This Week in Sustainability News – 02.09
Updated: Sep 20
This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.
The Alliance to End Plastic Waste called out for greenwashing
A report by Planet Tracker has examined the credibility of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a group which aims to protect the planet and end plastic waste in the environment.
Many household names are members of the alliance including PepsiCo, ExxonMobil, Shell, Veolia, Procter & Gamble, Total, and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings.
In its report, Planet Tracker accuses the AEPW and its members of greencrowding, described as “a sophisticated form of greenwashing that sees global corporates hide behind an appealing group title in order to justify moving at the pace of the lowest common denominator”.
Several of the major issues raised in the report are summarised below:
Of the top 20 single-use plastic waste makers worldwide, eight are members of the AEPW.
With two years left on its five-year target, the AEPW has achieved only 0.04% of its aim to divert and recycle 9 million tonnes of plastic.
The AEPW’s plastic waste target has not been adjusted as new members join the group. This means the average waste target per member was reduced by 56% between 2019-2021.
Almost 70% of the AEPW’s founding members are members of the American Chemistry Council, which has campaigned against taxes on plastics and has opposed the “Break Free from Plastics Pollution Act”.
Inevitable 27cm sea-level rise as ice cap melts
Scientists have discovered that, even if humans eliminated fossil fuels overnight, significant melting of the Greenland ice cap is now inevitable.
This will result in an absolute minimum of a 27cm sea-level rise, but experts expect the true number may be double that.
If the significant ice loss seen in 2012 becomes more regular as global heating increases, ice loss could rise to 78cm.
This stresses the point that, while a tipping point of sorts has been reached with global heating’s impact on sea-level rise, there is still lots that humanity can do to reduce the severity of the situation.
“The difference between 78cm and 27cm highlights the difference that can be made through implementing the Paris agreement. There is still a lot of room to minimise the damage.”
£8.5bn of damage as one-third of Pakistan submerged by flooding
Estimates have shown that the damages caused by Pakistan’s devastating floods may exceed £8.5bn.
The flash floods have caused the deaths of over 1,136 people and have impacted over 15% of the country’s population, with one-third of the country’s landmass being submerged.
Crops, roads, homes, and bridges have been destroyed by the flooding and serious food shortages are expected in the coming weeks and months.
Pakistan’s climate change minister has commented that the situation is a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions” while the nation’s planning minister has called for financial aid from wealthier countries.
The minister has described Pakistan as a victim of climate change, caused by the “irresponsible development of the developed world”.
Rising fossil fuel subsidies are a roadblock to sustainable future
In 2021, global public subsidies for fossil fuels almost doubled, reaching $700bn.
The subsidies have been handed out by governments hoping to shield citizens from growing energy prices.
Experts have warned that the subsidies are a roadblock to a sustainable future and often fail to provide adequate support for low-income households.
Instead, it has been suggested that fossil fuel subsidies be replaced with targeted income support for people experiencing fuel poverty alongside large-scale investment in green energy.
“A surge in investment in clean energy technologies and infrastructure is the only lasting solution to today’s global energy crisis and the best way to reduce the exposure of consumers to high fuel costs”.
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