Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions

March 16, 2020 by  
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As people cut back on traveling and the global economy slows, carbon emissions have dropped significantly, most notably in China. Unfortunately, reducing carbon emissions at the expense of public health is far from sustainable. By late February, China’s economy had already taken a hit. Coronavirus containment measures had reduced key industrial sectors by 15% to 40%, according to Carbon Brief . Industrial output and electricity demand were far below usual levels, including a 36% drop in coal consumption, a 34% drop in utilization of oil refining capacity and a 5% to 10% rate of flight cancellations globally. Both international flights from China and domestic flights within China are down by more than half. Related: Starbucks suspends personal cup use because of coronavirus As Chinese refineries shut down, ships become floating storage units for oil. About 87 million barrels of petroleum products are currently stored at sea, plus many more onshore, awaiting buyers. Some NASA satellite images taken in February are especially startling. The images show Wuhan’s usual yellow cloak of nitrogen dioxide — a gas produced by vehicles and industry — in early January of 2020, compared with nearly clear skies by mid-February. By the time of the latter photo, Chinese authorities had ordered a city-wide quarantine to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The images showed that nitrogen dioxide in the Wuhan skies was down 10% to 30%. “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement accompanying the satellite photos. Coronavirus and Chinese New Year Every year, China sees a drop in carbon emissions during the 10-day Chinese New Year celebration. Shops close, construction sites take a break and many industries cut back on operations. Scientists have measured the reduction in energy demand and the resulting emissions. Coal-fired power generation usually drops by half for the 10-day period. This year, coronavirus hit in Wuhan, China just before the start of Chinese New Year. By the time people started traveling home to see family for the holiday, more than 900 cases had been reported worldwide. The numbers and panic increased over the course of the usually celebratory time. Instead of things returning to business as usual after the celebration, the reduction in industry — and carbon emissions — continued. According to The New York Times , after three weeks of coronavirus, the decline in Chinese carbon dioxide emissions was about 150 million metric tons, or the amount of carbon dioxide the state of New York produces in a year. Historic precedents This isn’t the first time carbon emissions have plunged during a time of human sickness or panic. Global emissions dropped significantly from 2008 to 2009. During this time, U.S. unemployment doubled, the housing market crashed and the stock market tumbled. Global emissions decreased about 1.4% , or about 450 million tons of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, the drop was brief, and soon emissions soared to even higher levels than before the Great Recession. During the Great Depression, as U.S. unemployment climbed to 25%, global emissions dropped by 25% between 1929 and 1932. It wasn’t until 1937 that emissions reached their pre-1929 levels again. Of course, global emissions were much lower then than they are today. The worst pandemic in semi-recent history was the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 , in which 50 million people died globally. That year, carbon dioxide emissions shrank by more than 400 million tons. Other factors, such as the end of World War I and the resulting decrease in the steel and arms industries, may also have contributed to this decline. Carbon emissions after the coronavirus At the time of writing, coronavirus is still spreading worldwide. Soon we may see countries with similar reductions in emissions as quarantines spread across nations. But for now, China is the most interesting example, because it’s the epicenter of the virus and has such a vast economy. Scientists and the climate-concerned are already looking toward a future when the virus is contained and China fires up industry full-tilt. China had planned for 2020 to be the crowning year for a decade of economic accomplishments aimed at “building a moderately prosperous society.” But the virus has dire consequences on everybody, from big to small businesses to householders in China, who may fail to pay their debts because the virus has temporarily put them out of work. Chinese president Xi Jinping has expressed an opinion that the virus response has gone overboard, but local governments are more prone to tighten controls on movement and urge businesses to remain closed in an effort to contain the virus. Experts worry that China’s post-virus economic comeback will quickly reverse any ecological gains it has made during this time of reduced industry. “The reductions are substantial, but they are most certainly only temporary, and there will likely be a rebound effect,” said Joanna Lewis, an expert on China’s energy sector at Georgetown University . “Once people go back to work and factories restart, they may try to make up for lost time. This could result in a surge in emissions.” Images via Shutterstock and NASA’s Earth Observatory

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Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions

How China’s ‘Belt & Road’ initiative could make or break the Paris Agreement

September 5, 2019 by  
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China is eyeing $12 trillion investment across 126 developing countries by 2030, but will the resulting infrastructure be low carbon?

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How China’s ‘Belt & Road’ initiative could make or break the Paris Agreement

How Cross Industry Collaboration Accelerates Supply Chain Sustainability

February 23, 2017 by  
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Increasingly, supply chain partners are identifying areas of shared value and acting together to engage in innovative partnerships. International Paper and McDonald’s are leveraging their commitment to advance sustainable forestry and responsible sourcing through both supply chain actions and third party sustainability collaborations. Hear how these two companies have identified and leveraged their areas of intersection to mutual benefit, and the resulting outcomes on both ends of the supply chain.

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How Cross Industry Collaboration Accelerates Supply Chain Sustainability

Reinventing Corporate Sustainability

February 23, 2017 by  
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The past year has seen a number of ambitious targets set, from Paris to Kigali – the next step is translating these objectives into reality. BSR President and CEO Aron Cramer explores what it will take from the public and private sectors to follow through on these goals, tackle new questions, and build fairer societies.

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Reinventing Corporate Sustainability

Special Announcement: The Sustainability Solutions Celebration

February 23, 2017 by  
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ASU, with the help of some special guests, previews the Sustainability Solutions Celebration, presented as part of the Sustainability Solutions Festival hosted by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

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Special Announcement: The Sustainability Solutions Celebration

Rethinking the Water Cycle for a Water Quality Constrained World

February 23, 2017 by  
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Global water scarcity is a function of the compounding impacts of decreasing availability and declining quality. The impacts of these factors on business are complex and far reaching. Succeeding in a water quality constrained world requires the ingenuity of business to drive water strategies that go beyond conservation to reuse, recycling and stewardship.  Ecolab vice president of sustainability Emilio Tenuta will outline imperatives for achieving business resilience  amidst water scarcity.

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Rethinking the Water Cycle for a Water Quality Constrained World

Reclaimed Plastic Furniture Can Help You Recline in Style

April 25, 2014 by  
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Isn’t it ironic that most things that are made of plastic are used only once and then thrown into the trash, but plastic itself is a material that lasts forever; something that the Earth simply cannot digest? We may not be able to eliminate single-use plastics such as grocery bags and beverage bottles , but we can recycle them into items that’ll be used long-term… like these Adirondack-style chairs , which are made of 90 recycled plastic bottles and grocery bags. The folks at C.R. Plastic Products chose to make these gorgeous items from plastics that would have otherwise ended up in landfill sites, and the resulting furniture is as stylish and comfortable as it is long-lasting. Available in 16 colors, these weather-resistant items are built to last a lifetime (or longer). + CR Plastic Products The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “green furniture” , grocery bags , patio furniture , plastic bags , plastics , recycled , Recycled Plastic , summer furniture

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Reclaimed Plastic Furniture Can Help You Recline in Style

DIY Gift Wrap and Tags Made From Chip Bags, Clothes and Other Recycled Items

December 16, 2012 by  
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If you love wrapping and opening wrapped gifts but hate the resulting pile of wasted paper, then you might want to check out this awesome DIY post. We have compiled a list of clever ways to recycle the most mundane household items into fun gift wrap and tags that your friends and family will love. Our list demonstrates how just about anything can be given new life, including chip bags, children’s art, reusable shopping bags and t-shirts. Hit the jump to learn more and get inspired to make your own recycled gift wrap . READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: DIY , eco holidays , gift guide , gift tags , gift wrap , green holidays , holidays , household items used as gift wrap , Recycled Materials , sustainable gifts

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DIY Gift Wrap and Tags Made From Chip Bags, Clothes and Other Recycled Items

Beyond Soda Taxes, Teaching Cooking Crucial Part of Building Healthy American Diet

July 25, 2011 by  
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photo: cookbookman17 / Creative Commons The New York Times ‘ chief food opinionator Mark Bittman has weighed in on a topic that frequents TreeHugger’s page: Taxing sugary beverages , ending the de facto subsidies for unhealthy foods we’ve currently got in place, and the resulting health benefits of doing so. Bittman’s overview of those benefits is compelling for su… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Beyond Soda Taxes, Teaching Cooking Crucial Part of Building Healthy American Diet

Drought Brings Texans Falling Water Well Levels & Sinking Foundations

July 25, 2011 by  
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Foundation crack. Image credit:flickr, Micheal Derr ( ewige ) How dry is it it Texas? It is so dry that water-well levels are noticeably dropping. In fact, groundwater levels are sinking enough that, according to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram , “The dip in groundwater levels is forcing many rural homeowners who depend on residential wells to spend $500 to $1,000 to have their pumps lowered or, worse, $7,500 or more to have deeper wells drilled.” And that’s … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Drought Brings Texans Falling Water Well Levels & Sinking Foundations

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