With all sights set for a long time now on the forthcoming United Nations climate conference, COP22 of Marrakech, Morocco, from November 7 through 18th, 2016, negotiations for how to fulfill COP21’s agreement to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius are still on going. These must be about finding ways at the COP22 to alleviate poverty and climate injustice, rather than leaning on “questionable technologies” such as geo-engineering and carbon offset, as recently put by Friends of the Earth of Germany.
“We cannot count on unproven, costly, and ecologically risky negative emission technologies to save us from climate chaos.”
The group’s new report, “A change of course: How to build a fair future in a 1.5 degree world” published in German in PDF on October 28th, looks at the so-called “negative emissions” technologies, such as geo-engineering, carbon offset regimes, and bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), and argues that true sustainability only should instead be pursued, adding that policies that have poverty reduction and climate justice as their central focus were best at reaching the objectives.
“The fatal flaw of all negative emissions technology proposals is this: The hope for an atmospheric line of credit allows today’s urgent need for radical reductions in CO2 emissions to fall by the wayside,” the report argues. “What’s currently Plan B is in fact the best way to force Plan A into the background—a fundamentally different economy, one that preserves the planet for all forms of life.”
Instead of such “questionable technologies,” the report “In reaction to the Paris Agreement, we need to phase out coal, speed up the transition to renewables, phase out combustion engines, and protect and restore forests and soils,” explained Hubert Weiger, chairman of Friends of the Earth Germany, in a statement.
Read whole story on the original site. Meanwhile, we propose to read the above story in conjunction with the WEF Published October 28, 2016 article, reproduced texts and graphics here below:
Radical ideas and ground-breaking innovations are needed if we are to stop global warming in its tracks
Written by Ross Chainey , Digital Media Specialist, World Economic Forum.
It’s been a significant – some would say terrifying – year for climate data. Soaring temperatures have pushed planet Earth to its hottest period in recorded history;August 2016 was the warmest August on record and was tied with July 2016 as the hottest month since record-keeping began 136 years ago.
We are now living in a new “climate change reality”, with levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere having breached a symbolic threshold of 400 parts per millionon average throughout the whole of 2015. Scientists warn that concentrations of CO2 are unlikely to dip below this mark for generations.
Elsewhere, the Arctic experienced its warmest winter on record and the region’s ice sheets are disappearing faster than expected, with repercussions that go beyond environmental risks like rising sea levels. As two Arctic experts opined in this recent piece: “We live in a connected world, and what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic.” Societies and economies are also at risk, they argue.
Image: National Snow and Ice Data Center
Our oceans aren’t faring much better. A recent report found that, based on current trends, there could be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050, the Great Barrier Reef remains on life support and, according to a WWF report, the amount of fish, sea birds, whales and other marine species has been reduced by as much as 50% in only 40 years.
Air pollution, meanwhile, is killing 18,000 people every day. The WHO attributes 6.5 million deaths a year to pollution – more than the number of people killed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries combined. In fact, it’s now the fourth-largest threat to human life (behind high blood pressure, poor diet and smoking).
Everywhere you look, the message is clear – we must act now to avoid environmental disaster.
But it will take more than government action alone to help countries meet the pledges of the Paris Agreement and to reverse some of the worst effects of climate change. Radical ideas, ground-breaking innovations and new (greener) business models will all be required if we are to clean up our air, replenish our oceans and stop global warming in its tracks.
This series of articles showcases some of the big ideas that are at the forefront of the fight against climate change. From turning carbon emissions into plastic and recycling everything we use, to climate-friendly urban development and finding a replacement for red meat, are these the solutions that could save our planet from climate catastrophe?
Making plastic out of air
We’ve known for decades that excess greenhouse gas emissions are damaging our environment and causing global warming. And for the past 13 years, Mark Herrema, Co-Founder and CEO of Newlight Technologies, has been looking for a solution.
Now, his company is hoovering up these emissions, combining them with air and turning them into a plastic-like material called AirCarbon.
“No oil. No fossil fuels,” he writes in this article. “Just air and captured carbon emissions that would otherwise become part of the air, combined.
“AirCarbon is a special material. It is produced in most known living organisms, from humans to tigers to trees; an evolutionary ancient molecule that is used to store carbon. It is biodegradable, as strong as plastic, and it can be melted and formed into shapes.”
Self-healing concrete and electronic paper
Turning pollution into plastic isn’t the only innovation set to change the way we consume commonplace products. Gill Cassar, Programme Lead, Environment and Sustainability at the World Economic Forum, examines five everyday products that could soon be made with extraordinary things.
“Take a look around you. Many of the products you see were made using industrial processes that are at least a century old. That is set to change,” she writes.
“From plastics to cement, this transition is reducing the environmental footprint of industries, often enhancing the finished product’s usefulness too.”
We’re well accustomed to separating our paper, plastic and aluminium products from the rest of our trash so it can be recycled. But in an age when it’s possible to recycle everything we produce – why aren’t we doing it?
Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, a company which specializes in the recycling of hard-to-recycle waste (such as cigarette butts, pens, water filters, used toothbrushes and even dirty diapers), addresses this question in his article for our series.
Szaky argues that while recycling is empowering to consumers, recycling rates have stagnated in the past decade and not enough is being done to close the “green-gap” between values and actions.
“Economics, not high science, is what determines recyclability: a material is recycled only if one can make money collecting, sorting and recycling it,” he says.
With 7.6 billion tons of solid waste created each year in the US alone, the implications of not closing this gap are dire – for all of us.
Adapt or die
Our cities cover just 2.6% of the world’s surface area, but by 2050 around 75% of us will be living in one of them. This places our urban areas firmly on the front-line of climate change, as well as an extraordinary amount of responsibility on the shoulders of city planners and elected officials.
“The massive concentration of people in cities over the coming decades – especially in Africa and Asia – will almost certainly exacerbate traffic congestion, worsen air quality and increase amounts of waste,” writes Robert Muggah, Research Director at the Igarapé Institute.
But while cities are undoubtedly part of the problem, they will also play a key part in any solution to preventing climate change and mitigating its effects. Thankfully, enlightened leaders in some cities around the world are already taking action and turning things around – easing congestion and reducing emissions while simultaneously attracting highly skilled workers and growing their economies. Let’s hope the rest of the world is paying attention.
What our past tells us about our future
What can we learn from China’s war on pollution? Quite a lot, actually, says Changhua Wu, Director of China and Asia at TIR Consulting. Progress has been made: concentrations of air pollution have been declining and China leads the world in spending on renewable energy but, as a glance at the sky on any typical day in Beijing will tell you, there is still much to be gloomy about.
“It has not been an easy journey,” she writes. “Success requires political will at the highest level to tackle the lack of harmony between man and nature, which is a major constraint on economic growth.”
Elsewhere in our series, we’ll take a look at how our meat-heavy diets are devastating the environment and what the possible alternatives could be, whethertax-relief for repairing goods helped to tackle one European country’s “throwaway culture”, the innovations that could remove plastic from our oceans and end our dependence on the harmful material – plus a whole lot more.
Follow our climate change series here.