This Month in Sustainability

September 25, 2020

We’ve decided to use this space to keep people updated on what’s going on in the world of sustainability, so make sure to come back next month to keep up to date with the latest in the world of sustainability.

The Climate Doomsday Clock

Let's start with a big one first. Last week a countdown clock mysteriously appeared in times square NYC with little explanation. Over the past week it has been revealed to be a countdown clock or ‘doomsday’ clock for the earth. But should we be worried?

The number they have used is based on a report by the MCC on how long we have until average global temperatures increase by 1.5°C since pre industrial levels.

The reason 1.5°C has been chosen as this deadline number, as the effects from stopping global warming at 1.5°C compared to letting it increase to 2°C are vast. The IPCC released a report highlighting these impacts. They predict a 2°C could cause:

  • Over 1.7 billion people to experience severe heat waves at least once every 5 years
  • Coral reef biomass could decrease by up to 99%, putting a large number of ecosystems that depend on these corals at risk
  • Global fishery catched could decline by 1.5 million tonnes
  • Global Sea levels could rise by an average of 10cm, displacing millions of people.
  •  18% of insects, 16% of plants and 8% of vertebrates are projected to lose at least 50% of their habitable range

Unfortunately it’s not a good outlook.

However it’s not all doom and gloom. The clock’s number isn’t a be all and end all. It’s based on estimates around taken from current emissions and it’s never too late to change. If big companies and governments start drastically reducing their emissions, and everyday people reduce their own footprint, we can reduce emissions and give the earth more time.

So take the clock as a call to arms. It’s time to change the way we live - as a society. The earth is hurting and it’s down to us to save it.

Brewdog Goes Carbon Negative

Brewdog announced a couple of weeks back that they have now committed to carbon negativity. What does this mean exactly? 

Brewdog have agreed to offset double the amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere! Meaning they will ‘take in’ twice from what they put out! 

This equates to 140,000 tonnes of CO2 offset. 

To put that into perspective, if an average car drove 2500 miles it would release 1 tonne of co2 emissions.

That means 140,000 tonnes equates to 350 million miles driven in a car.

That’s almost enough distance to drive to the sun and back - twice!

Hopefully more companies will follow in Brewdog’s footsteps to work for a better future. Good on you Brewdog.

Read more about Brewdog’s paper.

China Aims for Carbon Neutrality by 2060

China, the world's largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions stated this week they aim to be carbon neutral by 2060. However there’s a couple of questions I have. Firstly, how? Secondly - do they really mean it?

Firstly let’s look into how you can become carbon neutral in the first place. There’s only really two ways to become carbon neutral in today’s world.

  1. Reducing CO2 emissions through changing industry processes and energy sources.
  2. Offsetting your carbon. This can either be through more natural ways such as planting more trees, or more extreme ways such as carbon capture.

Reducing CO2 emissions is the first port of call. In 2019 over 80'% of China’s electricity was produced through non renewable energy sources (coal, oil and gas) meaning less than 20% of this is renewable. To put that into perspective over 50% of the UK’s energy sources are from either renewables or nuclear and in 2020 the UK went over 2 months without burning any coal for energy production. Nearly 60% of China’s energy production comes from coal. By reducing the amount of fossil fuels burnt for electricity China could massively reduce their overall CO2 emissions.

It’s hard to believe the largest producer of greenhouse emissions would commit to become carbon neutral - risking damage to their industry-heavy economy, but only time will tell if they are serious about their pledge. However , one thing can be said. At least they are aware of the issue are attempting to address it. Worryingly in 2017 Donald Trump stated the US is set to leave the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation and it is encouraging to see the USA’s main competitor stepping up to take responsibility for their impact on the environment.

Joseph Ash

by Ben Richardson

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