6 Ways You Can Tell the Global Shift to Renewable Energy Has Arrived
We've said it before but it bears repeating: the global shift to clean energy is on today. Not 10 years from now. Not 50 years from now. Today.
We're already seeing the benefits too in a whole host of sectors. And those below are just for starters. Which highlights why—with the Paris agreement about to go into effect and momentum building for action across the planet—it's critical for those of us committed to creating a sustainable future to support world leaders working to drop dirty fossil fuels and expand clean solutions today. Read on to learn more.
1. Renewables are Reducing Global Poverty and Expanding Energy Access
Currently, nearly one-fifth of the world's population lacks access to electricity, most in rural areas of the developing world unable to connect to power grids. But with solar, batteries, LED lights and efficient appliances getting more affordable all the time and entrepreneurs developing new approaches both to technology and support for rural communities, it shouldn't be for long. Fortune magazine, for example, last year hailed off-grid solar in Africa as "tomorrow's hot market." Meanwhile, projects in Bangladesh, Peru and rural villages of India are bringing electricity where there was once none—all through the power of the sun.
2. Clean Energy Saves Lives and Makes the World More Secure
With a warming climate come the challenges of ensuring food and water security for millions, sometimes spurring human migrations and further destabilizing vulnerable countries. But when we embrace clean energy, as militaries around the world are doing, the benefits can be big. Not only is it cutting costs, this choice is actually making our world more secure. Now that's something worth fighting for.
3. Clean Energy Helps Improve Public Health
It's simple: Burning fossil fuels pollutes our air, water and land, exposure to this pollution can result in deadly illnesses. Harnessing the power of the sun, wind and water … well … it doesn't pollute our precious resources. With clean energy, we can all breathe (and drink and farm) easier.
4. We Protect Forests and Reduce Deforestation
Clearing the planet's forests accounts for approximately 15 percent of global emissions—that's about the same, if not slightly more, than transportation. But countries like Brazil and India are creating policies to drastically reduce deforestation as key parts of their strategies for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and meeting their commitments in the Paris agreement. When we protect forests, which store hundreds of billions of metric tons of carbon worldwide, we're keeping that carbon where it belongs. We speak for the trees and we say thanks!
5. Climate-Smart Agriculture is Growing
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agriculture, forestry and other land use accounts for roughly 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but the good news is this: We're getting smarter about how we farm. Some studies and trial programs have suggested that adopting more sustainable agricultural management techniques could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions more than40 percent. Plows at the ready…
6. Clean Energy is Creating Jobs
Jobs: They're a hot topic in the U.S. election and the same is true in political discussions around the world. We've got good news—just last year, 8.1 million people worldwide were employed in the renewable energy industry. And by 2030, if we double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, the sector could employ 24 million people. In the U.S. alone, solar energy already employs 77 percent more workers than the coal mining industry. That's huge.
Help Make Climate Solutions a Reality
It's been said before: now is the time to stop talking about the climate crisis and start solving it. We're already seeing the massive benefits of climate solutions: the time is now to implement them worldwide. Add your name below to support leaders making climate solutions a reality today.
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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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