Newsdesk – March 31, 2021

A wind turbine near Canberra. Low green investment is ‘a missed opportunity’ for Australia, Brian O’Callaghan of Oxford University’s Economic Recovery Project says. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Australia lags far behind other top economies on ‘green recovery’ pandemic spending. Australia is the worst performer on a list of the world’s 50 largest economies for “green recovery” spending to kickstart economic growth after the Covid pandemic, according to research conducted for the United Nations environment program. “Overall we find that 18% of total recovery spending around the world has gone towards green initiatives, but in Australia, the figure is 2%. Of the major economies, Australia was the worst.”The research suggests Australia spent US$2bn on green initiatives during the coronavirus recovery, compared with US$57bn in France, US$54bn in South Korea, US$47bn in Germany, US$42bn in the United Kingdom, US$41bn in China and US$24bn in Japan. Germany spent $9bn on hydrogen alone.  Brian O’Callaghan, an Australian economist and engineer who leads Oxford’s Economic Recovery project is saying that Australia has spent considerably more on recovery initiatives than most other countries.” The US and the UK last week issued a joint statement urging all countries “to take the steps needed to keep a 1.5C temperature limit within reach, including through ambitious nationally determined contributions and long-term strategies to cut emissions and reach net zero”. Australia also remains under pressure from key allies to lift the level of climate policy ambition – The Guardian

  • Is There Anything Funny About the Climate Crisis? – The New Yorker
  • 5 lessons from COVID-19 that will help us build a sustainable future – Fast Company
  • More than 430 manatees have perished in 2021. Why are they dying? – National Geographic
  • Lights off: France parkour collectives fight pollution one store sign at a time – The Guardian
  • Low-income and Latino neighborhoods endure more extreme heat in the Southwest, study shows – AZ Central
  • How Dirt Could Help Save the Planet – Scientific American
  • A Meat War Is Waged Across State Lines – The New York Times

Canada is drowning in plastic waste — and recycling won’t save us. For the first 50 years after plastic was invented, the idea of only using the long-lasting material once was blasphemous, an affront to values of frugality honed over years of war and economic strife. Lloyd Stouffer was a U.S. plastics marketing guru and the man who, in 1956, first pitched the idea that a virtually indestructible material — plastic — should be sold as disposable. Since then, about 8.3 billion tonnes have been produced; most has been thrown out. Landfills are stuffed. Oceans and the animals in them are choked. Plastic particles are even showing up in human placentas, with unknown health impacts. But can recycling really save us? “It’s a great industry — it provides jobs, it makes use of what’s around — but it doesn’t have anything directly to do with improving the environment,” says Samantha MacBride, an expert in solid waste management and a professor of urban environmental studies at the Marxe School of Public Affairs at Baruch College of CUNY in New York City. Only 9 percent — or 305,000 tonnes of plastic — is recycled, the 2019 study found. That’s no surprise. Low oil prices make it difficult for plastic recyclers, who must invest in expensive sorting and processing facilities, to compete against already established petrochemical manufacturers, whose facilities are well integrated with the oil and gas industry. It’s cheaper to make plastic from so-called “virgin oil” and put the waste in landfills than it is to recycle old plastics into new products – National Observer.

Electric Cars Are Coming. How Long Until They Rule the Road? – These vehicles represent the 250 million cars, S.U.V.s, vans and pickup trucks on America’s roads today. The vast majority run on gasoline. Fewer than 1 percent are electric. Automakers are now shifting to electric vehicles, which could make up one-quarter of new sales by 2035, analysts project. But at that point, only 13 percent of vehicles on the road would be electric.  Even in 2050, when electric vehicles are projected to make up 60 percent of new sales, the majority of vehicles on the road would still run on gasoline. Slow fleet turnover is a major challenge for climate policy. If the United States wanted to move to a fully electric fleet by 2050 — to meet President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions — then sales of gasoline-powered vehicles would likely have to end altogether by around 2035, a heavy lift. Around the world, governments and automakers are focused on selling newer, cleaner electric vehicles as a key solution to climate change. Yet it could take years, if not decades before the technology has a drastic effect on greenhouse gas emissions. One reason for that? It will take a long time for all the existing gasoline-powered vehicles on the road to reach the end of their life spans. So policymakers may need to consider additional strategies to clean up transportation, experts said. That could include policies to buy back and scrap older, less efficient cars already in use. It could also include strategies to reduce Americans’ dependence on car travel, such as expanding public transit or encouraging biking and walking, so that existing vehicles are driven less often – The New York Times