Welcome to this week’s edition of our Climate Joy Series, we are so thrilled you stopped by. This week marks our 28th edition of our beloved series and if this visit is your first with us, please start from the beginning to fully understand what our Climate Joy series is all about.
That being said, we have collated yet another weekly round of amazing news for you with regards to the fight to save our planet. From better waste management to healthier aviation systems, today here’s what we’re celebrating this week:
Last week, The Guardian newspaper published an extensive expose on the fossil fuel industry and carbon emissions. The newspaper listed in this elaborate report the 20 fossil fuel companies that have been responsible for a whopping one-third of global carbon emissions since 1965, the year at which experts say the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by both the petroleum industry leaders and politicians.
The report and analysis was provided by Richard Heede at the US Climate Accountability Institute, the world’s leading authority on Big Oil’s role in the escalating climate emergency. The list is composed of state and investor owned fossil fuel companies. At the top of the list is Saudi-owned Saudi Aramco, followed by Chevron and other companies such as Exxon, BP and Shell. Together, the top 20 companies on the list have contributed 35% of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide since 1965.
Now this development may not be joyous in itself, but the very fact that The Guardian has taken the initiative to expose these companies for the wrongs they have caused is cause for celebration. Fossil fuel companies often operate in a cloud of secrecy when it comes to their operations and how it impacts the environment; but by lifting the veil in this way, we can finally begin to hold the responsible corporations accountable for their actions.
The Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry has just announced a plan to build the country’s first waste-to-energy plant. The plant, which will be built on a Public Private Partnership (PPP), will have foreign companies permitted to bid for the construction which is expected to cost an estimated INS one billion (roughly US$285 million).
The plant will be built on “Good Samaritan” recycling park near Ma’ale Adumim, on land previously marked for a landfill, thereby reducing land damage. The plant is expected to serve as the primary waste treatment facility for the Jerusalem metropolitan area and surrounding towns.
International Airline Group (IAG), owners of British Airways, has recently announced its commitment to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. This will involve removing or offsetting all carbon emissions from its fleet of over 570 aircrafts (including Aer Lingus and Iberia) by 2050 This makes the airline the first major airline to commit to zero emissions. The plan will begin with offsetting all British Airways flights as of next year. British Airways will do this by investing in solar energy products and planting trees in South America, Africa and Asia.
To further achieve its 2050 carbon neutral target, IAG says it will invest over $400 million on sustainable fuel options over the next two decades. An additional $27 billion will go to replacing older planes over the next five years with 142 new aircrafts. These new planes will be up to 25% more efficient than the models they replace.
In addition, the company will develop new sustainable engine technologies, and partner with an America’s Mosaic Materials because the latter has already created an absorbent material to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere.
For you to better appreciate the significance of this move by IAG, it’s important to note that the aviation sector alone transports some two billion passengers annually, contributing roughly two percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Californian government has placed a hotel ban on travel-size bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotions. Last week California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law prohibiting hotels from supplying plastic packaged toiletries in an effort to reduce the wasteful number of plastic containers being thrown away by hotels and guests.
The ban will come into effect in 2023 for hotels with more than 50 rooms and in 2024 for hotels with less than 50 rooms. Those violating the ban will be subject to monetary fines. On the first violation, a written warning will be given along with a $500 fine for each day the lodging establishment is in violation, according to the bill. Any second or subsequent violations of this ban would result in a $2,000 fine.
Household goods giant Unilever has announced that it will be slashing its use of plastic by 50% by 2025. Unilever intends to achieve this in two ways:
- reduce packaging by selling more “naked” products and reusable or refillable products; and
- use more recycled plastic in its packaging.
To achieve this, Unilever will invest in waste collection and processing. It will also purchase more recycled plastics for use in its packaging, and will participate in programs where it directly pays for the collection of its own discarded packaging. The company previously committed to making all of its plastic packaging fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. It wants recycled plastic to make up at least 25% of its packaging by the same year.
If successfully executed, the company will be cutting down plastic use from 700,000 tonnes annually to about 350,000 tonnes starting from 2025. The company which owns very popular brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove is one one of the world’s biggest producers of plastic.
Last week, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three scientists for their work in developing lithium-ion batteries. According to the academy, the award was for the importance of their research in making “a fossil fuel-free world possible,” since electric vehicles and renewable energy storage devices are powered by lithium-ion batteries which in turn helps in cutting emissions that drive climate change.
The three scientists are: Michael Stanley Whittingham, a distinguished professor of chemistry, materials science and engineering at the State University of New York at Binghamton; John B. Goodenough, a professor of engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, and Akira Yoshino, a chemist at Meijo University in Nagoya, Japan.
Now another twist to the story is that Whittingham made his breakthrough in the 1970s while working for Exxon, one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies, and featured in The Guardian’s top 20 companies contributing to climate change.
And on that note, we wrap things up for this edition of our Climate Joy series. Make sure to spread the positive climate news by sharing this post and we’ll see you back here same time next week.
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- 23 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste at Conferences and Events
Feature image via CNN.