Small-Scale Forestry and Carbon Markets

Small landowners across the world have the potential to use their land in the fight against climate change while making money in the process — -but only if the carbon market lets them in.

To slow the destructive impacts of climate change, the world needs to reduce its net carbon emissions: according to the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emissions need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. While technological solutions will play an important role in this process, nature also offers a powerful tool: trees.

Trees pull carbon dioxide out of the air and store it, creating ‘negative emissions’ that can help offset carbon released from energy production and other processes. To incentivize the use of forests for negative emissions landowners need a way to document and sell trees as carbon credits. For small and private landowners, turning trees into carbon credits and selling them on the market is a hurdle too big to overcome.

Carbon markets offer a way for anyone to pay for carbon removal as a way of reducing their environmental impact or total balance of carbon emissions. Carbon credits are purchased from forestry, solar, cookstove or any projects that help reduce the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere. In this way, they offer an incentive for landowners to keep their forests alive and healthy, rather than using them for timber, grazing, or other uses:

With a high enough price, helping forests grow can be more lucrative than cutting them down. The Afognak Forest Carbon Project, for example, is expected to earn millions of dollars over 30 years through better land management of the over 8,200 acres owned by the American Land Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Alaska.

For small-scale landowners, however, the math doesn’t always work out. While it is estimated that over a third of all American forest land is owned by individuals, each property averages only 66 acres. This makes embarking on a forestry project a very different experience for small scale landowners versus those that command large swaths of forest. Highly specific knowledge and an upfront capital investment is required to sell carbon credits from a forest.

Landowners need to develop a plan for how they will increase carbon dioxide uptake on their properties. The most common examples are increased tree planting or improved land management. The fees for professional planners and feasibility assessments can be tens of thousands of dollars — -a sizable upfront cost for a small-scale landowner.

Many forestry projects turn to investors to help with such upfront costs, but small-scale landowners have a greater challenge. Projects with smaller returns may not have enough capital to cover assessment costs and still provide value to investors.

For example, projects with less than 1500 acres aren’t expected to recover the cost of fees to sell on California’s carbon market. Additionally, smaller plots of land have a higher risk of being wiped out by disease or natural disaster. As a result, investors may prefer to stick with larger forestry projects and reduce their chance of losing the carbon credits they purchased.

Disparate carbon market standards and verification systems are challenging.

Landowners need to be confident that their land management plans will net them sufficient earnings through the carbon market to undertake the project to begin with. Small landowners may not have the time or expertise to deal with credit systems that can vary by market, location, and time. What’s more, the carbon credit verification and trading process comes with even more fees, eating into already thin margins.

Even for large-scale landowners, navigating the carbon credit verification system can be a challenge. Different carbon markets have different standards for earning credits. For example, projects participating in the California Air Resource Board’s market need to keep their captured carbon sequestered for 100 years, while users of the American Carbon Registry need only do so for 40 years. Different markets can also trade at different prices.

Novel financing mechanisms, opportunities for automation and sharing best practice guides for forestry projects provide a way forward.

Easing the pathway into carbon markets for small landowners is key to making productive use of their vast and diverse acreage. Luckily, many means of lowering the barrier exist and are currently being explored. Different financing options, including by lumping several small forestry projects into one larger one, could help attract investors; several carbon markets allow for such aggregation, though with constraints.

Automating components of the land management planning and verification process, for example through the use of remote sensing and artificial intelligence, could bring costs down as well. Finally, ensuring that clear, accurate, and up-to-date guides to forestry projects are easily available to landowners would ensure that they are always making the most-informed decisions about their land.

While getting small landowners on board is crucial, it is important that the standards for carbon credits don’t degrade in the process. Financial incentives make forestry projects feasible but what matters for the planet is just how many tons of carbon dioxide end up back in trees, not how much money was made from them.

As a key proponent of forestry projects, Sādu is aware of the barriers to scaling these solutions. Some of Sādu’s Sustainability Partners prefer to allocate capital towards nurseries and employment training programs rather than applying for international certifications like Verra, REDD+ and Gold Standard. This is a clear signal that the current certification process is not a fit for all types of projects.

As climate change continues so will the need for ecosystem conservation and carbon sequestration. Additionally, initiatives like 1t.org and LEAF Coalition, which mobilize capital for nature-based solutions to climate change, will continue to create an increased demand for forestry projects. In order to meet this demand the incorporation of small scale forestry projects into verified carbon markets will be necessary.

Service providers of GIS and remote sensing tools like Pachama, Planet, and Natural Capital Exchange, who use satellite imagery to estimate the amount of carbon sequestered by forests, are quickly reducing the barriers to entry for projects of all sizes.

These solutions, in combination with community-based verification apps like Greenstand or Treedom, and algorithmically determined carbon price research by The Cambridge Centre for Carbon Credits (4C) will result in a more robust data set by which the value of forestry credits can be determined. If this data is applied to small forestry projects nature-based carbon credits will become easier to access for both consumers and producers.

Sādu is building a solution to leverage this newly available data for our app users. Our goal is to make it easy to understand the positive impact of investments into forestry projects of all sizes. Once achieved, increased transparency and improved market access will result in longer living forests and a more diverse group of investors benefiting from the growth of the carbon market.

By: Brittany Salas

Co-founder & CEO Sādu. Invest in your health, save trees. #SaduApp #NFTrees. Previously #ClimateTech VC & corporate innovation. @nyucga alum.

Source: Small-scale Forestry and Carbon Markets | by Brittany Salas | Dec, 2021 | Medium

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What The Outcome Of COP26 Means For The Fight Against Climate Change

While addressing the 26th UN Climate Change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, during the final hours of the event, COP26 President Alok Sharma was overcome with emotion. China and India had just proposed a last-minute change to the final text of the agreement, known as the Glasgow Climate Pact, so that the call to “phase out” unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies was watered down to “phase down.”

Delegates from other countries, from Switzerland to Cuba, deplored the move, but ultimately adopted the text in the interest of time, as the conference was running more than 24 hours late by that point.

“I apologize for the way this process has unfolded and I am deeply sorry” said Sharma, who earlier in the week had told reporters he was sometimes called “No-drama Sharma.” He then added: “I also understand the disappointment, but, as you’ve noted, it is vital we protect this package,” his voice quivering towards the end of the sentence.

Specific mentions of fossil fuels had eluded previous UN climate agreements, and the Glasgow Climate Pact was meant to mark a landmark achievement despite two rounds of revision diluting and complicating the simple “phase out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies” sentence featured in the document’s first draft. Sharma and the U.K. government had a clear goal for COP26—to keep the spirit of 1.5 alive, a reference to COP21’s milestone Paris agreement, which called for global action to prevent temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

To do so, it’s crucial to reach net zero emissions by 2050—meaning that for every amount of greenhouse gas emissions, an equal number is removed from the atmosphere—and, to be on track to reach that goal, scientists think global emissions should be halved by 2030. Earlier this year, a report from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicated that global temperatures have already risen by 1.1 degree Celsius on pre-industrial levels.

“We have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action,” Sharma said. It’s a statement that doesn’t hide the disappointment the conference organizers must have felt as the event that was dubbed the “most important COP since Paris” just couldn’t fully deliver on its ambition. COP26 was neither success nor failure—absolute concepts that don’t reflect the complexities of high-level international negotiations—but a mixed bag of progress on some issues, disappointment on others, and a whole lot of pledges.

COP26’s Key Agreements And Pledges

The U.K. Presidency had four key objectives summarized as “coal, cash, cars, and trees”—in other words, ending coal power generation (a pledge now endorsed by 46 countries with a deadline set at 2040), providing the long promised $100 billion annual support towards developing countries’ green transition (a goal that was meant to cover the period 2020-2025 but not materializing until 2023 at least, and whose future beyond 2025), supporting electric vehicles and a phase out of gasoline and diesel-powered motor vehicles by 2040, and reversing deforestation in an attempt to protect existing nature-based solutions to capturing emissions.

The bilateral agreement between the U.S. and China on climate change action, including a cut in methane emissions—the subject of a multilateral agreement produced at COP26 to which China refused to take part—was also a remarkable development.

Some of these agreements are imperfect—the one about deforestation, for instance, pledged to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.” It appeared a success as it involved Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest who’s been losing trees at record pace this year, but Brazilian senators soon clarified that their commitment would only extend to illegal deforestation. Campaigners have long indicated that the line between legal and illegal deforestation in the country is often blurred due to amnesties affecting illegally deforested areas.

Others are deprived of key players. A campaign to phase out oil and gas in the next 30 years promoted by Denmark and Costa Rica, for instance, lacked the support of COP26’s host country, the U.K., which is considering the development of a new coal mine and an offshore oil field.

Pledges submitted by countries to reduce their emissions remain insufficient to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. The most optimistic scenario drafted by the International Energy Agency (IEA), in which all nations follow through with their pledges, puts the world on course for a 1.8 degrees Celsius increase in global temperatures by 2100. The non-profit group Climate Action Tracker confirmed the IEA calculation, but indicated that a more realistic outcome for those pledges is a 2.4 degrees temperature rise—and a 2.7 degrees on the basis of current policies.

A report this week by the Paris Reinforce consortium, which comprises 18 research institutions, adds nuance to those figures, finding that current policies put the world on course for between 2.3 to 2.9 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100, while climate pledges lead to warming of 2.2 to 2.7 degrees over the same period.

Some countries are already feeling the impact of rising global temperatures and several developing countries, some of which are already facing rising sea levels eating into their territories and extreme weather events devastating lives and livelihoods, branded a rise of 2 degrees Celsius in global temperatures as a “death sentence.” Developing countries and civil society campaigners were disappointed with the failure to create a robust mechanism to disburse financial aid towards loss and damage in the face of climate change.

Sir David King, chair of Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG), an independent group of 15 experts from 11 countries that released their own assessment of COP26’s outcome this week, called the failure to reach an agreement on that front a “fundamental breach of trust.” He said in a press statement: “What we have at hand is a fundamental breach of trust between rich and poor nations, with catastrophic consequences for the world. Without a recalibration from developed nations on how they approach their relations with poorer countries, change at the scale and pace required to ensure global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is nigh on impossible.”

The Path Ahead

On a positive note, delegates were able to finalize a deal around carbon markets that was left unfinished in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, paving the way for building a system to price and trade carbon globally. COP26 also saw unprecedented commitments from the private sector to reaching net zero goals and supplying the trillions of dollars needed to fund the transition.

“All actors in the financial sector have stepped on board to redirect the standards on where investments go. It sends a signal,” Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Forbes during COP26.

Another sign of progress Rockström witnessed in Glasgow is an overall agreement that limiting emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement is a must. “This is the first COP where we do not debate any longer the direction we’re moving at, we’re debating the speed,” he said.

It’s not just the speed—the way to achieve those emissions reduction remains under discussion. Nuclear power and hydrogen—which can be “green” when produced via renewable energy, but is dubbed “blue” if derived from fossil fuels—were offered big platforms at COP26 in the form of pavilions and participation at keynote speeches and panel sessions, more so than producers of solar and wind energy.

Forms of transportation that don’t traditionally feature fuel engine combustion, such as trains or bicycles, weren’t even considered in the program, which instead focused on electric vehicles, airplanes, and shipping—sectors that present huge decarbonization challenges, which nonetheless shouldn’t detract from discussing existing low-carbon modes of transportation.  

Overall, lacking from the discussions at COP26 was the understanding that reaching net zero emissions requires more than just a switch from one energy source to another, but a reinvention of current modes of production and consumption. This was noted by Guy Grainger, global head of sustainability services at real estate services company JLL, who would have liked more focus on the circular economy, at least in his sector. “The circular economy has got a huge role to play in the built environment, but [it] actually hasn’t been talked about enough yet. I’m hoping that that will come,” he told Forbes.

One of the few people who addressed the need for more radical change was fashion designer Stella McCartney. “Fast-fashion [brands] obviously need to reduce what they produce,” she told Forbes. She explained that she, too, has gone through the process of reducing her product range, adding: “I want to show my industry that you can have a business model in working in a cleaner, more sustainable way.”

COP26 is now over, but the mission to prevent the worst consequences of climate change continues. No doubt the issues that created disappointment in Glasgow will be discussed with even more urgency next November, at COP27 in Egypt.

I am an assistant editor based in London, from where I oversee coverage of sustainability and curate the Daily Dozen newsletter. I have worked as a reporter for Newsweek and PinkNews,

Source: What The Outcome Of COP26 Means For The Fight Against Climate Change

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Revealed: The Five Wealthy Nations Whose Climate Words Don’t Match Their Actions

A new report has exposed how five of the world’s wealthiest nations are threatening the chance to tackle the climate crisis by claiming leadership on the issue yet continuing to pump vast sums of money into fossil fuels.

“The Fossil Fuelled 5,” a research paper from the non-profit Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty initiative, charges that the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Norway and Australia hold the distinction of being wealthy fossil fuel-producing countries “with high levels of historic responsibility for the climate crisis, and low levels of dependence on fossil fuels for economic development.”

The paper claims that the five nations have provided $150 billion in taxpayer-funded support for fossil fuel production and consumption through the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. It further makes the case that there is a “widening gap” between the countries’ rhetoric and their real-world behaviour when it comes to fossil fuel use, which undermines their claims of leadership on climate action.

“There’s an alarming gap between what wealthy nations are saying and what they are doing,” said Freddie Daley, the report’s lead author and a research associate at the University of Sussex in the U.K. “You would expect these five nations to provide the leadership needed to move the global economy away from fossil fuels and reduce emissions to zero. However, they seem to be quite content to make pledges and promises with one hand, while expanding and subsidizing fossil fuel production to the tune of billions on the other.”

Among its highlights, the report notes that the U.S. is responsible for 20% of all global historical greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest polluter in world history. Despite being home to just 4.28% of the world’s population, the country’s share of annual global greenhouse gas emissions stands at about 14.5%. In spite of this, the U.S. still intends to expand its oil and gas industries by 17% and 12% respectively by 2030.

The U.K., which is currently hosting the COP26 climate summit, is the second largest oil and gas exporter in Europe after Norway, and has pledged some $40 billion for fossil fuel production and consumption during the coronavirus pandemic. In spite of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s worthy words at COP26, the current government continues to support new oil and gas projects including the controversial Cambo oil field in the North sea, containing an estimated 255 million barrels of crude oil.

Elsewhere, the report shows that Canada aims to increase oil and gas production by 17% and 18% respectively by 2040; Australia is the world’s largest gas exporter and plans to continue to expand its coal, oil and gas industries; and that 42% of the value of Norway’s exports comes from oil and gas.

The report bolsters the case put forward by youth activists that the climate promises of wealthy nations are little more than hot air, and that while countries continue to support fossil fuels, any talk of climate action amounts to empty rhetoric.

The report arrives the same week as the establishment of a new global alliance to end oil and gas production. The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) was launched at COP26 by the governments of Denmark and Costa Rica, joined by core members France, Greenland, Ireland, Quebec, Sweden and Wales. BOGA members have signed up to “set an end date for their oil and gas exploration and extraction” in alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Notably, COP26 host the U.K. has refused to join the alliance, despite the inclusion of Wales, which joined thanks to the work of Senedd Cymru member Lee Waters. The U.S., Canada, Australia and Norway are also conspicuous by their absence.

“Not only are these wealthy nations jeopardizing their own futures and the futures of their citizens through this continued expansion, but they are condemning communities in the global south to a state of perpetual crisis which they did nothing to create,” Daley said. “If these nations want to be climate pioneers, it is time they addressed the elephant in the room: fossil fuels.”

According to the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report, fossil fuels like oil and gas are the source of 86% of carbon dioxide emissions released over the last decade. To stay on course with keeping global temperature increases to within 1.5 degrees Celsius this century—a target the scientific community says must be adhered to in order to avoid the most dangerous climate impacts—the international community needs to cut its emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

At present, climate commitments made by all nations will lead to emissions reductions of just 7.5% by 2030, meaning action on slashing emissions must be increased by a factor of five. Yet according to the Stockholm Environment Institute, the oil and gas industry is expected to invest $1.4 trillion into new fossil fuel projects between 2020 and 2024, “creating emissions equivalent to building 1,200 new U.S. coal-fired power stations.”

Climate campaign groups around the world have given the report a warm welcome. Tessa Khan, founder of energy transition campaign group Uplift U.K. said: “The U.K. government has invested a lot in trying to persuade people that it is taking action to tackle the climate crisis, but while it is still opening up new oil and gas fields we can discount most of it as hot air. We know that there can’t be any fossil fuel developments if we want a liveable climate and yet the U.K. government wants to open 30 new oil and gas fields in the North Sea, starting with Cambo. And all the while subsiding fossil fuel companies to the tune of billions.”

Meanwhile, Collin Rees, U.S. program manager for the advocacy group Oil Change International, said: “The United States is the poster child for climate hypocrisy—the world’s largest historical emitter claiming the mantle of climate leadership while pouring fuel on the fire of the climate crisis. Joe Biden’s words will ring hollow until he cancels deadly fossil fuel expansion projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline or the dozens of proposed oil and gas export terminals awaiting approval from his administration.

This new report makes it clear the U.S. remains a massive driver of oil and gas expansion, and that won’t change until our leaders commit to a managed phase-out of fossil fuel extraction that truly protects communities, workers, and the climate.”

The report can be viewed here.

Follow me on Twitter.

My key interests are in decarbonization and the development of circular economies.

Source: The Five Wealthy Nations Whose Climate Words Don’t Match Their Actions

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Berardelli, Jeff (May 16, 2019). “Does the term “climate change” need a makeover? Some think so — here’s why”. CBS News. Archived from the original on November 8, 2019.

 

How to Build a Water-Smart City

As water shortages and drought become increasingly common, cities will need to invest in infrastructure and find ways to recycle their supply.

Cities across time have stretched to secure water. The Romans built aqueducts, the Mayans constructed underground storage chambers, and Hohokam farmers dug more than 500 miles of canals in what is now the U.S. Southwest.

Today’s cities use portfolios of technologies to conserve supply — everything from 60-story dams and chemicals to centrifugal pumps and special toilets. And yet, the cities of tomorrow will have to do more.

A recent United Nations report on drought says climate change is increasing the frequency, severity and duration of droughts, which contribute to food insecurity, poverty and inequality. The report also asserts that “drought has been the single longest-term physical trigger of political change in 5,000 years of recorded human history.” It calls for urgent action and a transformation in governance to manage modern drought risk more effectively.

Examples can be found globally. In 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, narrowly averted a “Day Zero,” when the taps would have run dry. Indian aquifers are falling fast. The Colorado River, a water source for 40 million people, faces dire shortages as the American West slides deeper into “megadrought.” By 2050, the world’s population is projected to near 10 billion, increasing water demand by 55%. And by then, two-thirds of people will live in cities.

US-CLIMATE-DROUGHT
Houseboats sit in low water on Lake Oroville on July 25, 2021, as California’s drought emergency worsens.
Photographer: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

“As cities continue to grow, they will have more water demand from many sectors: residential, industrial, ecological,” says Enrique Vivoni, a hydrologist at Arizona State University. “City planners have to think ahead, and not only 5, 10 years, but perhaps 50 or 100 years.”

Every place is different when it comes to preparing for these challenges, but some tactics are universally applicable enough that they can be united into a blueprint for the water-smart cities of tomorrow.

Recycle Water

Experts point to one way everyone on the planet can conserve water: Use it more than once. We recycle plastics and metals, but why not water? Dragan Savic, chief executive officer of KWR Water Research Institute in the Netherlands, believes recycling at home is a “huge” opportunity. Newsha Ajami, director of Urban Water Policy at Stanford University’s Water in the West initiative, says onsite reuse is perhaps the best way to improve efficiency.

“If we think about the cities that we have right now, it’s pretty much a one-use system,” Ajami says. “So, water comes in, we use it once, it goes out. You flush down the toilet the same water that you drink, which is not very efficient, if you think about it.”

Homes should use water many times, according to Ajami. A multi-use approach is possible because several uses — landscaping, gardening and toilet water — don’t require drinking-quality water. Many of these needs can be met with greywater, meaning waste-free recycled water. As much as 75% of domestic water can be reused as greywater.

Installation of diverter valve for greywater system at new home construction site, California
A diverter valve for a greywater system is installed at a new home construction site in Los Angeles. A branched greywater system diverts discarded water from sinks and washing machines away from sewage lines, and recycles it back via a gravity-fed drain system for irrigation and back into the aquifer.
Photographer: Citizen of the Planet/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Consider the toilet. Toilets account for up to 30% of indoor domestic water use. However, toilet water could be second use, routed from sinks, showers and dishwashers, cutting demand. Some cities are acting on this knowledge. Sydney, Australia, has designed Green Square, a town center designed for sustainability and water reuse, including as toilet water. Microsoft’s office in Herzliya, Israel, is routing greywater to toilets as well.

Greywater can also help meet water needs for landscaping, which comprises almost one-third of residential American water use. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that informed plant selection can save 20% to 50% of landscaping water. Proper irrigation can save even more.

Measure Usage

More precise data on water usage could also aid conservation. With better water metering, people might better understand their home usage, both indoors and outdoors.

“Water is less measured than other systems, like transportation,” KWR’s Savic says. “If you don’t measure it, you cannot manage it.”

Ajami says she believes a “Nest-like device” that measures water usage by category could aid in such efforts. It might, for one, “let you know that you’re using too much water in the shower.” She also advocates for reforming water utilities themselves, since those companies profit from increased usage. Rate structures must be decoupled in a way that lets utilities recover their costs regardless of the water volume they sell.

“If you want to promote conservation, these utilities are not set for these consumption patterns,” Ajami says. “They’re selling you a commodity.”

Get Creative

As water becomes scarcer, some have even returned to the ancient art of rainwater harvesting, which can relieve pressure on surface water and groundwater sources if scaled broadly.

Cities across the globe are encouraging the practice, and, even in the driest of places, people have found a way to collect and store rain. In Tucson, Arizona, resident Brad Lancaster meets 95% of his water needs via rain. Many American cities offer financial incentives to people who install rainwater harvesting systems, making local water systems more resilient. In India, mandatory rainwater harvesting laws have arisen in some states and cities, like Tamil Nadu and New Delhi.

“Every drop of water we harvest from an alternative source is a drop of water we’re not taking out of the environment in a different way,” Ajami says.

Air conditioner condensate is another water source with potential, though it’s not likely to be a major contributor, especially in cities lacking humidity. Water is a byproduct of air conditioning. Places like the San Diego Airport and the Austin Public Library are collecting this water condensate and using it for power-washing, gardening and even brewing beer.

In the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S., greater Phoenix, towns are ramping up reclaimed wastewater use, efforts that have led to some reduction in groundwater dependency. Similarly, Orange County in California has set records for reclaimed wastewater production. And in the desert city of Windhoek, capital of Namibia, reclaimed wastewater has been a vital water source for 50 years.

Desalination is another possibility. Turning salt water to fresh water has proven an important water source even in wet cities like London. The largest desalination plant in North America, in San Diego, produces tens of millions of gallons of freshwater per day. The process, however, is energy intensive and often uses fossil fuels (for now), meaning cities must balance costs and carbon emissions with their water needs.

Additionally, there are offsite water sources with narrower applicability, like the fog-catching machines of Lima, Peru. Even the International Space Station treats astronaut sweat, urine and breath moisture for water reuse.

Tackle the Underlying Cause

Cities can employ a range of solutions to tackle water scarcity, but climate change remains the root cause of many looming water issues. It drives supply-side water problems — lowering rivers, increasing evapotranspiration and disrupting precipitation patterns. If greenhouse gas emissions can be curbed, supply-side problems might be mitigated, according to water experts. (Demand, however, will continue to rise with population.)

Even so, some warming is already a certainty, and cities will need to become far more water efficient and invest in related education. Outdated pipes and water infrastructure must be updated. Savic emphasizes the need to equip water systems with cybersecurity. There are also a host of potential policy changes, including requiring buildings to reuse water, encouraging greywater systems, and pursuing innovative financing, like the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Fee that Tucson charges residents. That money funds rainwater capture systems and the development of green spaces.

“We are buildings future cities today,” says Ajami. “Every new development that goes up is going to be around for another 20, 40 or 100 years.”

When to build the necessary water-smart future cities? In a perfect world, 20, 40 or 100 years ago. But in our world, now.

By: Chris Malloy

Source: How to Build a Water-Smart City – Bloomberg

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“Utilities will learn how they can leverage data collected for tracking system performance”

Reusable Plastic Shopping Bags Are Actually Making the Problem Worse, Not Better

woman at checkout stand paying for groceries that are packed in a reusable plastic bag

Over the past few years, reusable plastic shopping bags began showing up in grocery stores in many parts of the world. They are sturdier than the flimsy plastic bags that have become a symbol of the global movement against disposable plastics, and so can be used many times, lending to their marketing as the ethical choice for the environmentally conscious shopper.

But of course, these thicker bags require more plastic to make. That means they could only improve the overall situation if they led to stores handing out overall less plastic, by volume, than they would without them—by, say, replacing thousands of single-use plastic bags a shopper might otherwise use over the years. Because no matter the style of plastic bag, it will still contribute to the global problem of forever-trash entering the environment, and the greenhouse gases associated with manufacturing the bag from fossil fuels in the first place.

But it seems they haven’t. A 2019 report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace looking at grocery stores in the UK suggests that the plastic “bags for life” utterly failed to do the one thing they were ostensibly meant to. As of the time of this writing in 2019, the top 10 UK grocery stores reported selling 1.5 billion of these bags, which represents approximately 54 “bags for life” per household in the UK.

For comparison, the top eight UK grocery retailers—representing over 75% of the market—sold 959 million such bags in 2018. Some supermarket chains have seen particularly big spikes in sales. The frozen-food store Iceland sold 10 times more plastic “bags for life” this year, 34 million, than last.

The UK introduced a 5-pence charge for plastic bags in 2015, and the government urged shoppers to instead bring their own reusable “bags for life,” which led to a surge in purchasing of the reusable plastic bags from markets.

“Our survey reveals a huge rise in the sale of plastic ‘bags for life,’ demonstrating the inadequacy of the current policy which is clearly not providing a strong enough incentive for people to stop using ‘bags for life’ as a single-use option,” the report reads.

Food safety

Most reusable bag shoppers do not wash their bags once they return home, and the bags may be leading to food poisoning, according to Dr. Richard Summerbell, research director at Toronto-based Sporometrics and former chief of medical mycology for the Ontario Ministry of Health.[17] Because of their repeated exposure to raw meats and vegetables, there is an increased risk of foodborne illness. A 2008 study of bags, sponsored by the Environmental and Plastics Industry Council of Canada, found mold and bacterial levels in one reusable bag to be 300% greater than the levels that would be considered safe in drinking water.[18][19] The study does not differentiate between non-hemp bags and hemp bags, which have natural antimildew and antimicrobial properties.[20]

A 2010 joint University of Arizona and Limo Loma University study (sponsored by the American Chemistry Council, a trade group that advocates on behalf of disposable plastic bag manufacturers) they found that “Reusable grocery bags can be a breeding ground for dangerous foodborne bacteria and pose a serious risk to public health”.[21] The study found that 97% of users did not wash them and that greater than 50% of the 84 bags contained coliform (a bacterium found in fecal material), while E. coli was found in 12% of the bags.

Overall, those same supermarkets increased the volume of plastic packaging they put out—including the “bags for life”—by 18,739 tons (17,000 metric tons) from 2017 to 2018. “It’s shocking to see that despite unprecedented awareness of the pollution crisis, the amount of single-use plastic used by the UK’s biggest supermarkets has actually increased,” the EIA’s Juliet Phillips told the Guardian. The grocery stores’ plastic-footprint increase was caused in part by the reusable plastic bags.

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“We have replaced one problem with another,” Fiona Nicholls, a Greenpeace UK campaigner who is one of the report’s authors, told the New York Times. “Bags for life have become bags for a week.” The bags, the report says, should be banned. Instead, customers could bring their own bags to the market. “When we go shopping, we should remember our bags like we remember our phones.”

Zoë Schlanger

By Zoë Schlanger / Environment reporter

Source: https://qz.com

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References

“CTV Toronto – Reusable bags contain bacteria, mould: study – CTV News, Shows and Sports – Canadian Television”. Toronto.ctv.ca. 2008-11-27. Retrieved 2010-03-19.

#Grocerybagcrochet #PLARN #recyclingpolythene A bit of my effort in reducing the use of plastic bags. In this video I tried to show how to Crochet with Grocery Poly bags and how we can re-use poly bags to make a bag for life and can avoid buying poly bags from grocery stores. We can convert poly bags in PLARN (Plastic Yarn) and can make a stylish, beautiful looking and sturdy bag for life using these Polythenes. With a little effort and no extra cost we can make this beautiful looking (& ever lasting) bag and can pay our part in saving mother earth. 🙂
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