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One Planet Summit: World Bank to Stop Financing Oil, Gas Projects
In effort to bolster a global shift to clean energy, the World Bank—which provides financial, advisory and technical support to developing countries—announced it will “no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019."
The announcement was made Tuesday at the international One Planet climate summit called by French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
The World Bank's plan to stop financing oil and gas exploration and extraction is aimed at helping countries meet their emissions reduction pledges made at the 2015 Paris climate talks.
The bank noted in a statement that "in exceptional circumstances, consideration will be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within the countries' Paris Agreement commitments."
The bank announced other measures that include reporting greenhouse gas emissions from the investment projects it finances in key emissions-producing sectors, such as energy, starting next year. It is also on track to meet its target of 28 percent of its lending going to climate action by 2020 and to meeting the goals of its Climate Change Action Plan that was developed after the Paris accord.
Oil Change International recently released its Dirty Dozen briefing on how public finance drives the climate crisis through oil, gas, and coal expansion. According to the group, on average, public finance institutions controlled by G20 governments, along with multilateral development banks such as the World Bank Group, provide $71.8 billion per year in public finance for fossil fuels, and only $18.7 billion in public finance for clean energy.
Stephen Kretzmann, the executive director of Oil Change International, praised the World Bank's latest announcement.
“It is hard to overstate the significance of this historic announcement by the World Bank. Environmental, human rights, and development campaigners have been amplifying the voices of frontline communities for decades in calling for an end to World Bank financing of upstream oil and gas projects," Kretzmann said.
“Today the World Bank has raised the bar for climate leadership by recognizing the simple yet inconvenient truth that achieving the Paris Agreement's climate goals requires an end to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry."
Alex Doukas, Stop Funding Fossils program director at Oil Change International, called on other finance institutions to follow the World Bank's lead and move to stop funding fossil fuels.
“It is important to note that midstream and downstream oil and gas finance are also major contributors to climate change, and must be addressed to remain within the climate limits established by the Paris Agreement," Doukas said.
World leaders, celebrities and other high-profile figures descended at the One Planet Summit in Paris on Tuesday.
The conference, held on the second anniversary of the landmark Paris climate agreement, is focused on how those working in public and private finance can help the fight against global warming.
Notably, President Donald Trump—who intends to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement—was not invited to the meeting.
As DW reported, United Nations climate change envoy and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during the summit that Trump's decision to exit the Paris accord was a "rallying cry" for environmentalists. Bloomberg promised U.S. cities, regions and companies would ensure the country met its carbon reduction goals.
Former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger had similar sentiments.
"It doesn't matter that Donald Trump backed out of the Paris Agreement, because the private sector didn't drop out, the public sector didn't drop out, universities didn't drop out, no one dropped out," Schwarzenegger, who has been a frequent Trump critic, said.
Here are some other initiatives announced at the One Planet Summit, per the Associated Press:
- Climate Action 100+, which is comprised of 225 investment funds managing more than $26 trillion in assets, said it would use its financial clout to raise the issue of climate-related risk with 100 of the world's largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters.
- More than 200 companies pledged greater transparency on reporting climate-related risks in their businesses as part of a voluntary program led by Michael Bloomberg.
- Dutch bank ING plans to have zero investments in coal power generation by 2025.
- Norwegian pension fund Storebrand said it's expanding its portfolio of fossil fuel-free investments to more than $3 billion.
- French President Emmanuel Macron proposed raising the minimum price per metric ton of carbon dioxide to 30 euros ($35.39). Current prices for the greenhouse gas in Europe are up to five times lower.
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Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
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The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.