Climate Weekly: Farewell to a climate giant

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Vale, Tony de Brum (Photo: Hilda Heine)

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This week we mourned Tony de Brum, tireless advocate for the Marshall Islands and a safe climate future.

The 72-year-old died at home in Majuro, surrounded by family. His legacy lives in those who were inspired by his leadership.

Read Karl Mathiesen’s account of the life of a crusader, moral figurehead and savvy political operator.

Breaking the ice

In an unsettling milestone for the thawing Arctic, the first commercial tanker has transited the northern sea route without an icebreaker escort, slashing the time it took to carry a load of gas from Norway to South Korea.

Now, that doesn’t mean the route was ice-free. The Christophe de Margerie is designed to power through ice up to 2.1 metres thick. But the fact Sovcomflot invested in such a vessel shows they see growth opportunities along Russia’s northern coastline, say foreign policy experts.

Arctic sea ice has markedly retreated in the past decade, a trend that is expected to continue. It has significant geopolitical implications, creating faster trade routes between Europe and Asia, and expanding Russia’s naval options.

Trump transparency

Battles within the White House over US membership of the Paris climate agreement got a lot of play in the media, but we still don’t know what arguments Donald Trump’s was hearing as he made up his mind to withdraw.

That is what the Center for Biological Diversity is trying to find out with its latest Freedom of Information Act request.

The NGO has requested official correspondence and reports that influenced the administration’s decision, as part of a wider transparency campaign. Watch this space.

Climate conversations

Island states need better data to manage climate losses – Adelle Thomas, Climate Analytics
How did we end up with a 2C climate limit? – David Titley, Pennsylvania State University

Scorched earth

Amid bloody beheadings and bombed-out cities, the impact of Islamic State on Iraq’s environment – understandably enough – does not get much attention.

But photos from the ground and satellites show retreating militants are leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, at untold cost to the climate and public health.

Some oil wells have been burning for two years, likely torched by ISIS in retreat to confound Western-backed Iraqi forces.

Cash flow

Sensitive to criticism it is slow to release money, the Green Climate Fund announced its biggest project yet is ready to start operating next month.

It will contribute up to $150 million worth of loans towards a $1 billion renewable energy drive in Egypt. The country is aiming to get 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2022.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is leading on implementation. Friends of the Earth urged the GCF to channel more cash through developing country institutions.

Read more on: Climate Politics