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A Park for the People / Geographical

We’ve come in the blue light of dawn, hoping to catch the private security personnel off guard. Tomás idles the truck over the Rio Colorado towards the mountain hamlet of Alfalfal. The once- sleepy settlement of herdsmen and homesteaders is today obscured behind the great orange wall of the monstrous 531MW Alto Maipo hydropower construction project.

Our cab is stuffed with Chilean mountain guides, conservationists and activists. The bed is packed with ice axes, crampons, five days’ mountain food, camera equipment and an inflatable kayak. ‘Over there,’ says Tomás pointing to a stadium-sized concrete paved pool. ‘That’s where I use to play football in the grass.’ We sink low in our seats, bracing against the cold shadow of the cliffs above us as much as to remain out of sight of the checkpoint. Tomás, Vivi, Felipe and I have spent the past ten years trespassing in the central Chilean Andes to gain access to its privatised and prohibited mountains. But the plan for this expedition is by far the most outrageous.

Extract from the eight page feature story and photo set I created from our October 2020 clandestine expedition into the Río Colorado Estate. I put together a team of mountain guides, conservationists, activists and hired a mule herder to take us for five days into this 142,000 hectare territory on the outskirts of Santiago. Our aim was to explore the citizen led Queremos Parque (We Want a A Park) campaign that has gained majority support in the parliament and senate to declare an accessible national park for the capital’s 7million that would potentially be the biggest conservation story in Chilean history. Along the way our team made the first ever recorded ascent of Cerro El Barco and the highest known descent of the Rio Colorado. 

Many thanks to supporting comment from Senator Alfonso de Urresti, Kristine Tompkins, James Hardcastle from the IUCN, Viviana Callahan, Tomás Gonzales and Felipe Cancino; as well as expedition logistical support from Alpacka rafts and Patagonia Chile. 

Subscribers can read the full story in the February 2021 edition of the magazine. Out today. 

 

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Coronavirus’ real impact on the climate / Geographical

Covid-19 has forced us to reduce destructive atmospheric behaviours and has reminded us that we are at the mercy of nature.

This March I discussed with climate behavioural psychologist Paul Hoggett how the current viral crisis could affect our response and engagement as a species with the climate crisis. 

Published by Geographical, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society.

Click to open and read in new tab. 

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COP25: Citizens and scientists unite behind climate injustice / Geographical

Indigenous activist Daiara Tukano of Brazil speaks to press during a demonstration against the slow pace of climate negotiations at COP25 (Image: Christine Thao Tyler)

Brandon Wu is director of campaigns and policy at Action Aid USA and he has just been reunited with his jacket. He’s spent a few chilly hours outside the COP25 United Nations climate summit in Madrid after being ejected from the venue. Earlier he had been part of an organised but extra-official protest in which youth, trade union, Indigenous, women and gender delegation groups beat empty pans and unfurled banners. ‘Police linked arms,’ he told Geographical, ‘forcibly marching people out of the door.’

Continue reading at Geographical

The second in my three part series from the 2019 UN Conference of the Parties, where world representatives met this December to try to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees. 

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COP25: World leaders debate global carbon trading playbook / Geographical

Any good parent knows you should never make a rule that you can’t enforce. In the first week, however, of the UN COP25 climate change conference, the troublesome Article Six policy of the Paris Agreement was a 2015 promise some nations were perhaps beginning to regret. Article Six allows countries and companies to potentially leverage emissions savings they create overseas for continued or even increased emissions at home. The mechanism is currently as vague as it sounds….

Continue reading at Geographical

The first in my three part series from the 2019 UN Conference of the Parties, where world representatives met this December to try to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees. 

 

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Chile’s crisis set to reframe UN climate conference – Geographical

Climate change is affecting the world’s most vulnerable. The protests over inequality and corruption in Chile have deep roots and connection with environmental destruction. Before the cancellation of the pivotal UN climate change conference in Santiago, I asked how the spotlight on inequality could reframe the focus of the global summit. 

Read the article for Geographical published here