Newsdesk – January 26

Amazon employee Emily Cunningham speaks in May on behalf of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice [Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP]
Amazon employees launch mass defiance of company communications policy in support of colleagues.  More than 350 Amazon staffers publicly called out the company for its climate policy, its work with federal agencies and its attempts to stifle dissent.  Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of workers concerned about the company’s business with the oil and gas industry as well as its carbon footprint, published quotes from 357 workers in a post on Medium. While the company has publicly announced measures to reduce emissions and impacts in the coming years, it does not add up with its ongoing support to oil and gas industries and its efforts to silence employees who speak out. That is what spokesman Drew Herdener from Amazon had to say: “All employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics. We do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems.”  Amazon workers are part of a growing activist movement among tech workers. Along with thousands of Amazon employees, Google workers walked off the job Sept. 20 to protest corporate climate policies. Although Amazon’s employees are betting the company won’t crack down on them, Google’s workers allege they were fired in retaliation for their public criticism of the company and their attempts to organize. The challenge for Amazon is that it is selective in its hiring, investing large sums to entice employees to join the company and train them to develop its sophisticated products and services. Even though the workers speaking out account for a small fraction of Amazon’s total workforce of 750,000, including warehouse workers, they would be costly to replace. The protest Sunday follows a threat to fire two workers who spoke out about the company’s environmental policies in October – The Washington Post

  • Al Gore: The Davos Interview – Rolling Stones
  • Inequality makes climate crisis much harder to tackle – The Guardian
  • Change ourselves, then we change the world and fight climate change – The Jerusalem Post
  • Booming Plastics Industry Faces Backlash as Data About Environmental Harm Grows – Inside Climate News
  • She’s Taking on Elon Musk on Solar. And Winning – The New York Times
  • Subsistence farming topples forests near commercial operations in Congo – Mongabay
  • It’s time to regulate fashion the way we regulate the oil industry – Fast Company
  • Things We Can Do: The Big Picture – The New York Times

Greta Thunberg speaks during the first anniversary Climate Strike, taking place during the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, on January 17, 2020 [Photo: RvS.Media/Basile Barbey/Getty Images]
The right keeps attacking Greta Thunberg’s identity, not her ideas. Asked by a reporter at the World Economic Forum in Davos whether the climate policies Thunberg advocates would hinder US economic growth, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, answered, “It’s a joke.” “After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us.”  At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Steve Mnuchin became the latest member of the Trump administration to mock Greta Thunberg,  the 17-year-old activist who has spent her adolescence calling adults to account for their failure to act on climate change. She did respond by writing, “My gap year ends in August, but it doesn’t take a college degree in economics to realize that our remaining 1.5° carbon budget and ongoing fossil fuel subsidies and investments don’t add up.” She added, “So either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments.” The attacks on Thunberg by Mnuchin, Trump, and others seem to focus on Ms. Greta’s identity more than her ideas — the message is that because she is a teenage girl who has Asperger’s, she shouldn’t be speaking on a world stage.  In December, after Thunberg was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019, Trump called the choice “ridiculous” and said the activist should “go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”  Despite her young age, Thunberg is now a major public figure, addressing the United Nations climate conference and appearing frequently on television. Conservative commentator Michael Knowles, said in an appearance on Fox News that if the movement for climate action “were about science it would be led by scientists rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”  When challenged, he doubled down, saying Thunberg has “many mental illnesses.” Fox News host Laura Ingraham juxtaposed Thunberg’s speech with a clip from the 1984 horror film Children of the Corn, joking, “I can’t wait for Stephen King’s sequel, Children of the Climate.” Unfortunately, the comments like that are part of a bigger pattern since they appeared to refer to the fact that Thunberg has been open about having Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, which is, by the way, not a mental illness – Vox

Bush fires raging in New South Wales, Australia, on Thursday [Credit: Matthew Abbott for The New York Times]
Climate Change Could Blow Up the Economy. Banks Aren’t Ready.  A report was issued this week by an umbrella organization for the world’s central banks.  Like other central banks, the E.C.B. (The European Central Bank), which met on Thursday, is scrambling to prepare for what a report warns could be a coming economic upheaval. “Climate change poses unprecedented challenges to human societies, and our community of central banks and supervisors cannot consider itself immune to the risks ahead of us,” François Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the Banque de France, said in the report. The European Central Bank, which on Thursday concluded a two-day meeting in Frankfurt focusing on monetary policy, is beginning to grapple with those challenges. The bank did not make any changes in interest rates or its economic stimulus program on Thursday.  Instead, other issues are coming to the floor. Christine Lagarde, the central bank’s president, who took office late last year, has pledged to put climate change on the bank’s agenda, and the issue will play an important role as the E.C.B. embarks on the first comprehensive review since 2003 of how it conducts monetary policy. There will probably be disagreement within the bank’s Governing Council about using all of its financial firepowers to help avert a climate catastrophe. When buying corporate bonds to influence market interest rates, for example, the bank could exclude the debt of corporations considered big producers of greenhouse gases. That approach could have a powerful effect on financial markets, encouraging private investors to follow suit by also acquiring bonds of companies considered sustainable and dumping debt issued by polluters. Ms. Lagarde acknowledged that some members of the Governing Council question whether fighting climate change is a central bank’s job. “I’m aware of all that,” Ms. Lagarde said. “I’m also aware of the danger of doing nothing”- The New York Times