SCAP 2020 – An action plan for a more sustainable textile industry

In 2012, one of the first evidence base on the environmental impacts of the fashion industry was published under the name “Valuing Our Clothes: the cost of UK fashion” by the WRAP organisation. It analysed the environmental impact of the whole journey of clothing, from raw materials and manufacturing, to purchase, use and disposal.

The Action Plan

In 2013, WRAP, with the support of the UK government, launched the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 (SCAP), an industry-wide commitment to drive more sustainable production and consumption, and to increase textiles re-use and recycling.

As Steve Creed, Director Business Programmes at WRAP, said “clothing manufacture and sales in the UK is still the fourth largest pressure on our natural resources after housing, transport and food. To address this huge challenge, we all need to learn to value our clothes more.”

Against a 2012 baseline, the following targets were agreed by SCAP for 2020:

–          15% reduction of carbon footprint

–          15% reduction of water footprint

–          15% reduction of waste to landfill

–          3.5% reduction in waste arising over the whole product life cycle.

In 2015, the SCAP membership already covered 50% of the retail market while in 2017 the agreement counted 75 signatories and supporters representing more than 58% of the UK retail sales.

Progresses and further implementation for the future

The new report, published in July 2017, updated the evidence base and shows which progresses have been done since 2012, offering new key opportunities for business and consumers to further reduce their impact.

As regards the progresses, the latest reporting shows that during 2012-15 the SCAP 2020 Commitment has achieved:

–          10.6% reduction in carbon against a target of 15%;

–          13.5% reduction in water against a target of 15%; and

–          0.8% reduction in waste arising over the whole product life cycle against a target of 3.5%.

The amount of clothing in household residual waste has also decreased substantially:

–          14% reduction in household residual waste against a target of 15%.

Other actions are suggested for being pursued to ensure that the SCAP targets are met by 2020. Some examples are:

–          Extending the life of clothes by designing better quality garments to be more durable and by encouraging re-use through sales of second hand clothing

–          Helping household to better care for clothes

–          Improving the production processes in order to minimise the generation of waste and to requirement of raw materials (energy, water…)

–          Switching to sustainable cotton in order to reduce the water footprint

–          Implementing closed loop recycling of clothing.

Making use of, and extending the work of SCAP, relies on providing learnings from what has, and what has not worked, and on sharing information throughout the whole supply chain. There has been good progress since 2012, and there is more that can be done to ensure that the SCAP targets are met.

In doing so, SCAP signatories can continue to demonstrate that the needs of the industry and consumers can be met, whilst at the same time, taking the lead in reducing the environmental impact of clothing.

Morocco polishes up its energy sector

Just 200 kilometres away from Marrakech, between the sight of Atlas Mountains and the beginning of Sahara desert, Morocco’s greatest effort to introduce renewable energy takes shape.

The project to construct a thermosolar plant called Noor (“light” in Arabic) in Morocco got selected in 2011 as part of an investment package from Desertec, with the main objective of promoting the development of power plants in places where renewable resources were more abundant, such as North Africa, and then being able to provide energy to Europe through the Strait of Gibraltar.

Noor has been developed in different phases. Stage I started in May 2013, with the installation of half million mirrors covering an area of about 450 hectares and an installed capacity of 160MW. It was finally connected to Morocco’s power grid on 2016, and it’s estimated to deliver throughout the year about 370GW. Following stages of the project are expected to be up and running by 2018, according to the head of the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, Mustapha Bakkoury. When that happens, the total installed capacity will be of 580MW, enough to power over a million homes.

Interestingly enough, Noor planners have decided to combine different ways of energy storage in the different stages of the project. For instance, in Stage I and II, mirrors concentrate sun’s rays onto synthetic oil that runs through pipes, and through the heating of it a water vapour is created and gets a turbine-powered generator going. Stage III, however, will use the solar power plant system: all the mirrors will reflect the sun onto a receiver on this tower, and the heat from them will be passed and stored into molten salts, which experts affirm is a more efficient way of storing solar energy, reaching up to 8 hours of energy storage.

Water use is another of the issues to face in the implementation of a solar plant in the dessert, and again, planners have given different solutions to the different phases: while Stage I started with a wet cooling system, following stages went for a dry cooling one, in order to save water. However, mirrors still need to be cleaned up regularly in order to maintain an efficiency standard in the energy production, and that’s where the most intense use of water will happen.

Morocco has realized the importance of this strategic sector and is determined to make the best out of this comparative advantage. Until recently, the country imported 97% of its energy needs, something absolutely unreasonable when considering that Morocco has one of the world’s largest potential for solar power production, with up to 3,600 hours of sun in the desert. Now, a new trend of investment in renewable energy is dominant: 34% of the country’s electric power production comes from renewable sources, mainly hydro, wind, and solar. Its plan is continue on this path, estimating a generation of 42% from renewables by 2020, and 52% by 2030.

 

 

The implications of their approach to this opportunity are of great importance, not only for their own economy, but for the African continent as a whole. The fact that the country with the closest links to Europe takes the lead and develops diverse energy strategies, thinking on its own energetic needs but also on the European market, can produce drag effects on many other African countries, that potentially could become exporter of power supplies to Europe, as well as amongst themselves. Countries like Ghana, Rwanda and Congo are already investing in solar power projects. It could be the beginning of the new era of clean energy production in Africa, and Morocco is decided to spearhead the change.

Payments for Ecosystem Services – how to preserve ecosystem services and to improve the well-being of local communities

Ecosystem services (ES) – such as the provision of goods, regulation and support of human, natural and cultural activities – require proper and well defined management systems, which are now a core issue among the scientific community.

The main types of ecosystem services with significant commercial scale are:

–          carbon sequestration and storage

–          biodiversity protection

–          watershed protection

–          landscape beauty.

There may also be synergies or trade-off between the different categories of services and they have to be accurately dealt by a proper scientific economic and environmental analysis.

The trade-off between ecological preservation of the natural environment and the benefits from land use may be controlled by the adoption of monetary compensation and economic instruments. One of them is the payments for ecosystem services (PES).

What is “paying for the ecosystem services”?

PES are based on a conservation approach. They are legal contracts between external ES beneficiaries and local landholders. The former pay the latter in exchange of conservation and restoration activities of the ES. This may result in the development of a new private sector funding which may be very relevant for the well-being improvements of poor communities.

The definition of PES may be simply summed up into some specific and necessary conditions: it has to be a voluntary transaction where a well-defined ES (or a land use likely to secure that service) is being bought by a (minimum one) ES buyer from a (minimum one) ES provider, if and only if the ES provider secures ES provision (conditionality).

The transaction has to be voluntary: it is a market mechanism – not  a common and control instrument – and the providers are supposed to have real different land use choices. The ecosystem service has to be directly and scientifically measurable and is not linked to material or extractive benefits from nature. The conditionality of the mechanism requires some legal and enforcement apparatus, with periodic and contingent payments, monitoring and the possibility of withdrawal.

Differences and common characteristics with other economic incentives

As economic incentive instruments with strong and direct effects they are similar – but also very different – from other instruments such as environmental subsidies or land acquisition (e.g. for conservation purposes).

Subsidies aim at changes in broader production and resources use patterns, but they are not so direct as PES. Instead, land acquisition mechanisms aim to “eliminate” environmentally problematic actors; they are direct but do not include an integrated conservation-development dimension.

By contrast, PES do not require any change in land tenure (land owners remain the main actors of the deal), are cheaper and more adaptive and strongly inclusive towards the local communities.

…there may be also some problems!

By the way, some problems regarding PES still persist: they come with higher transaction costs, in terms of negotiation, monitoring…, there is the risk of violation or elimination of the deal and there may occur undesired indirect feedback loops (e.g. changes in income, consumption, labour and land markets may lead to unexpected environmental side effects).

This is only a brief introduction and definition of these mechanisms. Even if it is a kind of new instrument and its application is not so spread all over the world, there is already some literature and some relevant and interesting case studies. In the next articles, we will try to understand how they performed in the different situations and which are the necessary conditions for a good performance. We will also try to understand how the adoption of PES may be effective (or eventually not) in Italy since the new regulation about the woodland management introduced this instrument for the conservation of our forests.

Extreme weather events buzz louder

The European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) has recently reported an increase in extreme weather over the last five years. Since 1980, extreme heat waves and droughts have doubled, while floods and big landslides have quadrupled.

EASAC Environment Program Director Michael Norton has talked about this to criticize the parsimony with which most policy makers are addressing this issue: “Policy makers and lay people think climate change is something gradual and linear, but we need to keep explaining that the gradual change is increasing the chance for dangerous extremes, and that’s what we have to prepare for.”

“The increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events makes climate-proofing all the more urgent” he added. “Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between the political time scale of taking action, and the time scale on which climate change happens; by the time a lot of these more serious problems are widely recognized, the changes will be irreversible.”

Last line gives the core of the problem that most governments should be concerned about: nature will not wait until we decide our strategy approaching this matter. We are definitely getting closer to a time limit that we can only estimate, and the consequences of passing that threshold are yet unknown.

 

Reality is increasingly sending us signals for extreme events, according to Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). The KNMI has observed an escalation particularly in the number of floods and extreme heat waves in the last decades, realizing how little most European countries are prepared for this kind of contingency.

For instance, there was a heat wave in 2003 that killed 70,000 people, mostly in France. More northern countries do not seem to be better arranged: in Germany, heat adaptation is yet not a local government priority, although meteorological trends point on that direction; in Belgium, cities are forecasted to experience 25 more days a year with temperatures 10 degrees above the heat alarm level by 2050.

 

These would be some of the most direct (and therefore predictable) consequences to look at, but in nature the butterfly effect predominates. In case of staying in our current trend regarding pollution and abatement efforts, the more extreme events could lead to major waves of migration worldwide, especially from South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and America. A World Bank’s report from March 19 has estimated that up to 140 million people could be forced to migrate by 2050 due to climate change’s effects.

 

As the secretary of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters Øystein Hov claims, European Commission tends to listen what’s coming from the academies. However, the more information we get the more we need governments to be brave and take a step forward. Climate change is knocking at our doors with urgency.

“Global warming may help humans flourish” – Scott Pruitt and his curious administration of the US Environmental Protection Agency

There is overwehlming evidence about global warming and climate change being happening and being hazadous to humans worldwide. However, until there will be an even limited level of scientific uncertainty there will be place for climate change (or global warming) denial. This uncertainty would mostly refer to the anthropogenic influence on the climate, the fact that carbon dioxide is a key driver of global warming and some others.

We can be critical towards people who deny the clear evidence of climate anomalies that we see not only in science, but also in our daily lives. However, everyone, as human being is free to see the picture as he/she wants. What I find to be most shocking and terrifying is what is happening in the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

First of all, let us remember what the mission of the agency is. It is clearly stated on the official page of the agency and couldn’t be more straightforward: the mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.

Unfortunately, what’s is happening today goes in a dramatically different direction. Trump’s aversion to the agency has been proven on numerous occasions. He even defined it as a “disgrace” and made apparent his intention to reduce the agency’s competences in order to spark economic growth. The president was in charge of nominating the administrator of the agency and he chose Scott Pruitt, who was later confirmed by the US Senate.

Who is Scott Pruitt?

Scott Pruitt is an American lawyer and a Conservative politician. In 2010, he was elected Attorney General of Oklahoma and he received significant amount of funding from the fossil fuel industry for his election campaign. During his political mandate he sued EPA fourteen times (once to halt Obama’s Clean Power Plan). He opposed to many environmental regulation and self-declared to be a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”.

How is he administrating the agency?

Once nominated administrator of the agency, although the official mission of the institution remained the same, he launched a path of environmental deregulation. Stating that the coal, oil and gas industry has been devastated by years of overregulation and the war on coal, now Pruitt aims to rewrite all the climate regulation which combats climate change, water pollution and vehicle emissions, thus throwing away all the efforts made by the previous administration. Human health and the environment are not a priority anymore; the economic growth has to be pursued reducing the environmental constraints as much as (legally) possible.

Furthermore, Pruitt is also constantly committed to create a dramatic wave of misinformation in order to distract the debate about environmental issues. In addition to an unjustified attention over the uncertainty behind the phaenomenon of climate change (by saying things such as “we don’t know with precision what’s causing global warming” and “it is hard to measure with precision the human influence on the climate”), he is also trying to show the environmental problems under a new and dramatically absurd perspective: it will be good for us!

According to Pruitt, considering that humans have flourished during times of warming trends, how do we know that an increasing temperature is necessarily a bad thing? Moreover, aren’t we a bit too arrogant, thinking that we know exactly which is the ideal temperature of the earth in the future?

Even if it is also true that some consequences of climate change may be beneficial for populations in some critical areas of the world (e.g. possibilities for agriculture and shipping in areas of the Arctic), we cannot allow ourselves to forget all the uncountable negative consequences of the current trends (for example, deaths from severe cold are expected to drop but will be completely offset by rising mortality from heatwaves).

Moreover, what I find important to remember here is that we are not assuming to know the ideal temperature. We have been used to a given temperature range since we spent so much time adapting to it; every change from that situation will require mitigation and adaptation intervention, will be costly and probably also painful. You can find many other Pruitt’s statements with clear scientific responses in an article published by the Guardian.

In conclusion, it sounds very strange reading this kind of statements from the administrator of an agency that only few years ago used to recognised with a 95% level of confidence that human activity is at the base of all the global warming since 1950, supported by ICCP documents and a conspicuous body of science. What is clear now is that the person who is supposed to be protecting the environment, or at least to be spreading a proper information about the impact of our activity on the planet, is not respecting his mandate. And that is happening in a country that is polluting the planet more than almost all the other countries of the world. Maybe the situation has to be reconsidered and fixed, eliminating any kind of interest oriented position and ensuring an effective and honest protection of the environment (as may be expected from the Environment Protection Agency).

The evolution of agriculture: how we lost productivity, efficiency and stability of our fields

Nowadays, the agricultural sector is ruled by the industrial approach: fields are factories guided by the rule of business. Nature does not play the main role anymore.

We expanded our production to places that are really not adapt for growing crops. Every year we lose huge amounts of fertile soil, destroying its capacity both in terms of productivity, efficiency and resilience. That led to a continuous expansion of the farmland with a decreasing productivity, that involves problems of space and food production for the whole planet.

Regarding the loss of resilience of the soil we are simply increasing the use of pesticides. Since 1945, pesticide use has risen 3300 per-cent and is still supposed to increase, given that pests are developing resistance to our new powerful chemicals.

At the same time, due to the loss of fertility and capacity of our soil, we also have to face the problem of productivity (crop losses have increased 20 percent over the same period). In order to do that, we have introduced fertilizers and we are employing an endless quantity of them. That is also absurd considering that we could avoid all these problems  simply living the nature and natural ecosystems play their original role.

Moreover, imposing our artificial knowledge over the original experience of the nature, we are replacing plants with hybrid ones, genetically modified by humans. Because of their hybrid nature these new plants couldn’t pass their genetic traits on the next generation, meaning that every farmer will be supposed to buy hybrid seeds instead of planting seeds from the plants he/she eats. In this way we will progressively lose the wide variety of different species that originally existed, replacing them with an unique – and generally poorer – type.

We switched to a system of farming that mimicked industry, not nature. As a result, the leading force in farming is making profit. Nowadays, we are not growing food to sustain ourselves anymore: we are growing so much food it became a surplus – an export item and a political tool. Food is produced not in the most suitable place but in the country which has the most significant market power, able to produce with the lower cost and in larger quantities. That’s the case of some Italian brands of pasta which used to import wheat from Canada. Passing over the transportation costs and the environmental concerns linked to a so displaced production, what is really surprising here is that Italy has the best weather conditions for the production of wheat but it is still importing it. So, the question is: why does Canada have a so significant market power in the production of wheat? Why, speaking about the agricultural sector, the natural landscape and the weather features of a country are less important than its market position? Isn’t food production supposed to be related to the nature and the surrounding environment more than to scale economies, capital and profit making capacity?

Janine M. Benyus, in her book “Biomimicry – Innovation inspired by nature”, presents two interesting data about the agriculture industry. First of all, because of pesticide residues, agriculture is defined as the number-one polluting industry in U.S.; the biggest concern is about groundwater, contaminated by pesticide and nearly impossible to clean. Recent studies have shown that people who get in touch with these pesticide residues have higher than normal risks of developing illnesses, such as leukaemia, lymphoma and other cancers.

Secondly, mainstream agricultural techniques are currently less efficient than how they used to be in the past. The input-production ratio moved from 1:4 in 1990 to the current value of 1:1,5; even if we are producing much more now than in the past, the efficiency of our production has strongly been impaired by the adopted practices of farming.

That’s only a brief explanation of the problems linked to monocultures and the men’s attitude of imposing themselves on nature. Solutions are available, new ideas are spreading and there is some hope for improvement in the future. Actually, that would also be our unique chance to get over the problem of food production and climate change in general. But, as Janine M. Benyus states in her book, this may be just “the storm before the calm”. The system is not sustainable anymore, not even stable or optimal and we are now in the position to move on and revise the funding principles of our production system.

Gorona Del Viento has the wind on its sails

The Island of El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain) covered its whole electricity demand between the 25th of January and the 12th of February of this year on a 100% with renewable resources, avoiding the use of pollutant energy sources for over more than 560 hours in 2018, and a total of almost 2.000 hours since it started operating.

This major success comes mainly explained by the positive progress of El Hierro’s first wind and pumped hydro system, La Gorona del Viento, set up on 2014. The basic idea behind the functioning of this power plant is simple: an initial deposit of water is set on an adequate high ground area of the island, and another one is set on lower ground. The water running downwards produces energy, which, together with the input brought by a small wind farm, is used to pump the water up, back to the first deposit, while producing enough surplus to also feed the electricity demand of the island.

 

 

Since the moment it started normally operating, on summer 2015, Gorona del Viento has produced more than 20.250 MWh. Its progress is being remarkable: on the first half-year of performance, its share on the total demand of electricity was 19,2%. 2016 was the first whole year for the power plant, and it reached 40,7% of the total demand. On 2017, the share kept climbing up to 46,5%.

As the president of Gorona del Viento Belén Allende pointed out, one of the keys to explain the continuous improved performance of the plant is the close collaboration with Red Eléctrica de España (REE), the corporation that controls the national electricity grid in Spain and operates the power transmission system. In this regard, REE added that the recent operative updates introduced in the system will keep leading to efficiency improvements.

The positive effects that this initiative has brought and keeps bringing to the island of El Hierro are numerous: most obvious ones are directly connected with its environmental impact. Since Gorona started operating, it has been estimated than the emission of more than 30.000 tonnes of CO2 has been avoided, as well as saving the consumption of a great amount of diesel, which translates in lower energetic dependence, one of Canary’s biggest concerns.

Beyond that, Gorona del Viento has also helped re-launching the brand of El Hierro, promoting it as an environmentally friendly destination for regular tourists, while also becoming an interesting destination for scientific tourism, going from professionals in the energy field, to students, environmental engineers…  Besides, it has helped involving the inhabitants of the island into sustainability and increasing their awareness concerning these topics.

Overall, Gorona del Viento’s progress is slowly taking it from an experiment on how to switch to a 100% renewable energy context to a wider reality, becoming an example not only for the other Canary Islands but to anyone in the world interested on how to effectively perform this transition.

Deforestation in Italy: new regulation and new problems

On the first of December 2017, the Council of Ministers approved the so called Testo Unico Forestale, a Consolidated Act aimed to regulate the forest management  in Italy.

So far, an organic regulation of the sector was missing. The act aims to fill the gap and provide new instruments for the promotion of the Italian forest heritage. The core of the normative – according to the Minister of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies Maurizio Martina – is to stimulate an active management of the forest, an essential resource both for the protection against hydrological instability and to fight the depopulation of rural areas.

“Moving away from a museum vision of the forest – claims the minister – we aim to a sustainable management, able to safeguard the requirement of the environment and the job opportunities for the communities who live inside the area”.

However, despite the enthusiasm  of the minister and other members of the Government, there are still adverse opinions, who define the act as an “attack to the Italian forest”. Let’s check a bit deeper the reasons of the criticisms.

No proper zoning of the woodland

There is not any clear distinction between areas that have to be conserved and areas for the production of wood. That’s a clear back step even with respect to the legislation of the 1923 (legge Serpieri). According to that law, you cannot eliminate some particular areas, defined as “untouchable”, because of ecological, touristic and cultural reasons. The new legislation does not set any similar disposition and that’s the reason why professor Paolo Maddalena defined the decree unconstitutional and conflicting with some funding principles of our democratic and constitutional system (remember that the 9th article of the Italian Constitution states that the Republic “safeguards natural landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the Nation”).

Moreover, both areas where the forest is spontaneously growing again and areas where intervention of artificial reforestation are going on are not into the definition of forest and, consequently, may be freely eliminated. Those represent 40% of the current Italian woodland area and we have also to remember that the reforestation process required a lot of public resources: loosing those areas would represent a huge loss in terms of both public money and environmental resources.

The possibility of compensation

Another problem relates to the idea of compensation. According to the decree, you can eliminate or transform a forest area if you are able to compensate. You can do it through reforestation activities, which include a large variety of projects and services (e.g. a new road), independently of their different and uncertain effects. But, even worse, you can economically compensate the loss, whether allowed from the Region, simply paying an amount of money that will be collected into a forest fund.

The management of forest inventories

There is also a lot of uncertainty about who is going to manage forest inventories. In the past it was a task of the State Forestry Corps but now the Corp has merged with the police force and there’s no clarity about who is going to be charged with the management in the future. The decree covers this issue only superficially and no dispositions ensure any scientific methodology, accuracy and truthfulness.

Which is the “real” main objective of the policy?

Finally, there is also a sort of discrepancy related to the main objective of the policy. The writers of the decree wanted to promote an active management of the forest and enhance of the production of wood material. The availability of wood may be a good news for the sector of woodworking in Italy. The problem is that there is not any production structure on the territory. That means that the real objective of the decree is to provide the electricity producers with biomass! In fact, in the past, they have been authorized and established without considering the availability of raw material.

These are only few points among the many issues raised after the approval of the decree. Although a comprehensive legislation over the topic had been necessary for a very long time the result is not so satisfactory as expected. There are many problems in the text of the law and the norm is superficial and not specific enough in many points. Let’s wait and see how things will evolve in the close future.

 

IONITY starts taking shape

On November, 2017, a group of automakers announced an ambitious initiative to create a pan-European High-Power-Charging (HPC) Network for electric vehicles. IONITY would be the instrument to do so, as a joint venture participated by BMW AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Co, and Volkswagen.

By the end of the year ,  20 ultra-fast electric car charging stations where settled in Germany, Austria and Norway, at intervals of 120 km. Due to the high cost of each one of those stations (estimated to be around 200.000 Euros), the company decided to engage in a partnership with the German company Autobahn Tank & Rast, the international chain Circle K and the oil companies Shell and OMV. Between the objectives of the company was also stated that by 2020 the goal would be to implement 400 of these stations all along Europe.

Early in the month, Audi (which belongs to Volkswagen) made public during a conference in Oslo how the final network will look like once is completed:

 

The German company also added that stations will be installed along highways, focusing on long-distance travel, and the capacity would move between 150 kW (which should be an adequate capacity for the electric vehicles’ charge rate coming to market by that time) and their original aspiration of 350kW.

 

IONITY’s initiative and progress is excellent news for the establishment of an adequate framework where electric cars can actually flourish on the European market. The increase on the number of existing stations, and the competence with other companies like Tesla and its Supercharger network, can only contribute to lift up both market and industry.

 

 

Official site: http://www.ionity.eu/ionity-en.html

 

Current carbon approach can be insufficient to achieve Paris Goals, experts say

Nowadays models’ trust into dealing with climate change by using “negative emissions” technologies, such as CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage), may be into question, according to latter news.

A recent report from the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) claimed that the current state of technology cannot compensate for the actual amount of emissions, even with the forecasted cuts and reduction on them.

“We cannot trust technology to come to rescue,” are words from Michael Norton, a science and engineering professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (TITech). “We need to reduce our emissions as rapidly as possible.”

Nonetheless, since the efforts to lessen the use of fossil fuels seem to be insufficient, the attention that researchers are giving to capture climate pollution is consistently growing: alternatives like fertilising the oceans with iron or planting more carbon-absorbing trees keep popping up and taking the issue forward.

Problem is, according to the scientific community, that much of the needed technology is still under test and not for the open public, meaning its actual reach capability is way lower than what it should be according to both its potential and the scale needed. For instance, it has been estimated that more than 12 gigatons of carbon dioxide would need to be removed from the atmosphere each year; however, current situation of technology would get to eliminate just a fraction of that.

Furthermore, Norton pointed out that the technique required to store that captured carbon below ground is still far from being viable in real life, and showing a slow progress. “Science is not actually making much headway at all”, added.

Definitely one of the roots of the slow development of this sector is the shortage of economic incentives to actually carry the industry forward. Probably the most flagrant sign of it is the absence of a carbon tax: the fact that most emitters of carbon pollution do not actually pay for that makes it so that they lack a real incentive to actually consider these technologies or to work on cutting their emissions.

Nevertheless, despite the lack of progress on the specific sector of carbon capture and storage from both economical and technical sides, it is still researchers’ duty to keep investigating them. Their relevance is going to grow steadily as time goes on and humanity’s effect on the environment stays increasing, worsening also nature’s reactions to our footprint: longer droughts, more devastating floods, a general rising on the sea level… “Every tool in our toolbox may be necessary in the second half of the century to tackle climate change”, warned Norton.

 

 

You can find the original report here:  https://easac.eu/publications/details/easac-net/