Two Reports on Environmental Justice Issues

What a rapid transition from fossil fuels to carbon-free energy alternatives looks like just-published article in The Hill (by our recent speaker Dr. Chuck Kutscher with co-author Jeff Logan): We already have the technologies we need to solve most of the problem, and we have a variety of options for getting the rest of the way there. The biggest challenges are not technological but rather political and sociological. Strong policies are needed, and to realize them, we must rise above our divisive politics. Fossil fuels are cheap, partly because of continuing subsidies, and these must be removed. Putting a price on carbon that reflects its social cost will help. But a new focus that follows science, together with the prospects for a strong post-pandemic economic expansion and the many opportunities it offers, make this the ideal time to finally address the climate change crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for people and economies around the world — a future with unabated climate change would be far worse.

Plastic Waste Makers Index: revealing the source of the single-use plastics crisis, published by Minderoo Foundation in Australia with a foreword by Al Gore. Single-use plastics – the cheap plastic goods we use once and then throw away – epitomise the plastics crisis. Today, single-use plastics account for over a third of plastics produced every year, with 98 per cent manufactured from fossil fuelsUnsurprisingly, single-use plastics also account for the majority of plastic thrown away the world over: more than 130 million metric tons in 2019 – almost all of which is burned, buried in landfill, or discarded directly into the environment. The cost of single-use plastic waste is enormous. Of all the plastics, they are the most likely to end up in our ocean, where they account for almost all visible pollution, in the range of five to 13 million metric tons each year.  Once there, single-use plastics eventually break down into tiny particles that impact wildlife health – and the ocean’s ability to store carbon.  Single-use plastics contain chemical additives such as plasticisers that have been found in humans and are linked to a range of reproductive health problems.  And if growth in single-use plastic production continues at current rates, they could account for five to 10 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.               

Despite these threats, the plastics industry has been allowed to operate with minimal regulation and transparency for decades. Australia and the United States respectively produce the greatest amounts of single-use plastic waste per head of pollution, at more than 50 kg per person per year.  Measured by the total quantity produced, two US companies, Exxon-Mobil and Dow, are the two largest producers in the world.