Climate Summit Aims to 'Take Ambition to the Next Level'
The Sept. 12 to 14 gathering will feature numerous seminars, notable speakers such as former vice president Al Gore and former secretary of state John Kerry, and will culminate Friday with a call urging international governments to commit greater efforts in averting dangerous global warming under the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
Collective action on tackling climate change is more important than ever, especially in light of
President Trump's intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement and his continued efforts to push polluting, planet-warming fossil fuels.
"We're running out of time," as Gov. Brown says on the event website. "There's been some backsliding since Paris, and our summit ... aims to increase the commitments that have already been made in Paris, to make them even greater, and thereby build the momentum going into the conference of the parties at Poland," aka the COP24 climate talks, this December.
People from all over the world are gathering this week in San Francisco for @GCAS2018. Against the indifference of… https://t.co/6Ikl3M5nvB— Jerry Brown (@Jerry Brown)1536596925.0
In an op-ed this week for the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown wrote: "We all know that Donald Trump has declared war on every effort to stop global warming and that his congressional acolytes have abetted his insane crusade. Tragically, even the leaders of nations who joined in the 2015 Paris climate accord are also failing to do what it takes to reverse global warming. Greenhouse gas levels are still rising, and they are producing an unsustainable human future."
Fittingly, the theme of GCAS is to take "Take Ambition to the Next Level."
"The summit in San Francisco is bringing together grassroots activists, mayors, governors, heads of industry and international leaders for the express purpose of mobilizing climate action at the local level and to demand that their national governments get serious and raise their ambitions," Brown added.
Once the meeting gets going, we should expect significant climate action announcements from a major food and beverage company, a large utility and a major healthcare company, according to a press release received by EcoWatch.
Several companies will also make commitments to roll out more zero-emissions vehicles and charging infrastructure, the release said.
Ahead of the gathering, Kaiser Permanente—the nation's largest nonprofit integrated health care system and GCAS sponsor—announced a major renewable power purchase agreement on Monday that will allow the organization to become carbon neutral in 2020.
"Climate change is here. We are seeing the effects of it in devastating wildfires, hurricanes and droughts already impacting people's lives," said chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson in a statement received by EcoWatch. "At Kaiser Permanente we understand that one of the most effective ways to protect the health of the more than 68 million people in the communities we serve is by ensuring healthy environmental conditions. By investing in renewable energy and becoming carbon neutral, Kaiser Permanente is helping to prevent climate-related illness for people worldwide."
The gathering will celebrate existing climate commitments and achievements, and will ask the world to step up their efforts in five key challenge areas: Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land and Ocean Stewardship; Transformative Climate Investments.
The World Wildlife Fund, a leader of the Land and Ocean Stewardship challenge, issued the 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge that calls on businesses, governments and citizens to take action for better forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption and land use.
"To curb climate change, we must address the second-greatest source of emissions: our use of land," said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, head of WWF's global climate and energy practice in an online press release. "By taking concrete action, businesses and local leaders also can encourage national governments to more aggressively reduce carbon emissions using every resource available, including trees, grasses and soil."
Alongside the summit itself, there will be more than 325 affiliate events in San Francisco and elsewhere. Many of these panels, workshops, tours, exhibits and other special events are open for the public or can be attended virtually.
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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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