Canada to introduce carbon tax, with a potential boom for the Canadian economy

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Canada Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has announced the implementation of a carbon-tax staring from 2019. This initiative is in line with its campaign pledge made in 2015. Canada, part of the Paris Agreement, committed to reducing its carbon pollution by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Before the introduction of the carbon tax, however, its measure to reduce emissions were judged as highly insufficient, set to reach only a 4% reduction of carbon pollution levels below 2005 by 2030.
As a consequence of the introduction of the carbon tax in the whole country, energy price will rise.
Gasoline, for example, will reach an 8% price increase in 2022. The price of coal, instead, would more than double. Canada, however, already makes an extensive use of renewable energies, supplying around 60% of its needs in energy from hydroelectric generation. Only 20-25% of its energy comes from fossil fuels, so the energy sector would not be the most affected by the new measures. It is, in fact, the industrial sector which is responsible for about 40% of Canada carbon pollution.
The Government understood that covering the costs caused by climate change is much more expensive, mostly considering health and property damages costs caused by extreme weather events.
As stated in an article on the Guardian, it is estimated that, since, taxed money will be distributed to the province that generated them and 90% of revenues will be given back to taxpayers by means of rebates, the increased energy cost will be more than offset by the rebates for 70% of Canadian households.
Studies say this approach can boost the economy since disposable income increases.
A few Canadian provinces in the past already adopted carbon pricing systems and the government realized that they were among the top performers in GDP.

The European commitment to the plastic emergency continues with the Commission’s new meeting

In the last few years, the European Union has focused particularly on the issue of pollution of the seas and beaches, caused mainly by the increasingly widespread use of disposable plastic. With the aim of limiting this phenomenon, in fact, the European Commission recently met in Brussels to consider new measures that include banning the ten categories of plastic products that are most commonly found in European seas and beaches. Among these products are, for example, polystyrene cutlery and plates, straws, cotton sticks for the ears and disposable glasses. At this meeting, the European Commission has also selected the new targets to be met by the 28 Member States by 2025, which include recycling of at least 55% of urban waste, a reduction in the use of landfills (up to a maximum of 10%), recycling of 65% of packaging and, finally, the separate collection of textile waste, dangerous waste and biodegradable waste.

Turning CO2 into rock? Now is possible thanks to the CarbFix project

An innovative technology to limit the presence of CO2 in the atmosphere comes from Iceland, thanks to the CarbFix project. The Reykjavik Energy association, in collaboration with the French National Centre for Scientific Research, the University of Iceland and the Columbia University, has developed a method for transforming CO2 into rocks efficiently and effectively.  This process is in fact capable of capturing the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere, injecting it into the depths of the soil and transforming it into rock, thanks to chemical processes that prevent CO2 from re-entering the atmosphere. Even if the process requires a considerable amount of water, the promoters of the initiative are confident about the future development and increasing sustainability of this technology, even on a global scale. The data recorded last year, in fact, have confirmed the success of this technology, thanks to the 10 thousand tons of CO2, equal to those emitted by 2,000 cars, which were transformed into rock.

Recycling of plastic packaging: increasing efforts in Italy

In the last few years, the level of attention that Italy pays to sustainability issues has certainly increased and Italians are increasingly adopting measures that have a lower impact on the environment. Much remains to be done, especially with regard to the use of plastic materials in the production of packaging, but even in this context there are signs of improvement: according to the latest Corepla report, in 2017 there are about 7,000 municipalities active in the service of selecting collection of plastic packaging, which recorded a +11% in the quantities transferred to the consortium compared to 2016. 586,786 are the tons of plastic packaging that have been recycled and 324,480 those sent for energy recovery. Furthermore, according to Corepla, the national average per capita of differentiated waste collection rose from 15.8 to 17.7 kg per inhabitant per year, with Sardinia, Valle d’Aosta and Veneto leading the ranking. At the same time, there is an increase in the number of companies and industrial chains that have begun to look for alternative solutions, such as the case of Grom ice cream parlors offering compostable cups. This multi-faceted commitment could help Italy reach the 2020 target of reducing the percentage of plastic packaging going to landfill to zero.

California new move towards a more sustainable energy production

The California Energy Commission has reinforced its commitment to the development of more sustainable systems by signing an agreement that requires all single-family homes and apartment buildings, built from 2020 onwards, to be equipped with solar panels. This initiative originates from the necessity to find alternative solutions for the production of electricity, which is now still largely dominated by fossil fuels, that still has a total share of 62.7%. The objective set by the Commission is to achieve the “zero net energy”:each building will have to consume the same amount of energy that it can store with solar panels. This is not a trivial energy saving, considering that, according to forecasts, in 2020 about 117 thousands single homes and 48 thousand for multiple households will be built in California.

Plastic: Here is the new study on ocean pollution

The plastic emergency in the oceans is increasingly alarming, as demonstrated by the study conducted by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (Germany), which analyzed the presence of microplastics in Arctic Glacial Sea ice and stated that levels of marine pollution have never reached such high concentrations. The ice samples from five different areas were in fact found to contain more than 12 thousand microplastic particles per liter of sea ice.- The microplastic found comes from six types of materials: polyethylene and polypropylene (used for packaging), paints (on ships), nylon (fishing nets), polyester and cellulose acetate (mainly used in the production of filters for cigarettes). These results have also highlighted that more than half of the particles of microplastics trapped in the ice measure less than one-twentieth of a millimeter and, therefore, can be easily ingested by microorganisms such as ciliates or copepods, putting at risk marine life and, ultimately, that of human beings.

Global Risks Report WEF: the huge climate risk

Extreme climatic events (typhoons, heatwaves, and floods), natural disasters, ecosystem collapse with loss in biodiversity, human inability to mitigate the effects of global warming: environmental risks are the most alarming topic under discussion. This is what has emerged for the second consecutive year from the global Risks Report, published by the World Economic Forum on occasion of the last meeting in Davos. It is interesting to notice how the perception of risk has changed over the last ten years: during the period 2008-2010, the economy and the geopolitics were the unknowns that dominated the scene. On the contrary, from 2011 onwards, the environmental issues have gained the first place, with a peak of concern recorded between 2017 and 2018. Climatic change is ultimately changing the risk management strategies of big companies and of public-private institutions all around the world. In particular, many energy utilities are aware that in a few years they could lose huge profits due to the obsolete and no longer profitable existing infrastructure, such as coal-fired power plants. As a result, the so-called “carbon risk”, the financial risk associated with global pollution and CO 2 emissions, is gaining increasing importance in the investment decisions of banks, governments and fund managers.

European Union’s plastic waste strategy: 100% recycling by 2030

The European Commission declares war against plastic waste. The new plan for the complete recycling of plastic packaging by 2030 includes a clearer labelling to distinguish compostable and biodegradable polymers, rules for the separate collection of waste on ships, and waste management in ports. The strategy aims to reduce the 25 million tons of plastic waste produced per year in Europe, by increasing the share of plastic residues destined to recycling and reuse, which is today only 30% of the total. At the moment, a significant portion of this percentage is eventually treated by third markets, such as China, which has, however, announced a crackdown on the import of plastic waste. All plastic packaging placed on the EU market must be designed to be reusable and recyclable by 2030. In order to reach the set-goal, the Commission intends to review the legislative requirements for placing of the packaging on the market. New fundings are foreseen as a support to this strategy and spending will be mainly on research and development, with 100 million euros invested by 2020. Finally, the intentionally used microplastics will move towards a total ban, while the measures to reduce unintentional ones, such as tire wear rubber particles or polyester and nylon residues, released into washing waters, are still under study.