Canada set to ban Single-Use Plastics by 2021

Water

The Canadian government announced plans this week to ban all single-use plastics by 2021. This is a great step in protecting the environment from the wastefulness of stars and plastic bags. The Canadian federal plan is to try to get manufactures of the plastic items to foot the bill and not consumers, this way it’s the companies causing the problem paying for the damages. Let’s hope even more countries join in on the ban on wasteful plastics.

Canada’s move follows one by the European Parliament, which voted earlier this year to ban several single-use plastic products, and recent disputes with the Philippines and Malaysia over Canadian waste shipped to them.

Less than 10% of plastic used in Canada gets recycled, and Canadians will throw away an estimated C$11 billion ($8.3 billion) worth of plastic materials each year by 2030 without a change in course, the government said in a statement.

Canada may require manufacturers to use a set amount of recycled content, the government said. Also, federal and provincial authorities will work together so that companies, rather than just municipalities, take more responsibility for the recycling process.

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Examples of Ways People Already Live a Low Carbon Lifestyle

Berlin

As the climate crisis continues there are many ways that we all can try to slow it down. The biggest changes need to happen at the political level enforcing sustainable practices, in the meantime there are things you can do as an individual. The easiest thing to do is buy less and switch to low-carbon transit; however, there is even more options ahead of you. If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration then the Guardian has you covered! They recently ran an article looking at some peopel who have already converted to a low-carbon lifestyle.

All our vegetables are seasonal, grown either in our garden or on a local organic farm. My meals are 80% vegan, and 20% vegetarian. Vegan food is delicious – it’s a cuisine.

I try to reuse and repair my belongings. I use the money I save to spend more on products I do buy. My clothes are either secondhand or organic. I have a Fairphone – it’s designed so that the individual parts can be easily replaced when they break. I don’t buy wrapping paper, I reuse an old duvet cover I cut up into squares.

In total, we’ve reduced our home’s carbon emissions by 93%. I’ve enjoyed making all these changes – they’ve been fun – and I feel part of a big movement. I want to be able to say to the next generation: I tried to prevent runaway climate change. If I didn’t, I would feel I was committing a wrong.”

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Work Less to Save the Planet

economic chart

You already know you’re working too many hours, so let’s change that and save the planet in the process. Economic growth has physical limits and we’re hitting those already as we run out of finite resources, or those resources are getting harder and harder to reach like oil. So to maintain growth we need to switch to a renewable energy based economy and fast. We can also just work less and focus on decreasing the growth of consumer capitalism.

This is where the idea of degrowth comes in. Degrowing our economy focuses on getting rid of things awe don’t need and are incredibly destructive to the environment (like fast fashion) and focusing our attention to bettering society as a whole (like free daycare). Another way to degrowth the economy is to reduce our working weeks to produce more jobs and give everybody more leisure. Aren’t we all working for the weekend anyway?

To get emissions to zero, it will involve a kind of “degrowth,” but one targeted specifically at fossil-fuel consumption. “That doesn’t mean we have to degrow everything,” Pollin said. “We really need to degrow the fossil fuel industry to zero, but massively expand the clean energy systems, the investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.” This is essentially the Green New Deal: a push to increase renewable energy while eliminating fossil fuels, and including an effort to create a just transition for the people who have jobs in that sector.

To Pollin, even this would be a radical improvement. A plan to get to zero carbon emissions in 30 years would mean shutting down one of the world’s most powerful industries. He thinks that that is ambitious enough without trying to implement other broad societal changes.

“If we take the climate science seriously, we only have a few decades to make huge progress,” Pollin said. “And whether I like it or not, we’re not going to overthrow capitalism in that time.”

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Iceland’s Carbon Capture Plan Working

Iceland Puffing

Iceland already is one of the greenest places on the planet and they are going even further to try keep the whole planet green. The country is hosting a research project that has sucked 43,000 tons of CO2 out of the air and injected it into the ground. They’re capturing CO2 waste and then mixing it with water to decrease the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and the results are promising. This works well in Iceland due to the volcanic rock in the country (this doesn’t work as well with other types of rock).

Of course, the best thing to keep CO2 out of the atmosphere is to not generate it all by using sustainable energy and efficient energy use. Until we have a fully renewable grid and cut down consumer consumption we need to look into carbon capture.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology promoted by the United Nations that can capture up to 90 percent of CO2 emissions that come from fossil-fuel sources and send them to an underground storage site—usually an old oil and gas field or a saline aquifer formation—so they don’t enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

Researchers and engineers in Iceland, alongside experts from France and the United States, have been working on one project that applies such CCS methods called CarbFix. For years, they’ve been holed up at Hellisheidi, a massive geothermal plant on a volcano near Reykjavik. The plant is built on a layer of porous basalt rock formed from cooled lava and, crucially, has easy access to the endless water supply underneath the volcano.

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Christiana Figueres: The Climate Risk Reward Ratio has Changed

The architect of the Paris Agreement, Christiana Figueres, is optimistic about the future of the planet and she sees the technology sector key in moving our economy to a carbon neutral system. She sees the exponential growth in the technology sector and argues that we need that sector’s help to manage “exponential growth in sustainable solutions”. Indeed, she claimed that “the tech sector is the portal to solving climate change” at a press conference at Collision Conference.

I doubt any parent alive today wants to be blamed for the environmental problems their children will face. – Figueres

Technology

We can’t have technology growing for growth’s sake. -Figueres

As she sees it, we are in a race between two exponential curves: sustainable tech growth and climate change. Her hope is that the tech sector can help move the economy away from fossil fuels. We need to decarbonize the economy as fast as possible.

Companies are starting to note that our climate crisis greatly endangers their future business plans.

Transportation

We are killing 7 million people per year because of air pollution that is entirely avoidable if we move to electric mobility. -Figueres

The economy is slowly moving away from fossil fuels, but this needs to happen faster. The risks are too great to continue our slow progress. She even notes that all the major automakers are moving to all electric – even Harley Davidson.

Cities need to regulate the types of cars and busses allowed in their borders so citizens are dangerously exposed to pollution. We have the knowledge, we just need the policies.

Housing

More corporations understanding that its in their own interest to decarbonize. -Figueres

We need purposeful growth and millennials get that, and that’s true when it comes to housing. Figueres envisions a short term goal of retrofitting existing buildings. She wonders why aren’t people retrofitting their buildings since insulation of homes is important to reducing energy combustion.

Figueres calls for policy makers to demand that new buildings power themselves and contribute to a healthier city. Again, we have the technology, we have the knowledge, we just need the policies.

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