Welcome to another edition of our Climate Joy series. We are particularly impressed with Canada this week who seem to be ready to combat the plastic crisis. This is good news especially as we reported last week that shipments of plastic waste had been returned to the country by Malaysia. Anyway, from Canada to Finland, join us as we make the rounds to see who is taking positive action for our environment.
The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau has announced that the country will be banning single-use plastic by 2021. “As early as 2021, Canada will ban harmful single-use plastics from coast to coast,” Trudeau said. He admits that they are taking a cue from the EU who, in March, had voted to implement the same ban.
The precise list of single-use plastic items has not been released, and will be decided after a scientific review, however, the ban is expected to target items such as disposable plastic cutlery and plastic shopping bags.
Critics have said banning single-use plastic will not make much difference as Canada does not contribute much to ocean plastic. Nevertheless, Canada still contributes its share and given that only about 10% of plastic used in Canada is recycled, banning plastic is definitely a move in the move direction.
The Norwegian Parliament has voted for the country’s sovereign fund to divest from fossil fuel projects. The Government Pension Fund Global, which is built on Norway’s legacy oil earnings, is the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund and manages $1 trillion (£786 billion) of Norway’s assets.
This means that the fund will divest over $13 billion in fossil energy holdings. This includes $6 billion in coal investments (including shares in the mining companies Anglo-American, Glencore and the German RWE) and an additional $7 billion in oil exploration and production companies.
With the new mandate, the fund will also step back from any company which generates more than 10GW of electricity from coal, or mines more 20m tonnes of thermal coal a year. Also, it is now empowered to invest directly in renewable energy projects and companies and not just listed energy companies either.
With developments like this, renewables are definitely the future of energy.
Last week, the Canadian House of Commons passed a law that makes it illegal to hold whales, dolphins or porpoises captive.
The law makes an exception for cases where the animal is a rescue; is licensed for scientific research; is undergoing rehabilitation or it is in the best interests of the animal. The law, which has been known as “Free Willy” is named after the 1993 movie about a boy who freed a whale from an American amusement park.
This law has been celebrated by animal activists with the animal rights group, Humane Canada, describing it as “news to splash a fin at”.
Gatwick Airport in the UK has launched a scheme to offer reusable cups to travelers at the airport. Travelers who purchase coffee at the airport will have the option of being served with reusable cups. After use, the travelers can then drop off the cups at various designated points in the airport before continuing on their journey. The used cups are then washed and sterilised and then put back into circulation.
The scheme which is being run by Starbucks and Hubbub aims to replace the disposable paper cups with reusables. Over seven million cups are used in the airport annually with only about five million recycled.
It seems the scheme will be successful as Starbucks said that over 300 reusable cups were given out on the first day of the trial. The trial will run for a month with a seven thousand cup target and will provide data on how to implement reusable cup schemes at other airports and other environments.
The Finnish government has pledged that the country will become carbon neutral by 2035. This pledge comes alongside a broader plan to further develop the country’s welfare and infrastructure.
The pledge which will be made into law, follows a narrow win by the Social Democrats in an election where in which the climate crisis emerged as Finnish voters’ number one concern. To meet the 2035 target, the country would cut back on its logging investments as well as radically reduce its consumption of fossil fuels and peat, which together supply about 40% of the country’s energy needs. The programme calls for a rapid increase in wind and solar power production, the electrification of heating and transport, and a 10% increase in bioenergy, mainly from agricultural waste and forest residues.
Pekka Haavisto, the Green League party chair, (who is part of the Social Democrats ruling Coalition) said the programme – which will increase public spending by €1.23bn (£1.1bn) a year and spend another €3bn on one-off investments is “probably the most ambitious in the world” on climate issues.
To meet the cost, the government plans to raise taxes especially through levies on fossil fuels as well as sell of state assets.
That’s it for Climate Joy this week. Be sure to stop by next week for another round of news. Until then, dont forget to share this article.
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Feature image via Starbucks.