Save the Peatlands, Save the Planet

When it comes to carbon storage you can’t beat peatlands. They store tons of carbon and clean the air so efficiently that we ought to protect them way better than we currently do. Indeed, peatlands are on the decline – that’s not good. Fortunately there is research in how best to protect the peatlands from further damage and ways to restore them to their former glory.

Peatlands are the superheroes of ecosystems: purifying water, sometimes mitigating flooding and providing a home for rare species. And they beat nearly every system when it comes to carbon storage. Known peatlands only cover about 3% of the world’s land surface, but store at least twice as much carbon as all of Earth’s standing forests. In addition, at least one-third of the world’s organic soil carbon, which plays a vital role in mitigating climate change and stabilizing the carbon cycle, is in peatlands.

“From a climate perspective, [peatlands] are the most essential terrestrial ecosystem,” says Tim Christophersen, a senior program officer with Forests and Climate at the United Nations Environment Programme.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Alberta’s Carbon Tax Brings Cash to Great Programs

The Canadian province of Alberta is best known for the tar sands and the damage extraction of the bitumen has done to the planet. The province is now aware that their extraction economy won’t last forever because it isn’t renewable, so they have started to implement policies to make their province more efficient. One recent thing they did was implementing a carbon tax. Over at desmog blog they compiled a list of ten reasons Albertans like the new carbon tax and how it benefits them.

4) Household Rebates — $1.5 Billion

A popular critique of carbon pricing is that it unfairly punishes lower income people, costing poor people a higher percentage of their income and leaving even fewer options to, say, buy a newer and more fuel-efficient car or furnace.

Thankfully, Alberta has integrated well-designed rebates into the design of the carbon levy, channelling $410 million in 2017-18 to household rebates.

Two-thirds of Albertan households have already received partial or full rebates, depending on their income levels. Consumers who pollute less than average actually make money from the rebates.

Over three years, the household rebates will amount to $1.5 billion.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Algae Used for Carbon Capture at Cement Plant

industry

Every year cement production contributes about 5% of the global emissions generated by humans. Any improvement around cement production will have a good impact on lowering carbon entering our atmosphere. In Sweden there’s one company using algae to lower its emissions. The country has carbon emission rates that are likely increasing in the next few years, which has inspired the cement company to figure out how to avoid paying more for producing the same amount of cement. Their solution: pumping the carbon output from their cement factory onto algae which then inhales all that delicious carbon, once the algae dies it becomes food.

It’s elegant: Take water from the Baltic Sea’s Kalmar Strait next to the plant, pump it about 100 meters (330 feet, about the length of a soccer field) into bags that can hold about 3,000 liters (800 gallons) of liquid. Add key nutrients to multiply the naturally occurring algae, and then let them soak in the gases piped to it from the cement plant (what would otherwise be the factory’s waste product) while the sun shines.

What’s more is the algae are rich in proteins and fats. After drying, they can be used as an additive for chicken- and fish-food. Heidelberg is in talks to sell the algae additives to major agricultural companies like Cargill. At its current size, the Algoland system in Degerhamn can only produce about a few kilograms of algae a day. But the plant has all it needs to scale up to make many metric tons of algae daily—light, water, fresh algae, and lots of space—and thus capture many metric tons of carbon dioxide in the process.

The science underlying Algoland is not novel, but what is new is how well it integrates the many parts entailed into an economically feasible carbon-capture plant. The used-up limestone quarry can provide the space; a greenhouse built on it ensures the right temperature and light is available even when the sun’s not shining; and the Baltic Sea is a source for both water and fresh algae.

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Large Corporations form the B Team to be Carbon Neutral by 2050

wind turbine
The B Team is a collection of some of the largest companies in the world who want to see the world be a better place. They have agreed to make their companies carbon neutral by 2050 and one company has already achieved that goal – Salesforce. The tech company changed the architecture of their cloud setup to lower energy consumption. They approached the challenge by reducing waste and consumption then they offset the rest of their carbon footprint by investing in sustainable energy solutions.

In 2015, 10 B Team companies made the commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – the timeline we need to be on to have the best chance of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees.

Today one of these companies – Salesforce – reached this milestone well ahead of schedule. It’s a powerful demonstration that not only is net zero possible, but it’s possible on an accelerated timeframe necessary to rapidly bend the curve on global emissions, and limit the worst impacts of climate change.

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The Trump Forest

Forest
There’s a new forest growing and it’s spreading over the entire world – and you can help spread it. Trump Forest is more of an idea than a physical place, but it’s all about the physical. President Trump’s ignorance around climate change is apparent and will have disastrous impacts on the planet. As a result of this some enterprising New Zealanders decided to grow resistance to Trump – literally. The idea is to plant as many trees as needed to counteract Trump’s ignorance.

Trump Forest’s tagline is “where ignorance grows trees.” The original plan was to plant a tree for every time President Trump said the words “climate change,” but it quickly became apparent that this wouldn’t grow a forest: Trump has long refused to say the words, and, last week, the U.S. Department of Energy was barred from using the phrase “climate change,” along with “emissions reduction” and “Paris Agreement.”

Human civilization currently emits about 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. To avoid extreme climate change, where the average global temperature would rise by 4°C, emissions need to be reduced to 22 gigatons (or 22 billion tons) by 2050.

Researchers at Oxford University estimate that, if pursued at scale, reforestation and afforestation could sequester as much as 5.5 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere per year. So while planting trees is not enough to reverse climate change, it is a low-cost and effective act of resistance when coupled with other climate action efforts.

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