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Climate Week 2015: The Main Events

Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. coincides with a week of festivities in New York dedicated to saving the planet.

Sep 23, 2015

A year ago, hundreds of thousands of protesters snaked their way through midtown Manhattan as part of the pivotal People's Climate March, the centerpiece of Climate Week, an annual collection of climate-focused protests, conferences and panels in New York.

This year's Climate Week—the seventh—kicked off over the weekend. More than 100 events fill the official calendar, which coincides with the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations, where world leaders will adopt a new set of development goals. Pope Francis' speeches to both Congress and the UN, a climate rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to coincide with the Pope's tour, and the state visit of China’s President Xi Jinping are not officially part of Climate Week, but are timed just about perfectly to round out the excitement.

Fossil Fuel Divestment Has Grown to $2.6 Trillion in Assets

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio headlines Climate Week event celebrating the people, groups and institutions pledging to shed fossil fuel assets.

Sep 23, 2015

The fossil fuel divestment movement skyrocketed in the past year as hundreds of institutions and thousands of individuals committed to selling their oil, natural gas and coal holdings, according to a new report.

So far, 436 institutions and 2,040 individuals representing $2.6 trillion in assets have agreed to sell their fossil fuel investments, according to a review by Arabella Advisors, a Washington, D.C.-based consultant that works with philanthropies. It represents a 50-fold increase from a year ago, when the divestment totals were 181 institutions and 656 individuals representing more than $50 billion in assets.

Exxon Confirmed Global Warming Consensus in 1982 with In-House Climate Models

The company chairman would later mock climate models as unreliable while he campaigned to stop global action to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

Lisa Song, Neela Banerjee, David Hasemyer

Sep 22, 2015

Steve Knisely was an intern at Exxon Research and Engineering in the summer of 1979 when a vice president asked him to analyze how global warming might affect fuel use.

"I think this guy was looking for validation that the greenhouse effect should spur some investment in alternative energy that's not bad for the environment," Knisely, now 58 and a partner in a management consulting company, recalled in a recent interview.

Knisely projected that unless fossil fuel use was constrained, there would be "noticeable temperature changes" and 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air by 2010, up from about 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution. The summer intern's predictions turned out to be very close to the mark.

Hillary Clinton Ends Campaign Drama, Denounces Keystone XL

Finally making her stance on the tar sands pipeline known, Clinton ensures the issue doesn't divide the Democratic candidates for president.

Sep 22, 2015

Hillary Clinton came out against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project on Tuesday—calling it a distraction—and by finally announcing her long-delayed stance, unified all the declared Democratic candidates for president in opposition to the controversial pipeline.

Exxon Believed Deep Dive Into Climate Research Would Protect Its Business

Outfitting its biggest supertanker to measure the ocean's absorption of carbon dioxide was a crown jewel in Exxon's research program.

Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song, David Hasemyer

Sep 21, 2015

In 1981, 12-year-old Laura Shaw won her seventh-grade science fair at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Cranford, N.J. with a project on the greenhouse effect.

For her experiment, Laura used two souvenir miniatures of the Washington Monument, each with a thermometer attached to one side. She placed them in glass bowls and covered one with plastic wrap – her model of how a blanket of carbon dioxide traps the reflected heat of the sun and warms the Earth. When she turned a lamp on them, the thermometer in the plastic-covered bowl showed a higher temperature than the one in the uncovered bowl.

Exxon's Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels' Role in Global Warming Decades Ago

Top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions.

By Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer

Sep 21, 2015

At a meeting in Exxon Corporation's headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen. Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world's use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.

Water Source for Alberta Tar Sands Drilling Could Run Dry

New research finds the Athabasca River might not be a sustainable source of water oil companies need for the tar sands.

Sep 21, 2015

The source of water used for drilling in the Alberta tar sands could dry up in the coming decades, according to new research released Monday. The questionable future of the Athabasca River threatens the longevity of fossil fuel extraction in the world's third-largest crude oil reserve.

Olympic Glory? South Korea Clear-Cuts a Forest to Build Ski Slopes

Environmentalists protest the razing of 500-year-old trees to build facilities for the downhill skiing events at the 2018 Olympics.

By Phil McKenna

Sep 20, 2015

Organizers of the 2018 Winter Olympics are clear-cutting part of an ancient forest that includes 500-year-old trees on a protected mountain near Pyeongchang, South Korea.  

Activists are calling on the International Olympic Committee and the government of South Korea to stop the felling of trees at the site and are urging Olympic organizers to find another venue for the four-day downhill skiing event.

Lessons Learned From Trying to Save the Developing World

A Q&A with John McArthur of the UN Foundation on the renewed global effort to fight poverty, inequality and climate change.

Sep 18, 2015

Facing a growing rift between developed and developing countries, the United Nations' 189 member states did something a bit drastic at the turn of the 21st century: They adopted a set of eight lofty (perhaps idealistic) goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, reduce child mortality, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and improve healthcare—all in the next 15 years.

Exxon Researched Climate Change in 1977

A short FRONTLINE film about Exxon's early research into climate change produced in collaboration with InsideClimate News.

Sep 16, 2015

Read the first story in the InsideClimate News Investigation, Exxon's Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels' Role in Global Warming Decades Ago.