Climate: Big banks back away from coal industry

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

Reducing financial support for the coal industry will help speed the transition to a low-carbon economy. Photo courtesy BLM.

New energy era on the horizon?

Staff Report

Citing concerns about climate change, major financial institutions today announced they are backing away from financing the coal industry. As the COP21 climate talks started in Paris, Morgan Stanley said its policy changes cover both lending and underwriting, with a long-term view toward ending financing for coal-fired power plant construction in developed countries.

The policy changes follow similar coal financing cuts at eight other banks earlier this year (Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, ING, Natixis, and Société Générale). Morgan Stanley’s commitment came after public pressure from climate activists as part of a campaign launched by Rainforest Action Network in October, as the group sought to hold U.S. banks publicly accountable. Continue reading

Scientists track unexpected oceanic plankton surge

Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico are tracking BP's spilled oil as it works its way up the food web, from bacteria to plankton. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Will plankton rule in a globally warming world? Photo via NOAA.

‘Something strange is happening here, and it’s happening much more quickly than we thought it should …’

Staff Report

Atmospheric carbon dioxide ending up in the world’s oceans may be fueling a population explosion of microscopic marine algae in the North Atlantic, scientists said in a new study that shows how greenhouse gases can drive dramatic ecosystem changes. Continue reading

Are global CO2 emissions leveling off?


When will global CO2 emissions peak?

EU achieves big cuts; U.S. still largest per capita emitter

Staff Report

Global CO2 emissions slowed dramatically the past few years, potentially signalling the wane of the fossil fuel era, according to a new report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

The carbon tally shows that after a decade when CO2 emissions grew at about 4 percent annually, the pace slowed significantly in 2012 (0.8 percent), 2013 (1.5 percent). Continue reading

Can Paris climate deal cap global warming at 2 degrees?


Eight record-warm months and counting in 2015 so far.

Greenhouse gas cuts must start right away and continue after 2030

Staff Report

The deal currently on the table at the upcoming Paris climate talks would be a big step toward limiting global warming at or near 2 degrees Celsius — deemed a critical environmental threshold by climate scientists.

But reaching that target will require additional commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2025, according to a new study that took a close look at the pledges made by individual countries to reduce their emissions. Continue reading

2015 nearly sure to be warmest year on record

‘We have the knowledge and the tools to act. We have a choice. Future generations will not’


Global meltdown? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A new report released just days before the start of the Paris climate talks makes it clear why there is so much interest in reaching an agreement to cap global warming. The World Meteorological Organization said it’s all but certain that 2015 will be the hottest year on record.

The global average temperature for the year will probably cross a symbolic threshold, reaching 1.0 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era, capping a five-year span that is also the warmest on record, the WMO said, blaming a strong El Niño and human-induced global warming. Read more of the WMO information here. Continue reading

More proof there is no global warming ‘pause’


There is no ‘pause’ in global warming.

‘Why has so much research been framed around the concept of a ‘hiatus’ when it does not exist?’

Staff Report

After a couple of years of furor over the faux global warming pause, scientists with the University of Bristol (UK) say they have yet more evidence there was never any slowdown in the steady rise of temperatures worldwide. Continue reading

Study says 1980s saw major climate shift

Golden toads were discovered in Coata Rica in 1966. None have been seen since 1989, despite intensive surveys. They are presumed extinct. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

Golden toads were discovered in Costa Rica in 1966. None have been seen since 1989, despite intensive surveys. They are presumed extinct. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

‘The 1980s regime shift may be the beginning of the acceleration of the warming shown by the IPCC …’

Staff Report

By taking a big-picture look at the Earth’s various systems over time, researchers say they’ve been able to pinpoint a major global climate shift starting in the late 1980s, triggered by anthropogenic warming and the 1982 El Chichón volcanic eruption in Mexico.

The new study, published recently in Global Change Biology, documents a range of associated events caused by the shift, including a 60 percent increase in winter river flow into the Baltic Sea and a 400 percent increase in the average duration of wildfires in the Western United States. Continue reading


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