Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Rockefeller Family Fund Takes on ExxonMobil

  Above: plant owned by Syncrude, a joint venture of ExxonMobil’s Canadian subsidiary Imperial Oil, which processes oil from the tar sands of northern Alberta, Canada’s biggest source of carbon emissions and the US’s largest source of imported oil; photograph by Garth Lenz from his traveling exhibition ‘The True Cost of Oil’ In the first part of this article, we described recent reporting that ExxonMobil’s leaders knew humans were altering the world’s climate by burning fossil fuels even while the company was helping to fund and propel the movement denying the reality of climate change.1 Ever since the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News started publishing articles showing this in late 2015, ExxonMobil has repeatedly accused its critics of “cherry-picking” the evidence, taking its statements out of context, and “giving an incorrect impression about our corporation’s approach to climate change.”2 Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is one of several officials who have been investigating whether the company’s failures to disclose the business risks of climate change to its shareholders constituted consumer or securities fraud.   Since ExxonMobil claims that it has been misrepresented, we encourage it to make public all the documents Schneiderman has demanded, so that independent researchers can consider all the facts. In the meantime we suggest that anyone who remains unconvinced by the record we have collected and published of the company’s internal statements confirming the reality of climate change consider its actions, especially its expenditures. Regardless of its campaign to confuse policymakers and the public, Exxon has always kept a clear eye on scientific reality when making business decisions.   In 1980, for example, Exxon paid $400 million for the rights to the Natuna natural gas field in the South China Sea. But company scientists soon realized that the field contained unusually high concentrations of carbon dioxide, and concluded in 1984 that extracting its gas would make it “the world’s largest point source emitter of CO2 [, which] raises concern for the possible incremental impact of Natuna on the CO2 greenhouse problem.” The company left Natuna undeveloped. Exxon’s John Woodward, who wrote an internal report on the field in 1981, told InsideClimate News, “They were being farsighted. They weren’t sure when CO2 controls would be required and how it would affect the economics of the project.”3   This, of course, was a responsible decision. But it indicates the distance between Exxon’s decades of public deception about climate change and its internal findings. So do investments that Exxon and its Canadian subsidiary Imperial Oil made in the Arctic. As Ken Croasdale, a senior ice researcher at Imperial, told an engineering conference in 1991, concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were increasing “due to the burning of fossil fuels. Nobody disputes this fact.” Accordingly,   any major development with a life span of say 30–40 years will need to assess the impacts of potential global warming. This is particularly true of Arctic and offshore projects in Canada, where warming will clearly affect sea ice, icebergs, permafrost and sea levels.   Croasdale based these projections on the same climate models that Exxon’s leaders spent the next fifteen years publicly disparaging. But following his warnings that rising seas would threaten buildings on the coast, bigger waves would threaten offshore drilling platforms, and thawing permafrost would threaten pipelines, Exxon began reinforcing its Arctic infrastructure. Read More   

Smoke, Mirrors and Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science

a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, January 2007
available at [](

Thursday, December 1, 2016




25 February 2016, London, UK
Six leaders and influencers from across the shipping industry will join global NGO Carbon War Room’s (CWR’s) Shipping Efficiency Advisory Board. Their backgrounds span the shipowning, chartering, technical analysis, finance, and academic worlds. The board will lend extensive industry insight and support CWR’s mission to profitably decarbonise the international shipping industry. Galen Hon, Manager, Shipping Efficiency, Carbon War Room, commented:
"We are thrilled to have gathered a group with so much knowledge and experience in shipping. Following UNFCCC in Paris, the industry has an obligation to find new and innovative ways to reduce carbon while remaining competitive. With expertise spanning finance, ship operation, classification, data analysis, technology, and software, these individuals are perfectly positioned to identify and evaluate opportunities for innovation and growth.
“The calibre of the board reflects the credibility that CWR has garnered within the shipping industry. It’s a validation of our ongoing efforts to work directly with the industry to deliver paths to carbon reduction in ways that make good business sense.” More

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Climate Victory

 Victory for America’s Youth – Constitutional Climate Lawsuit against U.S. to Proceed Federal Judge Ann Aiken rejects U.S. government and fossil fuel industries motions to dismiss

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I Stand in Solidarity With The 21 Youth Plaintiffs!

    "Sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom." ~Nelson Mandela   My name is Nick Robson. I am proud to be part of this generation, to be part of a global climate movement that understands what’s at stake and what is needed to protect the rights of present and future generations.    Our voices won’t be silenced.    Our rights must be protected.    From the native lands of North Dakota, to the halls of power in Washington, DC, to the courts in the US and around the world, Ro the Foreign &Commonwealth Office in London, our generation stands in solidarity, calling for rights and justice for all... More    

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

“Loss and Damage” and “Liability and Compensation” – What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?

Loss and Damage” and “Liability and Compensation” – What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?
When wildfires become unstoppable, consuming forests, farmlands, communities, and anything else in their path, how will those affected cope? When typhoons slam coastal populations, dumping over a foot of rain in a single event, who will be there to help mop up? When seas rise up, drowning centuries-old communities, where will the displaced go?   The international community’s answers to these questions, so far, are rooted in the concepts of loss and damage, liability and compensation, risk transfer, and climate financing. The distinctions between these mechanics, which operate variously through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), individual governments, NGOs, and the private sector, are sometimes blurred.   In particular, loss and damage is a term that is often associated with liability and compensation. Both are used in the jargon of climate policy, predominantly in the context of finance transfers from polluter nations to highly impacted vulnerable nations. How are these two key terms related and why does it matter?   Loss and damage is a term that is used to describe total losses, such as death and land lost due to climate induced sea-level rise, and repairable damage, such as destroyed infrastructure. While loss and damage typically refers to the economic consequences of climate change, the term can also apply to cultural and traditional practices that are lost due to climate impacts.   Liability refers to the legal culpability of nations that have made large contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. Compensation, as the word suggests, are payouts to poor and highly impacted nations. If a court determined that a nation was liable for the impacts of climate change, then that nation could be required to compensate others who are now suffering the consequences. This is a chain of events that most industrial countries have sought to avoid.     To the more casual observer the distinction between these two sets of terms is not always clear. To negotiators, however, the differences between “loss and damage” and “liability and compensation” are not only distinct, but represent embattled red lines. More

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Top conservation players unite to map, monitor and conserve vital places for life on earth

Hawaii, 3 September 2016: Today, 11 of the world’s leading conservation organisations announced an ambitious new partnership to identify, map, monitor and conserve Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) – places that include vital habitats for threatened species – with more than US$15 million committed over the next five years. 

The announcement was made at the IUCN World Conservation Congress currently taking place in Hawaiʻi, USA.

Through the KBA Partnership, resources and expertise will be mobilised to further identify and map Key Biodiversity Areas worldwide. Monitoring of these sites will enable detection of potential threats and identification of appropriate conservation actions. The Partnership will also advise national governments in expanding their protected areas network, and will work with private companies to ensure they minimize and mitigate their impact on nature.

"This is a vitally important initiative for our planet’s biodiversity," says Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. "This partnership will enhance global conservation efforts by highlighting internationally important sites in need of urgent conservation action. It will also help us reach the targets in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and allow national governments and conservation organisations to ensure that scarce resources are directed to the most important places for nature."

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has engaged with hundreds of experts and decision-makers to develop a Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas. The Standard will also be launched during the World Conservation Congress, on Monday 5 September.

"Our planet is at the crossroads and we need to take urgent action if we want to secure its ability to support us," says Inger Andersen, Director General of IUCN. "Information about where and why a site is considered key for the survival of threatened species underpins all sustainable development and will be critical for achieving Sustainable Development Goals."


In particular, knowledge about Key Biodiversity Areas will contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14 – on the conservation and sustainable use the oceans - and Goal 15 – to manage forests, combat desertification, and halt land degradation. More

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Are our leaders, in both the public and private sectors, condemning humans to extinction?

Are our leaders, in both the public and private sectors, condemning humans to extinction?


Diamond weaved an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Moving from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe. Last summer however, James Hansen—the pioneer of modern climate science—pieced together a research-based revelation: a little-known feedback cycle between the oceans and massive ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland might have already jump-started an exponential surge of sea levels. That would mean huge levels of sea level rise will happen sooner—much sooner than expected. Hansen’s best estimate was 2 to 5 meters (6–15 feet) by the end of the century: five to 10 times faster than mainstream science has heretofore predicted.
The result was so important that Hansen didn’t want to wait. So he called a press conference and distributed a draft of his findings before they could be peer-reviewed—a very nontraditional approach for a study with such far-reaching consequence. Now, after months of intense and uncharacteristically public scrutiny by the scientific community, the findings by Hansen and his 18 co-authors have passed formal peer review and were published Tuesday in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.   
That’s bad news for those of us rooting for a stable planet. With Hansen’s paper now through peer review, its dire conclusions are difficult to ignore. And the scientific community, many of whom were initially wary of Hansen’s paper when it came out this summer, is starting to take serious note.   
Hansen and his co-authors describe a world that may quickly start to spin out of control if humans keep burning fossil fuels at close to our current rate. “It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization,” the study reads. And given the assumed accelerated pace of melting, all this could happen just decades from now, not centuries.   
The world Hansen and his colleagues describe reads like a sci-fi plot synopsis—and it’s now officially part of the scientific canon (though peer review doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a paper is infallible). If Hansen and his colleagues are correct, this paper is likely one of the most important scientific contributions in history—and a stark warning to world governments to speed up the transition to carbon-free energy. More      

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Climate Science: Revolution is Here

  Climate science: revolution is here PAUL ROGERS 11 August 2016     A host of innovations in energy technology is transforming the climate-change outlook – one of the world's three required paradigm shifts.
Heatwaves of more than 50⁰C in Iraq and India in recent weeks are yet further indications that climate disruption is a present-day reality, not something for the future that the world can respond to at leisure. They come in the wake of many months of increasing global temperatures and successively escalating years: 2014 the warmest on record, 2015 exceeding that, and 2016 confidently expected to be even higher (see "The climate pioneers: look south", 22 June 2016)   None of this should come as any surprise, since climate scientists have been warning repeatedly that the global climate is starting to become unstable. That judgment was reflected in the decision at the Paris climate summit in December 2015 to revise its aim for global-temperature increases: a limit of 1.5⁰C instead of the previous target of 2.0⁰C.    Many states agreed to the new objective, which was seen as the major achievement of the Paris meeting. But it has now become clear that on present trends, there is very little chance of it being achieved (see "Scientists warn mankind will miss crucial climate change target – eight months after agreeing it", Independent, 7 August 2016). Indeed, figures for February-March 2016 showed an increase of 1.38⁰C, already very near to the long-term target, even as all the indications suggest there will be major additional rises in the next few years.   In any case, many climate scientists and energy analysts argue that the current targets for reducing emissions are far too low. This is because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has a slow rate of circulation, meaning that – even if the rate of emissions is brought under control – there is a considerable 'lag' phase before concentrations are reduced. More      

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Irony of climate

The Irony of Climate | Worldwatch Institute   
  Archaeologists suspect that a shift in the planet's climate thousands of years ago gave birth to agriculture. Now climate change could spell the end of farming as we know it.   High in the Peruvian Andes, a new disease has invaded the potato fields in the town of Chac­llabamba. Warmer and wetter weather associated with global climate change has allowed late blight-the same fungus that caused the Irish potato famine-to creep 4,000 meters up the mountainside for the first time since humans started growing potatoes here thousands of years ago. In 2003, Chacllabamba farmers saw their crop of native potatoes almost totally destroyed. Breeders are rushing to develop tubers resistant to the "new" disease that retain the taste, texture, and quality preferred by Andean populations.   Meanwhile, old-timers in Holmes County, Kansas, have been struggling to tell which way the wind is blowing, so to speak. On the one hand, the summers and winters are both warmer, which means less snow and less snowmelt in the spring and less water stored in the fields. On the other hand, there's more rain, but it's falling in the early spring, rather than during the summer growing season. So the crops might be parched when they need water most. According to state climatologists, it's too early to say exactly how these changes will play out-if farmers will be able to push their corn and wheat fields onto formerly barren land or if the higher temperatures will help once again to turn the grain fields of Kansas into a dust bowl. Whatever happens, it's going to surprise the current generation of farmers.   Asian farmers, too, are facing their own climate-related problems. In the unirrigated rice paddies and wheat fields of Asia, the annual monsoon can make or break millions of lives. Yet the reliability of the monsoon is increasingly in doubt. For instance, El Niño events (the cyclical warming of surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean) often correspond with weaker monsoons, and El Niños will likely increase with global warming. During the El Niño-induced drought in 1997, Indonesian rice farmers pumped water from swamps close to their fields, but food losses were still high: 55 percent for dryland maize and 41 percent for wetland maize, 34 percent for wetland rice, and 19 percent for cassava. The 1997 drought was followed by a particularly wet winter that delayed planting for two months in many areas and triggered heavy locust and rat infestations. According to Bambang Irawan of the Indonesian Center for Agricultural Socio-Economic Research and Development, in Bogor, this succession of poor harvests forced many families to eat less rice and turn to the less nutritious alternative of dried cassava. Some farmers sold off their jewelry and livestock, worked off the farm, or borrowed money to purchase rice, Irawan says. The prospects are for more of the same: "If we get a substantial global warming, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be serious changes to the  monsoon," says David Rhind, a senior climate researcher with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.   Archaeologists believe that the shift to a warmer, wetter, and more stable climate at the end of the last ice age was key for humanity's successful foray into food production. Yet, from the American breadbasket to the North China Plain to the fields of southern Africa, farmers and climate scientists are finding that generations-old patterns of rainfall and temperature are shifting. Farming may be the human endeavor most dependent on a stable climate-and the industry that will struggle most to cope with more erratic weather, severe storms, and shifts in growing season lengths. While some optimists are predicting longer growing seasons and more abundant harvests as the climate warms, farmers are mostly reaping surprises.   Toward the Unknown (Climate) Region   For two decades, Hartwell Allen, a researcher with the University of Florida in Gainesville and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been growing rice, soybeans, and peanuts in plastic, greenhouse-like growth chambers that allow him to play God. He can control-"rather precisely"-the temperature, humidity, and levels of atmospheric carbon. "We grow the plants under a daily maximum/minimum cyclic temperature that would mimic the real world cycle," Allen says. His lab has tried regimes of 28 degrees C day/18 degrees C night, 32/22, 36/26, 40/30, and 44/34. "We ran one experiment to 48/38, and got very few surviving plants," he says. Allen found that while a doubling of carbon dioxide and a slightly increased temperature stimulate seeds to germinate and the plants to grow larger and lusher, the higher temperatures are deadly when the plant starts producing pollen. Every stage of the process-pollen transfer, the growth of the tube that links the pollen to the seed, the viability of the pollen itself-is highly sensitive. "It's all or nothing, if pollination isn't successful," Allen notes. At temperatures above 36 degrees C during pollination, peanut yields dropped about six percent per degree of temperature increase. Allen is particularly concerned about the implications for places like India and West Africa, where peanuts are a dietary staple and temperatures during the growing season are already well above 32 degrees C: "In these regions the crops are mostly rain-fed. If global warming also leads to drought in these areas, yields could be even lower." More

Monday, July 18, 2016

Reconstructing Arctic History

Reconstructing Arctic History | CIRES 
  There's little doubt that Arctic sea ice is shrinking, but a new study looking back to the 1850s reveals that today's ice loss is unprecedented in extent and rate. To understand what’s happening with the Arctic ice pack, scientists need access to as much data as they can get their hands on. But reliable satellite data on the frozen north extends back only to 1978 and most historical sources cover only the twentieth century. John Walsh, Chief Scientist at the International Arctic Research Center with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, knew they could do better. “We knew there was useful information out there that goes back into the 1800s,” he says. “We wanted to provide some benchmarks so we could place the retreat we’ve seen in Arctic sea ice in a longer context.”   Other scientists wanted to do the same. Walsh heard from climate change modelers who needed more information to reconstruct the Arctic’s atmospheric history. So, Walsh went to NOAA with a proposition: To make a data product that could be used by modelers to characterize sea ice back to 1850. And a natural partner for building this database was the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), part of CIRES, where a small team funded by NOAA was already experienced in using data from sources such as the military and old charts and maps to create a more robust picture. The final product, “Gridded Monthly Sea Ice Extent and Concentration, 1850 Onward," is described in a paper out in the July issue of Geographical Review.      This data set expands on an earlier product that begins in 1901. “We wanted to extend and improve on the data we already had,” says CIRES' Florence Fetterer, the NOAA liaison at NSIDC. “So we gathered historical sources of sea ice information and filled spatial and temporal gaps using an analog method.” More

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cuba's Second Special Period - 2016

The Great Change: Cuba's Second Special Period - 2016 
Batista and his rival Ernesto "Che" Guevara
  Cuba’s economy minister told the Cuban Parliament last week, in a closed session, that the country would have to cut fuel consumption nearly a third in the second half of this year because the Venezuelan spigot was slowly squeezing shut. Venezuelan oil exports to Cuba have dropped 40% since January. As the news rippled out through Havana there was a universal sense of Déjà vu. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, won’t be fooled again (as George W. Bush said in his being-folksy mode, unable to recall where he was in the fool-me-twice-shame-on-me proverb and so reverting to a rock anthem lyric from his Yale fraternity days).   Venezuela is running dry, as is neighboring Mexico, and bargain basement crude sales to bolster Venezuela’s economy don’t help. Venezuela can no more supply the Citgo stations in Havana than it can keep the lights on in hospitals in Caracas.   With air routes opening, tourist hotels being planned, and Havana’s notorious nightclubs a shorter hop than Las Vegas for half the population of the United States, Cubans only have to hold their breath while they turn off the fans 8 hours per day.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A new era of conflict

We have entered a new era of conflict, warns new book by Emeritus Professor Paul Rogers 
  The causes of conflict are many and deep – economic, political, societal, environmental, demographic. n his new book, Irregular War (IB Tauris) , he reflects on Isis, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, and the Taliban - all separate manifestations, he says, of a new non-state dynamic driving international conflict through asymmetric and hybrid warfare.   But their significance is more fundamental. They are part of what Rogers calls “an historical shift towards revolts from the margins”. And such revolts are made more likely by “the widening global socio-economic divide and the onset of climate disruption”.   In this holistic approach, he points to the enormous and growing gap between the world’s rich and poor. But the old division between rich countries and poor countries no longer applies as figures from the US demonstrate dramatically.    Rogers points to David Hulme’s book, Global Poverty: Global Governance and Poor People in the Post-2015 Era – while the global poverty rate may be declining slowly, the relative poverty rate in high-income countries has increased, and has more than doubled in the developing world. Meanwhile, the global military-industrial complex consumes some $1,700 bn a year.   There are likely to be two fundamental trends threatening world security, according to Rogers. One is “the increasing marginalisation of the majority of the world’s people caused by the workings of the neo-liberal system of international economic activity” which concentrates most of the fruits of economic growth in the hands of a transglobal elite of some 1.5bn people. More

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sustainable Energy Finance Update: World Bank and India Team Up on Solar, US$1 Billion Pledged for Sustainable Energy in Pacific

1 July 2016: The New Energy Outlook 2016, a long-term forecast published in June by Bloomberg New Energy Finance 

(BNEF), predicts that coal and gas prices will remain lower than expected. However, with wind and solar costs anticipated to dip relatively lower, the Outlook assures that a fundamental transformation toward renewables is still in the works, with US$7.8 trillion in clean energy investments projected from 2016-2040.


With much of this investment being channeled through international finance institutions such as the multilateral development banks (MDBs), these institutions are significantly contributing to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) and, consequently, SDG 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), as well as the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was adopted in December 2015.


Nonetheless, according to BNEF, it will require trillions more to rein in emissions enough to stay within the Paris Agreement's 2°C limit. This month's Sustainable Energy Finance Update provides a snapshot of the types and extent of emissions-reducing renewable energy projects receiving international public support, as well as those projects aimed at “turning the light on” for those lacking electricity access. [BNEF Press Release] [New Energy Outlook 2016]


Diverse Renewable Energy Technologies Supported Worldwide


A good mix of renewable energy technologies – biomass, hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind, etc. – can both increase the reliability of the power system and decrease risk in an investment portfolio. Much of the finance news this month mixed technologies this way, with many announcements combining support for two or more renewable technologies. In addition, even where investments focused on one specific project type, there were a wide variety of technologies surfacing to the headlines.


A seven-year tranche of a US$130 million loan from the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) to Banco Galicia, for example, is aimed at financing various sustainable energy projects in Argentina. The projects, ranging from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal to energy and water efficiency projects, will take advantage of Argentina's unique wind and solar resources, grid structure and current energy sector reform process. [IFC Press Release]


During the Pacific Energy Conference hosted by the Government of New Zealand and the EU on 7 June, US$1 billion was committed for sustainable energy projects in the Pacific, representing the potential for every type of renewable energy project imaginable to receive support. Those making pledges included the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australia, the EU, Japan, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the World Bank. [Government of New Zealand Press Release] [Pacific Energy Conference 2016 Website]


Cambodia's investment plan under the World Bank's Climate Investment Funds (CIF) Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Low-Income Countries Program (SREP) was endorsed on 17 June at the CIF governing bodies' meetings. The approved US$30 million is anticipated to leverage US$135 million from other sources, while supporting both solar and biomass energy development, including solar home systems, rooftop solar, mini-grids, utility-scale solar plants and a biomass power project. [CIF Press Release]


IFC is taking its first equity stake in Viet Nam's power sector, investing in a 16% share in Gia Lai Electricity Joint Stock Company to help it expand its hydropower portfolio, as well as invest in wind and solar. With 84.4 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity in small-scale run-of-the-river systems, the company is one of the largest private hydropower developers in Viet Nam. [IFC Press Release]


IFC is also becoming a shareholder of Akfen Energy in Turkey, with a 16.7% stake that will help the company almost triple its renewable energy production. Its current portfolio consists of solar and hydropower operations, and the company is expanding into wind. [IFC Press Release]




With India planning to reach 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity by 2022, the World Bank announced it is planning to support the country's efforts with US$1 billion in lending over the course of fiscal year 2017. India is also leading the International Solar Alliance (ISA) of 121 countries, which aims to mobilize US$1 trillion in investments by 2030. The World Bank signed an agreement with ISA in June, under which it will develop a roadmap for mobilizing financing and developing financial instruments for solar. [World Bank Feature Story] [World Bank Press Release]


The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has mobilized financing of US$44.7 million for Los Loros solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Chile, which will have a total capacity of 54 MW and sell its electricity to the spot market of Chile's Central Interconnected System. The French Development Agency is also lending US$19.7 million to the project. [IDB Press Release]


IIC has also announced the financing for El Salvador's first-ever utility scale solar PV plant, to total 100 MW when finished. Loans from IIC come to US$87.7 million, while additional lending of US$30 million will be provided by the French Development Agency. [IDB Press Release]


A solar auction run by Zambia's Industrial Development Corporation, with assistance from IFC as part of the World Bank's Scaling Solar programme, attracted the lowest solar power tariffs seen in Africa to date. The winning bidders submitted proposals at 6.02¢/kilowatt-hour (kWh) (Neoen S.A.S. and First Solar Inc.) and 7.84¢/kWh (Enel S.A). Over the next year, Neoen and First Solar will build a 45 MW plant and Enel will build a 28 MW plant, which will reduce stress on Zambia's hydropower facilities after two years of drought greatly reduced water levels. [IFC Press ReleaseMore



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Adaptation and Loss and Damage Update: Regions Step up DRR Efforts and Resilience to El Niño, Human Mobility, Climate Change and Development Nexus Explored

30 June 2016: As May 2016 became the 13th consecutive month to break the global temperature records, the world's regions' need to adapt to the changing climate grew stronger. 


In 2015-2016, the periodic warming of the central to Eastern tropical Pacific, known as 'El Niño,' was the strongest since 1997-1998, causing some regions to receive more rain, and others to receive no precipitation. These changes impacted agriculture, food security and nutrition among the affected populations. During the past few weeks, the world's regions, States and sectors have redoubled adaptation efforts, focusing on building resilience and managing disaster risks. The news reported in this Update also demonstrate that the role of cooperation, innovation and knowledge dissemination in advancing climate change adaptation efforts cannot be underestimated.


With health, gender, indigenous knowledge and climate migration featuring prominently among the recent weeks' adaptation and loss and damage-related developments, the initiatives reported in this update contribute to a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and accompanying targets, including 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages), 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture), 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and target 10.7 on migration and mobility, including the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.


Regions Face El Niño Impacts, Droughts, Floods


The statement released by the 43rd Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF 43), convened by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) in Naivasha, Kenya, from 30-31 May 2016, indicates that there is an increased likelihood of La Niña – El Niño's counterpart associated with cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the central and Eastern tropical Pacific Ocean – developing in the second half of 2016 that will affect the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) region. Floods are also more likely during the rainfall peak months of August and September in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan. [Statement from GHACOF 43] [IGAD Press Release] [WMO Press Release on GHA]


To better understand risks and assess impacts from the 2015-2016 El Niño, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) conducted a 'Regional Consultative Workshop on El Niño in Asia-Pacific' in Bangkok, Thailand, from 7-9 June 2016. Participants from over 12 countries affected by El Niño received training on a standardized methodology to interpret, translate and communicate El Niño-associated risks in a timely manner. [Workshop Concept Note] [Workshop Programme] [ESCAP Workshop Webpage] [ESCAP Press Release]


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) convened a high-level meeting in Rome, Italy, on 30 June 2016, which highlighted the need for long-term action to address El Niño impacts in Central America's 'Dry Corridor,' including by building resilience for food security and nutrition for the most vulnerable populations in the countries affected by the phenomenon.


'Dry Corridor' refers to a group of ecosystems in the dry tropical forests region in Central America extending from the lowlands of the Pacific coastal area to most of central pre-mountain region of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and parts of Costa Rica and Panama. Subject to climate risks such as recurrent droughts, excessive rains and severe flooding, 'Dry Corridor' recently experienced one of the worst droughts in decades.


In the midst of the extreme drought affecting Dry Corridor, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) managing the recently expanded Panama Canal has been promoting climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR) through sustainable use of water. [UN Press Release] [FAO Calendar] [UNISDR Press Release] [Panama Canal Website]


Also in relation to droughts in Central America, FAO released a report titled 'Drought characteristics and management in the Caribbean,' which calls for countries in the region to enhance their capabilities to deal with more frequent and intense droughts brought about by climate change. The report discusses drought characteristics and management in the Caribbean, identifies national and regional agencies involved in drought management, and reviews information on their work at national and regional levels. It recognizes the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to seasonal droughts and outlines the socioeconomic impacts of droughts on water resources, fisheries, tourism, hydropower and communities' coping capacity. [Drought Characteristics and Management in the Caribbean] [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release]


Climate change impacts on the poor in coastal Bangladesh were the focus of a World Bank Policy Research Talk by Susmita Dasgupta, Lead Environmental Economist, World Bank. Dasgupta highlighted heightened cyclonic inundation, rising river salinity and increased soil salinity among the current and growing risks with severe consequences for the poor. “Climate change is going to create severe poverty traps,” she noted. “Unless we address the climate change problem now, sustainable poverty reduction will remain a dream.” [World Bank Feature StoryMore



Friday, July 1, 2016

Canada, US, Mexico Forge North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership

29 June 2016: The leaders of Canada, the US and Mexico have released a joint statement on a 'North American Climate, Clean

Energy and Environment Partnership,' which aims to ensure a “competitive, low-carbon and sustainable” North America and includes the goal of achieving 50% clean power generation by 2025. During the North American Leaders' Summit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed to align climate and energy policies in order to protect human health and help "level the playing field for our businesses, households, and workers."


On advancing clean and secure power, the leaders indicate in their joint statement that the 50% clean power generation by 2025 goal will be achieved through, inter alia: scaling up clean energy through aggressive domestic initiatives and policies; undertaking a joint study on the opportunities and impacts of adding more renewables to the power grid; enhancing trilateral collaboration on greening government initiatives; strengthening and aligning efficiency standards; and building on North American leadership in international fora such as Mission Innovation to accelerate clean energy innovation.


On short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), Mexico will join Canada and the US in committing to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% by 2025. The three countries will also collaborate to reduce black carbon emissions, promote alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and commit to adopt a Montreal Protocol HFC phase-down amendment in 2016.


On promoting clean and efficient transportation, the joint statement indicates that the leaders commit to, inter alia: accelerate clean vehicle deployment in government fleets; work with industry to encourage the adoption of clean vehicles; convene industry leaders and others by spring 2017 to collaborate on a clean North American automotive sector; reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from light- and heavy-duty vehicles; and encourage greener freight transportation by expanding the SmartWay programme to Mexico.


The leaders further: urge the adoption in 2016 of the market-based measure proposed through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to allow for carbon-neutral growth from international civil aviation from 2020; commit to reduce emissions from maritime shipping; indicate they will continue working towards implementing a North American Emission Control Area that includes Mexico; agree to collaborate with indigenous communities to incorporate traditional knowledge in decision making; and recognize a gender-responsive approach to climate action and sustainable development.


The leaders commit to: join the Paris Agreement in 2016; support implementation of the Paris Agreement's transparency and carbon markets-related provisions; phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025; promote universal energy access; work together to address energy security and integration, clean energy investment, and regional energy cooperation in the Caribbean and Central America; and align approaches to account for the social cost of carbon and other GHG emissions when assessing benefits of emissions-reducing policies.


The three leaders met in Ottawa, Canada, on 29 June 2016. [US Government Statement] [US Government Blog on Summit] [Government of Canada Statement] [Government of Canada Press ReleaseMore



Monday, June 27, 2016

The Climate…In Your Backyard

Dr. James Hansen
  The Open Mind, Hosted by Alexander Heffner <>   I’m Alexander Heffner your host on The Open Mind. Joining me today is perhaps the world’s most famous climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, Director of Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Formerly the leader of NASA’s Space Studies, Hansen recently returned from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Conference, where he pitched Warren Buffett and fellow investors on a carbon fee. His discussion, “Energy and Climate Change: How justice can be achieved for young people,” focused on the inter generational imperative of climate change and the harm climate disruption poses to us, Millennials and their children and grandchildren. Hansen’s newest study, alongside his European counterparts, projects more melted ice sheets, rising sea levels, and superstorms. As we have explored here on this program, the consensus of modeling forecasts, a dangerous doom and gloom, that puts in jeopardy the habitability of the planet, just decades from now. I want to welcome Jim, James, Dr. Hansen. Thank you for being here today.   HANSEN: Thank you for having me.     HEFFNER: Now, we were talking off camera. And in, in The Guardian, you said, in response to the Paris talks, “It’s really a fraud, a fake.” And I said, uh, well… More

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Global Extreme Weather in June 2016

Understanding Climate Change.  As air temperatures get hotter more evaporation takes place leading to greater precipitation and flooding.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Economic and Social Sustainability of the Cayman Islands

The next four decades are going to be extremely challenging in many ways. They will be challenging not only economically and socially, these islands will also be challenged by a changing climate, exposing us to much higher levels of risk, as well as exposed politically to violent winds of change. There are also the issues of energy security and sea level rise that will have to be addressed .   The leadership of these islands have time and again proved themselves incapable of visualizing and planning for the future, and the concomitant issues that we are going to faced with in the medium and long-term. I often feel overwhelmed by complacency, given that the only forward thinking runs in four year cycles and is politically driven.  The Cayman Islands have never liked planning and as I often repeat "failing to plan is planning to fail".      

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Has veteran climate scientist James Hansen foretold the ‘loss of all coastal cities’ with latest study?

Has veteran climate scientist James Hansen foretold the ‘loss of all coastal cities’ with latest study?
Firstly, Hansen says they may have uncovered a mechanism in the Earth’s climate system not previously understood that could point to a much more rapid rise in sea levels. When the Earth’s ice sheets melt, they place a freshwater lens over neighboring oceans. This lens, argues Hansen, causes the ocean to retain extra heat, which then goes to melting the underside of large ice sheets that fringe the ocean, causing them to add more freshwater to the lens (this is what’s known as a “positive feedback” and is not to be confused with the sort of positive feedback you may have got at school for that cracking fifth grade science assignment). Secondly, according to the paper, all this added water could first slow and then shut down two key ocean currents – and Hansen points to two unusually cold blobs of ocean water off Greenland and off Antarctica as evidence that this process may already be starting. If these ocean conveyors were to be impacted, this could create much greater temperature differences between the tropics and the north Atlantic, driving “super storms stronger than any in modern times”, he argues.   “All hell will break loose in the North Atlantic and neighbouring lands,” he says in a video summaryMore

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Environmental Degradation Leading Cause of Deaths Globally, Says UN Report

Degradation Leading Cause of Deaths Globally, Says UN Report




23 May 2016: Environmental degradation and pollution cause almost a quarter of all deaths, up to 234 times as many premature deaths as occur in conflicts annually and the deaths of more than 25% of all children under the age of five, according to a UN report released to coincide with the second session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2). The report, titled ‘Healthy Environment, Healthy People,' emphasizes the importance of a healthy environment to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and addresses dangers posed by air pollution, chemicals, climate change and other issues linking environmental quality to health. 


The report finds that in 2012, an estimated 12.6 million deaths were attributable to deteriorating environment conditions, with the highest proportion occurring in Southeast Asia and in the Western Pacific, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa. Deaths related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are rising in all regions.


In a discussion on what is impacting or driving such trends, the report points to ecosystem disruption, climate change, inequality, unplanned urbanization, unhealthy and wasteful lifestyles, and unsustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns. The publication highlights, in particular, that climate change is exacerbating the scale and intensity of environment-related health risks, with the WHO estimating that 250,000 additional deaths could occur annually between 2030 and 2050 from climate-induced malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.


The report also explains that: air pollution kills seven million people annually, with 4.3 million of those deaths from household air pollution; lack of access to clean water and sanitation results in 842,000 deaths annually from diseases that cause diarrhea, which are the third leading cause of deaths of children younger than five; approximately 107,000 people die annually from asbestos exposure, and 654,000 died from lead exposure in 2010; and natural disasters have led to 606,000 deaths since 1995.


The report then goes on to illustrate how investing in a healthy environment can bring multiple benefits. For example, by phasing out nearly 100 ozone-depleting substances (ODS) up to two million cases of skin cancer and millions of eye cataracts may be prevented each year. In addition, eliminating lead in gasoline has prevented an estimated one million premature deaths per year, and reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon and methane, could reduce global warming by 0.5°C by mid-century, and save 2.4 million lives a year by 2030.


To achieve these benefits, the report recommends: detoxification and removing harmful substances from and/or mitigating their impact on the environment; decarbonization and increased use of renewables; decoupling resource use and changing lifestyles; and enhancing ecosystem resilience and protecting natural systems, including protecting and conserving genetic diversity and terrestrial, coastal and marine biodiversity; strengthening ecosystem restoration; and reducing pressures from livestock production and logging on natural ecosystems. [Publication: Healthy Environment, Healthy People] [UNEP Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage of UNEA-2]


Read More

Thursday, May 26, 2016

How is climate change impacting the water cycle?


Find out how rising global temperatures affect the water cycle in our latest infographic.  

Climate change increases our risk of both heavy rains and extreme droughts. But why – and how – is that? Aren't the two contradictory?

Science has shown that climate change touches every corner of our planet’s ecosystem, and the water cycle is no exception. Because the processes involved are highly dependent on temperature, changes in one have consequences on the other. Specifically, as global temperatures have steadily increased at their fastest rates in millions of years, it’s directly affected things like water vapor concentrations, clouds, precipitation patterns, and stream flow patterns, which are all related to the water cycle.

So how does climate change impact the water cycle? We’ve created an infographic below that illustrates what’s going on, but we’ll describe it here too. Put simply, water evaporates from the land and sea, which eventually returns to Earth as rain and snow. Climate change intensifies this cycle because as air temperatures increase, more water evaporates into the air. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, which can lead to more intense rainstorms, causing major problems like extreme flooding in coastal communities around the world.

But it doesn’t end there. At the same time that some areas are experiencing stronger storms, others are experiencing more dry air and even drought. Like we mentioned above, as temperatures rise, evaporation increases and soils dry out. Then when rain does come, much of the water runs off the hard ground into rivers and streams, and the soil remains dry. The result? Still more evaporation from the soil and an increased risk of drought. More