Tales from the Trail

from Environment Forum:

The World Bank’s $6 billion man on climate change

BIRDFLU INDONESIAAs the special envoy on climate change for the World Bank, Andrew Steer might be thought of as the $6 billion man of environmental finance. He oversees more than that amount for projects to fight the effects of global warming.

"More funds flow through us to help adaptation and mitigation than anyone else," Steer said in a conversation at the bank's Washington headquarters. Named to the newly created position in June, Steer said one of his priorities is to marshall more than $6 billion in the organization's Climate Investment Funds to move from smaller pilot projects to large-scale efforts.

While the World Bank is not a party to global climate talks set for Cancun, Mexico, later this year, it is deeply engaged in this issue, Steer said. Acknowledging that an international agreement on climate change is a long shot this year, he said there are still opportunities to make changes to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that spur climate change.

PERU/"We do see there are opportunities," Steer said. "The mistake would be if it's sort of all or nothing." The bank is strongly supporting action to limit deforestation, offer quick financing to start climate projects and reform carbon markets to extend them to countries that have been left out so far.

Even though the World Bank won't be at the negotiating table in Cancun, its members will be there, and 80 percent of them want the bank to focus on climate change, Steer said. It's all part of a what he sees as a fundamental shift in the international attitude toward dealing with this problem.

Honk! Wheeze! Atchoo! It’s getting hot in Washington, and it’s not just the weather

USA/Spring in Washington means cherry blossoms, azaleas and a collective wet sneeze from the hundreds of thousands of allergy sufferers in the region. This year, a long snow-covered winter may actually have protected plants while an early burst of summer-like temperatures called forth the blossoms, creating what felt to many like a pollen bomb.

Plants that would usually have bloomed in an orderly sequence — forsythia, daffodils, tulips, cherry blossoms, dogwood, azaleas and lilacs — are all flowering together. Cars, streets, pets and other plants are covered with a gritty yellow-green sneeze-inducing residue. Allergy symptoms are the common result, and they cost a bundle.

It doesn’t help that Washington is part of a U.S. trend spurred by climate change, with the signs of spring coming about 10 days earlier than they did two decades ago. That means some missed connections in the natural world, as some plants and animals adapt better than others to the early onset of spring.