Jacinda Ardern: Australia Must ‘Answer to the Pacific’ on Climate Crisis
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had strong words for Australia as both nations attend the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu this week. The climate crisis is shaping up to be a major issue at the 18-nation forum, as some members want Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to sign a declaration agreeing to a global phase-out of coal, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
However, Australia has been working to water down the forum's declaration, Climate Home News reported Tuesday, fighting language around the term climate "crisis," the 1.5 degree Celsius goal, carbon neutrality, a ban on coal plants and an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Australia's conservative governing Liberal-National coalition, which retained power after elections in May, has historically refused to meaningfully reduce emissions or coal use.
The final arrivals into #PIF2019 with beautiful Tuvaluan welcome for the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Austral… https://t.co/SBpBSFiVi4— Pacific Islands Forum (@Pacific Islands Forum)1565773993.0
"Australia has to answer to the Pacific," Ardern said Wednesday, as The Sydney Morning Herald reported. "That is a matter for them."
Ardern, who arrived at the forum Wednesday, reiterated New Zealand's commitment to climate action. Her Labour government has pledged to phase out fossil fuels by 2035 and reduce emissions to 30 percent of 2005 levels.
"Like our Pacific Island neighbours, we will continue that international call, we will continue to say that New Zealand will do our bit and we have an expectation that everyone else will as well; we have to," Ardern said, as The Guardian reported.
Ardern refused to explicitly call on Australia to abandon coal, or to comment on its reported attempts to soften the final declaration. But her remarks still sparked a vicious attack from radio presenter Alan Jones, The Guardian reported Thursday.
"Here she is preaching on global warming and saying that we've got to do something about climate change," Jones said on radio station 2GB Thursday, as The Guardian reported. "I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat."
Jones' comments were roundly decried by other Pacific island leaders.
"Easy to tell someone to shove a sock down a throat when you're sitting in the comfort of a studio," Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama tweeted. "The people of the Pacific, forced to abandon their homes due to climate change, don't have that luxury."
Easy to tell someone to shove a sock down a throat when you’re sitting in the comfort of a studio. The people of th… https://t.co/jHqrwQh7Ch— Frank Bainimarama (@Frank Bainimarama)1565851056.0
Tuvalu, the island nation hosting the forum, is also threatened by sea level rise. Its Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga joined calls for Australia not to open new coal mines and to phase out existing coal-fired plants in order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, as The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"That's what I prefer to have in the communique," he told ABC Radio, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
However, the most recent Guardian report on the declaration said that Australia had softened language around climate change in the draft. The final would likely replace the phrase "climate change crisis" with "climate change reality" and the draft to be debated by leaders Thursday will likely call on leaders to "reflect on" a ban on new coal infrastructure and an end to fossil fuel subsidies rather than endorse the measures. The final text is expected Thursday after Pacific leaders meet.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that 18 nations wanted Australia to sign a declaration agreeing to a phase-out of coal. In fact, there were 18 nations total represented at the forum, including Australia, and some of them wanted Australia to sign the declaration. The article has been corrected.
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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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