Earth911’s 5 Things Today: Minneapolis Climate Emergency & More Chinese Import Bans Ahead

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Every day brings new climate information and news about scientific and commercial progress toward a net-zero economy. We know you can’t keep track of all of it. Earth911 offers these articles for your informed reading.

Minneapolis Declares Climate Emergency

Although Minneapolis has reduced its carbon emissions by 17 percent since 2006, it is not on track to meet its carbon reductions goals. The city’s council voted this week to declare a climate emergency and put in place sustainable building codes. Poorly insulated homes and commercial buildings used so much natural gas last year that the city’s CO2 emissions actually rose.

An interesting point. City leaders put a price on the social cost of carbon, $42.46 per ton. While it is not the basis for a carbon tax, the price makes a clear statement that the city will no longer ignore the cost of CO2 to future generations.

The Price Paid for Recovered Materials Falls

Recycling is a commodities business. The price paid for recyclable materials recovered from a city’s waste drives the profitability and availability of recycling services. Unfortunately, according to the Northeast Recycling Council reported last week that the prices paid for a ton of mixed recyclables fell 24 percent during the last quarter. That’s bad news for municipalities that want to seek recycling increase because there is less incentive to make it work.

More COP25 Action

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting in Madrid this week, COP25, is intended to set the stage for updated Paris Accord goals. Business, labor, and government are pulling together in the absence of American executive leadership, TriplePundit reports. Labor leaders and CEOs signed a joint statement declaring “that a commitment to the Paris Agreement requires a just transition of the workforce — one that respects labor rights and is achieved through dialogue with workers and their unions.”

What’s Driving Carbon Pollution?

“The hope that we had somehow ended the 180-year acceleration in carbon pollution — without, frankly, doing much work — has now vanished,” writes Robinson Meyer. The Atlantic also explains the progress hidden in some of the bad news about continuing increases in CO2 emissions.  Even though CO2 levels rose for the last three years, the economy grew faster, which means that more is being made with less carbon output. The problem is the lack of overall progress in carbon reduction, the adoption of renewable energy, and eliminating energy production using coal. Natural gas is cited as a source of progress — it emits about half the CO2 that coal does when burned — but there is a need for more aggressive policy.

China Prepares to Stop Accepting Fiber Recyclables

Resource Recycling reports that China is considering a complete ban on the import of recovered fiber, including most paper (not newsprint) and many of the most common food packaging and service items in use. This follows the country’s ban on contaminated plastic and glass in 2018 that roiled U.S. recycling, and it signals a need for more investment in U.S. mills to increase domestic recycling rates. While this is a crisis for some companies, it is an opportunity for others that recognize fewer fiber products will be available at a low cost from China. More material needs to be recovered and processed near home.

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