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Why This Matters: As Kingsmill Bond, energy strategist as Carbon Tracker, told The Guardian, “It is simply delusional for the plastics industry to imagine that it can double its carbon emissions at the same time as the rest of the world is trying to cut them to zero.” And as the Carbon Tracker report predicted, the “mounting pressure to curtail the use of plastics” through regulation suggests that Big Oil will “lose its primary growth driver, making it more likely oil demand peaked as early as 2019.”
The Problems with Plastic
Plastics represent, according to Carbon Tracker, a “massive untaxed externality upon society.” This externality impacts global warming, ocean pollution, and public health. Now is the time to act on these issues; as Lidia Creech reported for Resource, a recent study demonstrated that without action, by 2040 the level of plastic pollution in our oceans could triple.
And, although some have argued that plastic is critical in fields like healthcare, as the report noted, “the amount of plastic used in PPE equipment is very low and not sufficient to outweigh falling plastic demand elsewhere.”
As Bond told The Guardian, “Remove the plastic pillar holding up the future of the oil industry, and the whole narrative of rising oil demand collapses.” Unfortunately, the petrochemical industry is betting that the demand for virgin plastics use will increase by a quarter at a cost of at least $400 billion in the next 5 years, risking huge losses for investors.
Disrupting the Plastics Industry
Thankfully, there are a number of ways to “curtail demand for virgin plastics” that Carbon Tracker outlines in its reports. The report details the three main solutions for this disruption: first, reducing demand by implementing “better design and regulation,” substituting plastic goods with other products, and “massively increas[ing]” recycling.
While a recent Pew Charitable Trusts report noted there is “no single solution” on issues like ocean plastic pollution, if a number of steps are taken hand-in-hand, including both pre-consumer and post-consumer solutions, important strides can be made.
By Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for the Climate and Energy Program, Third Way We’ve reached a critical juncture in America’s nuclear energy future. Put differently, we’re in make-or-break territory for reaching net-zero by 2050. That’s because nuclear still accounts for more than 50% of our carbon-free power, and we need all the clean energy […]
It’s been quite a week for pipelines. Though the Colonial pipeline has resumed operations after being shut down by hackers earlier this week, its shuttering prompted gas shortages across the South and East Coast. The incident also increased calls by green groups and clean energy advocates to step up distributed energy resources. Wind and solar […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Canadian energy company Enbridge will continue to operate a pipeline transporting oil from the U.S. to Canada–despite Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order to halt operations–– stating that the governor did not have the authority to cease the pipeline’s operations. The Line 5 pipeline transports millions of barrels of crude oil […]
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