzanian government is ignoring the environmental consequences of this development and will directly violate UNESCO regulations of this World Heritage Site if this project continues. There is still time to stop it, before millions of trees are felled and hundreds of square miles of habitats are lost.

Conservation groups have united in condemning this project, calling it “fatally flawed” (IUCN) and causing “serious and irreversible damage” (UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee). The Tanzanian government has not performed the proper environmental assessment on the project. It is estimated that 200,000 farmers and fishermen will be negatively impacted downstream from the stopping of the Rufiji River. The manmade lake formed by the hydrodam will also impact numerous endangered species, including the elephants, giraffes, African wild dogs, black rhinoceros and many more who call the Selous Wildlife Reserve home.

The hydropower plant is not identified in Tanzania’s energy plan as urgently needed and is not the most cost-effective method to provide electricity to the area. This single, centralized power plant in a remote area will require significant investment and infrastructure development to distribute power. Do not fund this illegal, environmentally destructive project that will harm both protected wildlife and Tanzanian citizens. More sustainable, economically viable options for power generation need to be explored. Invest instead in de-centralized renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which are more cost-effective, more efficient in distributing power, and will not permanently impact this protected wildlife refuge.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Laika ac

Ensure Environment Doesn’t Become Hawaii Volcano’s Biggest Victim

Target: Harry Kim, Mayor of Hawaii County

Goal: Protect threatened regions from volcano-related environmental hazards.

Major blockbuster films often focus on spectacular explosions and rivers of fiery lava. As the ongoing Hawaii saga demonstrates, sometimes the most dangerous volcano hazards arise from  environmental pollutants. Fissures compounded by the recent eruption of the Kilauea volcano have poured untold amounts of methane and other toxic substances into the atmosphere. Now, residents face renewed anxiety as a potential ticking time bomb in the form of a geothermal plant stands in the crosshairs of the Kilauea eruptions.

Lava flows recently penetrated the grounds of the Puna Geothermal Venture Plant: a highly controversial structure that has long drawn the ire of nearby residents for its potential environmental hazards. Unfortunately, those fears may come to fruition if the aftereffects of the volcano come into contact with the dangerous gas utilized at the plant, most prominently sulfur dioxide.

While officials have taken precautions such as removing flammable liquids and plugging wells on the plant, alarm still remains high. This is a largely untested problem, and just one misstep or one unpredictable factor such as high winds could trigger an environmental and public health disaster.

Sign this petition to urge regional leadership to do the responsible thing and draft strong, environmentally conscious emergency response plans, including possible relocation of this facility.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor Kim,

Monitoring for atmospheric threats, potential mass evacuations, emergency closures: these represent just a few of the many unique dangers faced as you confront a previous hypothetical catastrophe scenario come to life. The Kilauea volcano has already claimed dozens of structures in Hawaii, but the threats posed to the Puna Geothermal Venture Plant present the greatest danger yet.

Hawaii relies upon this plant for much of its power, but with this reliance also comes immense responsibility. Time will tell if the danger indeed passes, but another disaster drill-turned-reality may strike at any time. Please take this opportunity to evaluate, to analyze, to listen to both experts and your community, and to prepare.

Heed the dangers to the environment and to the people…the people who have long warned you of these dangers. Take the necessary steps to neutralize these dangers, even if this means relocating these facilities to a safer place. Let this plant be a true source of power, not a harbinger of inevitable catastrophe.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Nikbert16

Ban Synthetic Pesticides

Target: J. Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta

Goal: Support Switzerland in becoming the second country in the world to scrap the use of synthetic pesticides.

Switzerland will soon decide whether or not to entirely eliminate synthetic pesticides. Switzerland may be home to the world’s largest pesticide manufacturer, Syngenta, but over 140,000 people signed the referendum to divest from the industry. Thanks to direct democracy, the popular vote is expected to succeed with approximately 13 percent of Swiss farmers already using organic methods. The only other country with similar policies is Bhutan.

Grassroots organizer Etienne Kuhn launched the crowd-funded project in November, 2016. Now he’s expected to face opposition from agrochemical supporters trying to prevent legislative changes. Early advocacy will guarantee more public support as Switzerland begins its checks and balances. Industries would have to adapt within 10 years if the ruling passes. In the interim, aid Swiss citizens in phasing out synthetic pesticides by signing the petition below.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Bozzi,

Switzerland could soon become the second country in the world to entirely ban synthetic pesticides. This is good news for wildlife, including bees and fish, which are threatened by these harmful chemicals. These pesticides can also pose a hazard to the reproductive, endocrine, and central nervous systems of humans. Removing them entirely could have innumerable benefits for Switzerland as a whole.

Ten years for industry personnel should be enough time to plan accordingly. For once in the history of science, apply the precautionary principle by banning the use of these harmful chemicals.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jeff Vanuga