Electric energy production using non-renewable processes produces an immense amount of carbon, and as a civilization we can’t afford to put more carbon in the atmosphere. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder set out to figure out how much pollution do power plants actually produce and what can we do about the worst ones. They found that 73% of pollution came from just 5% of power plants, unsurprisingly those plants used coal. So let’s shut them down!
According to the authors of the research, the emission intensity of the ten worst plants exceeded those of other fossil fuel power plants in their home countries in 2018 at a rate 28.2 percent to 75.6 percent higher than their counterparts. This suggests that the plants are very inefficient in burning coal, the research showed.
“Why these relatively inefficient plants are used so heavily is a topic ripe for future investigation,” the authors wrote.
A materials company in Berlin wants to build the world using carbon taken our of the air – making it the first carbon-negative materials manufacture. Made of Air has sunglasses on the market and provides cladding material for buildings all made from a tried and tested method of capturing air based carbon, they then apply their unique method to make the carbon durable enough in these other settings. For every tone of plastic-like material they create they store about two tonnes of co2.
Over the next year, the company is ramping up its production capacity by 100 times to sequester 2,000 tonnes of CO2e each year.
Made of Air is a non-toxic bioplastic made from biochar. This charcoal-like material is almost pure carbon and is made by burning biomass such as forestry offcuts and secondary agricultural materials without oxygen.
Biochar has been produced for centuries and is increasingly being used as a fertiliser as well as a way of sequestering carbon in the soil.
Made of Air mixes biochar with a binder made from sugar cane to create a material that can be melted and moulded like a regular thermoplastic.
There’s no doubt that we can all reduce our carbon footprint, but there’s one segment of the population who drastically need to cut their carbon output: the rich. Recent headlines have made it clear that the poor are impact most by climate issues, while the rich can afford solutions the rest of us cannot. What’s more, according to the UN, the wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%. The richest 5% contributed 37% of emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.
If we’re going to avoid climate catastrophe then we need the polluter elite to do their part – not just the rest of us.
He continued: “Rich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air. But these schemes are highly contentious and they’re not proven over time.
The wealthy, he said, “simply must fly less and drive less. Even if they own an electric SUV that’s still a drain on the energy system and all the emissions created making the vehicle in the first place”.
Sam Hall, from the Conservative Environment Network, told BBC News: “It’s right to emphasise the importance of fairness in delivering (emissions cuts) – and policy could make it easier for people and businesses to go green – through incentives, targeted regulation and nudges.
Economist argue that efficiency produces profits, which is why we see mass layoffs and (bizarrely) large payouts for executives. 20th century economists ignored a lot of opportunities for more efficient operations because the costs weren’t put on corporations themselves. The costs of running the business were covered by the governments. There is no better example of this than how companies treat the environment.
An easy example is in Alberta where companies in the tar sands have ransacked vast tracts of land for low-quality bitumen while leaving the costs of cleanup on the government. If companies had to pay for their environmental damage then the tar sands wouldn’t be profitable.
Finally economists have caught up to what environmentalists have been saying for decades: if we don’t act on the damage done to the environment by companies then all companies will suffer (obviously nature suffers more). Recent studies show that not getting to a carbon net-zero economy soon will cost the global economy $30 trillion a year due to ecological destruction.
Sylvan said he was surprised that so many saw net-zero action as “economically desirable, even on the pretty short timeline that we’re talking about.”
Most of the international climate economists questioned for the survey in February said they had become more concerned about climate change over the last five years. The most common reason they gave was the escalation in recent extreme weather events, which have included climate-linked wildfires and heat waves.