Weekly wrap: EU warns of climate refugee surge, Shell quits green group

This week’s top climate politics and policy stories. Sign up here to have our Friday briefing sent to your inbox

Pic: Yukiko Matsuoka/Flickr

Pic: Yukiko Matsuoka/Flickr

By Ed King

As the pace of refugees heading to the EU intensified this week, two of the bloc’s biggest hitters warned that without a global climate deal, there would be more crises.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in his annual State of the Union address an “ambitious, robust and binding” pact was required. “Tomorrow morning we will have climate refugees,” he added.

Francois Hollande, France president and host of December’s UN climate summit, said millions of refugees could head to the continent in the next 20 years if a deal in Paris was not forthcoming.

So what are the links between climate change and migration and how could a global pact this year help? It’s a question Isatis Cintron from Rutgers University tackled in a column for us this week.

Shell out

Tough times for Shell’s PR team. As calls to stop drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic intensifies, the oil major has found its participation in the Prince of Wales’ climate group called into question by fellow members.

As a result it quietly left the Brussels-based collective this week, without as much as a whimper.

Sandrine Dixson-Decleve, director of the group told RTCC: “We have worked with Shell for ten years. They were one of the first in the group. It speaks for itself that they have been a very important member of the group.”

INDC watch

Colombia and Jordan submitted their UN climate plans this week, bringing to 59 the total number of countries who are playing ball and ensuring that 65% of global greenhouse gas emissions are now covered.

Follow all the latest developments via our Paris climate tracker. Don’t be fooled by snazzier alternatives – this is where it’s at.

Colombia’s plan is interesting as the country is working its way through a delicate peace process to end a long-running civil war.

But if that succeeds, it may open up precious forest lands for developments. Alex Pashley has this fascinating report.


19% – the proportion of US scientists among all experts involved in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It’s too northern and male-dominated, a study published this week suggests.

UN talks review

We have all you need to know on our podcast reflecting on the recent round of negotiations in Bonn, presented by Ed King with contributions from the FT’s Pilita Cark, Michael Jacobs from the New Climate Economy, along with UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

For more reading try two follow-up reports this week, looking at progress on discussions focused on climate compensation and the differing responsibilities to tackle emissions by rich and poor countries.

Latin unity?

One continent; two radically different worldviews. That has been the analysis of many when looking at South America, a continent often split between left wing “Bolivars” and centre right capitalists.

Perhaps that’s changing. An official with the 33-strong Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) tells Alex Pashley its members may unite in calling for top polluters to be “held to account for the wrath of a warming planet on its citizens”.


Did you know John Venn, inventor of the Venn diagram, hails from Hull? – US Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun takes a unique approach to discussing climate action with reporters at a London tea-party.

Nuclear fusion

Is it the solution to the world’s energy needs or a massive and expensive mistake? Alex Pashley speaks to the ‘renegade’ UK engineers who think they’re on the brink of a new way to power the world.

Permafrost diaries

These are a MUST READ. Moscow-based reporter Olga Dobrovidova has made her way to the heart of Siberia to explore what impact a warming world is having on communities living on the Arctic permafrost.

Here’s an excerpt from her first report in Igarka. No, I hadn’t heard of it either:

“I am told that there are places where everything is damaged by permafrost degradation, and then there are other places where, fortunately, it’s just two out of every three buildings. Naturally, I just had to find out what the frozen hell that looks like.

“One does not simply get to these places, though, especially in September, which is moments away from a dark and rather unforgiving northern winter (you can imagine how many Game of Thrones puns and jokes I have gone through). After extensive and creative planning, my trip now involves a plane, a helicopter, a boat and a bus.”


15-27 Sep: UN General Assembly, New York

18 Sep: EU to reveal COP21 strategy

25 Sep: Pope Francis to address leaders, New York

25-27 Sep: Sustainable Development Goals summit, New York

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