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Zero Waste is a Climate Solution at the COP20

Zero waste is the climate solution of COP20

The United Nations Climate Conference (COP 20) ended in Lima on December 13 last year after 12 days and 33 hours of additional negotiations, and reached a much disappointing agreement, and skeptics may not dare to guess. However, this is an important space for the waste sector to propose our community-led climate justice solution. Although it is usually part of the climate problem, it can definitely become a great climate solution.

No real agreement

Following up on previous commitments, the National Conference in Lima aims to develop a new legally binding global agreement, which should be adopted at the next COP 21 in Paris. This new treaty is expected to ensure that climate action is taken from 2020 to keep the earth’s temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Far from bringing countries closer to a legally binding global treaty, Lima’s results postponed all the important and most controversial decisions and produced a shy “Lima Call for Climate Action”, the document proposed many Key recommendations, but there is no real mission for any country to pursue these goals. [1]

In addition to overall negotiations, COP20 is also a very relevant space for monitoring and analyzing specific countries’ efforts to implement climate action in the waste sector. To be precise, some experiences have shown that although waste is part of the climate problem and a source of greenhouse gas emissions, it can definitely be transformed into a key climate solution with the largest reduction in emissions and further synergies.

Zero waste-a key solution for climate justice

"Zero waste solutions-including waste reduction, redesign, composting, biogas, producer responsibility, consumption transformation and recycling-can be implemented today, using existing innovations, and achieving immediate results." (GAIA to COP20 Excerpt from the declaration)

As in previous years, GAIA organized a delegation of grassroots recycling workers, visionary local leaders and innovative practitioners, demonstrating that zero waste is a key strategy for climate justice and the development of a low-carbon economy. In the one-week action inside the COP and outside the People’s Summit on Climate Change, the delegation was committed to promoting community-led climate solutions in the waste sector and challenging the use of waste combustion as clean energy and/or renewable energy.

This week started with the colorful and exciting public actions at the core of the COP. The delegation pointed out that the current climate financing lacks environmental standards, the most obvious of which is the construction policy of the Green Climate Fund. During the COP20, the agency has received financial commitments of up to 10 billion U.S. dollars from developed countries, and may approve project proposals as early as the summer of 2015, but has so far refused to promise to "exclude" the list of projects. Make sure that the final money will not burn fossil fuels, municipal solid waste, biomass or produce any type of dirty energy. Some civil society organizations have joined forces to make this request, but it has yet to be considered by the GCF committee.

Specific actions have been taken to bring the Mexican government into the focus of attention, as it recently approved the use of municipal solid waste as fuel in cement plants across the country. Doña Venancia Cruz, representative of the indigenous community of Santiago de Anaya, Mexico, directly appealed to the government representative to provide her testimony from the communities affected by this pollution.

As mentioned above, COP20 is an excellent background to showcase the main achievements of the zero-waste strategy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, providing livelihoods and restoring soil. A press conference was held to show specific examples.

Dan Moche and Beth Grimberg from Aliança Resíduo Zero, Brazil, presented the progress made in São Paulo, which recently implemented organic waste source separation and household composting for 10,000 households. Composting from green waste-from household food residues to dairy manure-avoids methane emissions during waste treatment, and most importantly, it helps soil restoration and helps improve its capacity as a carbon sink . This effect is cumulative, which means that even if the compost is applied only once, the soil will continue to absorb carbon dioxide, because the compost decomposes to provide slow-release fertilizer to the soil, resulting in increased carbon sequestration and increased plant yield. [2]

Pay special attention to the contribution of the recycler community represented by Denisse Moran of REDLACRE. The recycling industry has more than 2 million informal recyclers in cities in developing countries, providing climate-smart city solutions to maintain and strengthen livelihood development, improve local environmental health, and strengthen local economies.

Last but not least, representatives from the Argentine Anti-Incineration Coalition emphasized the need to work at the local and national levels and develop climate solutions based on a national alliance of communities and civil society organizations.

Monitor the national climate policy of the waste sector.

As mentioned above, COP20 is a very useful space for monitoring and analyzing national climate mitigation policies-in UNFCCC terminology, NAMAs, national appropriate mitigation actions. Since the global agreement does not provide any reliable environmental guidance, the current situation shows that climate mitigation policies are diverse and often in the wrong direction. This is especially evident when looking at the waste sector in countries such as Colombia, Indonesia, and the Dominican Republic.

For example, Colombia is internationally recognized as one of the most dynamic grassroots recyclers movement. The country has proposed a climate mitigation policy that will require the implementation of MBT plants in two cities, and the subsequent production of waste-derived fuel will be It is burned in cement plants as an emission reduction strategy. The pollution impact of waste incineration in cement kilns has been fully reported.Worryingly, the Dominican Republic has also proposed a climate mitigation project with the support of GIZ, including burning old tires in cement kilns, which it believes will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also increase the local population by creating jobs. Benefit. Similarly, the climate mitigation policy proposed by Indonesia also mentions the development of 5 waste-to-energy projects in 5 different cities, and it is not even clear what technology it is.

On the other hand, the Dominican Republicans also proposed a project to apply anaerobic digestion to the pig industry. If implemented properly, this will indeed lead to greenhouse gas emissions. In this sense, it is obvious that UNFCCC cannot provide any reliable environmental and social standards for climate mitigation policies in the waste sector, and close monitoring is needed to distinguish good from bad.

In short, as Mariel Vilella, Deputy Director of Zero Waste Europe, said in a speech on climate policy in the waste sector at the People’s Climate Summit: “Let’s not rely on misleading concepts. Biomass and garbage cannot be “new coal” because they are not Clean energy is not renewable energy. There is an urgent need to set environmental and social standards for climate action in the waste sector to ensure that we use its huge opportunities to mitigate climate change and achieve further progress in reducing air pollution, green employment, and empowerment. Flexible community of common interest,"

The next step-towards Paris COP21

Paris COP21 will be held in December next year, and the National Climate Alliance 21 is already preparing for this. The international network had the opportunity to discuss the plan at the Lima People’s Summit and proposed a calendar of decentralized mobilization throughout the year. Community-led zero-waste solutions will once again be at the forefront of mobilization, showcasing the work done in local and national contexts throughout the year.

[1] In order to fully analyze the results of COP20, we recommend the following articles from Oscar Reyes of the Policy Research Institute and this article by Lili Furh, Liane Schalatek and Maureen Santos of the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

[2] For the latest bibliography of this work, see

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