Arctic drilling, shipping solutions, innovative irrigation: 3 stories you may have missed

© VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm

Editor's Note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

1. Goldman Sachs rules out financing for Arctic drilling. Will other U.S. banks follow? 

One of the world’s most profitable banks is divesting from the Arctic drilling industry. 

The Story: Goldman Sachs, one of the largest banks in the U.S., announced that it would stop financing new drilling or oil exploration in the Arctic, reported Dino Grandoni for The Washington Post. With its new environmental policy, the bank will also end all financial backing for any new coal power plants that don’t employ carbon emissions reduction technology, and invest US$ 750 billion in areas of finance that focus on climate resilience and emissions reductions.

The Big Picture: As the Trump administration continues the yearlong withdrawal process of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, many businesses are stepping in as climate leaders by keeping — or increasing — their emissions reductions goals. The decision of Goldman Sachs’ executives to stop financing Arctic drilling could influence other U.S. banks and financial institutions to follow suit and defund industries that harm the environment and emit massive amounts of carbon.

Read more here.

A new research initiative aims to develop clean technologies to help drastically reduce carbon emissions in the shipping industry.

The Story: The International Chamber of Shipping — a trade association that represents the shipping industry — proposed a program to help cut the entire industry’s carbon emissions in half compared with 2008 levels by 2050, reported Jonathan Saul for Reuters. The research and development program would be overseen by the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization and supported by US$ 5 billion raised by shipping companies over the next 10 years.

The Big Picture: The shipping industry  transports 90 percent of the world’s traded goods — and contributes 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are driving climate breakdown. “We can’t exaggerate the pressure we are under if we are going to meet the IMO 2050 targets,” said Simon Bennett, deputy secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping. “Ship owners are increasingly realizing that we have to really get on with this now.” 

Read more here.

A trailblazing irrigation project is helping to build peace in a war-torn region of Sudan. 

The Story: Small dams that facilitate irrigation — known as weirs — are helping communities in North Darfur adapt to the impacts of climate change while promoting peace after decades of conflict, reported Damian Carrington for The Guardian. The Darfur region of Sudan receives only about 20 cm (7.87 inches) of rainfall per year, making water a precious commodity — and a main source of conflict between communities. As climate breakdown accelerates, rainfall is becoming more irregular; the weirs distribute the limited water supplies throughout villages even in times of drought, irrigating crops. 

The Big Picture: “There was a lot of killing here — there isn’t enough time to tell you about it all,” says Sheik Abdoelhman Saeed, who is helping to build these dams. “But now we are planning among ourselves to reach new areas with weirs.” This innovative irrigation technique has already reduced conflict in this region, and developers hope that it will spread to other parts of the Sudan and Africa.

Read more here.

Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: Container ship on Merkur River, Georgia (© VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm) 

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