Climate Change & Environment
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If You're Not Terrified by Climate Change, Just Consider the Great Barrier Reef

The Googanji people on the northeastern coast of Australia tell of a time when they could follow a river 25 miles through what is now ocean to the current location of the Great Barrier Reef. This story has been preserved without being written down for over 12,000 years, from when sea levels were 200 feet lower than they are today and the Great Barrier Reef was not a reef but groups of cave-pocked hills. The Great Barrier Reef is the best-protected reef in the world: a World Heritage site and an Australian marine park, home to hundreds of species of fish, coral, and sharks. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has successfully reduced threats to the reef from major industrial ports, agriculture, and poachers, and plans to spend over two billion dollars over the next decade to preserve the reef.

Despite this high degree of national protection and funding devoted to the reef, the leading expert on coral, Charlie Veron, told the Royal Society in 2009 that it is on track to be eviscerated within the next generation. Between 1985 and 2012, nearly half the coral in the Great Barrier Reef was lost to cyclones, crown of thorns star fish, and bleaching events. But Veron has described in detail how modern climate change is on track to change the ocean so drastically that corals and the reefs they build will be driven to extinction faster than in any previous mass extinction event.

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Have We Reached the Tipping Point for Investing in Renewable Energy?

Divestment – the decision to voluntarily reduce one’s fossil fuel investments – has been a hot button topic of discussion since 2011, when university students began calling on their institutions to remove fossil fuels from their portfolios. Divestment arguments have often focused on themorality of investments, but the economic value of divestment has recently become hard to ignore.

In January, portfolio planner Advisor Partners reported that, between 2014 and 2015, New York City’s biggest pension fund lost $135m because of its fossil fuel holdings. And, earlier this month, Market Forces, an activist group that works in environmental finance, reported that fossil fuel investments cost 15 of Australia’s top funds an estimated $5.6bn. On average, this cost each member of these funds $1,109.

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Europe's Climate Change Goals 'Need Profound Lifestyle Changes'

European countries should prepare for a far-reaching debate on the “profound lifestyle changes” required to limit climate change, according to a leaked European commission document.

The commission will tell foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday that a Europe-wide debate is needed on how to limit global warming to 1.5C, according to a staff working document for ministers seen by the Guardian.

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French Ex-FM Fabius Says Will Quit as Head of U.N. Climate Forum

Former French foreign minister Laurent Fabius will step down as president of COP21, the U.N.'s climate forum, after being appointed head of France's constitutional court, according to a resignation letter seen by Agence France Presse.

Fabius wrote on Monday to President Francois Hollande "to tender (his) resignation" as head of COP21, during which he helped to steer the troubled U.N. climate talks to a successful conclusion in Paris last December.

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Climate Deal Will Live on, despite U.S. Blow, Say Experts

In freezing President Barack Obama's plan to tackle carbon emissions, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a blow to a global climate deal - but experts say that U.S. commitments to the deal will survive.

Obama's "Clean Power Plan" would require the power sector to cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 32 percent compared to 2005 levels by the year 2030.

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EasyJet Plans to Cut Carbon Emissions with Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Trial

EasyJet has unveiled plans to use hydrogen fuel cells on its aircraft to save up to 50,000 tonnes of fuel a year and cut its carbon emissions.

The airline hopes to trial technology later this year that would allow planes to taxi to and from the runway using zero-emissions fuel.

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Copenhagen Set to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Copenhagen’s mayor has announced plans to divest the city’s 6.9bn kroner (£700m) investment fund of all holdings in coal, oil and gas.

If his proposal is approved at a finance committee meeting next Tuesday, as expected, the Danish capital will become the country’s first investment fund to sell its stocks and bonds in fossil fuels.

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California Cut Water Use 18.3% in December, Still Barely Meeting Gov. Brown's Mandate

As state water regulators consider extending drought restrictions though the fall, officials reported Tuesday that urban Californians had reduced their water use by 18.3% during December.

The savings, which are compared with December 2013 water usage levels, were the smallest in seven months of reporting and put California’s cumulative savings at 25.5%, down from 26.3% in November.

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Obama Using Final Budget Request to Push for Action against Climate Change

Barack Obama called on Congress to double funding for clean energy research on Saturday, using his final budget request – and one of the last high-profile moments of his presidency – to push for action against climate change.

The president said his final budget on Tuesday would propose doubling clean energy research spending from $6.4bn to $12.8bn by 2020.

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A Small New England College Goes 100 Percent Solar

In western Massachusetts sits a small liberal arts college doing big things in the way of sustainability.

Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., will soon be home to a "living building" and the only residential college generating 100 percent of its electricity from solar panels.

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