At the end of a climate summit organized by France two years after the Paris accord was signed, French President Emmanuel Macron announced 12 non-binding commitments, from a $300 million pledge to fight desertification to accelerating the transition towards a decarbonized economy.
“Today, we have begun to recapture the ground a bit in this battlefield, because concrete decisions were taken, because we were rightly pushed to take these commitments,” said Macron.
Public and private financial institutions pledged to channel more funds to spur the transition to a green economy and investors said they would pressure corporate giants to shift towards more ecologically friendly strategies. Macron said companies who were not “in the club” must be “named and shamed.
Among the commitments, more than 200 institutional investors with $26 trillion in assets under management said on Tuesday they would step up pressure on the world’s biggest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to combat climate change.
“This is not a choice between our planet and prosperity. We choose both. Actually, we can ensure that we are protecting the planet, by investing in the technology of the future,” said UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
“Let’s be aware and take concrete actions. We all have our own way of stopping climate change, but only if we unite our actions, there will be a better place for all, for the polar bears and for us. Let’s make the planet great again. Thank you,” said Eva, an American girl living in Paris.
Meanwhile, the World Bank announced that it would no longer finance upstream oil and gas projects after 2019, apart from certain gas projects in the poorest countries in exceptional circumstances, drawing praise from environmental groups.
“To ensure that we are aligned with our support to their countries to meet their Paris goals, today we are announcing that the World Bank group will no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
However, the summit leaves no headline promise that will likely reassure poor nations on the sharp end of climate change that they will be better able to cope. — Reuters
Pristine Antarctic waters under threat from many fronts
Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship sails during a protest in the Barents sea, Norway, July 21, 2017. Will Rose/Greenpeace/Handout via Reuters
Greenpeace scientists are gathering data in the Antarctic to preserve the pristine waters of the Antarctic, where penguins frolic, glaciers plunge into the sea and icebergs float through the waters circling this continent at the bottom of the world.
The Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace research vessel, is on a three-month voyage through the waters of the southern ocean to document the effects of climate change, pollution, and fishing on native wildlife to build support for a proposed Antarctic Ocean sanctuary.
“The chance to protect these areas, which are so vital to such a huge number of species in so many ways, it can’t really be missed,” said Tom Foreman, Greenpeace expedition leader.
The sanctuary would measure 1.8 million square kilometers making it the largest protected area on earth, and provide a safe haven for marine life from industrial fishing.
The area is the natural habitat of numerous whales, seals, penguins and many kinds of fish and marine life.
“Single-use plastic is – they believe now is accounting for up to 70, 80 percent of the plastic that is entering the oceans. And, it’s for a few moments of convenience. It has sometimes up to hundreds of years of lifetime in the ocean,” said Grant Oakes, a Greenpeace employee.
According to Greenpeace, the sanctuary is needed to put the area off limits to the krill fishing industry which is looking to expand into the area. Krill is a keystone species in the Antarctic ecosystem – most wildlife is either directly or indirectly dependent on it, including penguins, whales, and seals. — Reuters
France commits to combat racist content on social media
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks at the Elysee Palace after a weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
France will toughen restrictions against racism and anti-Semitism on the internet and will actively contribute to the fight on a European level.
This was assured by French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Monday over the fact that illegal online broadcasts of football matches are more quickly blocked than racist or anti-Semitic remarks.
For this reason, internet hosts and social media sites should be required to remove hateful speech, Philippe said.
Philippe said French President Emmanuel Macron’s government plan to fight on a European level for a legislative project that would force operators to withdraw hateful, racist or anti-Semitic content as soon as possible.
While the number of recorded hate crimes in France has decreased by 16 percent in 2017, the number of violent hateful actions has risen, the premier said. — Reuters
Sea level rise is accelerating — study
SURROUNDED: Rising seas are eating away as much as 11 feet of shore a year along the unprotected western end of Galveston Island, where rock revetments are the only thing preventing the waves from swallowing some homes along the shore. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed US journal said that the past annual rate of sea level rise about three millimeters or 0.1 inches per year may more than triple to 10 millimeters per year by 2100.
According to the report’s author Steve Nerem, this acceleration, driven mainly by accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise in a span of three years.
Experts explain climate change leads to rising seas in two ways.
For one, higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere boost the temperature of water and warm water expands. Oceans also rise with the increasing flow of water due to rapidly melting ice at the poles.
In China’s Liaoning province, large stretches of sea ice have sieged the 13.5-square kilometer-Juehua Island in Xingcheng county.
The sea ice also has extended at least 74 nautical miles from the shoreline into the Liaodong Bay.
About 3,000 residents living on the island have been stranded since authorities suspended the shipping services on Jan. 22.
“The condition this year was more serious than last year. the ice is expected to thaw at the mid-to-late march in 2018. The shipping transportation will probably resume after late March,” said Huludao City Maritime Affairs Bureau official Zhang Guohui.
Experts warn that loss of Arctic Ocean ice indeed could have serious climatic impacts in the future. They suggest a more intensified and widespread global campaign to actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. — Reuters