Global warming news

Australian cuts to climate change research may hit drive into Asia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Funding and job cuts at Australia's climate change research body could undermine the country's goal of dominating the Asian premium food market by placing farmers at a disadvantage to U.S. and European competitors.

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U.S. can still hit climate goals despite Supreme Court pause, White House says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House vowed Wednesday that the United States would still meet international commitments to cut carbon emissions, seeking to allay concerns that the Supreme Court might take away one of its main weapons against climate change.










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Despite carbon ruling, White House says U.S. can meet climate deal goals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House promised on Wednesday that it would be able to uphold U.S. commitments to an international climate change agreement, as a court ruling heightened concerns about the stability of the global carbon reduction pact reached last year.










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U.S. can meet Paris climate deal goals despite court ruling: White House

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - The White House said on Wednesday it was confident it would be able to meet its obligations under the Paris climate change agreement, despite the Supreme Court's ruling temporarily blocking the administration's plan to curb carbon emissions from power plants.










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Supreme Court blocks Obama carbon emissions plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama by putting on hold federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions mainly from coal-fired power plants, the centerpiece of his administration's strategy to combat climate change.










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Climate change will make westbound transatlantic flights longer: study

OSLO (Reuters) - Flights from Europe to North America will take slightly longer and nudge up airline fuel costs if climate change strengthens high altitude winds as widely expected, a study said on Wednesday.










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Cancún’s mangroves destroyed, but hope grows again

Just a month ago, if you passed by Tajamar in Cancún, Mexico you would have seen 57 hectares of thriving mangrove forest lining the coast. Today, only stumps remain.

Image courtesy of Salvemos Manglar Tajamar.

For years, hundreds of citizens – including a group of children – worked to protect the Tajamar mangroves, one last swathe of wetlands in tourist-dominated Cancún. But in the middle of the night on 16 January, developers hoping to build a new resort – “Malecón Tajamar" – made their move. Under cover of darkness, they tore down the mangroves.

Local authorities allowed this destruction despite evidence that those promoting the resort had provided highly irregular information – even denying the mangroves were there at all.

Ultimately, the battle between these profit-driven developers and the local community came down to one question:

What’s a mangrove worth?

Image courtesy of Salvemos Manglar Tajamar.

Local government officials and developers touted the number of construction jobs and the income this new resort would produce. But they ignored the mangroves’ social, environmental and economic value – the heart of community protests.

Mangroves are a part of the natural ecosystem in Cancún, home to crocodiles, iguanas, birds, snakes and other species. Losing that biodiversity is devastating, and it's only part of the story. The economic and social costs of losing the mangroves are staggering as well.

The National Commission for the Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) estimates that mangroves produce about US$37,500 per hectare per year for fisheries; US$6,700 for health services in Mexico (that figure would reach US$200,000 in some cities of the country). And the protection offered by the coast from storms, cyclones and tsunamis is estimated to be about US$3,000 per hectare.

But officials in Mexico and other countries around the world continue to undervalue the services wetlands provide. Over the last few decades, Mexico has lost more than 35 percent of its mangroves due to logging, climate change and coastal development. Meanwhile, flooding is noticeably more frequent in areas that have lost this natural barrier.

Power of community activism

When the local protesters in Cancún first heard the mangroves had been destroyed, their reactions were immediate – to document the destruction that had occurred in secret. 

Here are just some of the images they captured:

Image courtesy of Carlos Matus.

Image courtesy of Salvemos Manglar Tajamar.

Later, federal officials attempted to downplay the damage to the mangroves, but because of the quick actions of the public, there was clear evidence of full extent of the damage to the Tajamar mangroves.

Hope grows for Tajamar

The Tajamar mangroves had already been decimated, but the fight is far from over. After their destruction became public knowledge, thousands of people across Mexico stood with the community protesters in outrage. And their voices made a huge impact.

Just this week, in response to a case brought to court by Greenpeace Mexico and ally organisations, a judge ordered a moratorium on all work for the Tajamar project. This is a huge victory for people and the environment over the private interests of a few.

However, the road is long before the project is truly cancelled. The Mexican government now has the opportunity to permanently end the project and begin restoration, or to allow the construction of more buildings whose service to the community could never equal the costs of the mangrove forests they replace.

But if officials choose money over mangroves again, they can be sure to expect more public attention – from local communities, and people around the world.

Image courtesy of Carlos Matus.

There is even new hope for the Tajamar. Now that construction is suspended, the mangroves have a chance to recover.

Miguel Rivas is an oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Mexico.


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Big news for bees

As ecological farming and the market for organic food continues to grow across the globe, I’m heartened to see that the same is true in Spain, my home country, where we are going through one of the worst economic crises in recent history.

In challenging times, good news is welcome. This week we’re celebrating news from Valencia where the coastal region has just committed to more than double the share of agriculture land dedicated to organic farming, from 8 to 20 percent, by 2020.

This is great news for farmers, food lovers and bees!

On one hand, the demand for good food produced without harming the environment and wildlife is increasing. People are becoming more and more aware of the impacts of industrial agriculture on their health and ecosystems – and we are demanding ecological products on our shelves and plates.

On the other hand, many farmers, tired of being exploited by the industrial agricultural system, are seeing the benefits that ecological farming provides and they are choosing to jump ship. And it's not a leap of faith! People are in fact rediscovering the value of agriculture, good food, and the relationship of trust with farmers.

Food producers, consumers and researchers, in Spain and beyond, are contributing to a growing global food movement, made up of farmers markets, food co-ops, schools and community agriculture programmes.

But we need more: we need a firm commitment from our governments to spread ecological agriculture even further and supply healthy food for all. The current industrial food system is doomed to failure and we can’t allow it to drag us humans, wildlife and the planet as a whole to the edge of the cliff.

Despite steady growth in the ecological food sector, sadly it is still quite small when compared to chemically grown food. For example, in Spain the latest official data shows that only about 7 percent of cultivated land is devoted to organic farming.

If we want to address important challenges such as climate change, water pollution and loss of biodiversity and soil fertility – even hunger in the world – we have to invest in ecological farming and set some ambitious goals, to be reached sooner rather than later.

The government of Valencia’s commitment to expand ecological farming is an ambitious step in the right direction for two reasons:

First of all, because the transition plan is backed by 23 million Euros to make it  happen. Then, because Valencia is the region in Spain that ranks third highest for pesticide use per hectare, and second highest for use of insecticides, which we all know cause terrible damage to bees and pollinators across Europe and North America.

As well as politicians making the right decisions, we must also do our bit to forge a future with better food. Millions of us globally are already taking action and, by making small changes to our lives, we are moving mountains. Take your pledge today and join the ecological food movement.

Luís Ferreirim is an Ecological Farming Campaigner at Greenpeace Spain.


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Evaluating the Paris Deal

Hope and failure coexist in the Paris climate agreement. One may want to curse or cheer the deal, but it is history now, and we have to get on with it. The agreement provides an opportunity to assess our ecological progress and prepare to be effective in the future.

The journey to Paris

The road to a Paris climate agreement began two centuries ago in Paris, at the French Academy of Science, when Joseph Fourier researched ice age cycles and determined that atmospheric gases trap solar heat. A generation later, in 1896, Swedish chemist Svente Arrhenius calculated that doubling atmospheric CO2 would increase Earth's average temperature by 5-6°C.

Governments at the time showed no visible interest, as cheap energy from coal, oil, and gas fuelled the Industrial Revolution and accelerated population growth, consumption, and waste, especially carbon dioxide. By the 1950s, scientists understood complex climate feedbacks, including methane release and forest cover, and warned of a methane release from melting permafrost.

The emerging environmental movement caught on quickly. In 1964, Murray Bookchin, warned in Ecology and Revolutionary Thought, that "carbon dioxide … will lead to rising atmospheric temperatures … more destructive storm patterns, … melting of the polar ice caps… rising sea levels, and the inundation of vast land areas." A Science Advisory Committee report to US president Lyndon Johnston stated, "The melting of the Antarctic ice cap would raise sea level by 400 feet," and warned of "marked changes in climate, not controllable through local or national efforts."

In 1979, over a century after Fourier had identified the risk, the United Nations convened the world's first Climate Conference in Geneva. In that same year, British scientist James Lovelock sent the nascent Greenpeace Foundation a hand-drawn graph of atmospheric CO2 rising. We pinned the graph to the wall at our first office in Vancouver and opened a climate file.

In 1988, the hottest on record at that time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of a 2-5°C average temperature increase during the next century, and urged governments to reduce carbon emissions. The following year, the petroleum industry began funding the climate denial campaign to cast doubt on the previous 150 years of science. The fight was on.

Siberia speaks

The IPCC met in Kyoto in 1990, the year intended to serve as the baseline for future carbon emissions reductions, but that is not how things turned out. Two years after Kyoto, in Rio, the nations formally recognized the risk and agreed to a "framework" for a deal. That framework appeared a quarter-century ago. Compare the pace of climate action to the pace at which human enterprise built a nuclear bomb after discovering the science that made it possible.

In 1995, as the Antarctic ice shelves began breaking up, the UN sponsored the first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) in Berlin. Two years later, the parties agreed to a Kyoto Protocol for action, but the emission targets remained too weak to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gases. The US refused to ratify the deal, Canada withdrew, the UK and Australia missed their targets, and global carbon emissions continued to increase. Throughout the 1990s, nations signed about 15 international climate agreements every month, thousands of deals, none of which slowed total carbon emissions.

Then, in 2008, the International Siberian Shelf Study recorded methane — which traps 70-times the heat of CO2 within a 20 year period — rising from the arctic shelf, as scientists and ecologists had warned, and which threatened runaway global heating. The study estimated some 1,400 billion tons (Gt) of carbon locked in Arctic permafrost methane, and that a "highly possible" sudden release of 50 Gt would increase atmospheric methane by a factor of twelve. The following year, Woods Hole scientists predicted warming of 5 to 7°C this century, at which point runaway heating would be well underway.

When scientists first understood global warming, in the 1880s, human industry emitted some 50 million tons of carbon annually. As delegates assembled in Paris, in December 2015, global carbon emissions had grown by 200-times and reached over 10 billion tons annually. Japan's Meteorological Agency recorded December temperatures at 1.4 C above 1890, reflecting a strong El Niño year and continued greenhouse gas accumulation. Methane from melting permafrost had pushed the atmospheric gas heat forcing to an equivalent of 485 parts per million (ppm) of CO2, compared to pre-industrial 280ppm. For the first time in recorded human history, the North Pole could be observed melting in mid-winter.

Paris

In Paris, after 36 years of climate meetings, world governments targeted a maximum warming to 2°C, and even mentioned an "effort" to limit warming to 1.5°C. Nations submitted voluntary pledges to contribute to this effort. Predictably, the governments involved, and many environmentalists, celebrated the Paris deal as an historical moment. Time will tell, but governments are in the business of being popular, and as serious ecologists, we have a responsibility to be realistic.

The Paris "deal" is not actually a deal, as it remains non-binding. Since the 1990 Kyoto climate meeting, global emissions have increased by 67 percent. Government climate promises have a poor historic track record.

Secondly, talk about a 1.5° or 2°C warming limit may be delusional. To remain below 2°C, humanity can emit no more than about 771 Gt of carbon (2,900 Gt of carbon-dioxide). We have already emitted about two-thirds of that, emissions are still growing at about 2% per year, and at this rate, we would reach the carbon limit around 2040. The 2°C warming may already be baked into the cake.

If every nation signing the Paris agreement actually met its goal, we would still reach the limit around 2050, well on our way to 3°C or more. According to Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, at the University of Manchester, the combined pledges will result in a 4-6°C temperature increase, a 40-50% decline in agriculture, more droughts and violent storms, sea rise, and flooding. We already observe signs of potential runaway heating at 1°C, so at 2°C or more, we risk losing our ability to change the trend.

Furthermore, the pledges are not effective until 2020, so the nations are committing to five years of doing nothing. Steffen Kallbekken, Director of the Centre for International Climate and Energy Policy, explains, "by the time the pledges come into force in 2020, we will probably have used the entire carbon budget consistent with 1.5°C warming."

In the 1960s, when scientists warned political leaders, Earth's temperature was warming at about + 0.3°C/century. Today, fifty years later, Earth's temperature is warming at the rate of about +1.4°C/century. If this was our child, in bed with a fever, would we not feel the urgency and question our strategy?

Overshoot

The greater challenge, of course, is that global warming is a symptom, just as a child's temperature is a symptom. We need to understand and treat the underlying cause.

Global warming, species decline, desertification, nutrient cycle disruption, and so forth are symptoms telling us humanity has overshot the capacity of Earth's ecosystem to provide resources and process our waste. To reverse any of these trends, human enterprise, particularly the rich industrial nations, have to stop growing and ultimately must contract both population and consumption trends.

Pope Francis emerged as the leader who most clearly understood the deeper dilemma: "Even to limit warming below 3°C," Francis said, "a radical transformation of capitalism will be necessary." No governments, and few environmental groups, appear willing to accept this conclusion. Capitalism demands growth, but when a species overshoots its habitat, nature will insist that it stop growing, and nature doesn't negotiate.

As Albert Bates wrote in Paris Scherzo, "The Paris climate conference is really an economic conference, perched on the brink of a market crash in the fossil fuel sector." Some observers credited the Paris agreement with signalling the "end of the fossil fuel era," but the fossil fuel industry was already in decline, chasing the dregs of expensive, low-net-energy tar sands crude oil and shale gas, and fighting trillion-dollar wars to hang onto the declining mideast oil fields. M. King Hubbert had predicted this as the end of the fossil fuel era in the 1950s. The fossil fuel era will end, and we will build more renewable energy systems, but the fossil fuel producers show no signs of slowing down production.

Most nations in Paris did not promise to reduce emissions at all, but rather promised to improve "emissions efficiency," which means emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or economic activity. So, if a nation's economy is growing at 4% per year, and they reduce carbon emissions growth to 3% per year, they can claim to be improving "emissions efficiency," even though their carbon emissions would still double in about 23 years. Some nations measure emission targets against "business as usual," based on their own expected growth rate, and in both cases, emission can continue to rise.

Bolivia and Costa Rica, however, showed that they understand the deeper challenges. Bolivia pledged to end illegal deforestation by 2020 and to double their renewables to 80% of national supply by 2030. They formally rejected neoliberal capitalism, including carbon market schemes that help rich nations hog the carbon budget. Instead, they proposed a strict carbon budget consistent with the 2°C goal, with most of that budget available to the world's developing nations.

Costa Rica used a "business as usual" formula that equalled a real 25% reduction from 2012 emissions, and they expect to be carbon neutral by 2021, partially through reforestation. However, Bolivia and Costa Rica together comprise about 1.3% of global carbon emissions, so even if they reduced their emissions by half, global emissions would keep growing.

China, the emissions champion, producing about 24% of world carbon, promised to cut emissions versus GDP by 60% of 2005 levels. However, for two decades, China's GDP has doubled roughly every eight years, and both China and the International Monetary Fund project growth to continue. China's emissions could double by 2030, when they claim the emissions might level off. China makes no promise of reducing actual emissions.

The US, Europe, and their NATO allies Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, comprise another quarter of world emissions, and they've pledged to try to reduce emissions, albeit with plenty of loopholes and exclusions. The US pledged to reduce domestic emissions 26% versus 2005, within ten years, not including their military, aviation, and transport emissions. Canada promised a 30% reduction by 2030, but new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned home from Paris and began hedging on tar sands pipelines for the sake of the struggling Canadian economy. Australia pledged 26% emissions reduction by 2030, but the Australian Financial Review stated that coal exports would continue "rising quite significantly," undermining that pledge.

The EU pledged a 40% reduction in domestic emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, a more ambitious target. The EU has already reduced emissions by 20% since 1990, although this reduction is partially due to economic recession and it excludes military, deforestation, and land use changes. The EU provides a tenuously hopeful sign, but not nearly enough to avoid a 2°C warming.

The language of "domestic reductions" provides another loophole. Although the earlier Copenhagen draft included aviation and shipping emissions, equal to Britain and Germany combined, the Paris agreement exempts both and exempts military emissions. Global militarism remains the world's largest fossil fuel consumer, and maritime shipping is the 6th largest emitter. According to the Sail Transport Network, just 16 of the largest ships, from the world fleet of some 90,000 large cargo ships, emit as much pollutants as all the world's cars. They get a pass.

Tech dreams

The Paris agreement attempts to cover up these failures by invoking future geo-engineering technologies, sometime after 2050, to pull carbon back from the atmosphere. Kevin Anderson calls this take-back scheme a "fantasy," and Canadian energy geologist David Hughes says, "The IPCC realizes it is politically incorrect to tell people the truth. The outrageous assumption of massive amounts of CCS [carbon capture and storage] is just a convenient technofix to balance the books in its scenarios, even though it is likely impossible."

Naomi Klein called the agreement "scientifically inadequate," noting that the deal, even if achieved, would lead to a 3-4°C warming. The New Internationalist calls the Paris agreement an "epic fail," and a "disaster" for world's most vulnerable people. The agreement only mentions indigenous groups in a comment about indigenous ecological knowledge, without any commitment to protect that knowledge by protecting those communities. The UK, Norway, US, and EU all objected to any binding indigenous recognition.

Earth's advocates have nothing to apologize for by addressing these troubling realities. Asking for better is not asking for perfection, and exposing the loopholes in the Paris deal is not "pessimism," but realism. For the environmental movement, the Paris experience simply sends us back to work. We know a better world is possible. A realistic path for getting there remains the challenge. Patting ourselves on the back may not help.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.


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Europe's shift to dark green forests stokes global warming-study

OSLO (Reuters) - An expansion of Europe's forests towards dark green conifers has stoked global warming, according to a study on Thursday at odds with a widespread view that planting more trees helps human efforts to slow rising temperatures.










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Doomsday Clock stays unchanged at three minutes to midnight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Iran nuclear deal and movement on climate change prompted the scientists who maintain the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic countdown to global catastrophe, to keep it unchanged on Tuesday at three minutes to midnight.










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States ask Supreme Court to block Obama carbon emissions plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of U.S. states led by coal producer West Virginia and oil producer Texas on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put a hold on President Barack Obama's plan to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants to combat climate change.

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Goal on energy for all must be met ahead of 2030 deadline: CEO

BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Giving everyone on the planet access to electricity and other modern energy can and must be achieved earlier than a target date of 2030, because it is vital both to improve people's lives and curb climate change, said the official leading the push.










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Companies have environmental 'blind spot' in supply chains: study

OSLO (Reuters) - Many multinationals have a blind spot in judging the environmental impact of their suppliers' operations, adding to corporate risks linked to climate change, according to a study published on Tuesday.

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Canada's Trudeau to DiCaprio: Your climate remarks don't help

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Leonardo DiCaprio to tone down his "inflammatory rhetoric" on climate change saying it was not helping those who have lost their oil-industry jobs.

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Obama administration seeks to curb methane emissions on public land

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In its latest move to combat climate change, the Obama administration on Friday said it will overhaul 30-year-old regulations for oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands to limit the "wasteful release" of natural gas and curb methane emissions.










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U.S. appeals court declines to block Obama carbon emissions plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a big victory for the Obama administration, a U.S. federal court on Thursday rejected a bid by 27 states to block its Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of its strategy to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

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New seed varieties not reaching Africa's small farmers, study says

TORONTO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Africa's small farmers, more than half of whom buy their seeds from local informal markets, need access to improved seeds that can yield more food and cope with climate change, according to research published on Wednesday.










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ExxonMobil shareholder group urge more transparency on climate risk

LONDON (Reuters) - A group of shareholders in ExxonMobil urged the oil giant on Tuesday to detail the resilience of its business model to climate change, a month after the Paris agreement set the world on course to transform its fossil fuel-driven economy.

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Senior appointments confirm science at the centre of WWF agenda

WWF is deeply committed to using science-based solutions to take on the world's biggest environmental challenges. As the organization enters an important phase of transformation, we take great pride in reaffirming the place for science at the centre of our conservation strategy.

The two most senior science posts in the organization – WWF Chief Scientist and the Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute – are evidence of this commitment. These positions work alongside WWF International's Conservation Director to ensure that our Network-wide strategies, policies and actions conform to science, and are critical to our credentials within the broader conservation and science communities. We are proud to share the exciting news that WWF has appointed two remarkable conservation scientists to fill both of these posts.

Dr Rebecca Shaw has been appointed WWF Chief Scientist.
Dr Shaw comes to WWF with a sterling scientific reputation of over thirty years as a recognized thought leader on a wide array of conservation issues, including climate change, biodiversity, and ecosystem services.

As WWF's Chief Scientist, Dr Shaw's leadership will be essential for identifying the most important scientific questions that challenge our mission or that advance solutions that we bring to those challenges. In addition, she will recruit a new cadre of leading natural and social scientists to respond to the new challenges that our planet faces and the opportunities to address them.

Dr Shaw has published widely, including a number of peer reviewed works in leading journals such as Science and Nature, and is the recipient of numerous research fellowships. She is a lead author of the section of the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report that focuses on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, and serves as a member of the California Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel. She holds an MA in Environmental Policy and a PhD in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Dr Shaw has the experience, instincts and presence to knit together the growing team of scientists across our Network. She comes to WWF from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), where she has been responsible for developing and implementing the vision and strategy of the Land, Water & Wildlife program. She joined EDF in 2011 after almost a decade with the Nature Conservancy California Chapter and after conducting ground-breaking research on the impact of climate change at the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University.

Dr Shaw will be based in WWF's growing office in San Francisco, California where she enjoys a strong network of relationships built over many years, and where she will strengthen collaborations with WWF's science-based partnerships with universities, businesses and individuals in the region. She will also guide the build-out of a more robust regional institutional presence for WWF in the United States.

Dr Jonathan Hutton has been appointed Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute.
Dr Hutton takes leadership of the Luc Hoffmann Institute with a distinguished career in conservation, development and strategic planning as well as a deep understanding of government, NGOs and the private sector.

Dr Hutton will use his considerable talents to connect the science and conservation communities to help the Institute generate evidence-based, practical and scalable solutions to critical conservation issues. Under Dr Hutton's leadership, the Institute will be poised to achieve its 2020 goal of having its research projects influence important conservation outcomes in more than 20 policy and practice communities around the world.

Dr Hutton comes to the Luc Hoffmann Institute from the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) where he has served as Director since 2005 and where he distinguished himself as a leader by building the reputation of UNEP's biodiversity assessment arm. He is an ecologist that brings 25 years of experience in nature conservation and rural development issues in Africa, including a major body of work in southern Africa where he took on a range of leadership positions directly linked to nature, natural resources and rural development in government, NGOs and the private sector. 

Dr Hutton has produced 50 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters as well as dozens of reports and conference proceedings on a diversity of academic topics. In addition to a BA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and a DPhil in Zoology from the University of Zimbabwe, Dr Hutton's strong academic interests have brought him to be elected as Member of Hughes Hall College, Cambridge in 2005 and Honorary Professor of Sustainable Resource Management at the University of Kent in 2007.

Dr Hutton will be based in the Luc Hoffmann Institute in Gland, Switzerland where he is placed to lead the organization's global research projects while helping the Institute achieve its mission of catalysing new ideas to solve environmental challenges that require a range of scientific expertise. 

Recent global agreements on sustainable development and climate change set the stage for WWF to position itself at the centre of international efforts to restore, protect and strengthen our planet's natural systems. We are proud to add these two leading professional voices to WWF's science credentials at such a critical time.

Both Dr Shaw and Dr Hutton will officially start on March 1, 2016. Please welcome these top science talents to WWF and wish them success in strengthening and integrating science as the foundation for all of our work.

Read more [WWF]

Could 2016 be the year we break free from coal?

We've barely entered 2016, but China and the US the world's largest coal producers have already embarked on sweeping changes to cut out coal. Could 2016 be the year we break free from this dirty fossil fuel?

It's the centuries old "addiction" the world can't kick. Coal-burning power plants remain the single largest source of human-made CO2 emissions worldwide, and burning coal is a serious health hazard – as those suffering from Beijing's smog know all too well.

But 2016 is already shaping up to be the year where we start to leave our fossil fuelled world behind, and move towards a renewable future.

Last year, the coal industry experienced a dramatic drop. Global coal consumption fell between 90 and 180 million tonnes in the first half of the year – the largest decrease on record.

Politics shifted too. Countries most impacted by climate change spoke out against coal. The president of the low-lying island nation of Kiribati demanded a global moratorium on coal mining. Meanwhile the Philippines launched the world's first national human rights investigation into 50 big polluters.

But perhaps the biggest blow to coal happened in December, when world leaders at the COP21 Paris climate talks signed an agreement that left no doubt investing in coal was a risky endeavor, at best.

Once coal's "allies," China and the US are now starting to separate from the dirty fossil fuel. Here's what they've done in just the last few weeks:

China is closing down thousands of mines

In the final days of 2015, China announced plans to halt new coal mine approvals for the next three years and close 1,000 mines as part of its fight against air pollution.

This is astonishing, considering that only two years ago, some predicted China would be burning over a billion tonnes more coal by 2020. Instead, China's coal consumption has been in decline for almost two years. Prior to the Paris summit, China even announced its intention to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 at the latest. And more recently, Beijing announced it is banning coal in six of its districts to continue its fight against air pollution.

These drastic changes send another signal that the Chinese government is serious about tackling coal's impact on worsening air quality in big cities, as well as its impact on water shortages and ecological degradation in vulnerable land-locked regions.

It's an inevitable step as China moves away from its coal addiction.

Bans and bankruptcy for coal in the US

President Obama promised in his State of the Union address earlier this week that he would charge more for coal and gas companies to mine and drill on US public lands. Today, he made good on his word.

The US Department of Interior – the part of the Obama administration in charge of public lands – has just announced that it will review the program that allows coal companies to mine public lands for cheap, and it will take the impacts of climate change into account. What's more, during the multi-year review process it will halt new federal coal leases.

This is a huge win in for the climate, considering that 40 percent of US coal comes from public lands. The ban will keep billions of tonnes of coal in the ground.

The news comes just days after Arch Coal, the second largest coal mining company in the United States, filed for bankruptcy. (Over the past few years, nearly 50 coal companies in the US have gone bankrupt. )

Arch Coal is a textbook example of the twisted coal industry in the US. The company has worked to gut basic environmental and public health protections and cheat miners, all while cooking the climate and destroying complex ecosystems across the United States. Even as its profits have declined over the last few years, it has nearly doubled its CEO's salary.

Its failure now – before President Obama's reforms kick in – is further proof that coal is on its last legs in the US.

And there's more. The final kick in the teeth to the US coal industry this week comes from New York state, where Governor Cuomo released new goals to phase out coal-fired power plants statewide by 2020.

2016... and beyond

While we have made amazing progress in reducing the power and size of the coal industry, the transition to clean, renewable energy can't come quick enough for the climate.

Fortunately, new challenges to the coal industry continue to stream in every single day. And the price of renewable energy keeps getting cheaper all over the world!

These first weeks of 2016 have made it clear that coal is continuing, perhaps even accelerating, its downward spiral. The end of coal is near. So is the dawn of our renewable energy future.

Kelly Mitchell is the Climate Campaign Director at Greenpeace USA.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

U.S. halts new coal leases on federal land, first review in decades

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration, in the first major review of the country's coal program in three decades, on Friday ordered a pause on issuing coal-mining leases on federal land as part of new executive actions to fight climate change.










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White House to revamp U.S. coal program as soon as Friday: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration will announce as soon as Friday an overhaul of how the United States manages coal development on federal land, according to government and conservationist sources, in a further move to confront climate change.

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Global warming could stave off next ice age for 100,000 years

OSLO (Reuters) - Global warming is likely to disrupt a natural cycle of ice ages and contribute to delaying the onset of the next big freeze until about 100,000 years from now, scientists said on Wednesday.










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Chile has 24,133 glaciers, and we’re losing them piece by piece

There are 24,133 glaciers in Chile – 82% of the glaciers in South America. These vast and intricate cascades of white, blue and brown not only form one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world, they are also vital to the preservation of vulnerable local ecosystems.

But human activity threatens their very existence, despite their importance to people and the environment. Whether due to mining in northern and central Chile or climate change in southern Chile, these unprotected glaciers are under serious strain.

The Esperanza’s mission

The plight facing the glaciers is well known, but their remote location makes them difficult to study in depth. That’s why the Esperanza just spent several days in Patagonia in southern Chile documenting some of these vanishing fields of ice. We hope the research gathered could even be key to pressuring the government of Chile to commit to stronger laws fully protecting the glaciers.

Glaciologists and a climatologist led the Greenpeace expedition to two remote glaciers in Patagonia. Their goal: to gather crucial data about their current state and rate of retreat. One of the glaciers they visited was Pio XI, the largest glacier in Southern Ice Fields and the same glacier the Arctic Sunrise visited eleven years prior. 

After leaving the Esperanza on inflatables, the team hiked for hours across the ice to get the data they needed. Without a ship like the Esperanza, access to this remote spot would have been nearly impossible.

The team used a radar technique called radioglaciology that can measure the thickness of the ancient ice. They also placed cameras at key locations around the glaciers to monitor their retreat and took ice samples for analysis.

While the data they were gathering seems basic – the changing size of the glaciers, the rate of their disappearance – this type of information that is crucial to understanding the scale of the problem is missing from the political conversation.

What the future holds for Chile’s glaciers

The scientists are still analyzing their findings, and we will hear the results soon. But we already know one thing: in our warming planet, protecting all glaciers is essential.

Right now, Chilean law does not protect glaciers from the destruction of human activity. Far from it. Instead several Chilean governments have failed to give them protection – allowing glacier destruction at a record pace. Chilean state-owned CODELCO (the world's largest copper producer) has destroyed about 342 hectares of glaciers in the Andes in the past decades. Other mining projects from Barrick, Antofagasta Minerals and Anglo American continue to raze glacial areas and remain a direct threat to Chilean water reserves.

All this, at the same time the glaciers are under siege from rising global temperatures.

But there is a chance to make this right. Chile is currently considering a proposal to protect some glaciers. Sadly, the plan doesn’t do nearly enough – still leaving over 50% of the country's glaciers unprotected. That’s why we need your help – urgently.

All of us can work together to ensure that Chile’s glaciers have the protection they need. Send a message to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to step up for the environment and the people of Chile and support a law fully protecting all Chilean glaciers.

Estefanía Gonzalez is a Glacier Campaigner for Greenpeace Chile.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Climate change means more fear, less fun for global middle class: UBS

BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The erosion of wealth among the world's middle class due to climate change is a threat to economic and social stability which could spur its 1 billion members to push for action on global warming, Swiss bank UBS Group AG said.










Read more [Reuters]

Weather dominates insurance claims in 2015: Munich Re

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Insurers paid out around $27 billion for natural disaster claims last year with weather causing 94 percent of incidents, underscoring the challenge posed by climate change, data from reinsurer Munich Re showed on Monday.

Read more [Reuters]

11 moments that broke the internet in 2015

As 2015 draws to a close, we reflect back on some of the people powered moments that pulled our heart strings, filled us with passion or simply inspired us.

Here are a few of them, from Greenpeace and beyond...

1. Imagine if we all did this just a few times a year

Tommy Klein cleaned up a heavily polluted waterfront on his way to work in a week of half hours. He filled up one garbage bag at a time until the work was done.

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1 person did this in a week of half hours. Imagine if we all did this just a few times a year.

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 21 April 2015

2. Can you help make your country next?

It caused a mini meltdown in England when it was introduced spawning countless hilarious tweets. But many countries and cities, including Hawaii, Rwanda, and Montreal, have started to ban plastic bags. Do you think your country could be next?

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Hawaii just banned plastic bags. Can you help make New Zealand the next? >> http://grnpc.org/IgtC9What were you...

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 14 July 2015

3. "The biggest environmental crime of the 21st century"

It's been labelled so many names by news reports: from a "crime against humanity" to the "greatest environmental disaster this century".

Indonesia's forest fire crisis has affected several neighbouring countries, from Singapore to Thailand and as far away as the Philippines.

There have been 500,000 reported cases of acute respiratory tract infections since 1 July… and up to a third of the world's orangutan habitat has been threatened with destruction.

Since 2007, Greenpeace Indonesia has been building dams in peatland canals to restore the dried-out wetlands and prevent future fires. 

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10 shocking facts showing how palm oil and paper companies are *still* trashing Indonesia's rainforests >>...

Posted by Greenpeace International on Sunday, 22 November 2015

4. I am his hands. He is my eyes

Jia Haixia and Jia Wenqi are two 53-year-old men from China who have faced incredible challenges in their lives. Haixia is blind and Wenqi lost both of his arms.

Together, the pair have managed to plant over 10,000 trees over the past 10 years.

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"I am his hands. He is my eyes." When your calling is bigger than your limitations. #NothingIsImpossible

Posted by Greenpeace International on Saturday, 14 November 2015

5. This story broke our hearts, not just the internet

Captured in July 2012 at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, park ranger Patrick Karabaranga was seen consoling a mountain gorilla whose mother was killed by poachers.

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So much respect for park rangers like Patrick, protecting gorillas in Virunga National Park. SHARE to spread the love.

Posted by Greenpeace International on Wednesday, 23 September 2015

6. Because to change everything, we need everyone

The most beautiful thing about this movement is that different individuals are taking spontaneous action as they see fit.

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Yesterday, kayaktivists in Seattle formed a human blockade -- stopping Shell's rig from heading to the Arctic for...

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 16 June 2015

This moment leads us to one of the biggest victories this year...

7. Goodbye Shell! The Arctic won't miss you

In an extraordinary display of people power, Shell succumbed to global pressure and pulled out of Arctic drilling after spending more than US$6 billion over three years.

Give a big WHOOP! This moment is for the 7 million people worldwide who've stood in defence of the Arctic, the polar bears, the whales and the walruses.

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GOODBYE SHELL!Shell pulls Arctic drilling program after 3 years, $6 billion and no ARCTIC OIL! This is the sweet taste...

Posted by Greenpeace International on Monday, 28 September 2015

8. I am woman. Hear me roar

From Sri Lanka to South Africa, women are on the front lines leading fight in the poaching wars.

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"We have discovered that if you want a project to succeed, have the women of the community run it."

Posted by Greenpeace International on Wednesday, 8 July 2015

9. Demanding justice

In November 2015, two mining dams collapsed in Mariana, in Minas Gerais state, Brazil. This environmental disaster is the one of the worst in Brazil's history.

River Doce, the largest in the southeast region, is at risk of death. Thousands homes are destroyed and lives were lost.

Greenpeace aims to expose the disaster's impact on the environment and demand justice!

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One of the worst environmental disasters in Brazilian history is happening right now. Two dams holding millions of cubic...

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 17 November 2015

10. Leaving nature to do what it does best

An abandoned fishing village in Shengshi was reclaimed by nature and the result is stunning.

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Nature has reclaimed this abandoned village in China... and it's extraordinary!

Posted by Greenpeace International on Tuesday, 9 June 2015

11. It's only the beginning, not the finish line...

As the final details of the Paris climate agreement were being hashed out, Greenpeace France activists used eco-paint to create a shining sun around the Arc de Triomphe.

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Renewables for the climate! ☀As #COP21 enters the closing stretch, activists use eco-paint to create a shining sun around the Arc de Triomphe to demand action on climate change.

Posted by Greenpeace International on Friday, 11 December 2015

It always seems impossible until it's done and we're not done yet. We, the people, have the power to change the world!

Join the movement here.

Stefanus Wongsodiredjo is a Content Editor at the Asia Pacific Communications Hub.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

This is what YOU made happen in 2015...

It may have been the warmest year on record, but one thing’s for sure: 2015 signalled hope and change for the enviro-movement.

Here are 9 things you helped happen in 2015.

A large scale message made by hundreds of people during the COP21 climate summit

1. You helped accelerate the end of coal!

From the tiny village in Turkey that took on a “land grab” by a major power plant; to BOTH sides of the Norwegian parliament agreeing to divest from coal, the big ol’ black rock had a pretty terrible year.

In Australia, approval of a major coal project that planned to be right on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef was overturned by the Federal Court. This was followed by major banks pulling out their investment leaving Adani, the company behind the mine, in a major ditch. But the fight isn’t over - Adani has been persistent - and the power and passion to protect the Reef will continue to grow.

Over 145,000 have signed the petition to #SavetheReef, that led to major banks pulling out of investing in a coal project that would have endangered Australia’s rich marine life and made serious carbon emissions. 

2. You joined Greenpeace activists to say #ShellNo!

Slacktivism is lazy right? WRONG!

When 13 Greenpeace USA activists suspended from St. Johns Bridge in Portland to block a Shell vessel from leaving port for Alaskan waters, you supported them with your Tweet love, Facebook shares, petition signing, and all the encouraging messages that poured into our inbox. Because of your support, the ship was forced to turn back to port temporarily.

13 climbers vs 1 giant ship. But in the end #PeopleVsShell won!

In the UK, Aurora our giant polar bear was erected outside Shell’s headquarters and refused to move until they agreed to pull out of drilling in Arctic. And then…they did!

Actor Emma Thompson and Greenpeace activists with Aurora, the polar bear. In September, Shell quit drilling in the Arctic.

3. You saved the little guys…

…like the vaquitas. These rare species of porpoise are on the cusp of becoming extinct due to them being caught up in nets intended for another endangered fish - the totoaba.

But 100,000 of you stood up and demanded the vaquitas be protected. USA and China agreed to tackle the smuggling of the totoaba fish, and Hong Kong fined the operators of two dried seafood shops that sell bladders of the endangered fish.

These totoaba bladders can fetch up to USD 645,000. But you’ve helped pressure governments to end trafficking this product. 

Mexico announced a temporary ban on fishing nets in the vaquita habitat. Though the rare marine mammals need more protection from all countries involved, we’re closer than ever to protecting them.

Only 57 vaquita are left in the world. Thanks for helping protect them. 

4. …and the big guys too.

Indonesia’s forest fires have been labelled a “crime against humanity”, driven by companies clearing land for palm oil and endangering the lives of the orangutan.

But hundreds of thousands of you took action to force major brands including Nestlé, Unilever, P&G and Mattel to cease buying the products linked to deforestation. As a result, Indonesian paper giant APRIL this year agreed to stop pulping the rainforest.

Thanks for help protecting the home of the orangutan!

As the fires continued throughout the year, you also helped us pressure President Jokowi to stop the fires for good, and we delivered over 250,000 of your messages to the man himself.

At the COP21 climate talks in Paris we handed over a petition signed by 253,800 people around the world to halt forest and peatland destruction. Thank you!

5. You lent a small hand in a big fight

Russia also suffered from fires and land clearing, and your support helped us send firefighters out there to battle the blazes.

In November, the Russian government banned the burning of dry grass on agricultural land and conservation areas.

Stopping dry grass fire took 6 years, and this year it finally happened!

In the Amazon, you stood with the Ka’apor indigenous community by working with  them to monitor and protect their lands from the invasion of illegal loggers.

Also called “forest dwellers” the home of the Ka’apor has been strengthened by technology to document the invasion of logging trucks inside their territory. Here, a trap camera is being set up to monitor the indigenous territory in areas used by illegal loggers. 

And in India, a disputed forest block that was up for auction was given back to the community after years of campaigning by Greenpeace India!

6. You said NO to cheap throwaway clothing

Major retailers like Aldi, Lidl and Tchibo listened to your demands for a toxic-free world and committed to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their textile products by January 1st, 2020.

Thanks for helping to build the #detox movement

7. You pressured Internet giants to go renewable

If the Internet were a country it would be the 6th largest power consumer. We’ve pressured Google, Apple, and Facebook to go renewable, and in June Korean Internet giant Naver committed to 100% renewable energy.

Almost everything is online these days. That’s why we need to pressure data centres like, this one in North Virginia to be powered by renewables.

8. You scared off fossil fuel companies

It’s time for climate justice! This year, we supported island nation Kiribati to call for a moratorium on all new coal mines.

During the Paris climate talks, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights announced it will investigate major polluters like Exxon, following a global people powered petition, gathering over 100,000 signatures.

The Philippines launched the world’s first ever national human rights investigation into 50 big polluters.

And in the US, a fight that had been raging on for years finally came to an end when expansion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States was flat-out rejected by President Obama. Yes, people power won!

9. You cared about changing the out-of-control tuna industry

The world’s tuna stocks are decreasing, fuelled by an industry using slavery and aggressive fishing methods to clear out the ocean. Greenpeace ships have been out in the sea keeping an eye on the practices of the tuna industry; and in China we exposed and stopped the dodgy actions of a company that was trying to raise millions of dollars to fish for some of the most vulnerable species in the Pacific.

Slavery and overfishing - the tuna industry is out of control, but your consumer choice and voice is helping to change that.

World leaders are paying attention to the threat of climate change, renewables are on the up, and around the world the environmental movement is strengthening. There’s a global shift happening, and YOU are at the centre of it!

Bring on 2016!

Shuk-Wah Chung is a Content Editor at Greenpeace East Asia. Follow her on Twitter @shookiewah

Want to help make 2016 an even better year for the world we live in? Join us! 

 


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Reflecting back, looking forward

WWF proved again in 2015 that when we work together just about anything is possible... 

The year came to a promising close when governments met in Paris to agree on a new global climate deal. The agreement lays the foundation for our long-term efforts against climate change and signals that the world is ready for a clean-energy transition. More work is needed to keep warming below the necessary limit, and WWF will continue to work at every level to be at the centre of global efforts against climate change.

Only months before the Paris agreement, we witnessed another important moment of global unity when the UN approved a sustainable development deal that gives us the best chance to eliminate poverty, promote prosperity and protect the environment. The new 15-year plan commits all countries to ensuring food, water and energy security for generations to come.

Leaders around the globe used 2015 to raise their voices in support of a world in which people live in harmony with nature. Among those who joined the call were spiritual leaders from many different faiths, including Pope Francis who presented a powerful plan for our planet that prioritizes environment, equity, and equality.

In 2015, WWF increased the public discussion about the ocean's importance to the economy, food security and our planet's natural systems. This was highlighted by WWF's efforts to raise awareness of the risks facing Australia's Great Barrier Reef, one of the world's most recognizable World Heritage Sites.

While the past year was full of excitement and achievement, many more challenges lie ahead. WWF will continue to work around the world with supporters and partners to prove that together it is possible to protect people and the planet.

Read more [WWF]

Unusual winter has millennials concerned about climate change

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Unusual weather is dominating the conversation on social media for the holidays, especially among millennials, who are increasingly concerned about climate change.










Read more [Reuters]

Non-fossil fuels make up 12 percent of China's primary energy mix at end-2015: climate envoy

BEIJING (Reuters) - Non-fossil fuels accounted for 12 percent of China's primary energy mix at the end of 2015, exceeding an earlier target of 11.4 percent, Xie Zhenhua, China's senior envoy on climate change, told reporters on Wednesday.










Read more [Reuters]

Climate change warming world's lakes, says study

A new study by NASA and the National Science Foundation reveals that climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world. The findings were published last Wednesday (December 16) in Geophysical Research Letters and announced at the American Geophysical meeting in San Francisco that same day.










Read more [Reuters]

Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey

Dear Friends, 

As I look out my window here in Amsterdam, winter is nearly here, and with it comes the retreat of another year, and the passing of what has been to make way for the spring and the new. As the days get shorter and the weather colder, I'm thinking ahead to days of renewal and new beginnings.

As many of you know, I'm soon moving on from my post as Executive Director of Greenpeace International. I don't think of it as leaving Greenpeace, however. I think of it as exchanging my lofty title for a far more powerful one: that of a Greenpeace Volunteer. It's been an amazing journey with all of you, and I've loved every minute of challenge, every day of struggle, every week of progress, every month of triumph, every year we've been building a better world together.

It's hugely gratifying to be able to depart knowing the Paris climate agreement unanimously signalled the end of the era of fossil fuels by 2050. As imperfect as the agreement may be in how we get there, it marks a stark contrast and a huge advance over my first days with Greenpeace at the Copenhagen climate summit, and it gives me some small notion of closure: the world has taken an important step down a very long and difficult road, but the journey has now unquestionably begun.

Greenpeace had me stepping out of my comfort zone many times. And that, of course, is the place where you learn the most about yourself, when you stand at that line between courage and fear, weighing personal risk against what you believe to be right. I've spoken to so many of you who have had the same experience. People who spoke out, or stood up, who volunteered or took some small step or giant leap for the sake of a better future. So often those steps and leaps take us beyond what we thought we'd ever do – either because we were inspired, or angered, or feeling a bond of unity with others. If anything Greenpeace has ever done has catalysed one of those moments, we're doing our job. We're setting off a chain reaction of contagious courage.

For me, a series of ever escalating life choices eventually led me to a moment I will always cherish from my time at Greenpeace: the boarding of an oil rig in the Arctic, having an icy water cannon trained on me as I struggled to climb a ladder to oppose the absurdity of Arctic oil drilling. Experiences like that change you. And by “like that” I don't necessarily mean that extreme form of activism: I mean any action that disrupts your sense of self or your idea of who you are and puts it in a larger context of the human journey and the future of our world. It resets your notion of what you're capable of. And in so doing resets your notion of what humanity is capable of. And in so doing redefines your sense of what's possible.

I came to Greenpeace wanting to break the dichotomy between the environment and development. I knew, rationally, that there is a link between addressing poverty and human rights and addressing environmental injustice and climate injustice. But my time with Greenpeace drove this awareness deeper into my heart. Once you see it, you can't stop seeing it. From the woman who can no longer fish the African coasts for her family because European factory trawlers have emptied her seas, to the child in India choking on ash and coal dust in a village pillaged by the coal industry, to the infant breathing in toxic fumes in an electronic waste dump in China while his mother sets fire to a circuit board to scavenge components, to the devastated family living in a cardboard box after their home was destroyed by typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines: the people who pay the highest price for overconsumption and pollution are those who see the least benefit.

Greenpeace strengthened my belief in the power of nonviolent direct action and my conviction that civil disobedience is essential to addressing this core injustice, to bringing about a truly transformational change not only in the way we feed and fuel our world, but in how we think about wealth, growth, and value – how we reinvent the future in the face of what Naomi Klein has described as an incredible opportunity disguised as a crisis.

In the six years I've been with Greenpeace, we've secured so many victories – from Shell's decision to abandon Arctic Drilling to Italian energy giant ENEL's turning its back on fossil fuels. From dozens of major retailers agreeing to Detox their clothing lines to agreements with major deforesters to end peatland destruction in Indonesia. From Facebook's agreement to friend renewable energy to new Marine Reserves that have increased the size of our protected waters. But these are but small contributions to the vast changes that a far wider movement is driving – from the unprecedented court decision in the Netherlands that the government is negligent of its duty to protect its people if it doesn't cut CO2 by 25% by 2020 – driven by tiny NGO Urgenda – to Elon Musk's decision to open source the design of the Tesla electric car and the PowerWall smart battery, to crowdfunding campaigns for oceans plastic cleanup and prototype solar roadways to new models in the sharing economy to The Guardian's coal divestment campaign. I have found myself on podium after podium speaking from the same agenda of climate urgency as Sharan Burrow, the head of the global trade union movement. I leapt from my chair in celebration after reading the Pope's recent encyclical on stewardship over the Earth. From every category of human endeavour, from every continent, we're witnessing an awakening – an unprecedented conspiracy of courage and commitment to change.

To my successor I leave unfinished business and great challenges. The organisation is still licking its wounds from setbacks that have occurred on my watch – times when we have failed to live up to the values we champion. And while we can never promise to stop falling short of our own standards and expectations, we can commit to learning from those failures. They make us stronger.

My greatest hope is that my successor will continue the unfinished journey of ensuring that Greenpeace becomes more truly global and diverse, more open, better able to unleash the energy and creativity of our supporters and volunteers, more articulate about what we stand for and the solutions we champion, more cooperative in working with movement partners and using our reach to lift up the work of others, more willing to dare to risk – and achieve – the impossible.

As for me, I'm returning to one of the most beautiful places I know in Africa, Rustlers Valley in the Free State, South Africa near the border with Lesotho. There I will continue to work with the EarthRise Trust that is developing an activist school, ecological farming projects, educational development, and economic empowerment programmes. I'll be working alongside Greenpeace in the struggle against nuclear power and to reform the rules of the financial world to stop the flow of money toward projects which are holding back a more beautiful, sustainable, and equitable future for all humanity.

My friends, I leave you with a final thought. As you look around you, remember what the history of the human journey teaches us. The greatest struggle we face is not inventing clean technologies or fundamentally changing the way we produce value or measure growth: these are small challenges compared with how we have changed the world and our own civilization over the course of the few centuries that we've risen up. I refuse to believe that the pace of change for survival will be slower than the pace of change for profit. In times of war, in times of threat to our families or nations we've found unforeseen strength, and we've done impossible things.

But there's an essential ingredient. Without it, the burst of efforts and evidence of change that we see today will remain too little, too late.

That ingredient is hope. It's the belief that change is possible. I saw with my own eyes what happened to the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa once people in large numbers came to believe change was possible. I look around today, and I see more and more evidence that we can beat the worst ravages of climate change. It will take fast action. It will take courage like we have never witnessed on a global scale before – from banks, from corporations, from artists, governments, religious and labour leaders, the charity sector, the billionaires, and from every one of us. Every time the world takes a step forward, be it Apple powering all of its data centres on renewable energy, be it Obama saying no to Arctic oil, be it your university's decision to divest from coal, your neighbor's decision to grow their own vegetables, your parent's decision to volunteer for a cause, or your colleague's decision to eat less meat – whenever anyone makes a contribution to building that better world we know in our hearts it is possible, we have a duty. A duty to share. To tell the world. To make that courage contagious. Make it a norm. Make it an expectation that this is how the world works. Belief requires evidence, and the stories we tell one another evidence our beliefs: some stories propel us forward. Others hold us back. We can believe that change is impossible, or too expensive, or naive, and consign the fate of this earth to death by business as usual. Or we can fight back. We can stand up and say that a better world is not only possible, it's being built right now, by the individual and collective acts of courage of every one of us.

To all of you reading this, to all my colleagues at Greenpeace, to all of us working for a better world, thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I wish you strength. I wish you happiness. I wish you courage.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Obama says Paris climate pact will boost clean energy over next decade

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said that the international agreement on climate change reached in Paris has set in place a demand for clean energy that will not be dependent on U.S. congressional action.

Read more [Reuters]

Britain follows Paris deal with cuts to green subsidies

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain cut more renewable energy subsidies on Thursday, putting jobs at risk and drawing criticism for losing credibility in tackling climate change, a week after the landmark deal in Paris.

Read more [Reuters]

Investors put pressure on miners to respond to climate change

LONDON (Reuters) - An alliance of around 100 investors is calling on mining companies Anglo American Glencore and Rio Tinto to show that they are working to lessen the impact of climate change on their businesses.

Read more [Reuters]

UK should put carbon limit on back-up plants to meet climate goals

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain needs to put a carbon emissions limit on power plants bidding for back-up capacity contracts as an auction last week laid bare the contradiction between support for dirty emergency power stations and ambitions to tackle climate change.










Read more [Reuters]

Climate change puts Venezuelan amphibians at risk of extinction

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan frogs and toads are in critical danger due to climate change as rising temperatures complicate reproduction and spread a deadly fungus, say scientists, who liken the species to canaries in a coalmine warning of imminent danger.










Read more [Reuters]

Climate change puts Venezuelan amphibians at risk of extinction

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan frogs and toads are in critical danger due to climate change as rising temperatures complicate reproduction and spread a deadly fungus, say scientists, who liken the species to canaries in a coalmine warning of imminent danger.










Read more [Reuters]

The Paris Agreement: The end of fossil fuels is near. But where is justice?

We at Greenpeace had three key expectations for the Paris Agreement. We wanted:

  1. a signal that the age of fossil fuels is over,

  2. a commitment to soon – and continuously – improve national climate action and

  3. global solidarity, including a way to make polluters pay for the damage they cause.

Today, we can say that we got one, achieved progress on two, and that governments mostly failed us on three. Justice and corporate accountability were the weakest points of the Paris deal.

Let me explain.

1. The end of fossil fuels

After Paris, there can be no doubt that the time is up for fossil fuels. Even The Economist concludes that after Paris "the idea of investing in a coal mine will seem more risky." Governments chose convoluted language, but the only realistic way to achieve the new “long term goal” they agreed to is to phase out fossil fuels by 2050. The deal leaves the door open for some bad things – such as plantations. We will be vigilant and ensure that the real solutions – like sustainable renewable energy and forest protection – are the winners, as governments implement the deal. Politically speaking, the language is surprisingly strong. The Paris Agreement goes further than the G7 summit commitment to “decarbonize” earlier this year. They have not yet committed to the just transition to a world run on 100% renewable energy for all that we seek. But the Paris deal will drive the energy revolution in the real world – it's already making shares in renewable companies go up.

2. Commitment to improve national targets

We already know that the pledges governments made to Paris are not good enough and will still lead to a very dangerous and destructive world (between 2.7 and 3.7 degrees Celsius warmer than in preindustrial times – the estimates vary). The Paris agreement does not force governments to change and change fast. That is in blatant contradiction with the new 1.5 degree goal, which can only be achieved if we make drastic emission cuts in the next 10 to 15 years. Indeed, we are on track to use enough carbon to exceed 1.5 degrees of warming before 2030 – that is, if governments don’t ramp up their ambition.

The agreement does help a bit by setting a review date of current commitments  – 2018. It also makes it clear that there will be regular reviews of ambition every 5 years and that countries will always have to improve what they commit to. President Hollande in his final speech at the conference also promised more emission cuts and more financial support for developing countries before 2020. That's the dynamic we hope to see following Paris. Other leaders must follow. Because we have no time to waste.

3. Global solidarity

Overall the Paris Agreement fails the justice test. Fine words like “climate justice” and human rights are included only in the non-binding part of the text. Indigenous Peoples’ rights (while also mentioned in the legal text) are not given the protection they deserve. Just as with emission cuts, we know that the current money available to help the impacted adapt to climate change is not enough. The Paris deal does too little to change that. “Loss and damage” – which refers to negative climate impacts that can’t be adapted to – has however been included in the agreement. That is welcome. But the Paris Agreement fails to support the idea that major carbon polluters should be made accountable for the damage they have caused. We will have to pursue such justice elsewhere. For us, one of the best moments of the last two weeks therefore did not happen in Paris but in Manila. The Philippines Human Rights Commission launched a probe into 50 major polluters for potential human rights violations on December 10th. That's a major step – as inaction on climate change does indeed violate human rights.

All in all, governments took us a step forward in Paris, especially on making it clear that fossil fuels will be history soon. But even if the Paris Agreement had met all our criteria, it would have only been one stop on the long road to climate justice.

The key issue is not what is in this deal but what will happen next. And that is why I am optimistic. The climate movement has shown its strength in Paris. Out there in the real world, coal demand is in terminal decline and after a dramatic change of energy policy in China we may have reached the global peak of emissions already. People power has also brought real trouble for the oil polluters: Shell had to retreat from the Alaskan Arctic, for example, and President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline.

In 2016 we – the entire climate movement – will escalate the opposition to fossil fuels all over the world. I leave Paris encouraged. People power will drive the change and solutions we need. If you join us!

Daniel Mittler is the Political Director of Greenpeace International


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Can the Paris agreement protect poor farmers from climate change?

BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Purity Gachanga is one small-scale farmer who is beating climate change. On her several acres of land in Embu North district in central Kenya, she keeps cows and goats that produce milk, grows trees for fodder, and collects water to irrigate her food crops in a pond filled with tilapia fish.

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Pope calls for global commitment to put climate pact into action

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday urged the countries that signed the landmark Paris agreement on climate change to join in a concerted commitment to put it in practice urgently and to remember the poor as they do so.

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For U.N.'s Ban, climate deal is personal victory after setbacks

PARIS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among the most jubilant - and most relieved - of the leaders raising their arms on a stage on Saturday to celebrate a historic agreement on climate change.

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Obama calls Paris climate pact 'best chance' to save the planet

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday hailed the landmark climate accord reached in Paris as strong and historic, calling it the best chance to save the planet from the effects of global climate change.










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Obama calls Paris climate pact 'best chance' to save the planet

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday hailed the landmark climate accord reached in Paris as strong and historic, calling it the best chance to save the planet from the effects of global climate change.










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COP21: shows the end of fossil fuels is near, we must speed its coming

The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. There’s much in this deal that frustrates and disappoints me, but it still puts the fossil fuel industry squarely on the wrong side of history.

Parts of this deal have been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new temperature limit of 1.5 degrees. That single number, and the new goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, will cause consternation in the boardrooms of coal companies and the palaces of oil-exporting states and that is a very good thing. The transition away from fossil fuels is inevitable.

Now comes our great task of this century. How do we meet this new goal? The measures outlined simply do not get us there. When it comes to forcing real, meaningful action, Paris fails to meet the moment. We have a 1.5 degree wall to climb, but the ladder isn’t long enough. The emissions targets outlined in this agreement are simply not big enough to get us to where we need to be.

There is also not enough in this deal for the nations and people on the frontlines of climate change. It contains an inherent, ingrained injustice. The nations which caused this problem have promised too little to help the people on the frontlines of this crisis who are already losing their lives and livelihoods for problems they did not create.

This deal won’t dig us out the hole we’re in, but it makes the sides less steep. To pull us free of fossil fuels we are going to need to mobilise in ever greater numbers. This year the climate movement beat the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, we kicked Shell out of the Arctic and put coal into terminal decline. We stand for a future powered by renewable energy, and it is a future we will win.

This is why our efforts have never been confined to these conference halls. Just as we've carried our messages of justice, equity, and environmental protection into the venues of the climate negotiations, and echoed the collective demand to speed the end of fossil fuels to the faces of our leaders, we will continue to raise our voices long after these talks are over.

We came to the COP with hope. Not a hope based on the commitments we wished our leaders would make, but a hope built on a movements that we have built together with many others. Together we are challenging the fossil fuel oligarchy, we are ushering in the era of solutions, and we are moving the political benchmark of what is possible.

While our political leaders walk, our movements run, and we must keep running.

From the High Arctic to Brazil, from the Alberta tar sands to Indonesia’s peatlands, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Mediterranean we will stand against those faceless corporations and regressive governments that would risk our childrens future.

We will push our beautifully simple solution to climate change - 100% renewable energy for all - and make sure it is heard and embraced. From schoolyards in Greece, to the streetlights of India, to small Arctic communities like Clyde River in Canada, we will showcase the clean, renewable solutions that are already here, and pressure our governments to make them available for everyone, fast.

Finally, we will stand with those communities on the front lines of this struggle. They are the leaders of this movement. They are the ones facing the rising seas, the superstorms, and the direct effects of our governments’ collective inaction. We will amplify their voices so the world is forced to hear our call for change.

In 2016 we - the entire climate movement - will escalate the fight. Together we will show the world that if our governments won’t act to stop the carbon bullies, then we will.

History is waiting in the wings, and we’re standing on the right side of it. 

Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Melting glaciers blamed for subtle slowing of Earth's rotation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The melting of glaciers caused by the world's rising temperatures appears to be causing a slight slowing of the Earth's rotation in another illustration of the far-reaching impact of global climate change, scientists said on Friday.










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Governments set course for ambitious action on climate change, more immediate steps needed

Paris – World governments finalized a global agreement today in Paris that lays a foundation for long-term efforts to fight climate change. More effort is needed to secure a path that would limit warming to 1.5C. This new agreement should be continuously strengthened and governments will need to go back home and deliver actions at all levels to close the emissions gap, resource the energy transition and protect the most vulnerable. The Paris talks also created a moment that produced announcements and commitments from governments, cities and business that signalled that the world is ready for a clean-energy transition.
 
Governments arrived in Paris on a wave of momentum with more than 180 countries bringing national pledges on climate action. This progress was bolstered by impassioned speeches from more than 150 heads of state and governments and unprecedented mobilisations around the world that included hundreds of thousands of citizens demanding action on climate change. After two weeks of negotiations, governments reached an agreement that represents some progress in the long-term. This must urgently be strengthened and complemented with accelerated action in the near-term if we are to have any hope of meeting the ultimate goal of limiting global warming well below 2C or 1.5C. Additionally, the finance for adaptation, loss and damage and scaled up emission reductions should be the first order of work after Paris.
 
While the Paris agreement would go into effect in 2020, science tells us that in order to meet the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5C or well below 2C, emissions must peak before 2020 and sharply decline thereafter. The current pledges will provide about half of what is needed, leaving a 12 to 16 gigatonne emissions gap.
 
Tasneem Essop, head of WWF delegation to the UN climate talks:
"The Paris agreement is an important milestone. We made progress here, but the job is not done. We must work back home to strengthen the national actions triggered by this agreement. We need to secure faster delivery of new cooperative efforts from governments, cities, businesses and citizens to make deeper emissions cuts, resource the energy transition in developing economies and protect the poor and most vulnerable. Countries must then come back next year with an aim to rapidly implement and strengthen the commitments made here."
 
Samantha Smith, leader of WWF's global climate and energy initiative:
"We are living in a historic moment. We are seeing the start of a global transition towards renewable energy. At the same time, we're already witnessing irreversible impacts of climate change. The talks and surrounding commitments send a strong signal to everyone – the fossil fuel era is coming to an end. As climate impacts worsen around the world, we need seize on the current momentum and usher in a new era of cooperative action from all countries and all levels of society."
 
Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF-International:
"The climate talks in Paris did more than produce an agreement – this moment has galvanized the global community toward large-scale collaborative action to deal with the climate problem. At the same time that a new climate deal was being agreed, more than 1,000 cities committed to 100 per cent renewable energy, an ambitious plan emerged from Africa to develop renewable energy sources by 2020, and India launched the International Solar Alliance, which includes more than 100 countries to simultaneously address energy access and climate change. These are exactly the kind of cooperative actions we need to quickly develop to complement the Paris agreement."
 
The Paris agreement needed to be fair, ambitious and transformational. Results in these key areas for WWF were mixed:
 

  • Create a plan to close the ambition gap, including finance and other support to accelerate action now and beyond 2020
    • The agreement includes some of the elements of an ambition mechanism such as 5 year cycles, periodic global stock-takes for emission reduction actions, finance and adaptation, and global moments that create the opportunity for governments to enhance their actions. However, the ambition and urgency of delivering climate action is not strong enough and will essentially be dependent on governments to take fast and increased action, and non-state actors, including cities, the private sector and citizens, to continue ambitious cooperative actions and to press governments to do more.
 
  • Deliver support to vulnerable countries to limit climate impacts and address unavoidable damage.
    • The inclusion of a Global Goal on Adaptation as well as separate and explicit recognition for Loss and Damage are important achievements in the agreement. This goes a long way in raising the profile and importance of addressing the protection of those vulnerable to climate change. The Agreement, however, does not go far enough in securing the support necessary for the protection of the poor and vulnerable.   
 
  • Establish a clear long-term 2050 goal to move away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy and sustainable land use.
    • By including a long-term temperature goal of well below 2C of warming and a reference to a 1.5C goal, the agreement sends a strong signal that governments are committed to being in line with science. In addition the recognition of the emissions gap and the inclusion of a quantified 2030 gigatonne goal should serve as a basis for the revision of national pledges ahead of 2020.
 
  • The agreement sets 2018 as a critical global moment for countries to come back to the table and take stock of their current efforts in relation to this global goal and this should result in stronger and enhanced actions on emission reductions, finance and adaptation.
 
  • The Paris agreement made good progress by recognizing, in a unique article, that all countries must act to halt deforestation and degradation and improve land management. The agreement also included a process that can provide guidance for land sector accounting. Adequate and predictable financial support for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation could have been stronger.
 
ends
 
Read more [WWF]

Melting glaciers blamed for subtle slowing of Earth's rotation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The melting of glaciers caused by the world's rising temperatures appears to be causing a slight slowing of the Earth's rotation in another illustration of the far-reaching impact of global climate change, scientists said on Friday.

Read more [Reuters]

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