Climate change news that’s not too hot to handle: Your monthly roundup of good news
It’s that time again – when we take a break from the downer stories and turn our attention to a monthly roundup of good news.
Climate change presents the most pressing challenge of our time, but it also represents a major opportunity – economically, societally and even spiritually. It’s a topic that forces us to harness our inner resiliency and learn how to adapt and evolve, both collectively and individually. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the good news from the past month:
- Following years of public pressure and a well-coordinated campaign organized by the Rainforest Action Network, Bank of America unveiled its new global coal mining policy committing to reduce exposure to coal mining companies across the board. They announced the new policy at an annual shareholder meeting, stating “…Our new policy…reflects our decision to continue to reduce our credit exposure over time to the coal mining sector globally.” This policy is the strongest of its kind to date, and a big deal considering Bank of America is the biggest bank in the U.S. and was the biggest underwriter of the coal industry – leading banking investments in coal.
- Big oil asks for a price on carbon: In a surprising move, several major oil companies collectively announced they “want to be a part of the solution and deliver energy to society sustainably for many decades to come.” Yes it’s true – CEOs from Shell, BP, Total, Statoil, Eni and the BG Group addressed a joint letter to Christiana Figueres, the United Nation’s climate chief, in support of putting a price on carbon. In the letter, they asked for national and regional governments to set a price on carbon and for those regional carbon markets to be linked. Click here to read the full letter. This is good news for the climate fight, especially considering that several other big oil companies (Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell) already have carbon pricing written into their business plans so they can be ready if and when we begin accounting for the true cost of carbon.While some argue we should be skeptical of big oil asking for a price on carbon, I believe this is still good news to celebrate. It signals they may be beginning to acknowledge the realities of climate change, as well as increasing desire from their customers to diversify their energy portfolios and be part of the solution.
- A new study reveals that clean energy jobs grew by 18% last year, employing more than 7.7 million people across the globe. About 25% of those jobs were in the U.S. – an exciting development, and just imagine the job growth potential if we continue to invest in a clean energy economy!
- Also in May, Norway’s parliament unanimously agreed to sever its financial ties with coal, mandating the country’s sovereign wealth fund divest from the coal industry. This is a major climate victory, as the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, and was one of the top ten investors in the global coal industry. The mandate dictates the government exclude from its portfolio companies deriving more than 30% of their revenue or power production from coal; it will be formally adopted by the Parliament starting today!
- The University of Washington also made history last month by becoming both the richest public university and the school with the biggest student body to divest so far, committing to divest its $2.8 billion endowment off of fossil fuels. This may the only time those of us in Duck country utter the words “Go Huskies!”
- And finally, Pope Francis called together a strategy meeting with 40 Catholic leaders in Rome leading up to his much-anticipated encyclical on the environment (due later this month.) Religious leaders discussing climate change is not a new concept, but the scale to which it’s being done – along with directly urging parishioners to join the climate movement – represents a major shift. It indicates a rising collective consciousness, that more and more people are compelled from a deeply spiritual and emotional place to participate in this work.And in order to successfully continue participating in this work, month after month, year after year, we have to stay inspired. I hope noting these victories inspires you to keep fighting the good fight – whether you participate because your religious beliefs call you to this work, because you’re thinking about your kids, out of a desire for a more equitable world, because you love coffee, or skiing – whatever your motivation may be, we’re in this work together, and we’re making significant progress.
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