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Top Sustainability News #22

Alexanne Heurtier
Non-technical
You don't want to miss out on the latest news related to carbon markets and sustainable development. Find out our Top Sustainability News! 


Climat : le Conseil d'Etat donne neuf mois à la France pour prendre "toutes les mesures" pour réduire ses émissions de gaz à effet de serre

Le Conseil d’Etat français a ordonné la mise en place de “toutes les mesures” qui permettraient de réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre du pays d’ici les neuf prochains mois et ainsi aligner les actions du gouvernement avec les objectifs qu’il a fixés. En effet, la France s’est engagée à respecter les Accords de Paris en fixant un cap de neutralité carbone pour 2050 avec une étape intermédiaire de réduction de 40% de ses émissions de gaz à effet de serre d’ici 2030. 

Pourtant, de nombreux acteurs de la société française l’inaction de l’Etat et entrepris des démarches juridiques. Le procès très médiatisé mené par quatre associations environnementales et connu sous le nom de l’Affaire du Siècle avait abouti en février à la condamnation historique de l’Etat français pour dommage écologique. La justice française s’était par ailleurs donnée deux mois pour statuer sur l’obligation pour l’Etat d’en faire davantage. Si cette décision était ressortie comme historique, il n’est pas sans oublier qu’en novembre 2020, le Conseil d’Etat avait déjà mis en demeure l’Etat de justifier, sous trois mois, que ses mesures seraient suffisantes pour atteindre ses engagements climatiques. 

La décision rendue cette semaine concerne une autre action intentée par la commune de Grande-Synthe, menée par son ancien maire écologiste depuis 2019. Ce dernier considère que la commune est particulièrement vulnérable aux effets du changement climatique, notamment à cause du risque d'inondation, et pointe du doigt l’inaction climatique de l’Etat.

La justice climatique a pris de plus en plus de place dans la lutte contre le changement climatique et les organisations à l’origine des actions se félicitent des décisions rendues. Alors que l’élection présidentielle approche à grand pas et que le Haut Conseil pour le Climat vient de publier son rapport annuel, beaucoup espèrent que le gouvernement va revoir à la hausse ses objectifs et mettre en place des mesures cohérentes rapidement.


US - Canada Heatwave

Since last week, a deadly heatwave has been hitting the West Coast of Canada and the US. The phenomenon is called a “heat dome" and causes the temperature to significantly rise. A heat dome is a mountain of warm air pressing down across a huge area. The hot air is concentrated in a small area, which makes the temperature keep rising and maintains fires across the region. Record temperatures have been broken in many areas such as in Lytton (Vancouver area) where inhabitants have experienced 49°C. The village is also being destroyed by fires as the heat dome maintains the flames. Hundreds of deaths have been registered these last days, especially among the most vulnerable populations - youngest and eldest people - and those whose houses are not geared with air conditioning. Cooling centers have opened to protect populations; however, climatologists have warned that such temperatures could become more frequent in the future and that populations need to be protected in the long haul. Consequences on human health are terrible: headaches, nausea, cramps, fast breathing, and in some most serious cases, death. In addition, other damages can be observed in city infrastructures, such as distorted roads, cracking windows, and weakened buildings.

Experts are especially concerned about the outstanding temperature. Usually, when records are broken, it is about a few degrees, no more than 3 or 4. In the case of the Canadian heat dome, records have been broken by more than 10 degrees, which raises alarms for future climate events. It has been over 80 years since record temperatures were broken, but now Portland is experiencing three days in a row of temperature records.

The heat dome is not likely to end quickly as it has deformed the jet stream - a current of fast-flowing air high in the Earth's atmosphere - which is maintaining the mass of hot air instead of dissipating it.



Call for global treaty to end production of ‘virgin’ plastic by 2040

Scientists have published a special report on plastic pollution in the journal Science and called for a significant worldwide treaty on virgin plastic. Plastic has become one of the primary materials produced and used in the world since the mid-20the century. The amount of plastic produced has been estimated at 8 billion tonnes since the 1950s, and this amount keeps rising. Although plastic is considered a very useful material to protect products, especially food, it also has huge effects on the environment and biodiversity. Its production mainly requires oil, which increases the consumption of fossil fuel. However, the main reason why scientists are concerned is related to plastic waste. In total, some studies reveal that only four companies - each in the agribusiness industry - were liable for more than half a million tonnes of plastic pollution each year, this represents enough plastic to cover 83 football pitches every day.

Recently, experts have found out that plastic pollution could affect human health as micro-particle of plastics have been found in the human body through ingestion and inhalation. This outcome comes in addition to other discoveries, notably on the marine species that suffer from plastic pollution.
 
Scientists state that a worldwide agreement on plastic limits and controls is needed. The agreement should include three main points: 
→ Phase out the production of newly made or virgin plastic by 2040
→ Create a circular economy for plastic by incentivising reuse and refill and the elimination of substantial volumes of plastic pollution
→ Start a worldwide clean-up of plastic waste

Our societies need to learn how to live without using plastic. 
First and foremost, one should considerably phase out its plastic consumption and thus reduce its plastic waste. Then, recycling and reuse need to be democratized everywhere in the world to allow every nation to cope with this pledge. 



Article written by Alexanne Heurtier