Climate Change & Environment
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This Is Humanity's Most Important Year Ever

Deep in Western minds is a fixation with the classic Hollywood storyline that whatever the scale of disaster facing the world, a last-minute heroic act will save us from annihilation.

For those who believe we are nearing the tipping point of runaway climate change, the remainder of 2015 is being seen as perhaps our last chance to save the world as we know it.

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Ocean Sentinels

It’s an early August morning on a nearly deserted beach in southern Brazil, and 23 Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magel­lanicus) are tottering toward the water. These penguins are survivors. About two months ago, birds that should have been swimming and feeding offshore started washing up on the beaches of the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, primarily near the city of Florianopolis. More than 120 have come ashore this year, but most were too weak to survive. The birds now heading toward the Atlantic waves lapping Moçambique Beach were rehabilitated by a group of veterinarians and volunteers who stand gathered on the shore, watching their avian charges disappear into the water.

Each year around April, as the Southern Hemisphere winter approaches, the Magellanic penguins, also known as Patagonian penguins, leave their breeding grounds in southern Argentina. They migrate northward to wintering grounds in the coastal waters of northern Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil in search of food. (Some southernmost breeders also head along Chile’s Pacific shores, but that route is less well studied.) It’s a monumental journey: a round-trip of up to 4,000 kilometers that coincides with the seasonal spawning of anchovies, a staple of the penguins’ diets. The birds face many challenges along the way, and some run out of strength, winding up on Brazil’s beaches in serious need of help.

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Climate Change Haunts This Year's Pumpkin Crop

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill in August making pumpkin pie the official state pie. But climate change -- which Rauner has not publicly acknowledged is a thing -- may be a big part of the reason that some Thanksgiving tables lack the holiday classic this year.

The canned food industry expects pumpkin yields to be down by as much as half for 2015 due to high rainfall this summer in Illinois, where 85 percent of pumpkins consumed in the U.S. are grown. This year's pumpkins are likely to be gone after Halloween.

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The Divisive Issue of Reaching $100bn in Climate Funds

The movers and shakers of the world economy are trying to close in on the magic number of $100 billion a year to fight climate change as they meet this week in Peru.

But with the world well shy of that target, everyone seems to think the rest of the money should come from somewhere else.

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Food Industry Executives Call on Congress for Climate Change Action

If the US Congress is to take meaningful action to curb climate change, the support of corporate America and Republicans will be required. This is why a meeting of food industry executives and politicians – joined by a lone Republican congressman – on Capitol Hill on Thursday may be the first glimmer of a bipartisan approach to climate action.

US senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, and US representative Chris Gibson, a New York Republican, chaired the briefing. Bucking party orthodoxy, Gibson recently drew attention by organizing 11 moderate Republicans to support a resolution acknowledging the reality of climate change and asking Congress to act.

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Antigua and Barbuda Latest Small Island Developing State to Receive GCF Grant

The Green Climate Fund has added Antigua and Barbuda to its growing group of small island developing states (SIDS) slated to receive a grant from the Fund. With a grant of USD 300,000, the Caribbean country will put in place the preliminary infrastructure needed for GCF to extend its support to the islands’ larger-scale climate adaptation initiatives.

Antigua and Barbuda intends to use the grant to increase the capabilities of its Ministry of Health and Environment in coordinating with other ministries on GCF, and to design and implement a knowledge management system to facilitate proper organization of climate financing projects.

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Alaska Seeks Federal Money to Move a Village Threatened by Climate Change

One of the most eroded Native Alaskan villages on the state’s coast is being considered as a possible national model for moving entire communities whose futures are threatened by natural disasters escalated by climate change.

The state is hoping to kick-start an exodus from the village of Newtok, about 500 miles west of Anchorage, through a national competition for states and local governments vying for a slice of nearly $1 billion in grants to be awarded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency’s National Disaster Resilience Competition is being promoted as an effort to address climate change and extreme weather.

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The $100 Billion Question on Climate Starts to Find an Answer

Industrial nations are starting to answer the question of how they will scale up aid for projects that curb global warming, unleashing development banks to help catalyze investment.

The board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said it will increase investment for climate projects to 18 billion euros ($20 billion) by 2020, a boost of about 1 billion euros a year according to a statement from the bank in London. The announcement followed similar decisions over the past week by the European Investment Bank and Asian Development Bank.

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Major Corporations Taking Climate Change Threat More Seriously

More companies are making climate change one of their top sustainability priorities, according to a survey released this week by nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility, which counts big brands like consumer goods giant Unilever and food and beverage maker Coca-Cola among its members.

The annual survey, which polled 440 sustainability workers from nearly 200 companies around the world, aims to provide a snapshot of what environmental and social issues are important to businesses over the coming year.

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Lebanon Submits its Climate Action Plan ahead of the Paris Agreement: 30% of Emission Reduction by 2030 Planned

Lebanon has submitted its climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ahead of the new universal climate change agreement which will be reached at the UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015.

The Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) is a country's public declaration on what actions it intends to take under a new global agreement aiming at combating climate change. The INDC pairs national policy-setting – in which countries determine their contributions in the context of their national priorities, circumstances and capabilities – with a global framework that drives collective action toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

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