Sustainability Reads: October 6- October 12

Around the world in 22 carbon capture projects
The injection of carbon into the ground instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, carbon capture and storage (CCS), has been increasingly discussed by the IPCC as one way to mitigate climate change. This article highlights the CCS projects around the world that are already operational or under construction. Once up to speed these projects will capture 40 million tons of CO2, reducing emissions by .1% of global emissions each year. It was surprising to learn that 16/22 CCS projects actually pump the carbon underground to force more oil out of wells; the benefits of CCS used to perpetuate fossil fuel use is up to debate. Other information on CCS includes that North America is home to 16/22 projects; 3/22 are at power stations, 10 at natural gas processing facilities, and the rest are at industrial facilities manufacturing iron or processing tar sands. To keep up with rising emissions the scale of CCS needs to grow rapidly, but there are 34 other projects in planning stages. By Simon Evans and Rosamund Pearce, Carbon Brief.

Podcast (6min): Carbon Taxes and Investment in Public Transport
Fuel or carbon tax can be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through people driving less because it is more expensive, but effectiveness depends on factors such as public transportation and density of a city. A fuel tax is twice as effective when accompanied with investment in public transportation. Researchers use a case study of Paris to show how the investment of public transportation 150 years ago makes a fuel/carbon tax more effective today. This illustrates the value of investing in public transportation today for developing countries (and even California with their high-speed rail). Without the public transportation in place in the face of fuel/carbon tax a city shrinks as people move closer to their jobs. The result is a more costly, difficult transition to adapt. Discussion of paper by Stephane Hallegatte, Paolo Avner and Jun Rentschler. On World Bank Blog.

Acid damage to coral reefs could cost $1 trillion
The economic impacts of ocean acidification were released Wednesday in a report by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Ocean acidification occurs when the oceans absorb carbon dioxide, thus increasing acidity, and devastating coral reefs and other marine life. The world’s oceans have seen a 26 percent increase in acidity in the past 250 years due to oceans absorbing about a quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions. According to this report, the damages of ocean acidification does not only have ramifications for the ecosystem and marine life, but even the economy. The report argues that the loss of tropical coral reefs to acidification could cost $1 trillion by 2100 in terms of lost shoreline protection and lost revenues for the tourism and food industries. Even cold, deep-water reefs, which are home to marine organisms that produce potent molecules that might inspire new anti-cancer therapies, will be affected. Published at NewScientist.

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