Global warming news

The Green Climate Fund Is Now Ready for Ambitious Pledges

Last week marked a key moment for climate finance: The last foundations were laid for the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and it’s now ready to receive funding.

Board members met and signed off on remaining steps to operationalize the fund, which is expected to become the main vehicle for securing and distributing climate finance. Expectations are high that developed nations will commit at least $10 billion by the end of November to help developing nations mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts.

The GCF is the most ambitious climate finance fund thus far, with a goal of completely transforming sectors and economies toward low-emission, climate-resilient development. Its decision-making is balanced equally between developed and developing countries. And it’s designed to empower developing countries and national institutions—as opposed to only international institutions—to be at the center of climate solutions.

However, the same things that make the Green Climate Fund different can also make for a bumpy ride. This tension between tried and tested approaches versus the new and innovative was reflected in the GCF Board’s key decisions at its latest meeting.

Here’s a look at three key issues the Board tackled:

1. Striking the balance between strict standards and a diverse set of partners

The Board struck a balance between opening the door to a wide range of partners while still managing social, environmental, and financial risks. A diverse set of institutions (including development banks, ministries, development agencies, businesses, and others) will be eligible to channel the Fund’s resources, while the social, environmental, and fiduciary standards required of partners will be linked to the size and types of activities they intend to undertake. This is an appropriate decision. Taking the example from our previous blog, a development bank investing in a major infrastructure project like a wind farm will need to have much stronger social, environmental, and financial risk standards than a national ministry conducting training.

2. Getting countries and institutions ready for the Green Climate Fund

The Board approved a work program that will help countries and national institutions engage in “readiness” activities. This involves putting standards and processes in place to access and deploy the Fund’s resources—such as making sure a national agency has the right financial controls, and rules to ensure that its projects don’t cause unintended social or environmental harm. The decision also puts national entities—rather than international institutions—firmly in the lead in prioritizing their needs and in deciding which entities implement readiness activities in their countries.

Crucially, the Board’s decision ensures that the poorest countries will receive at least half of these readiness resources, while all developing countries remain eligible for the remainder.

3. Engaging the private sector strategically

The Board provided clear signals on how the private sector will engage with the fund. It will have the flexibility to use a wide range of instruments—including grants, concessional loans, equity investments, and risk guarantees—through its intermediaries. This provides flexibility so that the Fund can maximize its investments by matching the right financial instrument with the right opportunity. The Board also decided to move forward with a special program for small and medium enterprises to ensure they won’t be pushed out by larger private sector interests in accessing Fund resources. However, the Board delayed dealing with some key issues—such as how GCF will mobilize larger sources of private finance—to the next meeting.

Homework for Countries and the Green Climate Fund Board

While the Board made significant progress, crucial questions remain. At its next meeting, the Board will need to be clearer about what kinds of projects it will invest in. It also needs to ensure transparency in its operational policies and decision-making processes, and incorporate participation by key stakeholders—including civil society and communities that may be impacted by GCF investments—in its processes.

Countries themselves have some homework to do, too. Functionally, the Fund is nearly ready to go, but it can’t get far without ambitious financial pledges from developed nations. A pledging meeting is currently scheduled for this November in Berlin. Pledging at least $10 billion to the fund this year is a key milestone for both securing an ambitious international climate treaty in 2015 and scaling up climate finance over the long-term.

The Green Climate Fund is ready—now let’s start filling it up with resources to overcome the climate change challenge.


EU climate change goal pits green business against industry

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A European Union goal to cut greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2030, agreed early on Friday, sets the pace for a global deal to tackle climate change, pitting heavy industry against green business.

Read more [Reuters]

Lockheed Martin’s compact nuclear reactor? Yet more fusion fantasy!

Clean, abundant, sustainable and commercially viable energy from nuclear fusion is the stuff of science fiction. Lockheed Martin's announcement this week that it plans to produce a fusion reactor that will fit on the back of a truck in just ten years is yet more fantasy.

The joke about commercial nuclear fusion is that it's 50 years away. Always 50 years away. The joke is very old because scientists have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get nuclear fusion to work for a very long time. It's a cliché because it's true.

So weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin's recent announcement sounds like little more than a wild boast that will embarrass them later down the line. It says it can build a compact fusion reactor (CFR) 90 percent smaller - small enough to fit on a truck - than other prototypes and in just ten years.

How will Lockheed Martin succeed where everybody else has failed? There's a suspicious lack of detail in its press release.

"The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR in less than a year."

The CFR concept isn't even off the drawing board yet. They say it's going to take five years to build the prototype and if Lockheed Martin succeeds where all others have failed, the CFR will be "deployed in as little as ten years."

"As little as ten years". One thing we've learned about the nuclear industry is that you never believe any deadlines or timetables. Everything nuclear is nearly always late. Nuclear fusion is permanently late.

Research into nuclear fusion has been ongoing for more than 60 years and history is littered with its failures. Take a look at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France. Construction began in 2008 and is expected to be finished in 2019.

The reactor won't begin operation until 2027 at the earliest and only if some huge scientific barriers can be broken. By 2027 ITER will be 11 years late. At $50 billion, its cost is already ten times the initial budget.

As for Lockheed Martin, its own timetable is already slipping. It made the exact same announcement in February 2013 that its CFR is just ten years away. It's now 18 months later and the CFR is still ten years away.

It's nuclear fusion history repeating. In his book, Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking, Charles Seife calls fusion research "a tragic and comic pursuit that has left scores of scientists battered and disgraced."

Not only that, but Lockheed Martin is bringing new problems to the party. The idea of a reactor on the back of a truck may look good in a press release but the reality would be a nuclear safety and security nightmare. Which means the CFR is not exactly the basis for a credible global energy solution.

Doesn't Lockheed Martin know we're in a race against time with climate change? It's planning to waste years of research, resources and money that must instead be devoted to clean, affordable and sustainable energy sources like wind and solar whose large scale deployment already underway today needs to move to an even greater scale if rapid carbon reductions are to be achieved. 

Justin McKeating is a nuclear blogger for Greenpeace International, based in the UK.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

7 solar wonders of the world

Solar energy is clean, reliable, abundant and an affordable alternative to fossil fuels - but not only that, solar is also cool. Check out our selection of the most amazing solar plants from all around the globe.

1. The sunflower solar panel

This new piece of solar technology from IBM, set to launch in 2017, would not only provide electricity – it can also desalinate water for sanitation and drinking. A group of several solar generators could provide enough fresh water for an entire town. The sunflower operates by tracking the sun, so that it always points in the best direction for collecting the rays - just like a real sunflower!

© IBM Research / flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

2. The loveliest solar plant, ever

This heart-shaped solar power plant is to be built on the Pacific Island of New Caledonia at the beginning of next year, and will generate enough electricity to supply 750 homes. The unique design was inspired by the "Heart of Voh"; an area of nearby wild mangrove vegetation that has naturally taken the shape of a heart. It gained worldwide recognition thanks to the Yann Arthus-Bertrand best-selling book "The Earth from Above". Pacific Islands are among the most vulnerable to climate change, and would derive the most benefit from a global switch to renewable energy sources.

© Conergy

3. The most scenic solar farm

The Kagoshima mega solar island is the largest solar power plant in Japan. Not only does it generate enough power to supply roughly 22,000 average Japanese households, it also doubles as a tourist destination. Boasting grand views of the Sakurajima volcano, the plant's own learning centre highlights environmental issues and the science behind photovoltaic energy generation. Japan's' recent solar growth is truly massive. In 2013, Japan came in second worldwide for installing solar PV (only China installed more). A rapid expansion indeed!

© Kyocera Corporation

4. The plant that can generate power at night

This Gemasolar tower plant located in Sevilla, Spain, can deliver power around the clock - even at night. All thanks to the pioneering molten salt technology, which allows it to receive and store energy for up to 15 hours. In 2013, renewable energy provided 42% of Spain's power demand. The future is here!

5. The largest solar plant

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is the world's largest solar thermal plant. Located in a sunny Californian desert, and owned by Google, among others, the plant began producing electricity earlier this year. The plant comprises 173,000 heliostats (solar-speak for mirrors), and produces enough electricity to supply 140,000 Californian households with clean and reliable solar energy.

© Don Barrett / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

6. Britain's first floating solar plant

Britain's first ever floating solar panel project was built in Berkshire last month. The 800-panel plant, situated on a farm water reservoir, avoids covering valuable farm land with a solar array, providing additional cost benefit over solar farms on fields. Because of climate change, in the future we can expect to see more extreme weather events such as last year's flooding in Britain. Innovative renewable energy solutions could be Britain's answer to climate change.

© Ciel et Terre International

7. The solar plant covering a network of canals

This solar pilot project in India provides both energy and water security. A network of 15-metre-wide irrigation canals covered with a total of 3,600 solar panels produces power for hard to reach villages. Shading from panels also prevents around 9m litres of water from evaporating each year, and water, in turn, provides cooling effect for the panels, improving electricity output. It's a win-win!

© Hitesh vip / wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

Paula Tejón Carbajal is a Corporate Adviser and Climate & Energy Campaigner and Helena Meresman is Digital Mobilisation Advisor for the Climate and Energy campaign at Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

EU strikes compromise to set new climate target

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders struck a deal on a new target to cut carbon emissions out to 2030, calling it a new global standard but leaving critics warning that compromises had undermined the fight against climate change.

Read more [Reuters]

EU leaders out of touch with climate reality

(GLAND, Switzerland, 24 October 2014) -  Europe's new climate and energy targets for the period 2020–2030 show a leadership out of touch with climate reality, said WWF's Global Climate and Energy initiative leader Samantha Smith.
"The reality is that climate change already threatens people and nature. Yet the scale of ambition we need to tackle climate change is missing from the emission reduction, renewable energy and energy efficiency targets announced today by the EU Council. We are still waiting for targets that will fight climate pollution and drive rapid, just divestment out of fossil fuels and into the renewable, efficient economy of the future," she says.
"The world just experienced the warmest six months ever recorded. Severe heatwaves and flash floods are now hallmarks of European seasons; already developing countries are experiencing severe impacts of climate change. For both, the worst is yet to come.
"This climate reality and the latest climate science call for drastic action by governments – and the EU has failed its citizens and the citizens of the world by caving in to vested and political interests. We can only hope that European leaders will rise to the challenge in 2015, when they submit the EU's targets for cutting climate pollution to the global negotiations for a climate agreement," says Smith.
"But what makes the weak package even worse is that ambitious climate and energy targets would have massive benefits for EU citizens - less pollution, better health and fewer premature deaths, as well as new, more secure job opportunities and energy independence. The EU has missed a big opportunity to reclaim its global leadership position and set the pace to a new global climate deal in Paris in December 2015," she says.
"European leaders are sacrificing our futures on the altar of politics, and the coming months will be crucial to avoid the worst implications of this decision," says WWF's head of EU climate and energy policy Jason Anderson. "The EU will need to review its target, as it is asking other countries in the UN to do. Those Member States who see the benefits of climate action will try to fill the void with domestic policy, but action will be fractured, and an EU policy response will be necessary."

Read more [WWF]

EU strikes compromise to set new climate target

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders struck a deal on a new target to cut carbon emissions out to 2030, calling it a new global standard but leaving critics warning that compromises had undermined the fight against climate change.

Read more [Reuters]

EU leaders to strike climate deal cut greenhouse gases 40% by 2030

Guardian: European leaders were expected to strike a broad climate change pact obliging the EU as a whole to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40% by 2030. But key aspects of the deal that will form a bargaining position for global climate talks in Paris next year were left vague or voluntary, raising questions as to how the aims would be realised. Draft proposals were given to national delegations on watermarked paper in sealed envelopes as the EU summit in Brussels started on Thursday, in an attempt...

New Methane-Releasing Microbe Key Player in Climate Change

Nature World: A new methane-releasing microbe, just recently discovered in Sweden, is a key player in climate change, according to new research. Identified as Methanoflorens stordalenmirensis, it is just one of many species of soil microbes, known to be among the world's biggest potential amplifiers of human-caused climate change. Earlier this year, an international team of researchers discovered this previously unknown microbe living in permafrost soils in northern Sweden that have begun to thaw in our warming...

Intelligent Imagining: Scenarios to Manage Water as the Climate Changes

Imagine a world just six years from now, when water governance is weak and there are no laws to manage water in a drying climate. Government provides scant support for cooperation to manage surface and groundwater, as population and demand for water grow. By 2030, deforestation reduces the amount of water the soil can retain, cutting crop yields. By 2040, water demand exceeds supply, spurred by irrigation needs and a fast-growing population. Higher temperatures and longer droughts mean the loss of basic grains. The global weather patterns El Niño and La Niña may affect food security, and poverty increases.

This grim picture is the most pessimistic of three scenarios developed at a WRI workshop in Trifinio, Guatemala, on September 25-26, 2014. Intelligently imagining the future in this way can motivate decision makers to make more water available for agriculture and human consumption, possibly by promoting alternative, less-thirsty businesses like tourism and handicraft-making. They may also improve agroforestry systems and soil conservation to conserve water on farms. Small farmers might decide to harvest rainwater and switch technology to use water more efficiently and productively. In this scenario, however, the challenge of increasing access to water remains.

The Importance of Scenarios and Decision Making

Scenarios are descriptions of plausible futures that reflect different perspectives on past, present and future developments. They are not predictions, projections or forecasts but provide contexts in which decision makers can make plans. Scenarios enable decision makers to work with a variety of plausible futures.

One key challenge is addressing uncertainty, especially when we don’t know the exact impact of climatic change in a particular location due to unpredictable weather patterns. Developing scenarios that take climate and other socio-economic uncertainties into account can help to directly tackle issues we are less sure of. It allows decision makers to take various uncertainties into consideration in the planning process.

Developing Scenarios on Climate Change and Water

To help decision makers develop scenarios and plans to manage water and adapt to climate change, Moushumi Chaudhury of WRI’s Vulnerability and Adaptation team, and Tien Shiao and Paul Reig of WRI’s Aqueduct team, conducted the workshop in Trifinio, part of the Central American Dryland Corridor, an area where biodiversity is protected by reducing fragmentation between ecosystems, enabling animals to migrate freely. The Corridor also has areas for agriculture and forest management.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, and the University for International Cooperation worked with WRI to organize the workshop. The workshop was held in Trifinio because decision makers want to better manage the area’s watersheds. As the area has become drier, decision makers have become concerned about the impact of droughts on livelihoods, especially in one of the poorest parts of Guatemala. Water is a contentious issue among sugar producers, smallholder farmers, and governments that want to install dams to generate hydroelectricity. All of these stakeholders demand water. Representatives from ministries of environment and agriculture, coffee companies, groups of municipalities, research institutes, and development organizations participated in the workshop.

The two-day workshop taught techniques to develop scenarios and plans. Three groups developed three scenarios—optimistic, moderate, and pessimistic—by integrating Aqueduct maps, crop data, and enabling factors and barriers to water management. Then participants used a technique called “back-casting,” where plans in each scenario are plotted on a timeline starting from 2040 and ending in 2020. This allowed participants to make long and short-term plans. This is important for climate change adaptation, and reducing bias to only plan for the near future. The groups then reviewed the plans to test their strength under different scenarios. Those plans that worked under all scenarios are stronger and are referred to as “robust”. Robust plans withstand various uncertainties in the scenarios, and therefore, can be applicable in various decision making contexts

In addition to the pessimistic scenario, participants created optimistic and middle-of-the-road scenarios. The middle-of-the-road scenario imagined increased social conflicts by 2040 due to water scarcity, driven by population growth, poor resource management and climate change. In turn, water scarcity led to low crop yields, high food insecurity, and a migration to cities. To counteract this, decision makers promoted conservation and sustainable agriculture. This view envisioned improved participatory decision-making and partnerships to address water scarcity.

The optimistic scenario saw an exemplary economy with well-established coffee cultivation contributing to sustainable social and economic development, adopting unique, integrated approaches to support the local economy through eco-tourism and sustainable agriculture. In this scenario, farmers grow basic grains under adequate land management and natural resources governance practices. However, social concerns and some poverty persist due to the loss of per capita agricultural land, particularly amongst bean and corn growers, requiring plans to reduce social problems and poverty.

The Road Forward

The scenarios and plans decision makers choose for adaptation and water management will ultimately depend on various factors, such as political feasibility, costs of implementation, and social acceptance of the plan. Whatever the outcome, scenarios provide decision makers a clearer idea of the impact their plans could have, years or even decades in the future.


Environment is grabbing big role in ads for campaigns

New York Times: In Michigan, an ad attacking Terri Lynn Land, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, opens with a shot of rising brown floodwaters as a woman says: “We see it every day in Michigan. Climate change. So why is Terri Lynn Land ignoring the science?” In Colorado, an ad for Cory Gardner, another Republican candidate for Senate, shows him in a checked shirt and hiking boots, standing in front of a field of wind turbines as he discusses his support for green energy. And in Kentucky, a...

Forcing climate change onto the national agenda

Washington Post: The 2014 elections have been a dispiriting affair, replete with Democratic skittishness about the major legislative achievement known as Obamacare and wretched GOP demagoguery about Ebola and the border. But despite all this, and even if Dems lose the Senate, there may be one bright spot: Liberals may have made a bit of headway in forcing climate change on to the national agenda. In the Senate race that may have focused more than any other on climate change -- in Michigan -- the Democrat appears...

On World Energy Day let's remind the EU that people want ambitious EU 2030 targets

Our ship, the Arctic Sunrise is back with a mission. After a year in Russian custody for a peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic, she is now released, repaired and back in the water. Once again she will challenge reckless dirty fossil fuels plans – this time off the Spanish coasts, which is under the threat of off-shore drillings.

Activists onboard the Arctic Sunrise – and all over Europe – are calling for clean energy the very week that EU leaders are about to make crucial decisions about Europe's energy system for decades to come. They will be talking about how to reduce climate change including through using more renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. I hope the politicians attending will show the same courage and strength.

Image Gallery.. 

These activists are – literally – shouting from the rooftops, reminding the world what poll, after poll in Europe tells us: people want less fossil fuel exploration, more use of renewable energies and more effective energy efficiency.

These two strategies are the most clear and direct way to address climate change. Is this the week that politicians will listen?

Our message to EU leaders is very clear: Don't stand by as we stumble towards catastrophic climate change simply because you don't have the political backbone to modernize our aging, polluting energy system.

These leaders are posturing and wringing their hands, but they know what they have to do. They have to agree that the only way to stop climate change is to fully embrace the need for more renewable energy and implement better energy efficiency.

The choice is simple and their job at the EU summit this week is to do the ground work so this can happen.

If anyone is not sure what people want, take a train anywhere in Europe and see. Farms using wind turbines. Small roofs half covered in solar panels. In fact 60% of the renewables in Germany are used by households, farms and cooperatives. The future is arriving but we need to accelerate the process.

We want to know that when an office block renovates for a new business, planning permission requires that any changes result in the highest possible standards of insulation.

We want to know that any new city buses and private cars use as little fossil fuels as possible, making them cheaper to run.

We want government buildings to put solar panels on their roofs, not only to cut their energy bills, but to reflect the will of their electorate.

We want to reduce the billions of euros a day Europeans pay to import fossil fuel and steer fraction of it towards establishing a credible, smart renewable sector which will excite investors and create jobs.

All of these things would help curb climate change which, if unimpeded, will cost us much, much more in the future.

Greenpeace's volunteers and Europeans want to remind political leaders that they may not see these things but we are watching them and we won't tolerate their tired old arguments.  

Don't pretend drilling for oil is for jobs. Destroying the Canary Island tourism business doesn't help Spain's economy.

Don't pretend it's too expensive to have renewables. The UK's proposed new nuclear reactor will be one of the most expensive power generators in the world.

Don't pretend it's about logic or that a better energy system is unrealistic. Embracing a clean, modern, sustainable future that protects where we live – the planet – is the most logical, most realistic, in fact the only, choice.

Let's hope that this week, those politicians have the guts for the glory of us all and show they are worthy of our votes.


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Virag Kaufer is a European Energy Project Coordinator for Greenpeace Hungary.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

U.S. needs to invest in Arctic ships, technology to prepare for climate change: envoy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States needs billions of dollars of new equipment including ice-breaking ships, better satellite service and fiber-optic networks as it prepares for climate change and melting ice in the Arctic, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.

Read more [Reuters]

US oil exports would worsen global warming, govt auditors say

InsideClimate: Allowing United States oil producers to export crude would not only sway markets at home and abroad, it would also worsen global warming and present other environmental risks, the Government Accountability Office said in a new survey of experts. "Additional crude oil production may pose risks to the quality and quantity of surface groundwater sources; increase greenhouse gas and other emissions; and increase the risk of spills," said the report. That finding dampened what otherwise read as...

Climate Equity: A Tale of 4 Countries

Finalizing an “ambitious and equitableinternational climate agreement by 2015 is a key step in transitioning the world to a low-carbon economy and building resilience. Figuring out what that kind of agreement looks like, though, can be difficult—especially when it comes to the equity component.

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has set in motion a process for countries to propose their own climate actions– their “intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs)” – next year, ahead of the Conference of Parties in Paris (COP) at the end of 2015. How those contributions reflect equity is a central question. In addition, the UNFCCC has set a temperature goal to collectively limit average global temperature rise to 2 degrees C in order to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Discussions of equity frequently revolve around which countries are responsible for what share of global emissions reductions. More recently, experts have begun to include other issues in equity discussions, such as countries’ capacity to adapt to climate impacts and their financial and other resources to take action.

So, how should countries decide what to put into their contributions, and how should they be evaluated? What should governments, civil society, and the private sector take into account in thinking about the equitability of a country’s actions?

WRI’s new online tool, the CAIT Equity Explorer, aims to help answer these questions.

A New Tool for Viewing Equity

Rather than providing a formula, the Equity Explorer enables users to look at a variety of quantitative indicators and consider a holistic picture of a given country’s emissions and ability to act, including level of development, capacity to adapt to climate impacts, potential for mitigation action, and other factors. The size of countries’ indicators in the radar charts created in the tool —as well as how they compare to other nations’—point to what level of contribution might be appropriate.

Take a look at the comparison between four different nations to see how the tool works:

United States

In the graphic to the left, the United States’ radar chart is relatively full. Two “slices” in particular—historical emissions per capita and GDP per capita—go out to the edge of the circle, meaning that the country ranks fairly high in those indicators as compared to all other countries in the world. The United States’ relative level of current emissions is, however, somewhat smaller, as seen in the two radar indicators for current emissions.
The chart also shows that the United States’ capacity to adapt to climate impacts is relatively high because of its level of economic development in relation to the impacts it faces. Combined, these factors suggest that the country has reason to set ambitious goals when it comes to climate action—including both domestic emissions reductions and the finance it should provide to help other countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.

For other indicators, however, the United States may look somewhat different. For example, it has taken steps that others may not have taken to reduce emissions that cause local air pollution. As a result, even though the country can reap substantial benefits by improving local air quality, other countries may have even more to gain from reducing emissions.


China’s picture falls between that of the United States and other countries. Its historical emissions are much lower than those from the United States, but the chart shows that its current emissions are significantly higher than many other developing countries, including India, another major emerging economy. China also has a lot of potential to reduce its local air pollution, as compared to other countries, so aggressive emissions reductions domestically would gain the national benefit of cleaner air while also contributing to the global benefit of reducing climate change. China’s economic capacity to adapt to climate impacts is also relatively high. Given these results, a tool user might expect that China will also put forward significant mitigation targets as well as resources to help other countries reach their mitigation and adaptation goals.


Unlike the United States or China, India’s relatively lower GDP per capita and capacity to deal with climate impacts mean it has fewer resources available to take climate action. Like China, however, it could reap local and national air quality benefits from reducing emissions. The chart also shows that, in comparison to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), India does have capacity to use its own resources to take action. Thus, a tool user might expect that it would not need to rely heavily on the international community for financial support.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The DRC has limited economic resources and capacity to adapt to climate impacts or reduce emissions. It also has relatively low total emissions, though its current per capita emissions reflect the impacts of deforestation, suggesting that resources and support to reduce emissions from deforestation is vital. Finance for that kind of action, as well as for increasing its ability to adapt to climate impacts, will need to come from sources outside the country—such as through climate finance provided by countries with greater capacity.

Creating an Equitable Global Climate Agreement

These glimpses into the challenges and opportunities countries experience become more nuanced as the user chooses different indicators. Each country has a slightly different story to tell. Through the Equity Explorer, users can get a better understanding of what climate equity means—both in their own countries and internationally.

  • LEARN MORE: Find out how to use the Equity Explorer by watching the video below.


US, EU want UN to stress low cost of climate change fight - draft

Reuters: The United States and European Union want the U.N. to stress the low cost of fighting climate change in a draft handbook on the issue that it is compiling, a leaked document showed on Tuesday. The United States wants the handbook to do more to show that the costs of action "will be almost insignificant relative to projected growth", the document showed. In more than 2,000 comments on the U.N. draft, obtained by Reuters, some governments also suggested more explanation of why the pace of temperature...

Climate change now 'irreversible' - Prof McPherson

3News NZ: The climate change message is just depressing, no matter what way you look at it. Best case scenario, we all have to change our lives dramatically, just to keep us vaguely on the right track. Worst case scenario - were all doomed. Unsurprisingly, that's a hard message for scientists to get us all to listen to, which might be why Professor emeritus Guy McPherson is a teacher of natural resources, ecology and evolutionary biology, but is also a grief counsellor on the side. Prof McPherson...

Climate Change on the Nuclear Subcontinent

Huffington Post: In a recent blog post, Secretary of State John Kerry described climate change as a "gathering storm," already affecting millions around the world and posing direct challenges to our national security and global stability. In a new report, the Pentagon agreed. Indeed, our climate is changing in erratic but decisive ways, as the ice caps melt, seas warm (and rise), and the temperature of the globe increases over time. Diverse disciplines offer perspectives on these issues that could lead to our deeper...

Race to the Top: Driving Ambition in a 2015 Climate Agreement

What if an international climate change agreement could set the rules for years to come, driving greater emissions reductions, more renewable energy and energy efficiency and a shift away from fossil fuel? An agreement you could depend on because you know both the long-term goal and how countries are going to work together to achieve it?

Such an agreement is in the works, but key decisions need to be taken in the coming months to make it a reality by December 2015, when countries are scheduled to meet in Paris to finalize negotiations for a global climate deal under the UNFCCC framework.

A consortium of research organizations from around the world, called ACT 2015, has been thinking hard about what structure, processes and rules would need to be put in place to create confidence and predictability of action under this agreement. There are five key ingredients:

1. Set a long-term goal that people, investors, businesses, cities and national policy makers understand

Currently countries are aiming to keep global average temperature from rising 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels. This 2 degrees C target is an important threshold; if the planet gets much hotter than this, the impacts of a changing climate become unbearable for many people and creatures. However, it is not the easiest target to translate into day-to-day practice and decision-making. If the agreement includes a complementary goal of phasing out greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by 2050 it would send a much clearer signal on the downward direction of travel of emissions.

2. Commit to strengthening national commitments to reduce emissions, or shift to a clean economy, until that long-term goal is met.

No roll-backs, no weakening, keep moving towards phasing out emissions. Countries could make their emissions-reduction targets and their actions stronger at any time.

3. Make it clear that at least every five years, countries will strengthen their commitments to cut climate-warming emissions.

Longer than five years moves away from real time for business, politicians and the public.

4. Bring in independent facts.

While countries should outline what they can do, based it on analysis, it is always best to get a second or third opinion. Welcoming and encouraging independent experts to provide ideas on how countries can reduce emissions and information on how far away the efforts are from phasing out GHG emissions, ensures that the debate is open, transparent and dynamic.

5. Assess progress and go back at it again.

We all know how important it is to assess how we are doing on our own goals and to change course if need be. This applies to countries too. The new climate agreement should have a straightforward assessment of how countries are doing and a clear process to support those countries that are going off track.

If the agreement could include these five essential features, it would go far to creating confidence that leaders are engaged and that they are going to come back to the table at least every five years to keep strengthening actions until emissions are phased out. Negotiations on the agreement in Bonn from October 20-24, 2014, offer a good opportunity for such a straightforward approach to emerge.


Climate talks told to ease rifts as heat busts record

Agence France-Presse: Fresh UN climate talks opened in Bonn on Monday with a plea for nations to overcome rifts as scientists reported record global temperatures for the month of September. In an appeal to negotiators at the six-day meeting, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said renewed commitments made at a world summit on September 23 to curb climate change should prompt negotiators to "build bridges." Their discussions must lay the foundations for the annual ministerial-level talks to be held in Lima in December,...

Electricity Access Has Small Effect on Emissions in India, Study Says

Yale Environment 360: Expanding electricity to the homes of 650 million people in India over the past 30 years had minimal direct impact on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change. Although many humanitarian and development organizations have stressed the importance of improving electricity access in low-income countries, it has been unclear how this would impact overall emissions levels. An analysis of trends in India between 1981 and 2011 shows that expanding household...

Public Forests Sacrificed to the Biomass Industry

EcoWatch: If we’re to believe the biomass energy industry, the U.S. Forest Service and a chorus of politicians from both sides of the aisle, we can solve the energy crisis, cure climate change and eradicate wildfire by logging and chipping our national forests and burning them up in biomass power facilities. The plotline of their story goes something like this: Years of taxpayer-funded logging and fire suppression in federal forests (at the behest of the timber industry) has resulted in “overgrown” forests...

Australia: Australia prepares for 'dangerous' bushfire season

BBC: As Australia prepares for another horror bushfire season, experts are warning that some areas of the country are becoming uninhabitable because of the increased risk of fire and that worse-than-normal seasons are becoming the norm. And one of the country's top firefighters has warned that the loss of homes was now inescapable as climate change drives more frequent and fiercer blazes. Hot, dry conditions in the lead up to summer have increased the likelihood of "very high fire danger weather"...

Europe emission targets 'will fail to protect climate'

BBC: Europe's leaders are about to consign the Earth to the risk of dangerous climate change, a UN expert says. Prof Jim Skea, a vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the EU's plan to cut CO2 emissions 40% by 2030 is too weak. He says it will commit future governments to "extraordinary and unprecedented" emissions cuts. The Commission rejected the claim, saying the 40% target puts Europe on track for long-term climate goals. The 40% target - proposed by the European...

More Australian universities push for fossil fuel divestment

Blue and Green: Shortly after the Australian National University (ANU) divested from seven fossil fuels firms, gaining criticism from the government, more universities are being pressured by academics and students to follow suit, in order to avoid dangerous effects of climate change on the economy, health and environment. Three members of the Group of Eight universities – formed by leading Australian education institutions – are expected to receive pressure from faculty members and student groups in order to...

Alpine lifelines on the brink

Gland, Switzerland – Only one in ten Alpine rivers are healthy enough to maintain water supply and to cope with climate impacts according to a report by WWF. The publication is the first-ever comprehensive study on the condition of Alpine rivers.

The landmark WWF study, Save the Alpine Rivers, found that only 340 kilometers of large Alpine water systems remain ecologically intact compared to 2,300 kilometers of heavily modified or artificial stretches of river.

"Healthy rivers, streams, wetlands and floodplains provide a suite of ecosystem services including fresh water and flood protection," said Christoph Litschauer, Head of WWF's European Alpine Freshwater Program. "These systems are essential for human livelihood. Beyond basic services, we also have to look at healthy natural rivers as one of our best insurance policies against climate change."

The high mountain ranges of the Alps function as water towers for 14 million people from eight countries. The rivers that drain these mountains provide household and agricultural water, food, fisheries, energy, jobs and recreation.

The study, carried out with Vienna's University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, assesses the current status of 57,000 kilometers of river and found 89 out of 100 Alpine rivers are already substantially harmed. Only 11 per cent of rivers are in pristine condition, with the rest having been redirected, altered or impacted by hydro-electric dams.

"Many planned hydro-dams are situated in protected areas like the Soca in Slovenia or on pristine rivers like the Isel in Austria. These counteract current protection efforts," continued Litschauer. "Rivers are more than mere energy suppliers; they need to be seen for the complete natural services they provide."

In addition to damming and regulation of rivers, Alpine riverbanks are being converted to agricultural land and urban areas, reducing their natural ability to regulate floods.

Climate change was also identified as a threat to Alpine rivers in the report. This adds to the results of a separate study conducted for the Austrian government that found that temperature increase in the Alps is much higher than in other regions of the world. The temperature in the Alps has risen by 2°C within the last 200 years, far above the average global temperature increase of .85°C.

Following the costly and catastrophic floods that hit Europe in the past few years, WWF highlights the need to strengthen the resilience of water ecosystems and is calling on governments to prepare an action plan to protect and restore these rivers.

"Extreme weather events are increasingly likely and we must protect and strengthen the capacity of our 'green infrastructure' including living rivers and wetlands. The environment is changing and we must respond," said Litschauer.

Despite being one of the most densely populated mountain ecosystems in the world, the Alps contain a variety of unspoiled wild places and are important for biodiversity. The WWF study defines no-go areas for hydro power plants and highlights river stretches for future restoration projects.

Read more [WWF]

India: Charge of the Green Brigade

Indian Express: Students of MG College, Thiruvananthapuram, ensure their campus stays green, through its Nature Club and Bhoomitra Sena Club. Nature Clubs are a common feature of colleges in Kerala. Bhoomitra Sena club was formed by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Kerala and gets government grants. The clubs take up special planting drives on World Environment Day, Gandhi Jayanthi and Ozone Day. Apart from club members, volunteers of the National Service Scheme (NSS) pitch in for...

Urban heat island effect big factor in climate change, Hong Kong records show

South China Morning Post: Temperature and rainfall are the two most basic elements in climate change. So what can we learn from a study of local temperature records and why might it be that local factors other than carbon dioxide output are the main cause of rising temperatures in our city? Climate change is defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as that attributable directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and is in addition to natural...

Link between environmental degradation & Ebola

Star: The Ebola epidemic besieging West Africa is perhaps the starkest warning yet that as we tear down forests, we open ourselves up to new strains of virulent disease. Among the key lessons from the current outbreak is that human-created pressures such as intensified food production, rapid trade and travel, and climate change, are putting future generations at risk of further Ebola-like catastrophes. Through some mix of travel control, medical advances, and humanitarian assistance, we can hopefully...

Leonardo DiCaprio donates $2 million to ocean conservation group

ABC: LEONARDO DICAPRIO has donated $2 million through his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to an organization working to protect ocean life. The funds will benefit ocean conservation group Oceans 5, which is attempting to stop illegal fishing and create marine reserves in the world's five oceans, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A statement from The Great Gatsby star, who was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace on Climate Change last month (Sep14), reads, "Oceans 5 is an exciting new platform...

IPCC lines up for a sixth climate audit as economic costs corrected

Sydney Morning Herald: More than a quarter of a century old and the bane of global warming sceptics everywhere, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is not about to fade into the sunset. This past week, the UN body released its final report on climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability -- 1820 pages long -- and will finalise the synthesis summary of its entire Fifth Assessment Report by month's end. That will emerge in time for the G20 gathering of leaders in Brisbane in mid-November. The IPCC's fifth...

Climate Change: It's Only Human To Exaggerate, But Science Itself Does Not

Science 2.0: To exaggerate is human, and scientists are human. Exaggeration and the complementary art of simplification are the basic rhetorical tools of human intercourse. So yes, scientists do exaggerate. So do politicians, perhaps even when, as the UK’s former environment secretary Owen Paterson did, they claim that climate change forecasts are “widely exaggerated”. A more pertinent question is: does the way in which scientists and politicians speak publicly lead to wild exaggeration? When both are engaged...

Green Revolution in Africa: How to make banks listen to farmers, by World Bank chief

Vanguard: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) recently released its annual African Agriculture Status Report which focused on climate change and climate-smart agriculture at the 2104 African Green Revolution Forum held in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. A Nigerian, Dr. Ademola Braimoh, a senior natural resources management specialist with the World Bank, was part of the team which worked on the report. Braimoh, whose principal area of focus is climate smart agriculture, spoke with Sunday Vanguard...

More urgent than Ebola, climate change is a bigger threat and we need to act now

Mirror: The biggest threat to mankind is not war and international conflict – it’s the fact that most governments never think about the long term. This week the US Defense ­Department said natural disasters from climate change will lead to more instability, disease and poverty. I’ve been in Geneva for a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a group of politicians from 160 ­countries which champions human rights. I last visited Geneva eight years ago to discuss with the United Nation’s World...

A sprinkle of compost helps rangeland lock up carbon

San Francisco Chronicle: A compost experiment that began seven years ago on a Marin County ranch has uncovered a disarmingly simple and benign way to remove carbon dioxide from the air, holding the potential to turn the vast rangeland of California and the world into a weapon against climate change. The concept grew out of a unique Bay Area alignment of a biotech fortune, a world-class research institution and progressive-minded Marin ranchers. It has captured the attention of the White House, the Brown administration,...

WWF Statement on the Convention on Biological Diversity COP-12

On 17 October 2014 the Convention on Biological Diversity concluded its 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In response, the WWF CBD delegation issued the following statement:
WWF welcomes the outcomes of CBD COP-12. Important steps were taken to advance the mechanisms for identification and protection of biodiversity. Governments of the world unanimously called for the new development agenda to integrate biodiversity into universal sustainable development goals in the Gangwon Declaration, the high level ministerial statement.

However, at a time when the world has seen the loss of more than half of the planet's wildlife populations, countries are neither moving fast enough nor doing enough to prevent further decline. Governments must supercharge efforts to fulfill their promise to strengthen protections for nature by 2020. In 2010, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a strategic plan and the Aichi targets, a set of 20 goals aimed at stemming species and habitat loss by 2020. WWF's Living Planet Report confirms the urgency with which the world must act to safeguard our natural treasures:

  • Species populations worldwide have declined 52 percent since 1970;
  • The there is a 76 % decline in freshwater species a 39% decline in marine species and nearly 40% decline in terrestrial species;
  • Global freshwater demand is projected to exceed current supply by more than 40% by 2030;
  • We need 1.5 planets to meet the demands we make on the planet each year.
Protecting biodiversity is of paramount importance to ensuring a sustainable future for all. Biodiversity and ecosystem services guarantee human health, well-being and social stability, and provide the foundation of prosperity, including jobs, food, water, and healthy soils. Forest ecosystems alone contribute US$ 720 billion to the global economy.  And wetlands provide us with clean water, while oceans give us sustenance.
Each of us, no matter where we live or how we make a living, has a stake in ensuring governments succeed in taking urgent and impactful action. To that end, WWF's delegation at CBD COP-12 was sought after for their technical and policy expertise on many issues, including marine and coastal biodiversity, implementation of national action plans, sustainable development goals and integration of conservation, ecosystem conservation and restoration, and impacts of climate change. The following summary provides details on progress made during CBD COP-12 and WWF's reaction to key steps taken.
Global Biodiversity Outlook Report
The fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO4) sent a strong message, one echoed by WWF's 2014 Living Planet Report, that some progress has been made but business as usual will not achieve the Aichi targets by 2020. The COP urges Parties to take comprehensive and urgent measures necessary to ensure the full implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and corresponding national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs).

National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans
The COP urged Parties that have not yet done so, to review and update and revise their national biodiversity strategies and action plans in line with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, to adopt indicators at the national level no later than October 2015, and to submit their fifth national reports. The COP also called for the provision of support for revising, updating and implementing updated NBSAPs and capacity-building.

The level of ambition was far from meeting the needs that arise from the information provided in GBO4 and the results of the High Level Panel on resources needed for the Aichi targets. However, commitment made by developed countries to doubling international financial flows for biodiversity offers hope. In most countries, domestic resources form the substantial part of biodiversity funding. It is a positive first step that all Parties agreed to mobilize domestic financial resources from all sources to reduce the gap on financing their respective NBSAPs. It is also encouraging that Parties increased efforts on capacity building for mobilizing resources. The decision also includes milestones for eliminating or phasing out incentives, including subsidies that are harmful for biodiversity, which WWF believes is important for reducing the pressure on biodiversity and its associated costs.

Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
With regards to "Marine and Coastal Biodiversity," WWF sincerely congratulates Parties on the acknowledgement of more than 150 "ecologically or biologically significant marine areas" in different parts of our world's oceans—in areas within as well as beyond the jurisdiction of coastal states.
In light of the increasing human impacts on our oceans, it is critical that Parties now develop appropriate approaches and measures for these areas to ensure that the biodiversity and ecosystem services contained therein are sustainably maintained, as already agreed under the Achi Targets.
Finally, as the evidence for impacts of sound on marine life now is overwhelming, WWF welcomes the progress that was made with Parties agreeing on a number of relevant and required measures that need to be taken to minimize and mitigate impacts of anthropogenic underwater noise and on priority actions to protect coral reefs and associated ecosystems.

Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration
WWF welcomes the outcome of the COP-12 on Agenda Item 26, Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration. WWF particularly welcomes the acknowledgment of the need to develop a monitoring system for ecosystem degradation and restoration (paragraph 4.g), as well as the inclusion of the marine sphere in the development of spatial planning approaches for the reduction of habitat loss and the promotion of restoration (paragraph 4.a). Furthermore, WWF welcomes the recognition of the crucial role of indigenous and local communities in the conservation and management of biodiversity, and of the importance of protecting and restoring coastal wetlands as crucial for biodiversity, ecosystem services, livelihoods, climate change and disaster risks reduction (paragraph 6). However, WWF believes that more efforts should be made for ensuring sufficient financing and including the protection and restoration of ecosystems in national and sub-national development programs and public policies.
The COP recognized the contribution of private protected areas, in addition to public and indigenous and local community managed areas, in the conservation of biodiversity, and encourages the private sector to continue its efforts to protect and sustainably manage ecosystems for the conservation of biodiversity.

Biodiversity and Climate Change
The COP expressed concern about the findings and conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Fifth Assessment Report, and urges Parties, other governments, relevant organizations and stakeholders to take steps to address all biodiversity-related impacts of climate change highlighted in the report and to further strengthen synergies with relevant work under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
WWF encourages Parties other governments to promote and implement ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, and to integrate these into their national policies and programmes in the context of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 60/195, and the revised Framework to be adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. WWF also welcomes the references to the Warsaw Framework for REDD+, and those to indigenous and local communities and traditional knowledge (preambular paragraph 4).

Nagoya Protocol  
The Nagoya Protocol, a treaty expected to ensure greater access to genetic resources and a mandatory fair sharing of the benefits that could be derived from those resources, entered into force on 12 October, almost four years after it was adopted on 29th October 2010. WWF applauds this progress and encourages further inclusion of representatives of indigenous and local communities.

Indigenous Knowledge Preservation and Recognition
The final resolution on use of the terminology "indigenous peoples and local communities" (Article 8J) in future decisions and secondary documents of the COP comes with caveats and will not have a bearing on any past decisions or change the meaning of the Text of the Convention. Nevertheless, WWF welcomes this decision as it has been a long-standing demand of Indigenous and Local Communities (ILCs) and also a recommendation of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
The COP encouraged parties and ILCs to consider how indigenous and local communities might effectively participate in the development, collection and analysis of data, including through Community-Based Monitoring, and further explore how ILCs' Community-Based Monitoring and Information Systems can contribute to monitoring of Aichi Target indicators. The plan of action on customary sustainable use of biological diversity was also endorsed and there is a request for support for ILCs to develop community plans and protocols to document, map, and register their community conservation areas.
Read more [WWF]

Fossil fuel divestment: climate change activists take aim at Australia's banks

Guardian: Climate change activists will aim to give the big banks a $200m bloody nose on Saturday, in the latest round of what has been an increasingly bitter campaign to force the divestment of companies with fossil fuel interests. A “national day of divestment” will see more than 1,000 bank customers switch their accounts away from the “big four” banks: ANZ, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and NAB. Campaign organisers Market Forces and claim that the major banks have already lost $250m worth of...

Our favorite Pope still needs to address one major issue

Grist: Pope Francis, a.k.a. the Ultimate Chill Dude Pope of All Time (UCDPAT), has been a publicity dream for the Catholic Church. Even on Grist, we’ve sung his praises for his love of public transit and calls to action regarding climate change. There`s just one little area, however, where ol` UCDPAT`s climate action plan leaves a lot to be desired: contraception. The draft document from the 2014 Synod on the Family (which comes to an end on Sunday) includes a significant reworking of the language used...

Lake Erie Toxic Algae, Blame Climate Change And Invasive Mussels

ThinkProgress: Lake Erie is increasingly plagued by toxic algae blooms each summer, and a new study suggests how climate change and mussels, of all things, may be to blame. On Thursday, the Columbus Dispatch reported on the new research and computer modeling, which show neither rising water temperatures nor runoff from fertilizers and sewage - the traditional causes cited - fully account for the blooms. According to the paper, published in Water Resources Research, climate change may be providing cyanobacteria...

US eyes buffet option in global climate talks

Guardian: Barack Obama’s negotiating position for a global deal to fight climate change is beginning to look like a big buffet. In speeches this week, Obama’s lead climate negotiator, Todd Stern, has given the clearest indication to date that America is pushing for an agreement with some elements of a full-scale, legally binding international treaty. But other key components of a global agreement would be more in line with a handshake deal among leaders. The combo deal would allow America to join other...

7 inspiring stories of communities taking action for climate

Stories of communities taking action for the climate and refusing to accept the plans of polluting fossil fuel companies are happening more and more. Here are just a few inspiring climate acts of courage taken by doctors, villagers, students, farmers, and 92-year old veterans – people just like you.

1. Canoes vs. coal

The People of the Pacific refuse to allow themselves to drown, they are fighting back against climate change! Residents of the Pacific islands, among the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels, are taking the fight to save their homes directly to the fossil fuel industry. Using traditional canoes, 30 Pacific Climate Warriors from 12 Pacific islands paddled into the oncoming path of coal ships in an effort to shut down the world's biggest coal port for a day.

2. Maules Creek community - "We cannot allow this to happen"

Australian mining giant, Whitehaven Coal, is set to build a huge open-cast coal mine to become one of the largest in the country. The mine's CO2 output could reach up to 30 million tonnes per year – roughly equivalent to New Zealand's entire energy sector. The local community together with anti-coal activists, including religious leaders, doctors and a 92-year-old digger, decided they will not allow this coal to be mined and burned. They launched a fierce campaign against the developments, undertaking direct, non-violent action to protest against the mines. Despite the protests the mining has begun, but the fight is not over.

© Leard State Forest / flickr / CC BY 2.0

3. The story of Dharnai

The Dharnai village in Bihar, India, has shown their government, and the rest of the world, how people can stand up to the climate-wrecking fossil fuel industry. This small village from one of India's poorest states is lit-up by a solar-powered micro-grid. By bypassing the dirty energy technologies of the past century, and by powering their community with sustainable solar power, the village proved that people can own and control their own clean and renewable energy.

4. A little lobster boat can make a big difference

In May 2013, Ken Ward and Jay O'Hara used their little lobster boat to block a shipment of 40,000 tonnes of coal destined for the Brayton Point Power Station, the largest coal plant in New England, US. They were charged with conspiracy, disturbing the peace and motor vessel violations and faced up to several years in jail. In a major — and unexpected — victory for the climate movement, prosecutors in the US state of Massachusetts dropped charges against the two activists. Why? Let's let the District Attorney explain:

Wow. Let's hope all peaceful activists taking action for our future are treated with the same common sense.

5. Fossil-free schools and cities

Dozens of universities and cities are committing to divesting in fossil fuels. Several of these commitments come as a result of students and residents organizing and speaking to officials about the importance of divesting from fossil fuels. READ MORE about everyone who's going fossil free!

© maisa_nyc / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

6. People of Mahan

The story of Mahan in India is the story of a community fighting to save an ancient forest from a long-corrupt coal industry. The struggle of the people of Mahan attracted international support and managed to, not only save the forest from being turning into an open-pit coal mine, but also achieved victory for the environment and the climate by spelling out the end of cheap coal in India. Coal fired power plants are the biggest source of man-made CO2 emissions. India now has an excellent opportunity to scale up its ambition on renewable energy!

7. Human chain against coal

Thousands of people joined hands to form an eight-kilometer Human Chain across the border of Germany and Poland to protest against lignite coal mining in the area. 30 different nationalities traveled from cities all over Europe to be there. It was an extraordinary event that brought together Greenpeace volunteers, environmental grassroots organisations and thousands of members of the local community.

Helena Meresman is a climate and energy digital mobilization specialist with Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Oxfam: inaction and financial short-termism putting millions at climate change risk

Blue and Green: A “toxic triangle” of political inertia, financial short-termism and vested fossil fuel interests is preventing action to curb climate change, putting millions of people at risk of food and water shortages, Oxfam has warned. In a damning new report, the leading poverty charity estimates that current global warming trends, which will result in a world 4-6C warmer by 2100, could leave 400 million people blighted by famine and drought by mid-century. While warming of this magnitude would have...

Australia: Climate change forcing rethink on fire risk, RFS chief Shane Fitzsimmons says

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Climate change is having an impact on every level of fire management, the New South Wales rural fire chief has said on the first anniversary of the Blue Mountains bushfires. The NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said with more days of high fire danger, there is now a shrinking window of opportunity to carry out back-burning and other hazard reduction. "If our window of opportunity continues to shrink, in order to get those really important pre-season activities underway...

Peru glaciers shrink 40% in 44 years: government

Agence France-Presse: Peru's glaciers have shrunk by more than 40 percent since 1970 because of climate change, giving birth to nearly 1,000 new lagoons, national water authority ANA said Thursday. Peru, which is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 20, in December, used satellite images to carry out the glacier inventory ahead of the high-level meeting. The worst-affected glacier was 5,200-meter-high (17,000-foot) tourist gem Pastoruri in the Andes mountains, which lost 52 percent of its...

US, Military to Plan More Strategically for Climate Change

National Geographic: Climate change is a “threat multiplier” and worse than many of the challenges the U.S. military is already grappling with, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The New York Times indicated that the report marks a departure from the DoD’s previous focus on preparing bases to adapt to climate change. The DoD now calls on the military to incorporate climate change plans in its strategic thinking and budgeting. “Among the future trends that will impact our national security...

Global natural gas boom alone won't slow climate change

ScienceDaily: A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that without new climate policies, expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the long term, according to a study appearing today in Nature. Because natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, many people hoped the recent natural gas boom could help slow climate change -- and according to government analyses, natural gas did...

This new study explains why fracking won’t solve climate change

Climate Desk: For President Obama, fracking is a key weapon against global warming. Abundant natural gas, he said in his State of the Union address this year, is a "bridge fuel" to ubiquitous renewable energy - the key to securing economic growth "with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change." Not everyone agrees. In fact, the debate over whether natural gas is the antidote to our deadly addiction to coal, or a faux climate change solution that will stall the clean energy revolution, is one...

A New Climate Economy: Shifting Corporate America onto a Low-Carbon Path

As more businesses take action on climate change, new research could help accelerate the trend by showing why it’s in U.S. companies’ economic best interests.

WRI launched its study, Seeing Is Believing: Creating a New Climate Economy in the United States, before a packed house at George Washington University last week. The paper, which builds on the global Better Growth, Better Climate report, reveals that it’s possible to reduce emissions across five key areas of the economy while saving businesses and consumers money and improving human health.

Chad Holliday, former chairman and current board member of Bank of America, and Ken Gayer, vice president and general manager of Honeywell, joined WRI experts for the event and panel discussion, moderated by Amy Harder of the Wall Street Journal. Together, they highlighted the economic benefits cutting emissions can bring to U.S. businesses, as well as what’s needed to shift corporate America onto a low-carbon growth path.

An “Inflection Point” for Corporate Climate Action

Holliday, Gayer, and WRI President Andrew Steer noted the private sector’s recent progress on climate action. “I think there’s quite a lot of evidence that we may be at an inflection point,” Steer said. “More than 1,000 companies at the U.N. Climate Summit signed up to say ‘we should have a price on carbon.’ That simply wouldn’t have happened two years ago.”

At the same time, technological advances are driving down the costs of cleaner power. Solar photovoltaic prices have dropped 80 percent since 2008. New natural gas is now up to 44 percent cheaper than power from new coal plants, and the cost of electric vehicle batteries decreased 40 percent since 2008.

“We now have an economic argument [for climate action],” said President Felipe Calderon, former president of Mexico and chair of the commission that produced Better Growth, Better Climate. “We can talk not only about carbon reduction, we can talk about revenues and profits. We can talk about jobs.”

Seeing Is Believing shows how some U.S. businesses are already saving money by cutting emissions. Companies like PepsiCo, Heineken, and Ben & Jerry’s, who have started using coolers free of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases, have seen energy savings of 10 to 20 percent or greater. Utilities found it was 50-67 percent cheaper to improve energy efficiency rather than pay for new electric power generation, such as natural gas or coal plants, between 2009 and 2012. And energy prices for customers of Iowa’s MidAmerican utility are projected to drop by $10 million annually as more wind power comes online.

“It does make good economic sense,” Holliday said. “I’d say this is the biggest market opportunity, and the United States is prime to take it.”

Capitalizing on the Opportunities

Yet despite recent progress from business leaders, U.S. corporations as a whole have a lot of work left to do. As Nicholas Bianco, lead author of Seeing Is Believing, said, America is still the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter, with per capita emissions three times the global average.

That’s where policy and other interventions come in. While the new research lays out win-win economic opportunities associated with climate action, fully capitalizing on them requires overcoming market barriers.

“Companies are always going to innovate and invest,” Gayer said. “The issue is scale. Without the action from government, you don’t get the scale.”

The study lays out several ways to overcome these market barriers. Panelists also noted a few opportunities to help scale up business action on climate change, including:

Put a Price on Carbon

A carbon tax or other policies would provide the right signals to investors and business to direct their finance toward low-carbon options rather than business-as-usual fossil fuels. “How much longer are we going to tax good things like work and profits and not tax bad things like pollution?” Steer said.

Secure a Global Climate Deal

Countries are currently working to establish a global climate treaty under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, with a deadline of December 2015. Securing an ambitious deal could get businesses moving in the right direction. “Currently, businesses do not know which side to go,” Steer said. “They know that probably, 10 years from now, there’s going to be a serious price on carbon, but they’re not sure of that.”

Invest More in Research & Development

While technology like solar photovoltaics are becoming increasingly cost competitive with conventional power sources, we need more innovation to develop cost-effective, low-carbon infrastructure. “We’ve seen overall public R&D decline 88 percent in the power sector since 1980,” Bianco said. “The industry only invests .05 percent of its annual revenues into R&D. The pharmaceutical industry invests 11 percent.”

Finalize Emissions Standards for Existing Power Plants

In the absence of Congressional action, one of the most significant policy signals the United States can send to business is finalizing ambitious emissions standards for existing power plants, which emit the largest share of U.S. greenhouse gases. “They can help the United States get started, and I think once we get started, we’ll find that this is actually much easier than people think,” Bianco said.

In the meantime, it’s in businesses’ own best interests to start taking action now. “This report says the economics make sense now,” Holliday said. “And I really believe it.”

  • LEARN MORE: For more recommendations on how cities, states, and the country can reduce market barriers to low-carbon opportunities, please download our paper.


Change your food, change the world: 5 ways to bite away at your food footprint

Between production, packaging, transport and cooking, the things we eat can have a massive impact on the earth. Luckily, they're also some of the easiest habits to change. Here are the first steps to going on an environmentally-friendly diet.

If you're thinking about changing what you eat to get a healthy body maybe it's also time to think about what you should eat for a healthy planet. Here are five things you can try to reduce your impact on the world:

1. Try some hipster greens

You may have heard about kale – the leafy green that has become a hipster health-food superstar lately. Scientists are hoping kelp – that's right, seaweed – will follow in its footsteps as the ultimate in environmentally-friendly nutrition.

Kelp can be grown in dense coastal sites rather than fresh water and space hogging fields, minimising the precious resources needed to cultivate it. According to Grist, not only can kelp grow in salt water, it helps clean nutrient runoff and similar toxics that damage our oceans. Kelp also grows so fast that scientists claim it's particularly good at sequestering our carbon emissions. It's a winner all round!

Find out more about kelp's future as the cooler, more environmentally conscious sister of kale in this blog from our friends at Greenpeace US.

2. Minimise your food waste

According to Grist, if the world's wasted food became its own island – it would be the third biggest contributor to climate change globally. In the West, much of this occurs due to poor composting practices, wastefulness, cosmetic selection by farmers and supermarkets, and inefficient supply chains – all of which are preventable.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation say roughly one-third of food globally is wasted. In a new report, the UNFAO traces the massive environmental impacts of this waste:

Without accounting for [greenhouse gas] emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated to be 3.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent: as such, food wastage ranks as the third top emitter after USA and China. Globally, the blue water footprint (i.e. the consumption of surface and groundwater resources) of food wastage is about 250 km3, which is equivalent to the annual water discharge of the Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva. Finally, produced but uneaten food vainly occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land; this represents close to 30 percent of the world's agricultural land area.

What you can do:

  • Check your fridge and pantry and make a shopping list before you hit the supermarket.
  • Use your leftovers wisely – try turning fruit and vegetables that's slightly past peak into yummy smoothies and soups!
  • If you can – grow your own food!

3. Cut down on meat and fish consumption

We've previously talked about the water-intensive process used to take meat from farm to fork – but new research has found the meat you eat – and in particular, red meat – also has massive impacts on your contribution to climate change.

The Guardian reports that giving up red meat could be as effective at cutting your carbon emissions as giving up your car. Further research into daily eating habits found that the diets of British meat lovers amounted to double the climate-warming emissions of their vegetarian peers.

And it's not just on land that we're eating unsustainably – our seafood consumption habits and man-made climate change are hurting our oceans. We need to dramatically improve global fishing practices and combat air pollution and ocean acidity. Learn more here.

What you can do:

  • Choose grass-fed beef rather than grain-fed.
  • If you can't cut meat out of your diet – try joining people like Sir Paul McCartney and Chris Martin by adopting Meatless Mondays.
  • If you're already vegetarian and loving it – you could try reducing your footprint even more by cutting down on dairy.

4. Find out who made your food

One of the most blissful ignorances that many people harbour today is that slavery is a nightmare of the past. Unfortunately, slavery is still a $32 billion dollar global industry that likely spans the entire supply chain of your favourite foods.

Right now, Greenpeace is working to help industry and governments improve conditions for workers in the fishing industry – who face among the worst working conditions in the world. Workers can encounter a whole spectrum of issues ranging from extremely low wages, inadequate sanitation, lack of safety equipment, lack of personal space and long working hours to documented cases of forced labour, human trafficking and even murder at sea.

Slavery has no place in our world, our supermarket shelves, or our restaurant tables. You can use the wonderful Shop Ethical guide to find food with clean supply chains.

5. Eat local, eat organic

Luckily, eating local produce can be a great way to cut down on unsustainable production, extreme travel distances and excess packaging., it's becoming increasingly important for our climate, environment and economy that we find out where and how our food is grown – and what better way than buying from the source?

Rashini Suriyaarachchi is the Digital Assistant at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

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