Last Week in Sustainability News – 17.06
Updated: Jul 15
This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below
Chemical pollutants linked to poor sperm quality found at ‘astonishing’ levels in men
Recent research has found that exposures to pollutants linked with poor sperm quality far exceed safe levels in men.
Exposure to BPA, dioxins, phthalates, and analgesics (specifically paracetamol) are reported to be the primary drivers of the risks to sperm count.
BPA was found to be the most damaging to sperm quality; however, even when BPA was excluded from the analysis, total chemical exposures still exceeded safe levels.
How are people exposed?
BPA and phthalate exposure usually occurs through ingesting food/drink contaminated with the chemicals. BPA is frequently used in canned food lining, plastic food packaging, and plastic bottles while phthalates are commonly found in PVC products.
Dioxins are mostly created as a by-product of industrial processes and are distributed globally in the environment. Human exposure occurs most commonly through ingesting fatty animal tissues and dairy products.
Analgesic exposure occurs when medications such as paracetamol are ingested. Exposure can also occur during gestation if a pregnant person consumes analgesics.
Global bank group accused of ‘greenwashing’ climate pledge
The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) was launched at last year’s COP26 summit. The alliance includes over 450 banks and financial institutions globally, and aims to help the world meet net-zero targets.
Following initial criticisms of the GFANZ’s ‘loose’ criteria, the group updated their rules earlier this week.
The updated rules have been criticised as inadequate and largely allow banks to continue business as usual.
Loopholes have been uncovered that permit banks to continue to make new investments into coal for another year.
The new rules also allow members to maintain existing fossil fuel investments with no specific end in sight, except for a vague and eventual “phasing down and out”.
Experts claim the loopholes are ‘baffling’ and that aiming for net-zero without clear coal phase-out requirements is meaningless.
200,000 English properties threatened by rising sea levels
A recent study published in the journal Ocean and Coastal Management has shown that, by 2050, almost 200,000 English properties may need to be abandoned due to rising sea levels.
Experts argue that, at this stage, decades of sea level rise are inevitable. Difficult decisions are going to have to be made about what areas can be protected, as the government states that many properties cannot be saved.
The most threatened areas include North Somerset, Sedgemoor, Wyre, and Swale.
Massive 90 tonne per hour methane leak detected from coal mine
Methane sensors have detected the largest methane leak from a single facility ever observed.
Methane leakage is a detrimental side-effect of coal mining. With a global warming potential 30 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, the gas plays a key role in raising global temperatures and contributing to climate change.
The leak, coming from the Raspadskaya coal mine in Russia, resulted in methane being emitted at a rate of almost 90 tonnes per hour.
Emissions from the Russian coal mine have been trending up over time, with leaks of over 50 and 10 tonnes per hour recorded in January and May respectively.