Floating Dam to Capture Waste in the North Sea

The world’s oceans are polluted with massive amounts of waste plastics, so much so that we’ve had to name a grouping of plastic waste because it’s so large. There are many ways to reduce our use of plastics and our production of waste (hint: don’t buy so many things); we still need to deal with what has already been dumped into the oceans.

A new effort launching soon off the coast of The Netherlands will use a floating dam to catch floating plastics. The structure will allow animals though the mess while catching waste better than previous methods.

Plastic waste is a major threat to animals in the sea, who either choke on the material or suffer from related contaminants. But most ocean waste projects try to collect plastic waste with boats that end up inadvertently endangering ocean life. The revolutionary new dam, scheduled for deployment in the second quarter of 2016, will instead use currents to round up waves of garbage—bags, bottles, and other waste—while also letting sea creatures through. Passive, safe collection is the idea.

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Summary of COP21 Climate Deal

The Paris climate (COP21) talks are over and the deal has been struck, many are rightly calling this deal a huge step forward! All countries agreed to cutting emissions while running a more efficient world economy. Nations of the world have agreed that our current trajectory of wastefulness will make life for everything on the planet very very hard. Even Canada, who had a reputation of sabotaging climate change negations, was invited to facilitate some of the talks.

With all the talk and coverage around COP21 it might seem all so overwhelming. Lucky for us, the Guardian has put together a short article summing up all the great points made in Paris.

Long-term global goal for net zero emissions
Countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible. More significantly, they pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.

Experts say, in plain English, that means getting to “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. The UN’s climate science panel says net zero emissions must happen by 2070 to avoid dangerous warming.

Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute said the long-term goal was “transformational” and “sends signals into the heart of the markets”.

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A Space Race Approach to Fighting Climate Change

Here’s a neat idea: save the planet using the research and development practices used during the space race. The state-lead push for advanced science led to really fun things like cellphones and laser eye surgery. Imagine what we as a species could create if we had the same push into sustainability like we did during the race to the moon.

If markets left to themselves will continue to merely pump out “innovations” along certain pathways, then it is up to the state to play a more direct role in starting a “greentech” revolution. Mariana Mazzucato, in her book The Entrepreneurial State, argues that major advances in tech from the internet to nanotechnology to pharmaceuticals were born either directly from government research or because governments made the risky investments necessary for the private sector to act.

The good news is that not all money is the same, and those behind Mission Innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition seem to have read Mazzucato. They explicitly reference “patient capital” which can reduce the risk of uncertain technological investments. There is no question this is a major step in the right direction.

Governments certainly need to price carbon, but they should also act as entrepreneurs and market-creators to kickstart innovation for the green growth of the future. If we are underspending on this by orders of magnitude, then doubling is not nearly enough.

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8 Development Banks Combine Efforts for Sustainable Development

Eight development banks from around the world have decided the best way to encourage more sustainable transit development is to combine their efforts. They are looking at accelerating their investments in transport solutions that are better for the environment than current transport solutions. Transportation consumes a heck of a lot of oil and even marginal decreases in oil consumption can save money and reduce the rate of climate change.

In their statement, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), CAF-Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), and the World Bank (WB) pledged to speed up action on:

  • Climate Finance: MDBs have recently committed to substantially increase financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation over the next few years. Transport is expected to play a key role in that commitment.

  • Low-carbon Transport Solutions: The MDBs will increase their focus on low-carbon transport solutions and will continue to harmonize tools and metrics to assess transport-related GHG emissions.

  • Adaptation: The MDBs will jointly develop a systematic approach to mainstream climate resilience in transport policies, plans and investments.

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Simple Ways to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We have the technology today to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 12 gigatonnes! This is based off of looking at only 17 possible climate change solutions. The world can be saved from catastrophic climate change if we want to dave. Let’s hope that these solutions are being considered at COP21.

A new report by European think-tank Sitra, supported by a group of 11 world-leading institutions, has found that the world could cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 12 gigatonnes in 2030, using only established and proven climate solutions. No new inventions are required, nor vast amounts of capital.

The Sitra report took 17 climate solutions that have already proven successful in 36 countries, and asked what would happen if these were scaled up internationally, using realistic projections through 2030. The findings indicate that that the solutions could go a long way towards closing the “emissions gap”, the extra emissions reductions required to limit global average warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, as calculated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)[

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