$5 Billion Plan Could Create Zero Carbon Shipping Industry
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents 80 percent of the global shipping industry, is proposing to create an NGO called the International Maritime Research and Development Board, which would be funded by a two-dollar levy on every ton of fuel a ship consumes. It would then use the roughly $500 million it makes every year from the tax for the research and development of zero-carbon ships to overhaul the industry, according to The Guardian.
It is thought that ships fueled by hydrogen or ammonia are possible, but prototypes have not yet been created. Ships use notably carbon-intensive fuel. The heavy-fuel that ships require is loaded with contaminants in addition to carbon, according to The Guardian.
"This is a very positive proposal," said Guy Platten, the secretary general of the ICS, as The Guardian reported. "We need to get to zero carbon [for shipping] and this is a transparent mechanism for raising funds that we need to help us do that. We have worked for years on this with the support of our members."
The global shipping industry creates roughly three percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, which roughly equivalent to all of Germany's output, as the BBC reported.
Right now, fuel costs $400 per ton, which is expected to rise to $600 per ton next year when new regulations go into effect to cut sulfur emissions from ship's oil, according to The Guardian.
Platten defended the small size of the levy to the BBC, arguing it was large enough to generate a significant amount of revenue, but small enough to get the members of the ICS to agree to it.
"I have seen a massive change in the opinion of ships' owners over the past few years," Platten told the BBC. "They've realized that we've got to do our bit by decarbonizing shipping - and that means designing zero-carbon ships. That's why we need the levy. At the moment we can't yet see what the best clean fuel would be for ships. But there's a real urgency about solving the problem."
Ship owners could see the writing on the wall: their outsized contribution of greenhouse gasses coupled with pollution dumped into the oceans was going to mean increased regulation. By self-imposing the levy and looking for zero-carbon solutions, ship owners avoided far stricter and more expensive regulations, according to Simon Bennett, the ICS's deputy secretary general, who spoke to The Guardian.
"Greta Thunberg is right to say that 'creative accounting and clever PR' often lie behind supposed commitments to sustainability, but our plans are transparent, and our regulator has teeth," said Platten, as the trade publication Seatrade Maritime News reported. "Now we ask the wider shipping community for their blessing. Change on this scale is difficult and often daunting. But in this case, it could not be more necessary."
The proposal won praise from others in the shipping industry.
"This new multi-billion-dollar fund is a game-changing development," said Bob Sanguinetti, UK Chamber of Shipping Chief Executive, to Seatrade Maritime News. "It shows just how serious the industry is about reducing its emissions and tackling climate change. It is a huge step in the right direction to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050."
Environmental activists had another take, suggesting that the plan is too little, too late, arguing that it is ridiculous that ships pay no fuel tax. A tax commensurate with what trucks are charged in Europe would generate 70 times more revenue just in Europe, according to the BBC.
"That amount is simply ridiculous to spur innovation in the sector nor to be a driver to spur efficiency, said Nico Muzi, the director of communications and campaigns at Transport & Environment, to The Guardian. "If it is $2 per tonne of fuel, it is 42 times less than current CO2 prices in Europe. To rein in long-ignored maritime emissions and make shipping do its fair share, Europe must bring shipping into its carbon market and mandate CO2 standards for all ships calling at its ports."
Doug Parr, the chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, questioned the shipping industry's motives in the absence of specific goals to reduce emissions.
"The shipping industry has slipped under the radar of international climate action for way too long," he said to The Guardian. "Investing research to create zero-carbon ships is not a bad thing in itself, but it becomes suspiciously close to a delaying tactic if it is not accompanied by clear reduction targets. If the shipping industry wants people to believe this is a serious move, then they should change course and support legally binding targets to cut their planet-warming emissions."
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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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