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


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.

5 facts about air pollution in Europe


Experts say not enough attention is given to the state of air in the EU. The European Court of Auditors has published a report highlighting few alarming facts about the current situation. Results were summarized in an article appeared on the META, the news channel of the European Environmental Bureau.
1st fact: air evaluation systems do not have the same criteria in different countries.
Quality indices differ from a country to another, so the same level of pollution can be considered very bad in one country and acceptable in another country in Europe.
2nd fact: some monitoring stations are closing down.
In a few cities where bad air quality has been registered in the past, now simply has no control anymore as monitoring stations stopped their activity.
3rd fact: only 4 out of 28 countries respected limits for NO2, SO2 and PM in 2016.
The auditors indicated the need to push infringement procedures against the countries who are not compliant with EU law. Enforcement of sanctions is often lengthy and it does not lead to significant change.
4th fact: more focus is needed on air pollution sources.
Sources of air pollution are varied but the report highlighted that the most pollutant plants, for examples, benefit from transitional plans that grant them additional pollution allowances.
5th fact: current air pollution limits are 15-20 years old and they need to be adapted to the latest recommendations from the World Health Organisation.
Suggestions from the report are focusing on ensuring the enforcement of existing regulations, harmonizing air quality limit values and monitoring station location criteria from a country to another.

Global green bond market is back to a solid growth after the summer

Green bonds aim at financing environmental projects that can vary from energy efficiency to pollution prevention, from clean transportation to the development of environmentally friendly technologies or ecosystems preservation.
In order for a bond to be “green”, the project financed by its issuance need to be in line with the Climate Bond Taxonomy, aiming at reducing CO2 emissions.
2 international systems ensure the market transparency and integrity: Green Bond Principles and Climate Bonds Standard. Both systems define the criteria for the certification of a bond as “green”.
Green bonds are a fast expanding sector promoting climate and sustainable financial solutions, forecast to reach $185bn issuance in 2018, a growth of around 20 per cent on 2017 levels.
The sector experienced a huge growth, considering that the amount issued in 2012 was only about 2.6 billion $.
The green bond market hit a growth record last year, reaching a 20% increase versus 2017 levels. Forecasts from SEB, a leading Nordic corporate bank, report, that appeared in an article on BusinessGreen, indicate a possible new record in 2018.
Summer 2018 showed a slow down in the trend, but analysts say that reflected the global bond market situation, and not the specific alternative investments sector.

Carbon tax and dividend could open the era of clean energy independence

A recent article on The Guardian highlights how a tax upstream on energy sources with a high rate of pollution and its redistribution downstream could favour the so-called Main Street economy (the economy of households and small and medium-sized enterprises).  Acting on the climate, says The Guardian, is much more important than the health of our energy economy in general. Climate change is the main threat to developed economies, an accelerator of armed conflict and a major cause of mass migration. Its effects intensify and prolong storms, droughts, fires and floods, with the result that more was spent on disaster management in the United States in 2017 than in the previous three decades, from 1980 to 2010. The International Monetary Fund has warned nations that depend heavily on fossil fuels. Subsidizing with public money the economies that are very dependent on this type of energy source is putting their future solvency at risk. At the same time, the rapid expansion of green bonds is making it clear that large investors and banks are interested in the development of the so-called Clean Economy. Smart and sustainable funding should be the standard for public and private sector actors at all levels within 10 or 20 years, the UK newspaper explains. Former Republican Treasury Secretaries James Baker and George Shultz have called for a carbon dividend strategy. And this could bring improvements and transparency to the market. Even with record production of oil and gas, the United States is still heavily dependent on foreign regimes that manipulate supply and undermine the efficiency of economic systems. 

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.

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.