Global warming news

Australia, New Zealand defend climate plans, say face high costs

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they faced unusually high costs to cut greenhouse gas emissions because of their respective dependence on coal and livestock, after criticism that they are doing too little to tackle climate change.

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Climate change could alter key ocean bacteria: study

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Climate change could put a type of oceanic bacteria into evolutionary overdrive in a way that could pose a threat to its long-term survivability and its important role in the food chain, according to a study published on Tuesday.

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With glaciers as backdrop, Obama uses Alaska trip to push climate agenda

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - President Barack Obama arrived in Alaska on Monday for a three-day tour aimed at showing how the state's melting permafrost and eroding coastlines are a preview of bigger disasters to come unless the world does more to slow climate change.

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With glaciers as backdrop, Obama to use Alaska trip to push climate agenda

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - President Barack Obama arrived in Alaska on Monday for a three-day tour aimed at spotlighting how its melting permafrost and eroding coastlines show the United States is already being hurt by climate change.

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Climate change brings cyclone risk to Persian Gulf: study

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Climate change is bringing small risks that tropical cyclones will form in the Persian Gulf for the first time, in a threat to cities such as Dubai or Doha which are unprepared for big storm surges, a U.S. study said on Monday.

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U.N. climate talks begin divided, but with hope for Paris accord

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Chances that governments will work out a U.N. accord to combat climate change in December seem brighter than in the run-up to a failed attempt in 2009, experts said as delegates from almost 200 nations met on Monday, hoping to bridge deep divisions.

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President Obama is visiting Alaska to talk climate: Here's what you need to know

President Obama is visiting Alaska today to put a spotlight on the realities of climate change and to forge his climate legacy. But less than two weeks ago, he granted Shell final approval to drill for oil in Alaska's Chukchi Sea.

We're as confused by that logic as you are.

That's not the only layer of irony here. The oil deep in Arctic waters is only accessible because of melting ice caused by climate change.

The fact that President Obama thinks he can forge a climate legacy while allowing Arctic drilling shows that he isn't in tune with the demands of people around the United States and the world to keep Arctic oil in the ground.

Whether simply ironic or downright hypocritical, what's clear is that President Obama's rhetoric on climate change is not matching up to his actions. You can write a letter to tell President Obama what true climate leadership looks like.

Here are four statements from President Obama himself that make it perfectly clear why climate leadership cannot include Arctic drilling:

"Alaskans are on the frontlines of one of the greatest challenges we face this century: climate change."

This much is true. Over the past 50 years, temperatures across Alaska have increased by an average of 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.9 degrees Celsius), twice the average in the US.

The solution to climate change in Alaska — and everywhere else — obviously does not lie in extracting and burning more fossil fuels. In fact, a study published in the journal Nature earlier this year found that we cannot afford to burn any of the oil and gas reserves in the Arctic if we hope to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic for "unburnable oil" will have devastating consequences for Alaskans already impacted by climate change.

Should global emissions continue to increase this century, temperatures will rise as much as 12 degrees Fahrenheit (6.6 degrees Celsius) in northern Alaska and 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) in the rest of the state. This would greatly exacerbate ice melt, sea level rise, wildfire seasons and other threats already facing Alaskan communities.

"The hunting and fishing on which generations have depended for their way of life and their jobs is being threatened."

Once again, the President is right on with this one. And once again, drilling for oil in Alaskan waters is not going to help.

Indigenous Peoples in Alaska have spoken about how thinning sea and river ice is both threatening the habitats of traditional food sources and making hunting itself more dangerous. Rising temperatures and hotter, drier summers have already increased the strength and frequency of wildfires that decimate food and medicinal plant species and the habitats of food sources like caribou.

Of course, none of this gets better by extracting and burning more fossil fuels.

On top of that, the actual act of drilling poses a great threat to traditional hunting and fishing practices. There's a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill should Shell find oil — and that's by the government's own estimation.

For a sense of how such a spill would impact traditional ways of life, consider the case of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. That spill was so devastating for Native Alaskans that Chief Walter Meganack called it "the day the water died." More than 25 years later, communities are still recovering.

"Storm surges once held at bay now endanger entire villages."

Doesn't really sound like the kind of environment where you'd want to install massive, expensive oil infrastructure operated by a disaster-prone company, does it?

Cleaning up the likely event of an Arctic spill would be next to impossible, with the nearest Coast Guard station 1,000 miles away and harsh weather conditions complicating response. Shell has estimated it would take about six days for responders to reach the site of a spill, while oil would likely reach land — and coastal communities — within three days.

Shell's track record does little to inspire confidence in its ability to handle these conditions. Its 2012 attempt to drill in the Chukchi Sea ended in eight felony charges for its contractor Noble Drilling, a rig damaged beyond repair after running aground and a critical piece of spill response equipment "crushed like a beer can" during testing in the Puget Sound.

And just last month, a Shell icebreaker vessel tore a 39-inch gash in its hull while taking a shortcut, forcing it to undergo repairs and delaying Shell's entire operation. Clearly, this is not a company prepared to deal with harsh Arctic conditions only growing more extreme with our changing climate.

"What's happening in Alaska is … our wake up call. As long as I am president, America will lead the world to meet this threat before it's too late."

With this sentence — and indeed this entire trip — President Obama intends to cement his climate legacy. Unfortunately for him, opening the US Arctic to oil drilling for the first time in 20 years is hardly climate leadership.

In fact, it sends the exact wrong message to the rest of the world. As the current chair of the Arctic Council, US leadership must set the right tone for other Arctic nations. Already this year, Russia submitted a bid to claim more than 463,000 square miles of Arctic sea ice and Norway announced that it would expand Arctic drilling (parliamentary opposition has since delayed those plans).

Allowing Shell to drill in Alaska would open the floodgates for other nations to exploit Arctic resources, putting us further down a path towards climate disaster. If this is what "America lead[ing] the world" on climate change looks like, America is leading in the wrong direction.

Has President Obama been listening to his own words?

It's time to send him some of yours. Write a personal letter to President Obama and tell him why you think he should protect the Arctic and our climate.

Ryan Schleeter is an online content producer for Greenpeace USA.

A version of this blog was originally posted on Greenpeace USA's The Environmentalist.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

After a reign of hundreds of years, it's time King Coal was de-throned

It's true coal launched the industrial revolution, with all the benefits that it brought to humankind. But the cost has been huge – both in terms of human health and greenhouse gas emissions. Add to that mining accidents, local people forced out of their homes to make way for new coal mines, acid rain and smog pollution, and you'll see why King Coal has had its day.

Coal is the dirtiest fuel on the planet, and the dominant source of CO2 emissions. Across the world, about 10 billion tonnes of CO2 come from coal-fired power generation every year, making up 30% of fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

It's not only the dirtiest fossil fuel, it's unfortunately also the cheapest, making it dangerously appealing for emerging economies wanting to industrialise quickly to catch up with the developed world. China's a good example. By some estimates, its economy has grown 30-fold since 1980, most of it fuelled by coal. China's dependence on coal contributed half of global CO2 emissions growth in the past decade. The price has been horrendous air pollution that is claiming over a million lives every year, most of it linked to coal-burning.

But the signs are that coal has had its day. As China strives to tackle its air pollution crisis and modernize its economy, coal consumption is falling even while its economy continues to grow, resulting in the largest reduction in CO2 emissions for any country, ever.

The World Bank has warned that coal is no answer to global poverty. Its climate change envoy, Rachel Kyte, said recently that when it came to lifting countries out of poverty, coal was part of the problem, not the solution.

Investors, at least, appear to be listening. Coal companies are in trouble around the world. In the US, nearly 40 coal companies have filed for bankruptcy protection since 2012. Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal company in the world, has lost nearly 90% of its value in the past year.

But some governments, particularly in Australia and Japan, continue to support this dirty fuel. They need to understand that coal is history. It cannot be made "clean" by technological solutions like carbon capture and storage (CCS), where carbon emissions from power plants are buried underground. CCS requires particular geological conditions which don't exist in many countries. And even Norway, which has plenty of "suitable" areas (empty gas and oil fields underground), has abandoned some of its key projects, because it's too expensive.

Still, coal continues to enjoy huge public subsidies, along with oil and gas, of about $550 billion a year. These have to end. The future is not coal, it's renewable energy. Coal is part of human history. Now it belongs in a museum.


  • "Coal is not the answer to global poverty, says the World Bank. It's part of the problem, not the solution".

  • The Swiss bank UBS says large-scale centralised power stations will soon become extinct because they are "not relevant" for future electricity generation. Instead, it'll be cheaper and more efficient for households and businesses to generate their own energy.

  • Pollution from coal-fired power plants in the EU resulted in thousands of premature deaths. In countries with heavy coal use, more people seem to be killed by coal than in traffic accidents.

  • The European Commission says improving energy efficiency by 40% by 2030 would cut fossil fuel imports by €505 billion a year.

Joanna Mills is a Communications Strategist for Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Still searching for justice a decade after Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest natural disasters ever to strike the United States. Like Typhoon Haiyan and other destructive storms in recent memory, Katrina disproportionately impacted more vulnerable communities — both as the storm hit, and in the recovery process afterwards. While these communities often contribute the least to storm-strengthening climate change, they suffer most.

Now, ten years after Hurricane Katrina, many local elected leaders in hard-hit areas are quick to say that the region has recovered, it’s resilient and it’s open for business. But Hannah Strange of Greenpeace USA shares the other side of this story, and a vision of social and climate justice from the communities most affected.

Ten years ago, the United States bore witness to climate change at work. The devastating impacts of Hurricane Katrina made it clear that climate change is not simply a problem for future generations. It is real, it is here, and it will impact all of us — some communities more deeply than others. 

A range of evidence suggests links between rising ocean temperatures due to global warming and the destructive power of hurricanes like Katrina. One 2013 study even found that global warming could increase the number of Atlantic hurricanes as strong as Katrina by as much as 700 percent.

And it’s no secret that Hurricane Katrina had the greatest consequences for marginalised communities, especially communities of colour. For instance, populations in the areas most damaged by Katrina were 46 percent African American, compared to 26 percent in undamaged areas. In New Orleans itself, damaged areas were 75 percent African American. Of the 1,800 lives claimed by Katrina, more than half were black.

While this disparity was fairly obvious in the weeks and months following the disaster, it continues to be true to this day. Structural inequalities present well before Katrina — and the failure to include impacted communities in developing real solutions — continue to hamper recovery.

Contrary to the rhetoric you’ll hear from leaders all the way up to President Obama, affected communities are still healing from Hurricane Katrina.

The Gulf South Is Rising

Communities in the region hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina — called the Gulf South — are coming together this week to commemorate the ten years that have passed under the banner of #GulfSouthRising. In a week of action, local leaders will tell their side of the story — to say that the illusion of recovery is not progress and that a return to business-as-usual structures of privilege is not justice.

Through the Movement Support Hub, Greenpeace USA is answering Gulf South Rising’s call for support for the week of action. We’re here in solidarity with local leadership and the vision built by impacted communities. The anticipation is building as we get closer to a weekend full of powerful and transformative events.

A Vision for Justice

In the lead up to the 10-year commemoration of Katrina, leaders across the Gulf South came together to articulate principles and demands for true resilience and recovery. Together, they created these five demands for the Gulf South — points we can all consider in other disaster situations as well:

  1. A right to return. Displaced families and communities have a right to return to their homes, to social and public services, and to economic opportunities.
  2. Those lost will not be forgotten. Not all of those who died or were misplaced have been accounted for, which is an affront to the trauma their friends and families have already suffered.
  3. Value the people, protect the land. Communities are more resilient, but no safer now from another Katrina than they were ten years ago. Extractive industries are threatening the land, health, and culture of the Gulf. We must take meaningful steps to address climate resilience for all communities.
  4. Recovery must be with the people, for the people and by the people. A recovery that benefits a privileged few is not a recovery at all. Economic, racial and environmental justice must be embedded in recovery for communities affected by Katrina.
  5. The illusion of recovery is not progress. We cannot accept the inequalities embedded in what has been labeled as progress so far. It’s time to prop up the voices of communities on the frontlines of this disaster and build a movement to achieve true recovery and resilience.

August 29, 2015 marks ten years since Katrina broke the levees in New Orleans. It’s also time to put the Gulf South on the right track to recovery — one that prioritizes justice over privilege and real resilience over quick profit. By healing communities in the Gulf, we can heal a nation.

It’s also a time to remind ourselves that climate change is here, it is real and the devastation it creates can take generations to resolve. 

Hannah Strange is the Director of Greenpeace USA’s Movement Support Hub.

A version of this blog was originally posted on Greenpeace USA’s The Environmentalist.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Dispelling 4 Myths about Climate Change and Investment Risk

Investors are, by necessity, experts at taking calculated risks. They scan the horizon of our ever-evolving world for new and sometimes unexpected economic challenges so that they can put their money where it’s most likely to grow. Today, financial institutions are facing one economic challenge that will fundamentally change the way we do business—climate change. Climate change is a risk that, while significant, is oftentimes misunderstood by the financial community. A warmer world introduces...

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Carbon Asset Risk: Discussion Framework

The Carbon Asset Risk Discussion Framework is a resource for financial institutions and was developed by WRI and the UNEP Finance Initiative in consultation with more than 100 energy, climate and finance experts. This report provides objective, fact-based guidance to finance professionals for evaluating their exposure to the non-physical risks of climate change, called carbon asset risk. This type of financial risk is driven by non-physical factors during the transition to the low-carbon...

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Ranking the World’s Most Water-Stressed Countries in 2040

The world’s demand for water is likely to surge in the next few decades. Rapidly growing populations will drive increased consumption by people, farms and companies. More people will move to cities, further straining supplies. An emerging middle class could clamor for more water-intensive food production and electricity generation. But it’s not clear where all that water will come from. Climate change is expected to make some areas drier and others wetter. As precipitation extremes increase...

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INSIDER: How Transparent Have Countries Been About the Fairness and Ambition of their National Climate Contributions (INDCs)?

So far, 56 countries (including 28 member states of the European Union) have submitted their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Reflecting the nationally determined nature of these climate contributions, they vary significantly in form, scope and coverage. Yet a key question for all of them is: Have they provided information about whether they are fair and ambitious? The Lima Call to Climate Action, the...

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India says rich world has responsibility to curb climate change

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's environment minister said on Monday that the rich world could not wish away its responsibility for man-made global warming, as he urged developed nations to do more to help his country deal with the impact of climate change.

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RELEASE: New Report calls for Large-Scale Solutions to Climate Change

RELEASE: New Report calls for Large-Scale Solutions to Climate ChangeAugust 24, 2015 Case studies from 21 agriculture projects across India show opportunities for change at scale.Read more

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Thinking Big on Climate Change Adaptation: Scaling Rainfed Agriculture Projects in India

Rainfed agriculture sustains millions of farmers in India, meeting 40 percent of India’s food demand. But the impact of a changing climate, including increased droughts and rising temperatures, threatens food production and farming patterns. Although Indian farmers are adapting to climate change by improving water and soil management, and planting drought-resistant crops in various parts of India, these often small-scale efforts do not reach the millions of others who need to adapt. Can...

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Germany and Brazil join forces on climate change action

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Germany and Brazil committed themselves on Thursday to a joint stance on climate change, putting the largest economies in Europe and Latin America on the same page ahead of global climate talks in Paris in December.

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Study finds climate change makes California's drought worse

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Climate change has aggravated California's devastating drought, causing between 8 and 27 percent of the dry conditions afflicting the nation's most populous state, a study released on Thursday has found.

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When it Comes to Adaptation, We Need to Think Bigger

Climate change threatens virtually every community on Earth. Increasingly frequent and severe droughts, floods and heat waves will impact agriculture, food security, infrastructure, GDP, and lives and livelihoods. The World Bank estimates that the world should be prepared to spend $70 billion to $100 billion a year between 2010 and 2050 to adapt to a 2 degree Celsius (3.6 degree F) warmer world. Despite the dire impacts of climate change, adaptation efforts thus far have mostly involved...

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Islamic Declaration boosts moral arguments to act on climate change

Gland, Switzerland – Islamic leaders and scholars have issued an Islamic Declaration on Climate Change. This is a statement from WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative Head of Low Carbon Frameworks, Tasneem Essop, reacting to the announcement:
"The message from the Islamic leaders and scholars boosts the moral aspects of the global climate debate and marks another significant display of climate leadership by faith-based groups.
"Climate change is no longer just a scientific issue; it is increasingly a moral and ethical one. It affects the lives, livelihoods and rights of everyone, especially the poor, marginalised and most vulnerable communities.
"Most religions view humans as the caretakers of the natural world. And in this spirit, taking care of the environment is a moral duty. The Declaration reflects the Islamic basis to this concept.  WWF, as an environmental organisation, is moved by the same impulse to have a world in which human beings can live in harmony, both among themselves and with nature, with equity and solidarity. The expressions of solidarity from representatives from other faiths -- the Catholic Church, Hindu faith, Judaism and Lutheran Church -- send a good message that unity and cooperation is needed to overcome such a serious global challenge such as climate change.
"Only by working with each other can we save the planet, its vibrant diversity of life and ensure a prosperous future for us all. The Declaration makes a strong call on all Muslims across the world to take urgent action now through lifestyle changes and also calls on decision-makers to shift investments towards a clean, sustainable low carbon future and away from fossil fuels."

Read more [WWF]

Alberta names panel that will review its climate-change policy

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Alberta, the biggest source of U.S. oil imports, announced the members of its climate change policy review panel on Friday, part of its pledge to implement new rules on greenhouse gas reductions.

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The ninth extinction

Earth's living community is now suffering the most severe biodiversity crisis in 65 million years, since a meteorite struck near modern Chicxulub, Mexico, injecting dust and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, and devastating 76% of all living species, including the dinosaurs.

Ecologists now ask whether or not Earth has entered another "major" extinction event, if extinctions are as important as general diversity collapse, and which emergency actions we might take to reverse the disturbing trends.

In 1972, at the first UN environmental conference in Stockholm, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich, linked the collapse of "organic diversity" to human population and industrial growth. In 1981, he published Extinction, explaining the causes and consequences of the biodiversity crisis and providing response priorities, starting with stabilizing human population and growth.

This summer, Ehrlich, Gerardo Ceballos (University of Mexico), and their colleagues, published "Accelerated modern human–induced species losses" in Science Advances. "The study shows," Ehrlich explains, "that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event." To demonstrate that Earth is experiencing a "mass extinction event" depends on showing that current extinction rates far exceed normal "background" extinction rates. To be absolutely certain, Ehrlich and Ceballos used the most conservative estimates of current extinctions, which they found to be about 10-to-100-times faster than the background rate.

There are three points worth keeping in mind: (1) most extinction rate estimates from biologists range from 100 to 1000 times faster than background, (2) this modern extinction rate is accelerating with each passing year; and (3) the general diversity collapse, even among species that don't go extinct, remains equally serious for humanity. Biodiversity decline is now higher than any time since the Chicxulub asteroid impact. This time, however, humans are the asteroid.

I've used the term "ninth extinction" because the so-called "five major extinctions" occurred in the last 450 million years, but three earlier extinctions are significant and teach us something important about ecology and our potential role in emergency response.

Ancient toxic waste

Some 3.5 billion years ago, as Earth cooled enough to sustain complex molecules, anaerobic bacteria formed, single-cell marine organisms living without oxygen and extracting energy from sulphur. Within a few hundred million years, some bacteria and algae learned to collect solar energy through photosynthesis, releasing oxygen into the sea. About 2.5 billion years ago, free oxygen became life's first global ecological crisis.

Oxygen is toxic to anaerobic bacteria. Some species perished at only 0.5% oxygen, while others survived up to 8% oxygen. Oxygen eventually saturated the oceans, leaked into the atmosphere, and oxidized methane, triggering a global cooling, the "Huronian glaciation," which led to more extinctions.

The evolutionary success of photosynthetic bacteria and algae triggered impacts similar to our own: crowded habitats, toxic waste, atmospheric disruption, temperature change, and biodiversity collapse. Sound familiar? The die-off continued until certain organisms evolved to metabolize oxygen, and the ecosystem regained a new dynamic equilibrium. We could help our situation by encouraging organisms that metabolize carbon dioxide, namely plants, but we are reducing forest cover, adding to the crisis.

Ediacaran Extinction

In Newfoundland, Canada, in1868, Scottish geologist Alexander Murray, found unusual disc-shaped organisms, Aspidella terranovica, in rock formations that pre-dated known animal forms, so most palaeontologists doubted they represented a new fauna. However, in 1933, more specimens appeared in Namibia, and in 1946, jellyfish fossils from this era appeared in the Ediacara Hills of Australia. These organisms, now known as the "Ediacaran" fauna, had no shells or skeletons, so they left only rare fossil impressions.

Oxygen metabolism allowed organisms to use nitrogen, and to transform more energy, allowing complex morphologies, cell nuclei, and symbiotic relationships within cells and among organisms. For another billion years, cells diversified, learned how to replicate by dividing (mitosis), then by sex (meiosis), and how to cooperate to form multi-cellular plants and animals. By 650 million years ago, Ediacaran life had diversified into unipolar, bipolar, and radial organisms, including worms, sponges, and jellies.

This abundance collapsed about 542 million years ago, possibly associated with meteorite impacts and an oxygen drop. Over 50% of the species probably perished. Typically, however, this extinction opened ecological niches for the explosion of life forms that followed.

Life tries again

Organisms that survived the Ediacaran collapse diversified during the so-called "Cambrian explosion." Life had already evolved for three billion years, before the appearance of crustaceans, arthropods (insects), Echinoderms (starfish, urchins), molluscs, and our own ancestors, the chordates. Earth had been warming, but burgeoning marine plant life captured carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere, causing a cold period, and around 488 million years ago, some 40% of the Cambrian species disappeared.

Typically, we measure extinction events by the numbers of species or families that disappear, but in this case, some phyla — fundamental life forms — perished. The extent of Cambrian phyla diversity remains controversial among biologists. In 1989, Harvard palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould published A Wonderful Life, in which he proposed numerous extinct Cambrian Phyla.

Some unusual Cambrian creatures may be earlier stages of existing forms, but some phyla likely perished at the end of the Cambrian. These early animals remain difficult to classify, so modern taxonomy incorporates "stem groups" of partially formed phyla. Cambrian oddities such as Odontogriphus and Nectocaris — may be stem groups related to molluscs. Or maybe not. Nectocaris possesses an arthropod-type head on a body with fins, similar to the chordates. Aysheaia, a lobopod with walking appendages, may represent a stem group related to later arthropods. The stunning Cambrian Pikaia — with a rudimentary backbone, no clear gills, unique muscle styles, and tentacles — could be an extinct phyla. Vetulicolia — a worm-like animal with insect features, vertebrate, no eyes, and no legs or feelers — probably represents an extinct phyla.

Losing phyla may be a unique quality of this Cambrian extinction event. After three billion years, and three major extinctions, life's fundamental forms settled into the roughly 90 phyla that endure to this day: 35 animal forms (many rare; Placozoa, for example consists of a single known species), 12 plant forms, 14 fungi, and 29 bacteria, plus the more obscure microorganisms archaea and protista. Most of the species we discuss and protect — birds, fish, reptiles, mammals — arise from a single phyla, the chordates, and occasionally insects, molluscs, worms, and corals.

Life's history on Earth, showing the rise of Family diversity, with the 8 major extinction events prior to the current biodiversity collapse caused by human activity. (Expanded scale for the last 500-million years) Click to view full-sized.

Modern Extinctions

After the Cambrian collapse, species diversity did not significantly increase for 300 million years, as life filled the marine habitats and moved onto land. Dozens of serious diversity collapses occurred during this time. The "Lau Event," 420 million years ago (mya), caused by climate change, erased about 30% of the species. During the Carboniferous period, 305 mya, a booming rainforest captured carbon and set off a global cooling that triggered widespread extinctions.

The approximately 90 essential life forms, however, endured through these disruptions and through the modern "5 major extinctions":

Ordovician: 440 million years ago (mya), 85% species, 25% families perish, all marine, possibly caused by a solar gamma ray burst that depleted ozone protection.

Devonian: 370 mya, 83% species, 19% families perish, all marine, likely caused by volcanos, meteorite, or both.

Permian, the big one: 250 mya, 95% marine, 70% terrestrial species, and 54% of the families perished, the largest known diversity collapse in Earth history, likely caused by volcanic eruptions that increased carbon-dioxide and warming.

Triassic, 210 mya, 80% marine, 35% terrestrial species, 23% families gone, likely caused by volcanic eruptions releasing carbon and sulphur dioxide, triggering more warming.

Cretaceous: Demise of the dinosaurs, 65 mya, 76% species loss, caused by the meteorite that struck near Chicxulub, Mexico.

The three ancient extinctions, and five modern extinctions, bring us to the current diversity collapse, primarily caused by human expansion on Earth.

The Human Asteroid

Massive biodiversity reductions, even among animals that do not go extinct, destabilize an ecosystem. "There are examples of species all over the world," Paul Ehrlich explains, "that are essentially the walking dead." Certain plant and animal populations may become so small that they may not recover, or may lose symbiotic function in the ecosystem. Depleted pollinators or prey species can create cascading extinctions. According to World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, Earth has lost half its wild animals in 40 years, through habitat loss, hunting, poaching, climate change, toxins, and invasive species.

At Seahorse Key, formerly the largest bird colony on the Gulf Coast of Florida, thousands of herons, spoonbills, egrets, and pelicans have abandoned the rookery, possibly in response to low-flying drug-enforcement aircraft. Bird species are declining in most habitats, and over 12% are threatened with extinction.

Amphibians suffer the highest extinction and depletion rates [McCallum, 2007). Over a quarter of all reptiles are at risk, and 37% of freshwater fish (IUCN). Over 100 mammals have gone extinct in the era of European expansion, and today, 22 of the 30 surviving large mammal carnivores are listed as "endangered" by the World Conservation Union, including African wild dogs, Black rhinos, and the few surviving Mountain Gorillas.

About 1.7 million species have been classified by taxonomists, and about 15 thousand are added to this list each year. Biologists estimate that there may be 30-40 million species, plus perhaps billions of microbe species.

The conservative Ehrlich/Ceballos study confirmed that the extinction rate was up to 100-times the background rate, but most studies estimate much higher: A Brown Univ. study in 2014 estimates that current extinctions are 1000-times faster than background. A study from S.L. Pimm, and colleagues in Science journal estimates 1000-times higher. A study by Pimm and Jurriaan de Vos, published in Conservation Biology suggests current extinction rates are 1,000 times higher than background and heading toward 10,000 times higher.

Thus, by any reasonable measure Earth is undergoing a major biodiversity collapse, almost entirely caused by human activity. "If it is allowed to continue," Gerardo Ceballos warns, "life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on."

Ehrlich, identified the fundamental cause over forty years ago: Human sprawl. Ehrlich and colleagues calculated in 1986 that humanity was using about 40 % of Earth's Net Primary Productivity. Today, with 7.1 billion humans, we are using over half of Earth's productivity, and the other 30-million species survive on the left-over habitats. If human population reaches 11 billion, we will likely require about 80 %, although such a scenario may not be biophysically possible.

Land and air vertebrate biomass on Earth; chart from Ron Patterson,"Fossil Fuels and Human Destiny."

The history of life on Earth teaches us that successful life forms — bacteria, forests, or tool-wielding primates — typically grow beyond the capacity of their habitats, change those habitats, and set the stage for their own decline. Are we smarter than the bacteria? Will humanity find ways to slow down, limit our own growth, and preserve wild nature? Our track record is not promising. Our desires, economic and religious doctrines, and polluting technologies all work against the necessary changes. We need a large-scale ecological renaissance in human affairs, a shift in awareness that will allow human enterprise to accept limits on its own expansion.

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

Resources for intensity of the mass extinctions:

Catastrophic Events and Mass Extinctions: Proceedings of the fourth meeting on mass extinctions and global catastrophes, ed. Christian Koeberl and Kenneth G. MacLeod, 2002.

Mass extinctions and macroevolution, David Jablonski, Paleobiology, 2005, v. 31.

The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert, Picador, 2015

Read more [Greenpeace international]

The island nation rising up to be a hero for climate action

Out in the central Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator and the International Date Line, lies an island group in Micronesia called Kiribati (pronounced 'Kiri-bas'). It’s not “famous” like Hawaii, Bali or Tahiti but its scenery is just as, or even more magnificent. Its flag – a bird flying over the sun as it sets on the ocean horizon – is testament to its peace, beauty and tranquility: stunning lagoons, white sandy beaches and a thriving traditional culture.

But unfortunately, due to climate change, this entire island nation with a population of over 100,000 could disappear. After spending a few short days here I’ve been both inspired by the spirit of the people and concerned with the enormity of the problems they are facing. 

The people of the low-lying islands of Kiribati, while being the least responsible for climate change, are most exposed to the consequences of it. Every high tide now carries the potential for damage and flooding. These people know first hand that climate change is not just an environmental crisis – it’s also a human rights disaster. The leader of the country, President Anote Tong, is facing the real possibility of watching his nation slowly drown and the real threat that his people will be made climate migrants.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment stressed that sea level rise projected this century will present 'severe flood and erosion risks' for low-lying islands, with the potential also for degradation of freshwater resources. Every high tide now carries with it the potential for damage and flooding. In some places the sea level is rising by 1.2 centimetres a year, four times faster than the global average. 

That’s why I came to Kiribati and am standing with President Tong. Together we’re making a groundbreaking call to action – to demand an immediate moratorium on all new coal mines and coal mine expansions.  In his own words:

“As leaders, we have a moral obligation to ensure that the future of our children, our grandchildren and their children is safe and secure. For their sake, I urge you to support this call for a moratorium on new coal mines and coal mine expansions.” 

Stopping the expansion of coal will not fix the climate crisis by itself, but it’s a necessary and important step. As a global community we cannot, on one hand, claim to be taking action for the climate, while on the other, continue to expand the most destructive of fuels.

It’s simple: people who are serious about tackling climate change must demand a world with fewer coal mines. These mines, and the CEOs profiting from them, stand in the way of a 100 per cent renewable energy-powered world.

Already, a fossil-free transition is slowly being made. 2014 was the first year that renewable energy grew more than fossil fuels globally. In the US 200 coal-fired power plants have been scheduled for retirement; Europe’s coal use has fallen almost 50% since its peak 30 years ago; and China has been reducing coal use for the past 18 months. On top of that two major banks have just pulled out of investing in what is pegged to be one of Australia’s largest coal mines.

World leaders now have the opportunity to show concern, responsibility and courage by supporting this moratorium in the lead up to the Paris climate talks in December. The approval and construction of each new coal mine undermines the intent of the Paris talks. Every nation that signs on to the moratorium strengthens it.

A complete end to new coal will be the next step on the road to saving our planet and achieving climate justice. I ask everyone who is serious about taking on climate change to contact their Governments and ask their politicians to stand with President Tong. The island nation of Kiribati depends on it.

In coming weeks we will be reaching out to all of you to join hands across the globe and help us to make this moratorium a reality.

Take action. Demand leaders Act for Climate here.

Dr Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Rich nations' climate plans fall short of hopes for Paris summit

OSLO (Reuters) - Developed nations are on track to cut their greenhouse emissions by almost 30 percent by 2030, Reuters calculations show, falling far short of a halving suggested by a U.N. panel of scientists as a fair share to limit climate change.

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Pope's climate push at odds with U.S. Catholic oil investments

BOSTON (Reuters) - Pope Francis heartened environmentalists around the world in June when he urged immediate action to save the planet from the effects of climate change, declaring that the use of "highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced without delay."

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Australia Offers Lackluster 2030 Climate Target

Australia’s just-announced plan for tackling climate change over the next decade proposes to cut emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Some of the country’s major peers, including the United States and European Union, are committing to more aggressive targets to drive down carbon pollution (the Australian target is different from the U.S. commitment to reach the same reduction level five years earlier, by 2025). Australia’s proposal would mean that other countries will have to do...

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From Gray to Green: Investing in Natural Infrastructure to Address Water, Food and Energy Challenges

This blog post was originally published for IWA Network on August 4, 2015. Recent extreme droughts and floods have forced an evaluation of how water infrastructure impacts other sectors, highlighting the need for a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral approach to balance environmental, social and economic concerns against a backdrop of climate change. Investing in natural infrastructure to achieve food, water and energy security can be transformational in making water available for...

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China Is Raising Its Climate Ambition, Experts Say

China is increasing its ambition in addressing climate change, and it has a strong national interest in sustaining its actions. That’s according to a recent panel of experts convened by WRI’s ChinaFAQs project and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. Stronger Action The panel discussion, held on Capitol Hill before an audience of policymakers, NGOs, businesses, researchers and reporters, brought together university, government, and private sector experts to discuss China’s actions...

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Massive toxic algae bloom reaches from California to Alaska

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oceanographers are studying whether climate change is contributing to an unprecedented bloom of toxic algae that spans the Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada, raising health concerns and leading to multimillion-dollar income losses from closed fisheries.

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California governor challenges GOP candidates on climate change

(Reuters) - Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday sent a letter to all Republican presidential candidates pressing them to discuss their plans to deal with climate change.

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How Does the Clean Power Plan Help US Meet its Climate Targets?

On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a strong and flexible Clean Power Plan (CPP) that is expected to reduce power sector emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Together with all the other actions the Obama administration has taken over the last several years, the United States is showing it’s serious about addressing climate change. Notably, businesses and consumers are already making investments to push us further down the low carbon future economy...

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U.N. chief says Obama power plan key ahead of climate change talks

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday praised U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to tackle greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, saying such "visionary leadership" is needed ahead of negotiations on a global climate change deal.

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UN readies historic plan for the well-being of people and the planet

NEW YORK – Negotiators from 193 countries have agreed on a draft blueprint for sustainable development that will last through 2030. The agreement will redefine how the global community works together to tackle poverty and improve living standards while protecting the environment.

The plan, known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, calls on countries and their citizens to respect and safeguard the planet, and recognizes that sound management of natural resources is the foundation of economic and social development.

"Today, the world took a big step forward on the path to living in harmony with nature," said Deon Nel, WWF International Acting Executive Director for Conservation. "We congratulate negotiators on their bold action. This is an essential move toward realizing our dream of shaping a world where people, planet and prosperity come together."

The draft document outlines 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ranging on issues from poverty, gender equality and economic development to climate change and ocean resource protection.

The SDGs are universal goals that will commit all countries to take action both within their own borders and in support of wider international efforts. Individual national commitments must add up to a worldwide result that helps all people and ensures a healthy environment.

The new development plan represents significant improvement from the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as it recognizes the interlinkages between sustainability of ecosystem services, poverty eradication, economic development and human well-being.

"We are on the verge of changing the way we think about how our societies must develop. Finally we can join strategies to ensure that no one is left behind and that we protect the natural resource base that underpins our well-being," said Elaine Geyer-Allély, WWF's Head of Delegation at the negotiations.

Nearly 90 per cent of the economic output of people living in extreme poverty is derived from nature. The majority of the world's poor communities are engaged in agriculture, fisheries and livestock herding that rely on nature to produce food and income.

"Nature and the services it provides, such as fertile soil and clean water, are vitally important for our continued existence. The vision of this plan is based on the reality that social and economic development can only happen if we protect critical natural resources," said Nel.

Government leaders will meet in New York in September to formally agree the plan.

"It is critical that governments come to the Summit ready to commit fully to these global goals. When they do, WWF is eager to partner on this people-centered and planet-sensitive agenda. Only through committed action from all countries and their citizens can we safeguard wildlife, the ocean, freshwater and forests, while also addressing climate change and our ability to feed the planet," said Geyer-Allély.

Read more [WWF]

Solarizing Greece is a way out of the crisis

Greece is facing a depression on a scale arguably comparable to the US Great Depression of the late 1920s. Huge unemployment rates and a dramatic drop in family incomes of over 40 percent have Greek citizens pondering what the impacts will be of the new bail-out agreement. Unending austerity and lack of hope are all it seems the future has to offer.

But there is a way to start changing things for the better. With energy poverty emerging as one of the most dramatic symptoms of the recession – six out of every 10 households are struggling to pay their energy bills – it is high time that Greece seized upon its greatest and still largely unexploited asset: the Sun.

The new 'Solarize Greece' campaign by Greenpeace Greece aims to bring together all those who dream of a brighter and more sustainable future, not only for Greece but for all European countries. Its objectives are to help Greece kickstart solar power as a driver of the economy, to rid the country of the burden of fossil fuels that are holding it down economically and for Greece to fight its way back out of the crisis.

Solar power has worked minor miracles for Greece before. In the turbulent decade of the 1970s that saw two major global energy crises, the Greek government offered tax incentives to households for solar water heaters, and a national policy was aimed at saving power. That led to hundreds of thousands of households installing solar heaters and significantly reduced energy bills. Equally important, a new industry was born and soon solar heaters became one of Greece's finest export products. It seemed then that the Sun had done its part to help Greece work its way out of a tight spot.

Now, crushing national hardship together with climate change are urgent and even more compelling reasons for revisiting solar photovoltaic (PV) power and, this time, on a massive scale.

Greece's short-lived 'PV Spring' of 2009-2013, driven by a feed-in tariff scheme, provided a glimpse of the country's real solar potential. Within five years installed solar capacity jumped from 47 to over 2,500 megawatts. A total of €4.5 billion was invested in modernising the energy sector and created around 50,000 jobs. In all, around 100,000 Greek families benefitted from the rise of the solar PV industry in one of the European countries most renowned for its sun.

Today, Greece is in a position to do much more.

Driven by the rapid fall in the costs of solar power, new legislation allows Greek citizens to generate cheap solar power for their own consumption, rather than selling it to the power grid. It means that, despite all of its economic hardships, Greece can seize on the enormous comparative advantage it has in solar power relative to northern European states. The tremendous untapped solar potential is a way to combat energy poverty and to cheaply kickstart economic growth.

Hundreds of thousands of households and small and medium enterprises could generate their own power at a fraction of the cost that they buy it from the grid. Tens of thousands of new jobs can be created.

With the costs of solar energy and storage expected to fall even further in the near future there is the potential for Greece to save billions of Euros on its fuel import bill – money that would stay within the country and be redirected to where it matters most: sustainable investments, social welfare policies, saving pensions, and stimulating prosperity.

So where could Greece find the funds for this initiative? Currently, through their electricity bills, Greek consumers pay around €800 million a year to subsidise oil imports to provide power to the country's many islands. This is a huge amount by Greek standards, and one that is equivalent to the newly proposed cuts in pensions from the national budget in 2015.

This burden is set to increase as yet more oil-related power investments are scheduled for the islands. If these polluting and expensive projects are selected over investments in renewable energy and improvements in the power grid, Greek consumers will continue to throw away money for decades to come. That would not only steal resources from the economy but also compromise the chances of recovery.

Greenpeace Greece sees a different energy future, and that is what its crowdfunding campaign is all about. Installing solar power in Greece's oil-dependent islands will bring relief to low-income households in need; it will help reduce oil consumption and pollution; and it will save money for Greek consumers on the mainland. Above all, it would be an example of a fair social policy that has tremendous developmental potential. Even more crucially, the campaign aspires to set in motion a transformation based on solarizing the entire Greek economy.

We are talking here about a domino effect, as a step that addresses austerity and provides a brighter future. If we can muster the support for solar power for Greece's islands, why not for the whole of Greece?

Solarizing Greece would be a step in assisting the country to again stand on its own feet, on its own terms. And a step that could have significant repercussions for the rest of the sun-bathed Mediterranean region.

For Greece, untapped solar power means untapped sustainable economic development.

The Sun is not only for tourist holidays. Greece has an opportunity to show the rest of Europe the true power of solar energy.

Kumi Naidoo is Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

This blog first appeared on The Huffington Post.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Californians divided along party lines on combating climate change

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Two-thirds of Californians link the state's ongoing catastrophic drought to climate change, and most support Governor Jerry Brown's efforts to combat it – but that's also because most Californians are Democrats, a new poll shows.

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BREAKING: Greenpeace US activists stop Shell vessel as it attempts to leave port for the Arctic

The next big step in the fight to save the Arctic is happening right now.

Greenpeace US activists have suspended themselves from St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon to block a Shell Oil vessel from leaving port for Alaskan waters. The climbers have enough supplies to last several days, and are prepared to stay in Shell's way as long as possible.

Follow here for breaking updates from the scene of this incredible display of people power, and don't forget to say #ShellNo yourself. Tune into the conversation on social media using #ShellNo, #PeopleVsShell, and #SaveTheArctic.

[View the story "BREAKING: Activists Stop Shell Vessel as It Attempts to Leave Portland Harbor" on Storify]

What's At Stake?

Why exactly have these activists chosen to put themselves in between Shell and the Arctic?

Shell is almost ready to drill in the Arctic, but a vessel containing a vital piece of drilling equipment – without which it is not permitted to drill – has a gaping hole in it. So it had to come down to Portland to get patched up. The climbers blocking its way are now what stands in between Shell and an Arctic oil catastrophe.

Shell isn't just threatening polar bears and walruses with its drilling plans. By tapping into a new source of oil – only accessible because of melting ice – it's threatening the entire world with worsening climate change. And here's the real irony: Shell wouldn't even be in Portland if it weren't for its own incompetence. Its icebreaker vessel, the Fennica, was damaged within weeks of leaving for the company's drilling site in Alaska's Chukchi Sea.

With billions of dollars and the US government in its pocket, Shell thinks it can get away with anything – even in the Arctic. But people around the world – including right here in Portland – are proving otherwise. Thanks to people power, the movement to save the Arctic is growing stronger every day, and we can win.

Shell would love for this fight to stay quiet, unseen and unheard by the millions of people worldwide who have spoken out against Arctic drilling. We can't let that happen.

Raise your voice and say #ShellNo. Tell President Obama to reject Arctic drilling today.

Ryan Schleeter is an online content producer for Greenpeace USA.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

US pharmacy giant making wrong choice for the Boreal Forest

Inhale, exhale. The Boreal Forest impacts every breath you take.

Spanning North America, Russia, Japan and Scandinavia, the Boreal is the world's largest carbon absorbing ecosystem, purifying the air you breathe and keeping the climate stable.

The Boreal is also home to incredible biodiversity – from woodland caribou in Canada to the Siberian tiger in Russia. And it is the traditional territory of many First Nations and Indigenous Peoples.

But despite its importance to people and the planet, it goes largely unprotected.

What's happening to the Boreal Forest?

The Boreal Forest faces many threats: from climate change-fueled forest fires to oil development. But in Canada, one force is cutting out the heart of the forest: destructive logging.

A major player in this forest destruction is Resolute Forest Products – a pulp, paper and lumber company that's turning the endangered Boreal Forest into products like throwaway flyers.

For years, Resolute has been needlessly destroying critical habitat of the endangered woodland caribou and at times logging in Indigenous Peoples' territories without their consent. Right now, Resolute is even suing Greenpeace Canada and staff for C$7,000,000 to stop them from telling you about what the company is doing in the Boreal Forest.

The good news is there's something we can do for the Boreal that can change Resolute's destructive practices: speak up.  

Speaking up for the Boreal Forest matters

The voices of consumers are powerful in convincing companies to take their impact on forests seriously.

Because of public outcry, large companies like Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble and Hewlett-Packard have adopted policies that minimize their impact on endangered forests.

And these changes put pressure on suppliers like Resolute. Just this year, Post-It Note company 3M committed to a forest-friendly paper policy and then told Resolute – one of its paper suppliers – to shape up or lose business. We continue to monitor the situation and will ensure 3M lives up to this element of its new policy soon. But to make big changes for the Boreal Forest, we need even more large companies to commit to buying paper that isn't connected with forest destruction and demand better from suppliers like Resolute.

That's why Greenpeace USA and Greenpeace Canada are challenging another major Resolute customer to step up and adopt a meaningful paper policy.

Rite Aid – the third-largest drugstore chain in the United States – has been making the wrong choice for forests by not managing where its paper comes from. The millions of pounds of paper it purchases for flyers and advertisements each year could be connected to destruction of the Canadian Boreal Forest.  

And despite repeated outreach to Rite Aid back in April, the company continues to ignore this serious problem.

Take action

The Boreal Forest matters to all of us. That's why all of us need to tell Rite Aid to do the right thing for forests. Write a message to Rite Aid on Facebook, or tweet at the company. Let Rite Aid know that there's no excuse for ignoring what the best science tells us: that the Canadian Boreal Forest is at risk and Rite Aid's paper supplier, Resolute, is making a bad situation worse.

When we convince companies like Rite Aid to act responsibly, we move one step closer to a world where the Boreal Forest is protected and managed responsibly – a world without deforestation and forest degradation.

Amy Moas is a Senior Forests Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

U.S. private sector vows to ante up on climate finance

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of the biggest U.S. corporate names on Monday offered their support - and billions of dollars in green financing pledges - to buttress the Obama administration's quest for a global agreement on combating climate change.

Read more [Reuters]

STATEMENT: WRI Says Company Climate Pledges Add "New Dimension to American Leadership on Climate Change"

STATEMENT: WRI Says Company Climate Pledges Add "New Dimension to American Leadership on Climate Change"July 27, 2015 WASHINGTON (July 27, 2015)— Executives from 13 major U.S. corporations including Apple Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co. joined White House officials today to announce at least $140 billion in low-carbon investments from the private sector. WRI has worked with many of these companies on climate and energy issues through its Corporate...

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12 photos that got the world's attention

The Quaker concept of bearing witness is one of the guiding principles of Greenpeace. Nowhere is this more manifest than in the images we produce.

One of the founders of Greenpeace, Bob Hunter, proposed the notion of 'Mind Bombs' – when an image is so powerful it is like a bomb going off in your head.

Today, in a world saturated by images, a photograph still has the power to move one to action. We take a look back through the lens at some of the Greenpeace images that have helped to change the world for the better.

In 1971, the environment movement became a modern cultural phenomenon with the formation of Greenpeace. Since then, the world has seen the environment become one of the planet's major concerns – never more so than today when we face catastrophic climate change.

This is a photographic record by Robert Keziere of the very first Greenpeace voyage, which departed Vancouver on 15 September, 1971. The aim of the trip was to halt nuclear tests in Amchitka Island by sailing into the restricted area.

The crew on board the ship formed the original group that became Greenpeace. Clockwise from top left, they are: Hunter, Moore, Cummings, Metcalfe, Birmingham, Cormack, Darnell, Simmons, Bohlen, Thurston, and Fineberg.

Non-Violent Direct Action was foundational to Greenpeace as it became a movement of people willing to put their lives on the line for a greater good.

In this photo, Greenpeace activists in inflatable boats protest against the dumping of nuclear waste by dumpship Rijnborg. Two barrels are dropped from the dump ship on top of a Greenpeace inflatable causing it to capsize and seriously injure Willem Groenier, the pilot of the inflatable.

The dumping of nuclear waste at sea is now illegal thanks to actions such as these.

In 1985, the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French secret service agents, tragically killing Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. The ship and crew were in Auckland protesting nuclear testing in the Pacific.

The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior caused global headlines, making people around the world realise the powerful forces that groups like Greenpeace were up against.

After a long and seemingly impossible campaign, Antarctica was declared a World Park, proving that dedication and never giving up will deliver results. This photo captures the final day of establishing the World Park Base in 1992.

This photo depicts Greenpeace's second occupation of Shell's disused North Sea oil installation in two months in 1995.

With the campaign against the Brent Spar oil platform we saw how good strategies and determined action can change the world – the dumping of toxic materials in the North Sea is now banned.

Greenpeace brought the reality of whaling to the world – and photography was an incredibly powerful medium for this communication.

Here, a Greenpeace inflatable boat hooks onto a Japanese whaling boat while it is pulling a caught whale on board.

Here, a small Chinese child is sitting among cables and e-waste, in Guiyu, China. This photo helped bring the world's eyes to the impacts of electronic waste.

Much of modern electronic equipment contains toxic ingredients. Vast amounts are routinely and often illegally shipped as waste from Europe, the US and Japan to countries in Asia as it is easier and cheaper to dump the problem on poorer countries with lower environmental standards.

This practice exposes the workers and communities involved in dismantling e-waste to serious, environmental problems, danger and health hazards. Greenpeace is strongly urging major manufactures to exclude toxic materials from their products.

This activist, part of the 2007 Kingsnorth action in the UK, went through a lengthy and historic trial resulting in acquittal.

In the trial, the judge summated that the activists were taking action for the greater good of humanity by preventing CO2 emissions. The case has since been used as a precedent and shows a shift towards global climate justice.

In 2010, workers attempting to fix an underwater pump after a pipeline blast at the Dalian Port, China, ran into trouble. During oil spill cleanup operations, the workers struggled in thick oil slick, and tragically, one firefighter was killed.

This image travelled the world as a defining photo of the dangers faced by workers associated with extractive industry.

Diver Joel Gonzaga of the Philippine purse seiner 'Vergene' at work using only a single air compressor hose to the surface, in and around a skipjack tuna purse seine net, in the international waters of high seas pocket.

Fish stocks are plummeting around the world, especially tuna stocks. Photos like this help capture and communicate the impact of overfishing.

This powerful photograph shows adult brown pelicans waiting in a holding pen to be cleaned by volunteers at the Fort Jackson International Bird Rescue Research Center in Buras.

These birds were covered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead disaster. The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded on 20 April, 2010 and sank after burning.

The photo which brought the world's attention to the extreme measures the Russian authorities would take to protect their Arctic oil interests: a member of the Russian coast guard points a gun at a Greenpeace International activist as peaceful protestors attempt to climb the Prirazlomnaya, an oil platform in Russia's Pechora Sea which is operated by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

The activists were there to stop the Prirazlomnaya from becoming the first rig to produce oil from the ice-filled waters of the Arctic.

Greenpeace is a movement of people like you, standing up for our forests, oceans, and climate. Together, we're working towards a green and peaceful future where humans intellect results in sustainable innovation, not greed and destruction.

Your world needs you – get involved.
Read more [Greenpeace international]

U.S. companies pledge financial, political support for U.N. climate deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Thirteen big name American companies on Monday were to announce $140 billion in low-carbon investments to lend support to a global climate change deal in Paris in December, the White House said.

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U.S. proposes voluntary oil and gas company cuts in methane emissions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a program for oil and gas companies to make voluntary pledges to cut and track emissions of methane, one component of its wider strategy to target the potent greenhouse gas and combat climate change, the agency said Thursday.

Read more [Reuters]

Stronger Commitments from China and US Are Breakthrough for International Climate Action

With the current climate negotiations reaching a conclusion in Paris this coming December, we are at a pivotal moment in the global effort to address climate change and shift to a low-carbon development path. The United States and China, which together make up 38 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions (as of 2012), are playing an important role. Yet there has been confusion about China’s climate action commitments, as well as the fact that both China and the U.S. are taking significant...

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U.N. climate deal draft must be shorter, clearer: minister

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ministers working towards a new U.N. deal to tackle climate change, due in December, need a negotiating text that is shorter and more manageable than the current draft, the Marshall Islands' foreign minister said after informal talks in Paris.

Read more [Reuters]

Pope urges U.N. to take strong action on climate change

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Tuesday urged the United Nations to take a "very strong stand" on climate change at a landmark summit this year in Paris on global warming.

Read more [Reuters]

Solarnia: The solar paradise of the mediterranean

Close your eyes. Now imagine a perfect holiday destination; a peaceful place where you can swim in crystal-clear waters, breathe clean air, enjoy amazing food served by hospitable locals, explore countless islands and walk on exotic beaches.

This place is called Solarnia, a Mediterranean paradise completely powered by clean and safe energy. It has a stable economy and a flourishing tourism industry.

Now, open your eyes. Imagine a place where the sea turned black, where the food is contaminated, where the air is unbreathable, where tourism has died out, and where oil rigs and coal plants are all you can see on the horizon.

This place has no name, it's a Mediterranean nightmare affected by dirty and dangerous energy, with a degrading economy and no tourism.

Now, I want you to keep your eyes open, because this nightmare might become reality very soon. Mediterranean countries' governments are planning to start new risky oil driling projects and build new coal powerplants which will harm the local nature end economy forever.

Sign our petition to stop the madness before it's too late.

Only with your help, can we convince the Mediterranean authorities to quit dirty energy forever and to switch to clean energy now!

Together, we can keep Solarnia a paradise for all of us.

Last weekend, in Spain and Italy, local communities as well as tourists gathered on the main beaches from the Canary islands to the Roman coast to demand action to be able to still enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean land, to raise their children in a safe area, far from the risks of oil spills, pollution and land destruction.

A place where – thanks to you – the local authorities switched to renewable energy as the permanent solution to foster new jobs, secure energy independence, protect the ecosystem and mitigate climate change.

This is how your beloved holiday destinations will be protected and your Solarnia dream come true. Once and for all.

Thanks to your help, together we can say goodbye to dirty energy policies and fossil fuel projects, and welcome clean and renewable sources instead.

Join us and help us protect our Solar Paradise for a bright future.

Cristiana De Lia is the Comms Coordinator with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Natural disasters forced 20 million from their homes in 2014: report

GENEVA (Reuters) - Nearly 20 million people were forced to flee their homes due to floods, storms and earthquakes last year, a problem likely to worsen due to climate change, but which could be eased by better construction, a report said on Monday.

Read more [Reuters]

Japan sets 26 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions as target

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan said on Friday it would slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2030 from 2013 levels and would submit the plan to the United Nations later in the day as its contribution to a global summit on climate change in Paris in November.

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Fishing ban needs support beyond central Arctic

GLAND, Switzerland – Arctic Council observer countries should be the first to join in a commercial fishing moratorium in the central Arctic says conservation organization WWF.
The five Arctic states that ring the central Arctic – Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, the United States – agreed today to a moratorium on commercial fishing. The moratorium will stop any fishing fleets based in those countries from exploiting the central Arctic, which is beyond the national jurisdiction of any state. But it does not apply to any other states, some of which have aggressive industrial fishing fleets prowling the high seas.
"The next step for this agreement is for states such as China, Spain, Japan, the UK and South Korea to sign on also," says Alexander Shestakov of WWF's Global Arctic Programme. "These Arctic Council observer states say they support the integrity of the Arctic environment – this is a good opportunity for them to prove it."
WWF believes that the Arctic countries should also apply precautionary measures to commercial fishing within their own national waters that were not previously commercially exploited. This is a step that has already been taken by the United States, and by Canada in the Beaufort Sea.
We also urge the Arctic states to continue to ensure engagement with the people of the north, particularly Indigenous peoples who have an interest in the potential for commercial fisheries.
The areas formerly covered by ice in the Arctic are largely unexploited, and also unknown in terms of what fish are there now. They are also in a dynamic situation due to climate change, with fish such as cod that are sensitive to temperature changes increasingly moving northward.
The moratorium agreed to by Arctic states is set to remain until enough knowledge exists of central Arctic fish stocks to allow sustainable harvest, and there is a mechanism in place to control any fishing.

Read more [WWF]

New finance agreement sets stage for global sustainable development agenda

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Governments agreed today on a new global financing framework that integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic growth, environmental protection and social inclusion. The agreement came at the closing meeting of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.

The agreement, dubbed the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, brings countries closer to breaking the link between economic growth and environmental degradation by providing a comprehensive framework for all resources, financial and policy measures required to deliver an integrated sustainable development agenda in the coming 15 years.

"The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is a significant achievement toward financing a sustainable development agenda in a holistic manner, one that recognizes the connection between economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection," said Céline Beaulieu, WWF's Head of Delegation at the conference. "This is an important step forward in securing the resources needed to eradicate poverty and help countries develop sustainably. Ultimately, success will be determined by mobilization by all toward action and implementation."

The agreement aims to mobilize national governments, businesses, philanthropists and development partners to finance a critical sustainable development agenda. It calls for greater transparency and accountability, policy coherence, partnership building and the need for innovation. Importantly, the agreement covers many issues beyond traditional official development assistance. Traditional aid needs to be matched with other funding streams to confront global challenges and make progress in all countries.

"The economic and environmental hurdles before us are unprecedented in terms of their complexity and severity. More than ever, we need a coalition of the willing to embrace fully the Sustainable Development Goals, which also requires sufficient finance and strong political will to make necessary reforms quickly," said Beaulieu.

Despite progress, challenges remain in advancing a universal agenda on finance. As governments continue to confront issues related to sustainable development and climate change, it is critical that all finance for development and climate be delivered transparently and respect human rights, as well as prioritize low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally-sound development solutions.

"We can't eradicate poverty and achieve a prosperous future for all without addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and the rapid degradation of natural resources on land and in the ocean," said Beaulieu.

The agreement did not include bold language on core issues such as a stronger commitment to official development assistance as well as the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies in sectors such as fossil fuels, transport, fisheries and agriculture.

Eliminating harmful subsidies is seen as essential to freeing up financial resources for re-allocation to sustainable development solutions such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and protection of ecosystems.

The financing meeting is the first of three major conferences this year that will determine our planet's future. Today's agreement helps pave the way for implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in late September and a conference to agree a new climate deal in December in Paris.

Read more [WWF]

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