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Climate Policy Hits the News: From Action to Reaction

Climate Policy Hits the News: From Action to Reaction

Headlines have reached full tunnel vision as the United States careens closer to Election Day. With the debates on full display, we unintentionally put up blinders to the rest of the country, and the world's news. I’ve put compiled another weekly climate round-up, so you can stay up to date with the global problems and solutions you need to know.  Shout out to Sarah Bertin for all your contributions! 

1) Global atmospheric carbon levels move to 400 parts per million. Permanently. 

Climate Central states that the Earth has reached atmospheric carbon levels that are past the “point of no return.” What does this mean, beyond epic material for the next Halloween thriller? EcoWatch states we have “locked into temperatures not seen in 2 million years.” Sounds a little frightening, right? Well, it is. According to Climate Central, atmospheric carbon levels have passed 400 parts per million, and that our atmosphere won’t return to environment-friendly levels “ever again in the indefinite future.” According to NASA, the planet’s average surface temperature has already warmed 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution, and this year is set to be the hottest year on record. Again. This will make 16 years in a row of consecutive records broken, with hotter and hotter temperatures. This is the longest record-breaking streak the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recorded in its 137 years.

Yes, things are happening. Yes, time is of the essence. But this isn't doomsday. And yes, we – you, us, me – can do something about it. 

2) Colombia announces historic peace agreement during UN General Assembly Week

Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images

Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images

Nelson Mandela stated: "As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest." Environmental stewardship is inextricably linked with fraternity, and no environmental causes can sustain nor often exist when faced with violence or corruption. After 52 years of civil war, Colombia's peace agreement proves to an entire generation who only knew war that persistence can create peace, sustainability and vitality. 

3) Washington D.C. and Goldman Sachs are becoming model citizens and getting green (and not just in $$$)

Photograph: NBC KNDO 23

Photograph: NBC KNDO 23

Through the assistance of a private placement bond transaction by Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and Calvert Foundation, the city of Washington D.C. is able to redefine how a city can retrofit its infrastructure. The $25 million tax-exempt Environmental Investment Bond (or EIB) is unique, and allows DC Water to attract investment in green infrastructure through an innovative technique where DC Water takes ownership over the cost of installing any new infrastructure, and risks associated with performance are shared among affiliated parties. DC Water hopes this will serve as a model for other cities needing to polish their pipes. 

The city will address its growing sewage concerns and combined sewer overflows (CSOs) through the implementation of biomimicry technology. Biomimicry may sounds complicated, but it's nothing more than its name - mimicking our roots. Combined Sewer Overflows are serious incidences dealt with in almost every major city, and occur when huge storm-water surges cause sewage to overflow from insufficient pipes into the city's waterways. In DC, the bond will be used to construct green infrastructure that imitates the natural processes of wetlands, and act as a city-sponge by absorbing and slowing excess rainfall during storm events. 

4) 75 percent of Philippines mines suspended after failing major environmental audit

I wouldn't recommend investing in OceanaGold anytime soon. The company is one of many Australian mines on the hot seat after three quarters of all mines operating in the Philippines failed a major environmental audit. When the government announced the potential suspensions, the mines' stocks plummeted - so fast, in fact, that OceanaGold was placed on a trading halt almost immediately. Despite the announcement, OceanaGold is continuing operations business-as-usual, and state they have not received a formal order  to suspend activities. Curious about what standards were broken? Me too. As one of the largest exporters of mined nickel to China, the audit's claims are a risk to the country's GDP as well as the mines involved. To publicly announce that three quarters failed - I would suspect that there must have been something major amiss. And to reiterate - OceanaGold is continuing business-as-usual. 

5) India will soon officially ratify the Paris Agreement

Photograph: ABC News

Photograph: ABC News

This just in! The Indian Cabinet has approved the move to ratify the Paris Agreement, and India will submit its instrument of ratification to the United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon by October 2nd - the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. India is a game-changer for the Paris Agreement, and has the potential to seriously crank climate change down a notch. According to the Times of India, the Paris Agreement will come into force 30 days after 55 countries, representing 55 per cent of global emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance or accession with the UN secretary general.

So far, 61 countries, accounting for 47.79 per cent of the total global emissions, have submitted their instruments of ratification of the agreement, which was adopted by 195 countries in Paris last December. If (and when) India submits, the Paris Agreement has a winning chance of formal ratification. This November, member states will meet in Morocco for COP 22 to hash out agreement implementation details, especially the $100 billion needed each year to meet its ambitious goals. 

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