Edition for 28 January 2020

Top Stories

How Davos Became a Climate Change Conference (TIME)

  • It makes sense that in 2020, as Australia burns and activists turn out by the millions, Davos approximated a climate conference.
  • “I can remember when climate was talked about in a tent outside,” Rachel Kyte, a long-time climate leader and the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, told me.
  • And, in the last five years, the cost of climate-related disasters in the U.S. topped $525 billion, close to a third of the cost of natural disasters since 1980.

This was supposed to be Ireland's climate election – what happened? (Guardian)

  • Ireland had seemed poised for its first climate-centric general election, with concern about carbon emissions and species extinction expected to shape the battle for votes on 8 February.
  • Last year, after all, Ireland became only the second country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency.
  • The Green party surged in local and European elections and young climate activists led protests in Dublin.
  • In an Irish Times opinion poll last week, just 7% of participants said climate change would have the most influence on their vote.

Harvard Alumni Are Turning Up the Heat on Fossil Fuel Divestment (Mother Jones)

  • Bill McKibben, co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, has argued that “Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns,” calling divestment an “additional lever” that “could be exercised in a matter of months” while Washington dithers on climate.
  • In a Harvard Magazine column published last year, University president Lawrence Bacow expressed support for the divestment conversation, but re-iterated his belief “that engaging with industry to confront the challenge of climate change is ultimately a sounder and more effective approach.”
  • In an email, Harvard spokesperson Christopher Hennessy pointed to the university’s principles for sustainable investment and its ambitious plans to make its campus carbon-neutral by 2026.
  • As the Harvard Crimson has reported, Harvard Corporation member Theodore Wells currently represents oil and gas giant ExxonMobil in climate change–related litigation (though a university spokesperson said Wells has recused himself from fossil fuel divestment conversations and votes since 2015).

Coronavirus a bigger short-term risk than climate: Future Fund chairman Peter Costello (The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Peter Costello, the chairman of Australia's $168 billion Future Fund, says the spread of deadly coronavirus represents a more pressing issue for the global economy and investors than the impact of climate change.
  • At a press conference in Melbourne, Mr Costello was asked if the national sovereign wealth fund would follow the lead of BlackRock, which recently said it would make climate risks central to its investment decisions.
  • Future Fund chairman Peter Costello distanced himself from BlackRock's action on climate change.

Northeast governors slow to embrace regional climate pact (The Seattle Times)

  • Supporters of a regional pact that would tackle transportation emissions are struggling to win over several New England governors concerned that the climate change initiative will increase gas prices.
  • It would address pollution from transportation — which represents 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the region, the largest source of emissions.
  • “New Hampshire is proof that the best environmental stewardship can be achieved without massive tax schemes.” Many of the states are already part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which covers 10 states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic and targets emissions from the power sector.

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