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In the coming days, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to use its power to roll back yet another Obama-era environmental protection meant to curb air pollution and slow the climate crisis.
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The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline won a reprieve Wednesday when an appeals court canceled a lower court order mandating the pipeline be shut down and emptied of oil while a full environmental impact statement is completed.
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BP, the energy giant that grew from oil and gas production, is taking its business in a new direction, announcing Tuesday that it will slash its oil and gas production by 40 percent and increase its annual investment in low-carbon technology to $5 billion, a ten-fold increase over its current level, according to CNN.
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By Alex Thornton
The Australian government has announced a A$190 million (US$130 million) investment in the nation's first Recycling Modernization Fund, with the aim of transforming the country's waste and recycling industry. The hope is that as many as 10,000 jobs can be created in what is being called a "once in a generation" opportunity to remodel the way Australia deals with its waste.
Waste Mountain<p>The need for a dramatic increase in Australia's recycling capacity pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic. <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-27/where-does-all-australias-waste-go/11755424" target="_blank">Australians create approximately 67 million tons of waste a year</a>, and like in many wealthy countries, much of that was sent overseas. That all changed when China announced it was <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/china-has-banned-foreign-waste-so-whats-the-future-of-world-recycling" target="_blank">banning the import of a huge range of foreign waste</a> and recyclables. Soon <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/malaysia-flooded-with-plastic-waste-to-send-back-some-scrap-to-source" target="_blank">other countries followed suit</a>, and Australia was forced to look for alternative solutions.</p>
Biggest exporters of plastic. Statista
Waste Export Ban<p>Australia has adopted a strategy of taking responsibility for its own waste. Starting in January 2021, it is phasing in <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/waste-export-ban" target="_blank">bans on the export of different forms of waste</a>. By mid 2024, Australia's home-grown recycling industry will have to deal with an extra 650,000 tons of waste plastic, paper, glass and tires.</p><p>"As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy," federal environment minister Sussan Ley said in a <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-australia-waste/australia-to-set-up-132-million-fund-to-boost-recycling-following-export-curbs-idUKKBN247060" target="_blank">statement to Reuters</a>.</p>
Timeline for Australia's waste export ban. Australian Government
Trash Into Treasure<p>The benefits to the environment of boosting recycling rates are well known – less landfill, less plastic in our ocean, reduced need for virgin materials, and lower carbon emissions. The Recycling Modernization Fund initiative aims to divert more than 10 million tons of waste from landfill, part of an <a href="http://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/publications/national-waste-policy-action-plan" target="_blank">overall strategy to reduce the total waste generated per person by 10%</a>, and push <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/7381c1de-31d0-429b-912c-91a6dbc83af7/files/national-waste-report-2018.pdf" target="_blank">Australia's total resource recovery rate from 58% in 2017</a> to 80% by 2030.</p><p>But like many countries, Australia is focusing on the economic benefits of better waste management as well.</p><p>"This will mean Australia converts more waste into higher valued resources ready for reuse locally by manufacturers and brands in their packaging and products," Rose Read, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-australia-waste/australia-to-set-up-132-million-fund-to-boost-recycling-following-export-curbs-idUKKBN247060" target="_blank">told Reuters</a>.</p>
Green Jobs<p>The great potential of the circular economy to create green jobs is being recognized across the world.</p><p>In the UK, the Waste and Resources Action Program has launched a <a href="https://wrap.org.uk/buildbackbetter" target="_blank">six-point plan which it claims could add $90 billion to the economy, and create 500,000 new jobs</a>. Investment in the circular economy forms a significant part of the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan that Democratic candidate Joe Biden</a> is taking into November's US presidential election. And the <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_940" target="_blank">European Union has put its Green New Deal at the heart of its plans for recovery</a> from the economic shock of COVID-19.</p><p>The World Economic Forum's <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_Future_Of_Nature_And_Business_2020.pdf" target="_blank">Future of Nature and Business</a> report identifies 15 systemic transitions with annual business opportunities worth $10 billion a year that could create 395 million jobs by 2030.</p><p>As is the case with Australia's Recycling Modernization Fund, a combination of private enterprise and government investment can offer ways to get people back to work by building a more environmentally sustainable economy.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
A report released Wednesday by a new nonprofit—in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the resulting economic disaster, and calls for a green recovery from those intertwined crises that prioritizes aggressive climate policies—lays out how rapidly decarbonizing and electrifying the U.S. economy could create up to 25 million good-paying jobs throughout the country over the next 15 years.
<div id="f81ce" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2fad6ba1ecf38ccb6549191cdb16426"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1288520002916823041" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">A MacArthur Genius, business leader, and MIT physicist have a plan: get 25 million Americans back to work in good-p… https://t.co/tCvc2rmvd3</div> — Otherlab (@Otherlab)<a href="https://twitter.com/otherlab/statuses/1288520002916823041">1596042082.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Francesca DiGiorgio
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to increase federal aid for emergency food distribution in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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By Shanna Hanbury
With the Amazon rainforest predicted to be at, or very close to, its disastrous rainforest-to-savanna tipping point, deforestation escalating at a frightening pace, and governments often worsening the problem, the need for action to secure the future of the rainforest has never been more urgent.
Reversing the Amazon Tipping Point<p>Over the last five decades, the Amazon rainforest lost almost a fifth of its forest cover, putting the <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/12/the-tipping-point-is-here-it-is-now-top-amazon-scientists-warn/" target="_blank">biome on the edge</a> of a dangerous cliff. <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/01/impending-amazon-tipping-point-puts-biome-and-world-at-risk-scientists-warn/" target="_blank">Studies show</a> that if 3 to 8% more forest cover is lost, then deforestation combined with escalating climate change is likely to cause the Amazon ecosystem to collapse.</p><p>After this point is reached, the lush, biodiverse rainforest will receive too little precipitation to maintain itself and quickly shift from forest into a degraded savanna, causing enormous <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/02/amazon-tipping-point-puts-brazils-agribusiness-energy-sector-at-risk-top-scientists/" target="_blank">economic damage</a> across the South American continent, and releasing vast amounts of forest-stored carbon to the atmosphere, further destabilizing the global climate.</p><p>Amazon researchers are now taking a proactive stance to prevent the Amazon Tipping Point: "Our message to political leaders is that there is no time to waste," Nobre wrote in the SPA's press release.</p><p>Amid escalating forest loss in the Amazon, propelled by the anti-environmentalist agenda of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/04/satellite-data-show-amazon-rainforest-likely-drier-more-fire-prone-this-year/" target="_blank">experts fear</a> that this year's burning season, <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/07/fires-rage-in-the-amazon-despite-official-ban-greenpeace-photos-reveal/" target="_blank">already underway</a>, may exceed the August 2019 wildfires that shocked the world. Most Amazon basin fires are not natural in cause, but <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/09/brazilian-amazon-fires-scientifically-linked-to-2019-deforestation-report/" target="_blank">intentionally set</a>, often by land grabbers invading indigenous territories and other conserved lands, and causing massive deforestation.</p>
Scientists Offer Evidence, and Also Solutions.<p>Creating a workable blueprint for the sustainable future of the Amazon rainforest is no simple task. The solutions mapped out, according to the Amazon Panel's scientists, will seek to not only prevent deforestation and curb global climate change, but to generate a new vision and action plan for the Amazon region and its residents — especially, fulfilling development goals via a sustainable standing-forest economy.</p><p>The SPA, Nobre says, will make a critical break with the purely technical approach of the United Nation's IPCC, which banned policy prescriptions entirely from its reports. In practice, this has meant that while contributing scientists can show the impacts of fossil fuels on the atmosphere, they cannot recommend ending oil subsidies, for example. "We inverted this logic, and the third part of the [SPA] report will be entirely dedicated to searching for policy suggestions," Nobre says. "We need the forest on its feet, the empowerment of the traditional peoples and solutions on how to reach development goals."</p><p>Researchers across many academic fields (ranging from climate science and economics to history and meteorology) are collaborating on the SPA Panel, raising hopes that scientific consensus on the Amazon rainforest can be reached, and that conditions for research cooperation will greatly improve.</p>
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By Krissy Waite
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The inspector general for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will look into one of the Trump administration's hallmark environmental rollbacks: the weakening of Obama-era emissions standards. The law from the Obama administration was designed to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing fuel-efficiency standards. Now, the EPA's inspector general will try to determine whether or not the rollback violated the government's own laws, according to CNN.
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