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California University divests $200m from coal and tar sands holdings

Stricter regulation and drop in global demand made investments too risky, says university’s chief investment officer

The University of California has sold off $200m (£130m) of coal and oil sand investments from its $98bn investment fund less than a year after initially refusing to do so.

In September of last year, the university’s board of regents chief investment officer Jagdeep Singh Bachner refused to sell off the holdings, arguing that a more “holistic approach” than divestment was needed.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Flooding in Bangladesh – in pictures

People living on small islands in the country’s Kurigram district have been left homeless after floods hit for the second time in a month. At least 21 people have died in floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains in 2015. With downpours swelling rivers and flooding roads, many villagers are starving due to lack of food, relief goods and drinking water

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Source: Guardian Environment

Desmond Tutu's climate petition tops 300,000 signatures

Petition calls on US president Barack Obama and UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to help create a world run 100% on renewable energy

A petition launched by Desmond Tutu urging global leaders to create a world run 100% on renewables within 35 years has been backed by more than 300,000 people globally.

It describes climate change as “one of the greatest moral challenges of our time”.

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Source: Guardian Environment

BP, EDF and Procter & Gamble face pressure over climate change lobbying

Investors have written to corporate members of influential EU trade lobby groups accused of undermining action on climate change

A group of 25 investors with €61bn in assets has written to a number of FTSE 100 companies, including BP, EDF, Glencore, Johnson Matthey, Procter & Gamble, Rio Tinto, Statoil and Total asking them to justify their membership of prominent EU trade associations.

The letter, coordinated by responsible investment charity ShareAction, sets out a number of concerns about the lobbying activities of these trade groups on EU climate policy, based on research my colleagues and I carried out earlier this year. We investigated eight influential trade associations including BusinessEurope, which has argued that EU climate targets undermine industrial competitiveness, and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), which has stated that strengthening the EU emissions trading system would force businesses to move overseas because of high energy costs in Europe.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Oil giants derail California bill to reduce gasoline use by 50%

With only two days left in the legislative session, oil industry successfully rallies for amendment to ambitious environmental bill SB350

An ambitious environmental bill in California that attempted to legislate up to a 50% reduction in gasoline use by 2030 had been derailed by the oil industry in the final week of the legislative session.

Senate president pro tempore Kevin de Leon announced on Wednesday that he would amend the bill, SB350, to drop the petroleum provisions. It will be changed in the assembly’s natural resources committee as soon as Thursday to deal only with increasing the state’s renewable electricity supply and boosting energy efficiency in buildings through retrofits and upgrades.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Problem with BBC’s rural coverage? Not enough Chris Packhams

The British countryside is becoming a playground for millionaires. We need more broadcasters that dare to take on wildlife killers like the Countryside Alliance

Chris Packham should wear the Countryside Alliance’s attempt to have him silenced with pride. It’s another indication that, in the eerie wasteland of the BBC’s rural coverage, his is one of the very few voices prepared to tell us what is really going on.

The Countryside Alliance, which represents people who kill wild animals, demands that unless he stops speaking out against the persecution of wildlife, “the BBC’s only answer can be to remove the BBC from Chris Packham’s biography by refusing to employ him any more.”

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Source: Guardian Environment

Moral case to tackle climate change overwhelming, says Lord Stern

Rome conference speech describes inaction as discrimination that devalues lives of future generations

Failing to act on the grave threat posed by climate change devalues the lives of future generations and amounts to unacceptable “discrimination by date of birth”, according to the influential economist Lord Stern.

Speaking at an international meeting in Rome on environmental justice and climate change attended by senior Vatican officials, Stern said that the “moral arguments” for action to combat climate change were overwhelming.

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Source: Guardian Environment

A moment that changed me – looking a sperm whale in the eye | Philip Hoare

I’d always been scared of these great creatures but while filming in the Azores, I jumped into the ocean amid a pod of whales – and met another sentient being

I was born and brought up by the sea – indeed, my heavily pregnant mother nearly went into labour on a visit to a submarine in Portsmouth, and I was almost born underwater. Yet I never learned to swim. I was simply too scared of the water, and what it might contain. I trace my terror to a memory of something I never saw: the bath in my mother’s childhood home, along the side of which my grandfather – whom I never knew – had painted a great spouting whale, a veritable Moby-Dick. The image of that unseen whale haunted me, to the extent that I didn’t even like taking a bath. Throughout childhood and into my teenage years, this fear dominated my feelings towards the sea. It was only when I was in my mid-20s, unemployed in London, that I decided to challenge myself. In a tiled Victorian pool in Hackney, an elderly lady in a rubber hat took pity on me. This Esther Williams of the East End showed me how the water could bear my body up, gloriously. I was hooked.

Cut to the Azores, the mid-Atlantic, 20 years later. The water off these black basalt shores drops to half a mile deep within a few hundred feet; further out, it falls to three miles. I’d gone there with a film crew, to make a BBC Arena documentary about the true story behind Moby-Dick. Soon after leaving the harbour, a pod of common dolphin began to ride our bow. The water was so clear there seemed to be nothing between them and me. And they appeared to be leading us somewhere. Suddenly, our young Azorean captain, Joao, stopped the boat. Ahead were what looked like logs.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Green 'lawfare': voters feel Coalition is trying to silence environment groups

Poll shows voters are sceptical of the Abbott government’s argument that green groups must be stopped from carrying out ‘economic sabotage’

Voters are not buying the Abbott government’s argument that environmental laws must be changed to stop green “sabotage” of job-creating projects, with 62% believing the Coalition is simply trying to silence conservationists to promote mining interests.

The new poll, by Lonergan Research, came as the government was fighting to convince Senate crossbenchers to pass the proposed changes to the federal government’s main conservation laws, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which went through the House of Representatives on Thursday.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Campylobacter: tests fail to show organic chicken has higher infection rate

Food Standards Agency says its focus is on reducing levels of the bug rather than focusing on farming methods

Checks on levels of the potentially lethal bug campylobacter in fresh chicken do not show whether birds reared using organic methods were more contaminated that those produced by mass-market systems.

Though experts said the organic birds appeared to be more contaminated, the low sample size meant they could not come to a firm conclusion.

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Source: Guardian Environment