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Women on frontline of climate change make big impact on small grants | Teresa Odendahl

Guardian climate change - 1 hour 48 min ago

From Guatemala to Indonesia, bold action by women in communities threatened by extreme weather shows there is an alternative to costly international schemes

In London, Paris and Washington, where leaders have made little progress in curtailing climate change, global warming may seem a merely theoretical problem – too far in the future, or too far away geographically, to matter.

But in remote tropical forest nations and islands, local leaders – especially women – are coming up with concrete, effective solutions to combat climate change in their communities. They do so not as a matter of politics, but as a matter of survival.

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Categories: News

Exxon Mobil should return profits to investors, not build more reserves

Guardian climate change - 6 hours 6 min ago

The oil giant should focus on value rather than investing money in expensive projects to build the very fossil fuel reserves that endanger its own – and the planet’s – survival

Exxon Mobil has been left pondering an age-old investment question – when to re-invest profits and when to return them to investors – after a shareholder proposal, which asks the company to return capital to shareholders rather than break ground on high-cost high-carbon projects in the face of global climate change, was filed by Arjuna Capital and As You Sow.

The answer boils down to where you can secure the greatest value. If companies invest in new projects for ever-lower returns, those investments are value destroying. At a certain point, companies must face the fact that they are as big as they are going to get they are no longer growth companies, but mature, value companies that pay steady dividends.

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Victorian election: Greens leading in battle for prized seat of Melbourne

Guardian climate change - 11 hours 15 min ago

With polls showing the Greens ahead in both Melbourne and Richmond, the minor party hopes to secure the balance of power

The heavy political artillery – John Howard, Julie Bishop, Bill Shorten – has been deployed to the marginal suburban electorates that are considered key to Saturday’s Victorian election. But the struggle for Melbourne’s inner-city seats is fierce and potentially decisive for the direction of the state.

While Labor has poured its stretched resources into battling a better-funded Coalition in a clutch of bayside seats that stretch down to Frankston, it has left itself exposed to a challenge from the Greens in its former inner-city heartland.

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UN climate change deal must have legally binding targets, says EU

Guardian climate change - Thu, 27/11/2014 - 15:20

Time is running out for agreeing legal framework for emissions cuts, EU official warns

An international deal on global warming must have legally binding targets, Europe will argue at a UN climate summit in Peru next week.

The Lima conference is intended to deliver the first draft of an accord to cut carbon emissions and stave off dangerous climate change, which is expected to be signed at a UN conference in Paris next year.

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Indonesia cracks down on deforestation in symbolic u-turn

Guardian climate change - Thu, 27/11/2014 - 13:56

Indonesia’s new president announces plans to protect rainforest and peatlands, signalling a new direction for country with worst rate of deforestation in the world

Indonesia’s reforming new president is to crack down on the rampant deforestation and peatland destruction that has made the nation the world’s third largest emitter of climate-warming carbon dioxide.

Joko Widodo signalled the significant change of direction for Indonesia when he joined a local community in Sumatra in damming a canal designed to drain a peat forest. Halting the draining and burning of peatland will also tackle the forest fires which have trebled since 2011 and can pump smoke across the entire region.

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Financial systems must consider extreme weather, or risk condemning millions to die

Guardian climate change - Thu, 27/11/2014 - 06:00

A new Royal Society report calls for changes to global financial accounting and regulation to ensure extreme weather risk is correctly accounted for

It’s extraordinary how the financial markets that pride themselves on their data analysis and forecasting have such a blind spot when it comes to the impacts of climate change.

I was reminded of this by a new report released today from the Royal Society, which calls on our global financial systems to start considering the risks posed by extreme weather, or risk condemning millions of people to die.

Until these risks are accurately evaluated and reported, companies will have limited incentives to reduce them, and valuations and investment decisions will continue to be poorly informed.

Although some disaster risk information is already disclosed and used by investors, the data and procedures for making assessments are not standardised, which can limit their usefulness. Ultimately, without financial reform, people’s resilience will be undermined in the future.

If two otherwise identical international companies have different resilience to extreme weather risks, then one should have a proportionately lower share price or valuation to reflect this higher financial risk.

As the frequency and severity of extreme events is increasing, there is increasing exposure of assets to risk. This brings an ever larger disconnect between material risk and asset valuation. Unless financial reforms are made to correct this, we will condemn ourselves to building vulnerable cities in the coming decades at the cost of millions of lost lives and livelihoods and billions of lost dollars, often across regions and communities that can least afford these catastrophic setbacks.

The more extreme scenarios modelled represent financial disaster; the assets of pension schemes will effectively be wiped out and pensions will be reduced to negligible levels.

Currently, actuarial models are effectively discounting to zero the probability of economic growth being limited by resource constraints. If resource constraints are significant, this means that current models will persistently understate the value of liabilities.

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Frogs breeding in November due to mild weather

Guardian climate change - Thu, 27/11/2014 - 05:30

Frogspawn spotted in Cornwall, months before the usual spring spawning time, is earliest sighting in almost a decade

Mild autumn weather has led to frogs breeding five months early, with frogspawn sighted in Cornwall this week. It is the earliest frogspawn recorded in nearly a decade.

The Woodland Trust was alerted to the frogspawn by a National Trust ranger, who had spotted the common frog’s spawn at the North Predannack Downs nature reserve on the Lizard Peninsula.

Early frogspawn at Predannack, Lizard. Frogs here often breed Oct/Nov. @froglifers

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Hotter summers are coming to Mumbai, and it won't be pretty

Guardian climate change - Thu, 27/11/2014 - 05:08

The city’s temperatures are continuing to rise, leaving its 7 million poorest citizens vulnerable to disease and death. Could an early warning system help?

By some projections, India’s financial capital, Mumbai, will experience “unprecedented heat” within the next two decades. Last June, the IPCC Fifth Assessment report warned of larger “near-term increases in seasonal mean and annual mean temperatures” in the region. That spells longer, more frequent bouts of extreme heat, elevated minimum temperatures, and warmer winters. Last month, meanwhile, the journal Nature published a meta-analysis using 39 climate models to predict “dates of departures” when local temperatures would exceed historical extremes recorded over the previous 150 years. They figured Mumbai’s date with the inferno could come as early as 2034 if there was no change in global carbon output.

Though all of us are all sensitive to heat, and quick to react when it climbs above our comfort levels, our knowledge of how it might affect our health doesn’t really go beyond sunstrokes and fainting spells. A 2008 paper by medical geographer Rais Akhtar and environmental epidemiologist Sari Kovats spells out the dubious gifts that climate-change exacerbated heat is likely to bring Asian cities. This includes an uptick in deaths from cardio-respiratory disease, heat-related illness and death, increased rates of potential transmission of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, and a shrinking in the quantity and quality of available water, further amplifying the burden of disease. Researchers have also found that climate change-enhanced heat and humidity are conducive to the spread of falciparum malaria, the disease’s deadliest strain.

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Ageing population will compound deadly effects of heatwaves caused by climate change

Guardian climate change - Thu, 27/11/2014 - 00:01

A combination of global warming and population growth means more people will be exposed to extreme weather systems, with an ageing population particularly at risk from heatwaves, says Royal Society

The double whammy of global warming and a growing, ageing population will mean peoples’ exposure to deadly heatwaves will multiply tenfold this century, according to a new report from the Royal Society.

The researchers from the UK’s science academy warn the world is not prepared for the extreme weather which is already being exacerbated by climate change today.

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Plantwatch: Dazzling leaf colours brewed over a long autumn

Guardian climate change - Wed, 26/11/2014 - 21:30

It’s been an extraordinary autumn. Despite the battering from wind and rain in October and November, the leaves of many trees are still hanging on. It has really only been this week that most of the country has had cold frosty  nights. The chill will help shed the rest of the leaves.

The autumn has lasted so long that the Woodland Trust has reported 2014 to have been one of the few years when there was enough time for leaves to develop a full tint of some of the more spectacular of the autumn colours – such as the red splash of the field maples, the only native maple in Britain.

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Mirrors could replace air conditioning by beaming heat into space

Guardian climate change - Wed, 26/11/2014 - 18:00
Researchers have created a mirror that not only reflects 97% of light but also radiates heat into the cold depths of the universe

A mirror that sends heat into the frigid expanse of space has been designed by scientists to replace air-conditioning units that keep buildings cool on Earth.

Researchers believe the mirror could slash the amount of energy used to control air temperatures in business premises and shopping centres by doing away with power-hungry cooling systems.

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Ships must measure CO2 emissions under new EU law

Guardian climate change - Wed, 26/11/2014 - 15:41

Ships will have to start monitoring emissions from 2018, in a first step towards curbing growing pollution from the sector

The shipping sector will, for the first time, have to monitor its carbon emissions under a law agreed by the European Union on Wednesday, intended as a step towards tackling a growing source of pollutants linked to climate change.

International shipping accounts for around 3% of the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide, a share which could increase to 18% by 2050 if regulation is not in place, according to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

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Watering down the Climate Act would be headline-chasing populism | Lord Puttman and Tim Yeo

Guardian climate change - Wed, 26/11/2014 - 13:02

British politicians need the cross-party, long-term vision that made the Climate Act possible six years ago, if they are to stay the course on climate change

The British political landscape at the end of 2014 is fraught with uncertainty, distrust and fragmentation.

Parties are struggling to bolster support as political debates become ever more divisive. Voters see politicians as out of touch and motivated by short-term, self-serving concerns.

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