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European Investment Bank Will Stop Funding Fossil Fuel Projects by the End of 2020
When the calendar turns over to 2021, fossil fuel companies won't have the European Investment Bank (EIB) to turn to for loans anymore. The EU's lending arm has decided to use its money to help stop the climate crisis by no longer funding fossil fuel projects and to ramp up its investments in clean energy, according to Bloomberg.
The EIB's plans will stop companies that rely on coal, oil or gas in their infrastructure projects from applying for funding. The move dovetails with the EU's sense of urgency in stopping the global climate crisis that has the continent sweltering this summer under record-setting temperatures. Besides the heat, European countries have also seen an increase in storms and floods linked to the climate crisis, which fossil fuels contribute to.
"This transition will be profound. Solidarity is required to ensure that potentially vulnerable groups or regions are supported," the report said, as The Guardian reported.
The bank plans to create an energy transitions fund to support projects that will help member states transition to cleaner energy. The strategy paper sets a markedly different strategy for the lender, which has heavily funded fossil fuel projects for the past six decades, including the Transadriatic gas pipeline and oil storage facilities in Cyprus.
The move away from fossil fuels comes after a growing wave of pressure bearing down on financial institutions to cut their ties to projects that increase greenhouse gas emissions.
In June, for example, 80 civil society organizations and academics published an open letter to the EIB demanding that it end its fossil fuel financing, which was nearly $3 billion in 2018. The letter accused the bank of "lagging behind the science" underpinning the climate crisis, according to The Guardian.
Environmental activists praised the EIB's plan.
"The EIB's proposal to end financing for fossil fuels by 2020 is a massive step forward in climate leadership," said Alex Doukas, from Oil Change International, as The Guardian reported. "With this move, the world's largest multilateral lender is now poised to leave oil, gas and coal in the past. The EU member states who control the bank must now stand behind the EIB's ambitious climate vision, and other financial institutions should quickly follow suit to stop funding fossils."
Colin Roche, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe called the proposal is "a crack of light in the darkness," as The Guardian reported. "While the EU and national governments are floundering as the planet burns, the EU's public bank has made the brave, correct and just proposal to stop funding fossil fuel projects. We are now urging the European Investment Bank's board to endorse this step forward, and ensure there are no loopholes for fossil fuel funding."
The EIB board, which is made up mostly of EU finance ministers, will discuss the proposals at a meeting in September, though a final decision could take longer, according to Reuters.
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A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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