This Week in Sustainability News – 22.07
This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.
The super-rich using private jets for 10-minute flights – showing disregard for climate change
Outrage has been growing on social media as users discover the flying habits of the elite.
Kylie Jenner, at the centre of the outrage, was found to have taken a 17-minute flight, resulting in almost one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions. This means, in just 17 minutes, Jenner was able to emit almost the same amount of carbon that the average person (globally) emits over three months.
Globally, private aircraft are responsible for 33 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Because they carry so few people compared with commercial aircraft, they are up to 14 times worse for the environment.
Experts have argued that the alternatives to private jets are abundant and that not wanting to travel with “the hoi polloi” is not an excuse for excessive pollution.
Carbon captured overestimated by up to 30%
Researchers have compared estimates of captured and stored carbon against official reports, finding that official reports tend to overestimate the quantities of carbon by up to 30%.
It was calculated that 197 million tonnes of carbon have been captured and stored since 1996, which the researchers emphasise is a significant achievement in climate change mitigation.
However, the study’s authors stress that the lack of consistency in reporting frameworks must be resolved to ensure reports do not continue to provide an inaccurate representation of how carbon capture technology is mitigating climate change.
Lead author, Yuting Zhang, stated that: "policymakers should embrace a centralised reporting database that includes rates of carbon capture, transport, and storage, including quality assurance measures like independent auditing."
Analysis reveals £2.3 billion per day profit for oil and gas across last 50 years
New research has shown that since 1970, fossil fuel companies have amassed over £43 trillion in profit, averaging at a £2.3 billion per day profit.
The author of the analysis, Prof Aviel Verbruggen, said that this has provided the industry with the power to delay climate action and buy every politician and system.
The author states that oil-rich nations have kept profits high by restricting supply and profit grabbing. This has stripped money from being invested in alternative energy: “In every country, people have so much difficulty just to pay the gas and electricity bills and oil [petrol] bill, that we don’t have money left over to invest in renewables.”
Experts suggest that the highly profitable rent-seeking systems that fossil fuel giants use must be dismantled and replaced with “accessible and distributed renewable energy that is more sustainable and democratic in every way.”
Water resources to become unpredictable by the end of the century
Scientists studying the impacts of climate change on snowy regions in the Northern Hemisphere have found that water resources will become increasingly unpredictable by the end of the century due to receding snowpacks and variable streamflow.
Currently, water management systems in these regions rely on the predictability of snowpack and runoff. In a warming climate, water managers will no longer be able to anticipate these factors, having to rely on the whims of individual precipitation events instead.
The changes will also likely impact ecosystems by reducing water availability and drying soils, therefore increasing fire risks.
The study’s authors have commented that there is still time to avoid the most severe impacts on water resources if the world can successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions now.