The Animal Care Centre in the US Virgin Islands provides animal lovers with a way to find their perfect pets

According to PetPoint, animal fostering and adoptions have increased by 700 percent across the US. Despite this, the Animal Care Centre (ACC) on the U.S Virgin Island of St John is struggling more than ever, with the pandemic eradicating the tourism industry on which the centre relied. 

The Centre, located in Cruz Bay, addresses problems of cruelty to neglect and abuse of island animals. It is a no-kill shelter providing kennels for homeless dogs and inside cages for a limited number of homeless cats. It is a stable resource for the community, providing animal lovers with a way to find their perfect pets, programmes catering to the island’s specific needs and also community education.  

The majority of the adoptions from their shelters come from tourists visiting the island. 

Asya Simmons, the Centre’s assistant manager says ‘With tourism at a complete halt, there is concern over raising funds to support the ACC’s community programmes, to support the animals in our care and to transport animals to homes and partner shelters in the States before the warm summer months make flights impossible.’

Anne Bequette, 10-year-resident of St. John and local photographer, recently captured the COVID-19 engagement of Asya and her new fiance Matt, who have dedicated their lives to animal welfare work at the ACC. They hope that the photos drive support, love and care of island animals during this time – by featuring a rescued ACC dog that is available for adoption, Calichi. 

Right now, the centre is in urgent need of donations, having lost their income from the tourism economy on the island. Once the crisis is over, they are always in need of volunteers to help care for the animals including walking dogs, socialising them and helping to clean. 


More information can be found at our website,, or on Facebook at



By Ellen Jones

Photo by Anne Bequette 


Celebrating Earth Day during lockdown

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day was also the first to be held entirely online as a result of the pandemic. 

Although the event had been planned months and months in advance, as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world, organisers were forced to re-evaluate and then scrap the plans for a massive IRL demonstration in favour of a mass digital campaign.

Although there were concerns that the most historic and significant environmental campaigns would go unrecognised, Earth Day in fact saw millions across the globe get involved, with 24 hours of online content around the world and a 12 hour Earth Day Live video stream. 

The livestream show was hosted by the actor Ed Begley Jr alongside his daughter and provided a variety of content from interviews, performances and calls to action. 

The first Earth Day took place first in 1970 and attracted the support of 20 million people around the world who felt passionately about the health of the planet. 

There were calls to action from a variety of world leaders. In his general audience, Pope Francis said that ‘because of our selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility to be guardians and stewards of the Earth. We have polluted and despoiled it, endangering our very lives’. 

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations shared his message that ‘We Must act decisively to protect our planet from both the coronavirus and the existential threat of climate disruption’. 

Every hour on Earth Day, Earth Day Network’s website and social media delivered a new call to action, with thousands of people joining in to carry out these actions which included registering to vote, trying new plant-based recipes and switching to green power. 

To honour the first Earth Day which featured educational teach-ins, teachers were asked to dedicate a class to climate change or encourage students to advocate for action in their schools and colleges. 

Although Earth Day is over, the mission to respond to the climate crisis is more important than ever and needs sustained action. To find out more about Earth Day’s mission and how you can support their work, visit their website

By Ellen Jones

Planet Wellbeing

How the Coronavirus and Air Quality Are Fueling Each Other

COVID-19 is impacting our lives on Earth in endless ways. One surprising way is a shift in air pollution: many regions have reported improved air quality since residents have begun locking down at home. The reductions in air pollution are so significant that some experts even think that people staying inside during the virus may mean lower-than-usual death rates from air pollution — rates that could potentially become lower than death rates from the novel coronavirus itself.

The European Space Agency (ESA) recently measured a reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions in northern Italy’s atmosphere, which has been on lockdown for more than a week.

Nitrogen dioxide is a gaseous air pollutant that forms when fossil fuels are burned, according to the American Lung Association.

“We are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see, coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities,” said Claus Zehner, mission manager for ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P, the device use to measure the change in Italy’s NO2 concentration.

China, where COVID-19 started, has also experienced its most significant reduction in NO2 concentration in a very long time. NASA Earth Observatory, who observed the change, attributed it to the tens millions of China residents in quarantine whose cars are not on the roads.

Additionally, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) has observed a decrease of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in China’s atmosphere.

Particulate matter contains microscopic pollutants that can be inhaled and cause serious health problems; with a diameter of just 2.5 micrometers, PM2.5 “pose the greatest risk to health,” according to the EPA.

Marshall Burke, an assistant professor in Stanford University’s Environmental Earth Systems Science Department, wrote a piece for interdisciplinary science blog G-FEED, exploring whether the reduction in air pollution has saved more lives than COVID-19 has taken.

“A natural — if admittedly strange — question is whether the lives saved from this reduction in pollution caused by economic disruption from COVID-19 exceeds the death toll from the virus itself,” Burke wrote. “Even under very conservative assumptions, I think the answer is a clear ‘yes.'”

After making a few calculations, Burke estimated that two months of the reduced air pollution in China has saved the lives of about 4,000 children under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China, which was greater than the virus’ total death toll at the time of publication on March 8.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year, 4.6 million people die as a result of air pollution, both outdoor (primarily caused by burning fossil fuels) and indoor (causes include asbestos, paint, mildew, and mold) according to ScienceDaily.

Interestingly, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, with a cough and shortness of breath being two of the top three symptoms (along with a fever). Air pollution poses a greater risk to those with respiratory conditions — and presumably, COVID-19.

Basically, COVID-19 is causing people to experience respiratory distress, and it’s also causing people to use their cars less and burn less fossil fuels, which is causing less air pollution, which may be reducing the severity of some patients’ symptoms and the overall death rate of the virus.

Overall, this data shows that us burning fossil fuels has an enormous impact on the planet and on public health. Of course, COVID-19 is not a positive thing in any way — but maybe it will inspire some people, corporations, and governments to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels once life as we once knew it resumes.

Original article by Sophie Hirsh – Source Green Matters

Photo by Kate Trifo on Unsplash

To find out more about the World Health Organization (WHO) and ways to get involved, go to their website.

To find out more about the American Lung Association and ways to get involved, go to their website.


4 Koalas and Baby Joey Released Back Into Wild Following Australia Bushfires

During the Australia bushfires that peaked between December 2019 and January 2020, rapidly spreading fires killed tens of thousands of koalas across the country. It’s estimated that more than 1 billion animals perished in Australia a result of the fires.

Now that the record-breaking fires have finally been contained, some of the lucky koalas who were rescued before the fires could hurt them are finally being returned to the wild.

This week, five of the rescued koalas who have been rehabilitating at Sydney’s Taronga Wildlife Hospital have been released back into the Blue Mountains in Australia, as MSN reported. One of the five koalas is actually a baby joey, pictured above with his mother.

These four koalas (plus the joey) are from a group of 12 koalas that have been in the Taronga Wildlife Hospital’s care since they were rescued from the fires. Hopefully the remaining eight koalas will be able to join them in the wild soon.

“While they have coped well in care we are delighted to finally send our koalas home,” Dr. Kellie Leigh, Executive Director of Science for Wildlife, said in a statement, as per MSN. Science for Wildlife, a non-profit wildlife conservation organization that helped rescue the koalas, also works with WIRES Wildlife Rescue and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

“We have been busy assessing the burnt area that we rescued them from, to establish when the conditions have improved enough that the trees can support them again,” Leigh continued. “The recent rains have helped and there is now plenty of new growth for them to eat, so the time is right. We will be radio-tracking them and keeping a close eye on them to make sure that they settle in okay.”

These 12 koalas were actually taken from the wild in December, just before the fires actually hit their habitat, Southern Highland News reported at the time. Leigh and her team were able to do this because of radio-tracking devices that had previously been outfitted on the koalas.

“We were at risk of losing the entire koala population at this site and so that’s what drove us to try something so radical,” Leigh said.

The radio-tracking devices are still on these four koalas, which will allow the team to monitor them, so they can “plan a future for koalas under climate change, where we expect more frequent and intense fires,” according to Leigh.

An estimated 25,000 koalas died on Kangaroo Island (off South Australia) during the bushfires, according to The Guardian. In New South Whales, the fires killed an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 koalas — about 30 percent of all the koalas in the state, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Many of those deaths were attributed to the fires destroying koala habitats and food.

These five lucky koalas were not the first to be returned to the wild after being rescued from the wildfires. Last month, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital began returning some of its koala rescues to the wild, as seen in the above video.

Original article by Sophie Hirsh – Source Green Matters

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

To find out more about the Taronga Wildlife Hospital and ways to get involved, go to their website.

To find out more about WIRES Wildlife Rescue and ways to get involved, go to their website.

To find out more about Science for Wildlife and ways to get involved, go to their website.


Greta Thunberg Launches #ClimateStrikeOnline Amidst Coronavirus: How to Participate

Every Friday for the last year and a half, Greta Thunberg has participated in a climate strike — and she has inspired millions of students from around the world do the same, striking outside their local government offices on Fridays as part of the Fridays for Future movement. But now, with coronavirus aka COVID-19 spreading all around the world, Greta wants students to stay home, and instead participate in a digital strike, called the #ClimateStrikeOnline.

On Wednesday, Greta explained her stance in a twitter thread. “We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis and we must unite behind experts and science. This of course goes for all crises,” she tweeted, winking at the climate crisis. “Now the experts urge us to avoid big public gatherings for a better chance to #flattenthecurve and slow the spreading of the Coronavirus.”

As seen in the graphic Greta shared, the idea of flattening the curve is us reducing the number of coronavirus cases as time goes on, rather than letting the cases rapidly increase, in order to decrease the overall the damage of the virus. As population health analyst Drew Harris told The New York Times, to help flatten the curve, citizens all over the world need to take efforts like constantly cleaning hands, social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantining.

Greta, ever a fan of science, is unsurprisingly siding with the experts here. “So I personally recommend that we do as the experts say. Especially in high-risk areas,” she tweeted. “We young people are the least affected by this virus but it’s essential that we act in solidarity with the most vulnerable and that we act in the best interest of our common society. “

“The climate and ecological crisis is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced but for now (of course depending on where you live) we’ll have to find new ways to create public awareness & advocate for change that don’t involve too big crowds – listen to local authorities,” Greta continued.

So instead of encouraging climate activists to take to the streets, Greta is encouraging them to strike from home this Friday (and probably a few Fridays after that). “So keep your numbers low but your spirits high and let’s take one week at the time,” she wrote. “You can join the #DigitalStrike for upcoming Fridays — post a photo of you striking with a sign and use the hashtag #ClimateStrikeOnline!”

The two hashtags are already growing on Twitter. One Twitter user hypothesized that moving the strikes to the internet will allow many more people than usual to participate — and if enough people participate, maybe #ClimateStrikeOnline will trend as a top Twitter hashtag on Friday.

Greta has never missed a Friday strike — even during both of her two-week boat journeys across the Atlantic Ocean, she symbolically posed with her “school strike for the climate” sign for photos. Her #ClimateStrikeOnline has the power to be just as effective — if not more effective — than in-person strikes, all the while encouraging students to stay home and help reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus.

Original article by Sophie Hirsh – Source Green Matters

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

To find out more about Fridays for Future movement and ways to get involved, go to their website.


California Bill Could Shut Down SeaWorld By Banning Dolphin and Whale Captivity

California could soon ban marine mammal captivity, should the recently-proposed Dolphin Protection Act become law. As pointed out by LiveKindly, the bill would effectively shut down SeaWorld San Diego (the first of four SeaWorld locations on Earth), where dolphins and whales are kept in captivity, forced to perform tricks, and subjected to endless other behaviors against their nature.

Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) is sponsoring the Dolphin Protection Act, also known as Senate Bill 1405. As Galgiani explains in the bill’s abstract, there is currently a law protecting orcas (aka killer whales) from being bred, held in captivity, used for entertainment, and more in California. Her bill would expand the law to protect all cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) from the same activities across the state.

According to a press release by Animal Hope in Legislation, an animal welfare reform organization that is sponsoring the bill, the Dolphin Protection Act would allow for a transition period so that SeaWorld could provide a “humane future” for the animals. Ultimately, the goal of this bill seems to be to transition facilities like SeaWorld to sanctuaries for the cetaceans that are already there as well as for stranded wild cetaceans. The bill would let cetacean holding facilities rescue, rehabilitate, and return wild animals to the ocean.

“We should not rely on cruel and inhumane treatment of any creature simply for our entertainment,” Senator Galgiani said in a statement. “Dolphins are incredibly intelligent beings that suffer a range of health problems and stress as a result of being held in captivity.”

Unfortunately, behind all the flashy shows at SeaWorld, there is a lot of pain. At SeaWorld, cetaceans live in tanks that are essentially bathtubs — whereas in the wild, marine mammals can swim up to 100 miles a day. An orca at SeaWorld would have to swim around his or her tank 1,400 times to achieve that distance, according to Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

In the wild, cetaceans are social animals, spending most of their time with their families — but at SeaWorld, they are isolated in tanks, where they can only interact with a few other animals who are typically not from their families or even their species (as well as human staffers — most of whom are performers, not marine biologists), Whale and Dolphin Conservation added.

Living in isolation has effects on cetaceans not unlike the effects that living in isolation might have on a human — that’s why experts have coined the neurotic condition “zoochosis,” which is when living in captivity causes animals frustration, boredom, depression, increased aggression, self-mutilation, and more, according to Your Daily Vegan.

Animals held captive at SeaWorld are forced to perform tricks that go against their nature; the animals typically suffer from perpetual sunburns since their tanks don’t allow them to go as deep underwater as they would in nature; and orcas often develop collapsed dorsal fins, according to SeaWorld of Hurt. All of these factors reduce the lifespans of these animals — as per SeaWorld of Hurt, orcas can live to 100 years of age in the wild, but on average, orcas at SeaWorld have a lifespan of about 14 years.

“Society’s attitudes about keeping certain animals in captivity has changed,” said Marc Ching, founder of Animal Hope in Legislation. “We cannot continue to bring whales and dolphins into captivity where they will spend their entire lives in a concrete tank. California is a leader in animal welfare policy and thanks to Senator Galgiani’s bill, many of these animals will be able to stay where they belong, in the wild.”

Should the Dolphin Protection Act become law, it would be huge for the state of California. Pushback is to be expected, but no matter the outcome, it’s encouraging to know that there are lawmakers fighting for these animals.

Original article by Sophie Hirsh – Source Green Matters

Photo by Damian Patkowski on Unsplash

To find out more about Whale and Dolphin Conservation and ways to get involved, go to their website.

To find out more about Animal Hope in Legislation and ways to get involved, go to their website.


How UK Consumers Can Help Support Sustainable Forests

A logging workshop in a rainforest in Gabon may seem a long way from buying a box of tissues in a supermarket in the UK, but in fact the two are closely linked.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an organisation which ensures that forests around the globe are well managed and sustainable.

A well run forest in Africa, like the Precious Woods site in Gabon, will provide wood which goes to make hundreds of products, from paper to toilet roll to furniture and even clothing, all bought by consumers in the UK.

But it can be difficult to be confident that the paper and forest products we are buying have come from a place where workers are treated fairly and that is sustainably managed.

This is where the FSC’s certification and label scheme comes in. Looking for the bright green FSC tick logo on any kind of paper product you buy means that it has come from a business which has met tough standards including forest management, helping local communities and gender equality.

And for workers like Eudoxie, 35, that’s particularly important. Mum-of-two Eudoxie works in the timber workshop at Precious Wood, in Gabon. She moved her family from a crowded city to the rainforest three years ago after learning how working for a firm with FSC certification guarantees her comfortable housing, free day care and access to a local school for her children.

Eudoxie said: “I used to live in the city but I’m very happy I took this opportunity to come work in the forest instead.

“Our housing is in a very good condition. We have clean water and I really like my job. The school and healthcare are important benefits too.”

The guidelines also make sure that women are treated equally to men in their workplace, and an FSC certificate requires equality in employment, training, awarding of contracts and equal pay for equal work.

Eudoxie added: “We African women are strong. We adapt to our situations and we have a lot to say. At my job I have as much to say as the men, and we like to joke and have fun too.”

Precious Woods are proud of their FSC certification and their ethos of treating workers fairly.

David Zakamdi the certification manager at Precious Woods explained: “Many FSC forest certification requirements put the emphasis on social values.

“FSC expects their certificate holders to do the utmost in that field, therefore we are encouraged to go the extra mile to ensure our workers and their families receive the benefits they deserve.”

The FSC wants to encourage everyone to look for their green tick logo on any forestry products they buy in order to help the organisation continue to protect the environment, support vulnerable communities and reach even more people in the future.

For more information see



Original Article by Jenna Sloan

Photo by FSC International 


New York’s Plastic Bag Ban Goes Into Effect March 1: Everything New Yorkers Need to Know

If you are already living a low-impact lifestyle, you probably won’t have any trouble adjusting to New York state’s plastic bag ban, which officially goes into effect on March 1. Beginning this weekend, many retailers across New York will be prohibited by law from giving out free single-use plastic shopping bags — with some exceptions.

Even though the ban was announced nearly 10 months ago, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding exactly how the ban will work. So if you live or work in New York, read on for everything you need to know about the bag ban.

When Does the New York State Plastic Bag Ban Go Into Effect?

The New York state bag ban goes into effect on Sunday, March 1, 2020. The bag ban was approved and announced back in May 2020, as part of the New York State budget proposal. New Yorkers, get your reusable totes ready!


How the New York State Plastic Bag Ban Will Work

As detailed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), all retailers who are required to collect New York State sales tax will no longer be allowed to give customers plastic carryout bags (with a few exemptions, detailed below). Instead, most retailers will offer reusable bags for sale. Additionally, cities and counties are permitted to enact their own local 5-cent fees for paper shopping bags (that fee will be waived for SNAP and WIC recipients).


To avoid having to buy a reusable bag or pay the 5-cent fee, New York state is promoting a campaign called #BYOBagNY, which encourages New Yorkers to always bring reusable bags with them. Keep reusable bags by your front door, in your car, in your purse, in your coat pocket, or attach a fold-up tote bag to your keyring.


Exemptions to the New York State Plastic Bag Ban

As is typical with governmental bag bans, there will be many exceptions to the new law, meaning certain New York businesses will still be permitted to pass out plastic bags. As per the DEC, an exempt single-use plastic bag is one that is:


Used to wrap non-prepackaged plants (such as flowers) or food that is either uncooked or prepared to order, that require wrapping to keep it clean.

  • Used to package items from bulk containers.
  • Used to deliver a newspaper.
  • Sold as a trash bag.
  • Sold as a food storage bag, such as a Ziploc.
  • Used as a garment bag at the dry cleaner or for a laundry service.
  • Used for restaurant takeout or delivery.
  • Used to carry prescription medication at a pharmacy.

Why Is New York Banning Plastic Bags?

According to the DEC, more than 23 billion plastic bags are used in New York state every year. Plastic bags are not easily recyclable — even though many supermarkets and pharmacies offer plastic bag recycling bins (because they are required to by law, and they still will be once the ban is in place), it’s not the most reliable recycling process.

Most single-use plastic bags wind up in the landfill — even when we reuse them them as trash can liners, for dog poop, or other purposes.

Only an estimated 9 percent of plastic actually gets recycled globally, according to National Geographic.


New York City Plastic Bag Ban

The ban will impact every town and city across New York State, including New York City, the most populous city in the country. In New York City alone, more than 10 billion single-use carryout bags are used every year, according to Thirteen — that’s nearly half of the entire state’s 23 billion annual single-use carryout bags.


Will the Law Be Enforced?

Some business owners feel that the state did not give retailers enough information to adequately prepare them for the bag ban. One Key Food franchise owner even thinks the bag ban will cause “widespread confusion and chaos for weeks — if not many months — to come.”


While that may be a bit of an overstatement, it begs the question — how will the law prosecute businesses who continue handing out single-use plastic bags beginning March 1? As it turns out, not very harshly.

As reported by the Daily Voice, the DEC will let stores work through their existing stock of plastic bags “until further notice,” since many retailers still have many left.


“Enforcement will follow in the months ahead,” Staff Sean Mahar, DEC Chief of, told WAMC radio, according to the Daily Voice. “Our goal is to make sure that there’s a smooth transition for consumers and affected retailers with this ban, so we’re going to continue that education effort. But we want to give a period of transition. So everyone can come into compliance here, but as of March 1, single-use plastic bags are prohibited.”

Cities and States With Bag Bans

The ban makes New York the third U.S. state to ban bags — California has the only other statewide ban, and Hawaii has a ban in every county. However, many other towns, cities, and counties have their own bags on single-use plastic bags; some major cities with bans include Denver, Washington, D.C., Chicago, both Portlands, Boston, Park City, and Jackson.


Get a Free Reusable Bag in New York

Luckily for New York residents who need a reusable grocery bag, some cities are hosting events where they will be giving away bags. You can find out about events in NYC here. Alternatively, if you are a friend of mine, you are welcome to come browse the overflowing tote bag collection in my hall closet and take your pick.

Original article by Sophie Hirsh – Source Green Matters

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

To find out more about the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and ways to get involved, go to their website.


An Ancient Forest of Giant Sequoia Trees Was Just Saved Thanks to a Nonprofit in California

An ancient forest of giant sequoia trees was saved from ongoing exploitation after the conservation nonprofit Save the Redwoods League (SRL) rallied to buy the section of trees in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, according to Mother Nature Network (MNN).

The forest, known as Alder Creek, is home to trees that are hundreds of feet tall and thousands of years old. It had been privately owned for generations by a family in the region who regularly logged the trees for profit.

SRL had been trying to buy Alder Creek for more than two decades, MNN reported, and made headway in negotiations last year.

They then raised $15.65 million from 8,500 donors from around the world to secure the purchase.

The nonprofit plans to eventually transfer the forest to the US Forest Service, but until that happens they’ll enlist experts to catalogue and study the trees to learn more about their provenance and what they’ll need to survive in the years ahead.

“This gives us the opportunity to understand what’s going on with these new threats and exposures, and to do the forest management that needs to be done,” Sam Hodder, president and CEO of SRL, told MNN. “Science-driven forest stewardship to reduce the fuel load in a way that restores the natural balance for the giant sequoia. To help prepare these groves for the hotter, drier fires that are coming.”

Giant sequoia trees, which are native to California, are endangered due to decades of logging and forest fires. The trees are also threatened by the effects of climate change. As snow melts in the region, rainfall becomes less common and temperatures increase — the massive trees then struggle to get enough water.

There are now just 73 groves of Sequoias left, according to the Guardian.

The decline of the sequoias mirrors the decline of forests more broadly around the world.

More than a century of deforestation — driven by agriculture, meat production, urbanization, and more — has devastated ancient forests ranging from the Amazon to Borneo. More than 40% of the world’s forests have been lost due to human activity.

Forests like these are critical to regulating the Earth’s climate, filtering the atmosphere, providing sources of food and water, and fostering biodiversity.

In the decades ahead, forests will either blunt or accelerate the impacts of climate change. If forests are protected and expanded, absorbing more carbon in the process, climate change will be less severe.

If they’re cleared, converted into asphalt roads or flat fields for cattle grazing, then catastrophic feedback loops will likely occur.

Original article by Joe McCarthy – Source Global Citizen

Photo on Unsplash

To find out more about Save the Redwoods League (SRL) and ways to get involved, go to their website.


This Company Is Sucking Carbon From the Air and Making Soda With It

The same carbon that’s heating up the planet could soon be making your soda fizzy.

Climeworks, based in Switzerland, is one of several companies working to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as a way to fight climate change — and soft drinks happen to be one of many destinations for the retrieved element. The majority of the CO2 that Climeworks removes gets stowed deep underneath Iceland, in natural formations made of basalt.

In some ways, carbon removal is a last-resort concept fueled by an understanding that countries aren’t yet doing nearly enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Critics argue that these companies could distract from efforts to reduce emissions; provide companies with “greenwashing” opportunities; and have a negligible impact on the environment.

But most forecasts by climate scientists actually now insist that carbon removal must be a part of any climate solution to stay within the Paris climate agreement goal of keeping temperature increases at less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“The world needs to do everything to reduce our emissions, with renewable energy at the top of the list,” Lia Flury, business development manager at Climeworks, told Global Citizen. “But on top of drastic emissions reduction we need to remove carbon dioxide directly from the air, because otherwise we will not reach the international climate targets.”

If you eat meat and dairy products, drive a car, heat your home, use electricity, take a flight, buy new clothes, and do any number of other everyday things, then you have a traceable carbon footprint.

The average American, for example, emits 48 tons of carbon annually — significantly more than the global average. If the entire global population emitted similar levels, then the world would blow past the goals set by the Paris climate agreement.

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to take steps to reduce your environmental impact. You can fly less, eat less meat, and take public transportation, for example.

But efforts to offset carbon emissions are becoming increasingly popular in the corporate world and are often shorthand for “sustainability.” These words can often be found in corporate press releases, sustainability newsletters, and Instagram posts.

If a company or person expects to release a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, then they can offset them. Often, these efforts involve planting trees, improving soil, or investing in renewable energy — relatively low-lift methods that are undeniably good for the environment.

But most of these methods don’t immediately remove the carbon that’s been added into the atmosphere. Instead, they promise that future emissions will be removed.

Only carbon removal technologies, also known as direct air capture and storage, can zero out emissions.

That is where Climeworks comes in.

Climeworks first formed about a decade ago and has spent the last several years improving its technology and working to cut costs. While its process is expensive, it’s cheaper than studies had predicted. Even still, the average American would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars annually to erase their carbon footprint.

Like any emerging technology, Climeworks plans to significantly reduce costs over the next decade, making its method more feasible for companies and individuals alike.

The company’s method is straightforward.

CO2 collectors (that look a bit like boxy fans) are installed within a frame or individually near a source of energy — Climeworks only considers renewable energy providers so the process doesn’t contribute to global warming. As a fan pulls air through the collectors, CO2 molecules bind to a filter material inside the machines. When the filter is saturated, the collectors are heated to 100 degrees Celsius to distill the carbon into its purest form.

The resulting carbon is then sold to drink companies, greenhouses, and renewable fuel manufacturers. It can also be mixed with water and pumped underground into the basaltic rock formations, where it reacts with compounds to become solid carbonite.

A single collector can remove around 50 tons of carbon annually — roughly the carbon footprint of a single American.

A growing number of companies, including Microsoft, are investing in Climeworks as part of their commitment to become carbon neutral. By 2025, Climeworks wants to capture around 1% of carbon emissions, a goal that will require a significant expansion.

The company doesn’t want to be seen as a cure-all. It faces obvious limitations in terms of scale and cost, but it does see its value as one part of a broader solution to climate change.

“It’s not enough if there is only Climeworks in the world,” said Flury. “We also need forestation and other solutions.”

Original article by Joe McCarthy – Source Global Citizen

Photo by Kurt Cotoaga on Unsplash

To find out more about Climeworks and ways to get involved, go to their website.