Democratic Debate Brings Fiercest Exchange Yet on Climate Change, Fracking
During last night’s Democratic debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a site that was flooded by Hurricane Sandy, presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton displayed the fiercest exchange around climate change yet.
2nd most-Tweeted moment for #DemDebate: Clinton & Sanders disagree on environmental policy plans https://t.co/XMkmrvpApI— Twitter Government (@Twitter Government)1460690090.0
“The movement has pushed climate change to the forefront of this presidential election,” said Yong Jung Cho, spokesperson for 350 Action. “From the 400,000 people in the streets of New York City at the People’s Climate March and a statewide ban on fracking in New York, to young people across the country asking candidates over 130 questions on climate over the course of the election, tonight’s debate was proof that organizing works.”
Next Tuesday’s highly anticipated primary in New York, one of the only states with a ban on fracking, will be pivotal in defining each candidate’s climate platforms.
Earlier this year, the Porter Ranch disaster just miles outside of Los Angeles shined a harsh spotlight on the dangers of existing natural gas infrastructure and intensified concerns around the impact fracking has on communities and the climate.
During her tenure as Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton traveled abroad selling fracking to the world, though she recently expressed her support for the statewide ban on fracking New York. Just yesterday, Clinton introduced a new platform that speaks to the widespread issue of environmental injustice. Across the country, fracking has disproportionate impacts on low-income communities and communities of color.
The latest research on fracking affirms that methane emissions from the fracking are significantly more potent than carbon dioxide. Activists are concerned that Clinton’s referral to natural gas as a “bridge fuel” is inconsistent with how serious of a problem she considers climate change.
“The science tells us that the climate is changing faster than ever predicted—there is no room for incrementalism here,” said Cho. “Secretary Clinton has ramped up plans to tackle climate change, yet she’s still referring to natural gas as a potential ‘bridge fuel.’ It’s time that she recognize natural gas for what it is: a fossil fuel and a major contributor to climate change.”
At every corner of the nation, climate activists are uniting under the banner to “keep it in the ground,” calling for an end to all fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters. During last night's debate, Sen. Sanders mentioned the Keep It In The Ground Act, an unprecedented piece of climate legislation that he supported in November.
Within the first moments of the debate, candidates fired at one another around the influence of corporate money in the campaign. Young people across the country have been asking all candidates to refuse donations from fossil fuel interests and have been asking about Clinton about her ties to the fossil fuel industry since July. Days after the conclusion of the Paris climate talks, Clinton vowed to look into fossil fuel donations to her campaign.
Reports confirm that Clinton’s biggest campaign bundlers have come from fossil fuel lobbyists. According to a recent report from Greenpeace, fossil fuel interests have pumped more than $4.5 million into Clinton’s campaign and supportive super PACs during the 2016 election cycle. The Clinton campaign has received the maximum amount in donations from industry lobbyists, including ExxonMobil’s Theresa Fariello.
59 fossil fuel lobbyists & bundlers have given over $1.4 million to @HillaryClinton. We #DidOurResearch: https://t.co/kJqPSPBwka #DemDebate— Greenpeace USA (@Greenpeace USA)1460685442.0
Sen. Sanders pledged to refuse all donations from fossil fuel lobbyists last summer.
Last night's debate was testament to how far climate activists have helped move both candidates on climate change. Activists have pushed Democratic candidates to express stronger stances on climate than ever before, including Secretary Clinton expressing opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, offshore drilling, fossil fuel extraction on public lands, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and calling for a Department of Justice investigation into Exxon’s climate crimes, as well as Sen. Sanders coming out against the NED and Enbridge pipelines.
“The climate movement has set the new standard for our politicians that all ties to fossil fuel interests are unacceptable,” said Cho. “It’s relieving and exciting to see climate change finally being addressed as the urgent crisis that it is. Tonight’s debate was a stark reminder of the real villain: the fossil fuel industry.”
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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