SnippETS for 15 August 2019

Welcome to our latest SnippETS newsletter.

In this edition of SnippETS, we have a little bit of everything. We start with two articles discussing financial risk and disclosure, then we move onto travel emissions vs. cost and convenience. Keeping with travel, we then discuss electric scooters…are they a pain and are they really all that they are made out to be in emissions terms? Speaking of emissions, how about a car that actually charges from its own solar panels? The last few articles are garbage, or rather- about waste. Some very good ideas and initiatives here, so read up and enjoy!



Over the last 18 months we’ve seen both the hottest month on record for the world (last month) and New Zealand (January 2018) since records began. Extreme weather events are hitting every populated continent, killing, injuring and displacing millions, and causing major economic damage. Finally, the credit rating agencies of the world are starting to think that the physical risks that climate change poses on businesses, banks and markets have been previously mispriced.

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It’s not only the credit agencies that are re-evaluating the physical risks that extreme weather events pose. The US congress last month had their first ever hearing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. In that hearing they looked at standardising ESG disclosures to make them more comprehensive and consistent. And it’s not only happening in the US, in the UK it will be a mandatory requirement for all listed companies and large asset owners to report on climate-related risks and opportunities by 2022.

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As transparency around the physical risks of climate change is important, it is also important for the public to be informed about the climate impacts of different methods of travel. However, the problem is that we are being incentivised towards unsustainable methods of travel with quick and cheap air travel. We banned drink-driving because of the external costs to society, is it time to think about banning non-essential flights?

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The introduction of electric scooters in urban environments have had a big impact in the way people travel. There are issues though, which cause some to dislike them. Yes, we have heard about a few accidents and there do seem to be incidents of scooters being dumped randomly across footpaths and access ways. But surely, they must be better than travelling by private car and must lessen our emissions impact on the environment….right?

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Well, it’s not that simple. North Carolina State University went a step further and looked at the nuts and bolts of what makes up a scooter, its life cycle and emissions compared to other transport modes. The results were quite surprising; although US based, there will certainly be some similarities when compared to electric scooters in NZ.

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Sticking with transport, although we really see this as solar article, improvements in solar efficiencies can have a positive effect on the range of pure electric vehicles. Currently on a Toyota test car, solar panels with an efficiency of 34% can provide a range of up to 43 kilometres, and if solar panel efficiency reached 90% that could increase the distance the vehicle could travel up to 130 km. This isn’t just about panels on cars; with those type of gains, solar would really be a game changer.

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We are always looking for ways to improve recycling levels, especially for plastics. There are some very innovative ways of incentivizing for this, and we thought you would be as interested as we are in this one – where an Indian city mayor is making breakfast available to anyone who brings in a kilo of plastic waste to a small local restaurant. This follows other plastic based initiatives in the city, making it one of India’s cleanest cities, and feeds their hungry.

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Humans have been ignorant, indifferent and arrogant about waste for too long. What we don’t see about felling forests, filling landfills etc, “doesn’t bother us”. We feel entitled to use resources, and create waste as a consequence. This article discusses whether we can head to the future with hope. Hope for changes in individual’s attitudes towards a less wasteful society and hope that governments will embrace the required changes.Read more.....

Fortunately, there are some companies with ideas on how to recycle plastics in a circular way. Eastman, a specialty chemical company, was working to use recycled plastics in new products over 20 years ago, but the market wasn’t there. They are now upscaling and improving the technology to create processes that are now highly valuable, and they’re finding ways to use a more mixed stream of “waste” polymers. They are also using sustainably sourced forests to create the plant based cellulose component of their bioplastics.Read more.....





Questions we have all asked…Do you have to wash your tins before recycling them? Are glass milk bottles better than plastic? Do you need to use a bag for life? All your questions about staying eco without it becoming a burden are addressed in our final article, along with what you should never put in your recycling bag. A good read and a great resource to keep close at hand.

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Chinese officials are saying they believe they'll wrap up construction on a new artificial sun this year (the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor ), and they claim this device will be able to hit a milestone in ion temperature — putting us one step closer to harnessing the power of nuclear fusion.Read more.....

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