Climate change weekly wrap (March #3) – news, video + analysis

All you need to know from the last seven days of international climate change and energy politics   


By Ed King

Welcome to RTCC’s weekly wrap, where we pull together the top stories from the past week, and highlight key events to look forward to over the next 7 days.

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Shell: Narcissistic, paranoid, and psychopathic
Those were the three words that John Ashton, former the UK Foreign Office’s chief climate diplomat, chose to describe the oil giant’s climate strategy in a letter to its CEO this week. Printed in full on RTCC, it generated a huge response across the world.

(Pic: Foe)

(Pic: Foe)

Tackling disasters
This week 187 countries agreed to a new UN-backed plan to reduce deaths and economic damage from natural disasters. Known as the Sendai Framework, it sets seven targets and four priorities over the coming 15 years. Megan Darby rounded up all the news in a live blog and closing summary.

Given the UN says 87% of all natural disasters are now linked to climate change, the deal sets a strong precedent ahead of this year’s Paris summit. But it also highlighted how difficult those talks would be – ActionAid’s Harjeet Singh described the toxic climate politics that infected some of the Sendai discussions.

Cyclone Pam
The plight of Vanuatu in the face of an intense cyclone provided a sobering backdrop to the Sendai discussions. In the space of 24 hours virtually every house on the nation’s archipelago of islands was damaged, trees torn down and people left homeless and at times without hope. On Friday the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that the vast majority of crops had been damaged.

Small island states have pulled together – on Thursday the Seychelles called an emergency meeting in New York to mobilise support. The direct links between climate change and this storm are as yet unclear. In 2013 a UN panel of scientific experts said it had “low confidence” in future projections of tropical storms, but an increase in intense storm activity was “more likely than not”.

For veteran climate officials like Yeb Sano it’s more than enough evidence, and proof that the UN needs to adopt an ambitious climate strategy at this year’s Paris summit. “A human death is a human death. People who lost loved ones… it is a tremendous trauma for them. Losing your home is an experience that will only be very painful and hard to rise up from,” he told us in an interview.

Solar Express
India has huge plans to roll out solar energy across its vast rail network. The railways are India’s largest consumer of diesel, with energy consumption rising 5% annually. We asked Ashok Thanikonda from the World Resources Institute in Delhi to explain what the potential of this move to clean energy could be.

That’s the good news. What’s not great is that Delhi is the world’s most polluted city, and what’s even worse is the government doesn’t have a coherent plan to address poor air quality. Avik Roy reported for us from the city’s smoggy streeets.

RTCC speaks to the UK prime minister’s climate envoy Greg Barker about his hopes for Paris, ambitions for India’s solar growth and why he thinks this government has met its “greenest ever” pledge.

Quote of the week:
“In some cases… you have elected officials who are shills for the oil companies or the fossil fuel industry and there’s a lot of money involved,” – US president Barack Obama accuses US lawmakers of being swayed by their financial interests.

Stat of the week:
14.54 million square kilometres: That’s the record low level that the Arctic’s winter sea ice fell to, according to US data.

Solar eclipse of the week:
This is what #eclipse2015 looked like from the RTCC office. Thanks to heavy air pollution levels in London, we didn’t see much.

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