COP27: Reaction to the Global Methane Pledge Ministerial Meeting

The Ministerial announced that 150 countries have signed the Pledge which was launched at the Glasgow Climate Summit last year.

It also announced that 95% of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) include methane or will do so by the next revision, and that 50 countries have developed national methane plans or plan to do so.

These 50 countries include Brazil, Vietnam, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, US and the EU – which represents 27 Member States – that have published plans in the last year. A further 10 countries – Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Malta, and Togo have committed to publish plans by COP28. The UK has published a methane memorandum.

The Ministerial also launched a waste and agriculture pathway to tackle emissions in these sectors. The agriculture pathway is largely focused on improving productivity and efficiency of livestock production which will not impact emissions if livestock numbers continue to grow.

Experts say governments are making progress but lack a sense of urgency and need to focus on phasing out the major sources of methane – fossil fuels, industrial livestock farming and landfilling of organic waste – rather than the technical fixes and voluntary initiatives offered under the Pledge.

Tackling methane – a short lived but potent greenhouse gas – is key to limiting global heating to 1.5C

Spokespeople and their contacts

Nusa Urbancic, Campaigns Director at Changing Markets said:

“Where is the sense of urgency? Governments must move faster to cut emissions if they are to deliver on the Pledge. 2030 is just eight years away and the window of opportunity is closing.
Getting to grips with livestock methane is critical. Our research shows that just 15 meat and dairy companies emit more methane than Russia or Germany. Governments need to back a shift away from the mass industrial production of livestock – not pin their hopes and our future on voluntary net zero targets that enable these companies to carry on with business as usual.”

Contact at COP27: nusa.urbancic@changingmarkets.org, WhatsApp +44 7479 015 909, interviews in French and English. Emissions Impossible; Methane Edition which calculates the methane emissions of 15 meat and dairy companies for the first time is available here.

Mariel Vilella, Global Climate Program Director at Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said:

“While we welcome the fact that governments are starting to acknowledge the outsized importance of addressing methane, the lack of action on waste frankly stinks. 20% of all methane emissions primarily comes from throwing organic waste into landfills. Therefore the simplest, easiest, fastest solution is not fancy tech-fixes, but to stop putting organic waste in landfills in the first place. With the right strategies in place, we can reduce methane emissions in the waste sector by as much as 95% by 2030, which is an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss.”

Contact at COP: Mariel Vilella mariel@no-burn.org or +44 7847 079154

Kim O’Dowd, Campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency said:

“We have only a few years to give humanity a shot at staying within a 1.5°C global temperature rise and we have no time for more pledges or declarations. What the world desperately needs now are real actions and commitments – something far more meaningful to address the ongoing crisis. We cannot wait for another Climate Summit to deliver on the promises made with the Global Methane Pledge. Negotiations for a global methane agreement have to start now, with concrete and binding objectives, mandatory reporting, monitoring and verification, national actions plans and targeted financial support to ensure implementation.”

Contact at COP: kimodowd@eia-international.org or WhatsApp +4736898907

Press contacts:

Claire Arkin, Global Communications Lead 

claire@no-burn.org | +1 973 444 4869

Africa: 

Carissa Marnce, Africa Communications Coordinator

carissa@no-burn.org | +27 76 934 6156

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GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. 

Waste is Third Largest Source of Anthropogenic Methane Emissions Globally

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11 November 2022, 12 pm EET

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt –The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) held a press conference along with Friends of the Earth Nigeria at COP27 to provide civil society’s perspective on Egypt’s impending announcement of its Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050. The initiative sets the ambition to recycle and  treat at least 50% of waste produced in Africa by 2050. 

In this press conference, civil society and diverse experts including climate justice groups, waste picker organizers and government leaders from across the African continent emphasized the potential of waste reduction and management for climate adaptation and mitigation.

“The 50 by 2050 initiative provides us with an opportunity to scale zero waste systems for climate action in Africa and around the globe. However this initiative can only be effective if it includes organic waste management, inclusion and recognition of waste pickers, and phase out of residual waste and fundamentally moving away from incineration and other climate-polluting waste management practices that aren’t meant for Africa,” said Niven Reddy, Regional Coordinator for GAIA Africa.

Waste will be critical on the COP27 agenda as countries discuss ways to reach the Global Methane Pledge, which recognises that reducing methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas over 80 times as potent as CO2, is critical to achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C.  Waste is the third largest anthropogenic source of methane, primarily from landfilling organic waste. 122 countries have committed to tackling this greenhouse gas globally.

The Global Methane Pledge and the Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050 both signal how countries are recognizing the potential of ‘zero waste’ to help meet climate targets affordably and effectively. Introducing better waste management policies such as waste separation, recycling, and composting could cut total emissions from the waste sector by more than 1.4 billion tonnes, equivalent to the annual emissions of 300 million cars – or taking all motor vehicles in the U.S. off the road for a year.   

The climate crisis has exacerbated impacts in Africa, making the need for adaptation measures more acute. Loss and damage financing and climate investments for zero waste systems in Africa can both boost climate resilience, redress historical inequities, and support local economies.

African communities are spearheading zero waste projects for adaptation, recognising the current realities they are faced with. One such strategy, composting, reduces pollution, prevents disease vectors like mosquitos and vermin, and boosts soil resilience, which helps combat flooding and droughts that threaten food security. 

Bubacar Jallow, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change & Natural Resources in The Gambia, explained: “What some may call waste is actually an incredible resource for the climate and public health. Composting food waste creates an effective fertilizer that can support greater food security in The Gambia in the face of a changing climate.”

If this initiative prioritizes the rights of waste pickers, it could also have a tremendous impact on the thousands of people working in the informal sector in the region. Waste pickers in Africa play a key role towards mitigating climate change by collecting and selling waste as a livelihood strategy, which increases recycling and reduces raw material extraction. 

Wastepicker Rizk Yosif Hanna stated: “In Egypt, the Zabaleen community recycles more than 50% of the waste they collect, and therefore must be taken into consideration. Any step in Egypt and in Africa as a whole should be built on the accumulated knowledge that exists in the informal sector, and integrate waste pickers into the decision-making and implementation.”

However, all efforts to manage waste will be fruitless unless there is a strong focus on source reduction, particularly for plastic, which is made from fossil fuels. If plastic’s life cycle were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. 

Ubrei-Joe Ubrei-Joe Maimoni Mariere, Regional Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Africa said: “Recycling alone is not enough to address the global waste crisis. For recycling to be effective, African countries need to  start attacking sources of raw material extraction, stopping single-use plastic and reducing waste at the source.”

Notes: 

For a full list of events and spokespeople available for interview, please see our press kit: https://tinyurl.com/GAIACOP27presskit

We have recently launched a new report titled ‘Zero Waste to Zero Emissions’.  The report provides the clearest and most comprehensive evidence to date of how zero waste is critical to the climate fight, while building resilience, creating jobs, and promoting thriving local economies. You can read more about it here: https://www.no-burn.org/zerowaste-zero-emissions/ 

Press contacts:

Claire Arkin, Global Communications Lead 

claire@no-burn.org | +1 973 444 4869

Africa: 

Carissa Marnce, Africa Communications Coordinator

carissa@no-burn.org | +27 76 934 6156

###

###

GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. 

Waste a Key Focus at COP27 as UNEP Unveils Adaptation Report and Pipeline Accelerator Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 03 November 2022, 10 am GMT 

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt –The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) will be holding a press conference along with Friends of the Earth Nigeria at COP27 to provide civil society’s perspective on Egypt’s impending announcement of its Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050. The initiative sets the ambition to treat at least 50% of waste produced in Africa by 2050 and will address mitigation, adaptation, and implementation. 

In this press conference, civil society and diverse experts including youth climate activists, climate justice groups, and government leaders from across the African continent will reflect on how waste reduction and management is a key driver of adaptation and mitigation and should be included in international climate financing

What: Waste Critical to Reaching 1.5 Degree Target: Civil Society Responds to Africa Waste 50 Initiative 

Where: COP27 Blue Zone, Luxor

When: November 11, 12:00—12:30pm EET

Speakers: 

  • Bubacar Jallow (The Gambia) Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change & Natural Resources
  • Rizk Yosif Hanna (Egypt), Zabaleen Waste Picker Group
  • Abdallah Emad (Egypt) Convener for the Local Conference of Youth, Egypt
  • Ubrei-Joe Maimoni (Nigeria) Regional Coordinator, Friends of the Earth Africa
  • Niven Reddy (South Africa)  Regional Coordinator, GAIA Africa

The Waste Sector Will Be a Key Topic at COP27 for Mitigation, Adaptation, and Climate Finance

Waste will be critical on the COP27 agenda as countries discuss ways to reach the Global Methane Pledge, which recognises that reducing methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas over 80 times as potent as CO2, is critical to achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C.  Waste is the third largest source of methane, primarily from landfilling organic waste. 122 countries have committed to tackling this greenhouse gas globally.

The Global Methane Pledge and the Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050 both signal how countries are recognizing the potential of ‘zero waste’ to help meet climate targets affordably and effectively. Introducing better waste management policies such as waste separation, recycling, and composting could cut total emissions from the waste sector by more than 1.4 billion tonnes, equivalent to the annual emissions of 300 million cars – or taking all motor vehicles in the U.S. off the road for a year.   

African communities are spearheading zero waste projects for adaptation, recognising the current realities they are faced with. One such strategy, composting, reduces pollution, prevents disease vectors like mosquitos and vermin, and boosts soil resilience, which helps combat flooding and droughts that threaten food security. 

Zero waste strategies are already showing massive potential in Africa. For example the organisation Nipe Fagio, in Tanzania, is implementing a decentralised framework for separate collection, recycling, and composting, engaging 32,000 people in Dar es Salaam and achieving 95% compliance, reducing 75% of waste in the area in just two years. Studies show that scaling these projects in the capital of Dar es Salaam would lead to a 65% reduction in sector GHG emissions, while creating 18,000 new jobs

The climate crisis has exacerbated impacts in Africa, making the need for adaptation measures more acute. Loss and damage financing and climate investments for zero waste systems in Africa can both boost climate resilience, redress historical inequities, and support local economies.

GAIA will have an international delegation of members, particularly from the Global South including several African countries, available for interview.

For a full list of events and spokespeople available for interview, please see our press kit

Notes: 

We have recently launched a new report titled ‘Zero Waste to Zero Emissions’.  The report provides the clearest and most comprehensive evidence to date of how zero waste is critical to the climate fight, while building resilience, creating jobs, and promoting thriving local economies. You can read more about it here: https://www.no-burn.org/zerowaste-zero-emissions/ 

Press contacts:

Claire Arkin, Global Communications Lead 

claire@no-burn.org | +1 973 444 4869

Africa: 

Carissa Marnce, Africa Communications Coordinator

carissa@no-burn.org | +27 76 934 6156

###

GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped. 

Interview with Jane Bremmer by Dan Abril

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

Jane Bremmer is one of Asia Pacific’s prominent and outspoken environmental advocates. However, with two Arts degrees and a Sound Design major, her involvement in environmental activism was something she didn’t quite expect or envision. She shares, “We had just moved into an old house with our 4-month-old baby and we were planning on a ceramics business when we discovered we were living next door to Western Australia’s worst contaminated site – a massive 38000 m3 pit of waste oil.” 

Heavily involved in social activism back in university, Jane was not the type to hold herself back; and so, together with others in the community, they formed a group and managed to get the site cleaned up and relocate those residents most affected by the contamination.

Known then as The Bellevue Action Group, it soon joined with other communities facing environmental justice threats and morphed into the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE) 

25 years later, the alliance has seen ordinary folks become heroes: from holding industrial polluters to account to getting involved in campaigns against waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerators, and climate change.  As ACE’s pioneer, Jane Bremmer sat with us to discuss the joys and challenges that come with coordinating and leading such an alliance.  

What are ACE’s main ongoing campaigns? 

ACE continues to support environmental justice communities facing pollution threats. In addition, we have two large WTE incinerator proposals here in Western Australia (WA) and so to counteract their waste disposal narrative, we are focused on supporting Zero Waste Campaigns here. 

Aside from that, we are also working on the impacts of pesticide use in both agricultural and urban environments.  A lot of people are interested because they are tired of seeing children’s playgrounds drenched in pesticides.  

What are your biggest accomplishments/achievements?

Our campaign on contaminated sites resulted in the state government introducing the first-ever Contaminated Sites Act. This was a great achievement and outcome for our campaign, ensuring no community in the future would face the same situation.

ACE was also able to prevent a fifth brickworks from being built in an already heavily industrial-impacted neighbourhood where air quality had long been compromised. We consider that every time that our government listens to us, and acts to protect our health and environment,  it is a win for us!

In 2005, ACE was also bestowed with a Sunday Times Pride of Australia Award for the Most Outstanding Environment Work Award. 

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

What challenges are you facing?  How is your work impacted by the COVID crisis?

ACE is a very independent voice and one of the significant challenges of an environmental justice campaigner is that you are often criticizing corporations and the government – and that is not a great way to make friends or get funding. In WA, mining corporations fund everything, even the academe is very industry-captured here and as such, it is very difficult for us to get the financial support we need. 

Another concern is that the world is changing very rapidly and people have less time now and people are feeling jaded and cynical. Compared to 20 years ago, people were more willing to take action and get involved in their local communities to defend their health and environment. Today, people are less interested and often accept government and industry platitudes without question. 

Our working model is to focus on providing resources that frontline communities need to raise awareness and engage their own communities and connect with experts and other contributors. 

COVID posed another problem, people became reluctant to meet – Australia has been so lucky dealing with the pandemic but I understand that the pandemic caused so much stress to so many other people, especially in the Asia Pacific (AP) region. 

What are the main environmental issues that your country/region is facing?

There are many issues but climate change is right at the top. The fossil fuel industry, the petrochemical industry, and the pesticide industry are a deadly trio that wreaks havoc on climate, economics, trade, and people’s health. 

How do you see your organization’s work evolving in the next years? 

ACE is currently considering its future right now. Our membership often fluctuates according to the campaign – so whether we will still be ACE in 10 years or evolved into another organization, I don’t know. People retire and move on.  My hope is that I will see me and my colleagues in our old age sitting in the back while all these awesome, young, energetic campaigners will take up the reins and lead ACE forward. Whatever happens in the future, ACE will still be around in some shape or form. This oasis will always be here. 

What are your thoughts on the waste crisis that many countries in your region (and in the world) are living in right now?

Every single state in Australia is facing an incinerator threat. Two big ones have already been approved in WA, while New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and Queensland are now facing numerous incinerator threats. South Australia (SA) meanwhile, has been quietly burning waste all this time and has massive expansion plans for refuse-derived fuel (RDF). The ‘waste disposal sector’ dominates in Australia driving a narrative of false solutions like waste incineration while failing to invest in sustainable Zero Waste policies and redefining a Circular Economy to enshrine waste burning. The waste disposal industry does not talk about Zero Waste and as such, government finances are funneled into waste incinerator projects and not source segregation. 

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

I have a bit of hope here though. Industry heads have acknowledged that they do not have a social licence to operate in Australia. When they say that, I know that we are being effective. 

While Australia’s world-first waste export ban was a step in the right direction, it is simply enabling further waste dumping in the AP region through a simple redefinition of waste as a fuel commodity that can continue to be exported. This will exacerbate the global waste crisis and push incineration projects into the AP region. This will be a disaster for our climate, health, and environment. The vulnerable equatorial region on our planet is no place for dangerous highly polluting waste incinerators. The AP region knows how to implement Zero Waste policy and have long been leaders in this area. They just need respect and support to scale up. Imagine a world without waste incinerators or coal industries!

To look at the other positives: Australia has seen some major waste policy improvements such as single-use plastic (SUP) bans, container deposit schemes, extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, and now has a national food and garden organics (FOGO) programme diverting this waste from landfills to composting. 

Do you collaborate with partners in other regions? If so, how?

We work with a number of other organizations – from local groups such as the Conservation Council of WA to international networks as the Basel Action Network (BAN), International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), Zero Waste Europe (ZWE), and of course the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

How does your work on waste relate to social justice?

Most environmental justice threats disproportionately impact Indigenous peoples (IPs) and other minority groups and Australia is no exception.  It is well-documented that communities hosting industries in their neighborhoods are often negatively impacted by those industries. ACE’s fight against air pollution is a battle for human rights. Everyone has a right to clean air, water, and soil. 

Who do you admire most in environmental work (in your country or in the world)?

There are so many great women in Australia and around the world who work for environmental justice, whether it’s petrochemicals, pesticides or plastic. They deserve much more recognition. Noting the work of  Dr Mariann Lloyd- Smith who founded the National Toxics Network (NTN), Lois Marie Gibbs, who lifted the lid on dioxin and its impact on communities in the US, Theo Colburn and her incredible work on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, and  Rachel Carlson who wrote “Silent Spring”. I have come to cherish and rely on them all. 

There are lots of incredible women who are doing amazing things in environmental justice spaces and a lot of women are simply standing up for their kids and communities – and they inspire me to keep going. 

Photo courtesy of the Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE)

The Alliance for a Clean Environment (ACE) is in need of funding to continue its work on exposing the threat of waste incinerators and its campaign against the use of pesticides in urban areas. Reach out to ACE via their website or their Facebook group to learn more. 

70% of all greenhouse gas emissions comes from making, taking, and wasting stuff, and 20% of methane emissions–a greenhouse gas 80 times as potent as C02–comes from landfills. If we are to reach the 1.5 degree target in the Paris Agreement, we need an international effort to reduce waste and adopt zero waste strategies like reuse and repair, composting, and recycling. We know it works: people around the world, particularly indigenous communities, have been practicing zero waste for millenia. If we act now we can tackle our waste and climate crises while creating better jobs, more resilient cities, and a liveable future for all.

MEET OUR DELEGATION

GAIA will have a diverse international delegation of advocates, academics, city policymakers, grassroots activists, and waste pickers at COP27. The delegation members will be sharing their expertise in a number of official side events, as well as engaging in dialogues with decision-makers, members of the media, and fellow climate experts. For media inquiries or speaking engagements please contact claire[at]no-burn.org.

Davo Simplice Vodouhe coordinates L’Organisation Béninoise pour la Promotion de l’Agriculture Biologique (OBEPAB), an NGO in Benin that has promoted organic agriculture since 1994. He is also a professor at the University of Abomey-Calavi; a member of the Pesticide Action Network Agroecology Workgroup; and is active in numerous African networks that promote ecological and climate-resilient farming.
Davo Simplice Vodouhe, L’Organisation Béninoise pour la Promotion de l’Agriculture Biologique (Benin)
Victor H. Argentino de M. Vieira works as a zero waste consultant at Polis Institute, a GAIA member based in São Paulo, Brazil. His work focuses on developing studies about waste management, climate and related issues in Brazil, promoting capacity-building activities and supporting municipalities to develop and implement zero waste strategies, with special focus on composting and organic waste management, in different Brazilian local contexts.
Victor H. Argentino de M. Vieira, Polis Institute (Brazil)
Nazir co-led the formation of the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table, where he works with communities to stop injustices like trash incinerators, concentrated pollution, and hyper-consumption, and instead build a regenerative, caring, and sustainable society. He has had a variety of roles over the last 15 years in the climate, labor, and global health movements. He has borne witness to these movements creating profound social change, often starting with a few individuals working on some local issue.
Nazir Khan, Minnesota Environmental Justice Table (USA)
Iryna Myronova is the Executive Director of Zero Waste Lviv and founding member of Zero Waste Alliance Ukraine. She received an MS in Ecology and Environmental protection at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and a professional certificate in Environmental Policy from Bard Center for Environmental Policy. Iryna has 15 years of professional experience as a sustainability manager and business consultant, and as a corporate engagement officer at World Wildlife Fund Ukraine. She is a member of the environmental board of Plast – a National scouting organization of Ukraine.
Iryna Myronova, Zero Waste Lviv (Ukraine)
Ana is a Zero Waste implementer and a plastic activist who believes that it is mandatory for us to recognize the inequality of the world that we live in, using solidarity to fill historical gaps, providing vulnerable groups with meaningful opportunities and ensuring that social justice walks together with environmental stewardship. Ana actively advocates for plastic reduction, from production to disposal to achieve climate balance. She participates in local, regional, and global networks bringing African and Latin American inputs to global conversations and pursuing equality of opportunities in environmental activism in the Global South. Ana is the Executive Director with Nipe Fagio, in Tanzania.
Ana Lê Rocha, Nipe Fagio (Tanzania)
Niven is GAIA’s Africa Regional Coordinator. He has a background in social science and worked in the education and environmental planning sector before joining the environmental justice movement in 2016 with groundWork, where he focused on air quality and working with local waste picker groups. He joined the GAIA team in January 2018 and is based in Durban, South Africa.
Niven Reddy, GAIA Africa
Dr Atiq Zaman is currently working as a Senior Lecturer at the School of Design and the Built Environment (DBE), Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University, Western Australia. He is also a Researcher at the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP) and the Course Coordinator of the Master of Environment and Climate Emergency program. He is one of the founding Co-Directors of the Global South Nexus research cluster at DBE. Since 2022, Atiq has been working as the Curtin Node Leader for the Sustainable Community and Waste Hub funded by the Commonwealth Government under the National Environmental Science Programme-NESP2 (2021-2027).
Dr. Atiq Zaman, Curtin University (Australia)
Daniel Nkrumah is the Municipal Coordinating Director (City Manager) of La Dade-Kotopon Municipal Assembly, in Accra, Ghana. He holds Master’s degree in Public Sector Management, a bachelors degree in Political Science and is currently a Phd. student at the Institute of Development and Technology Management (IDTM). Daniel is also a Chartered Professional Administrator and Management Consultant, ADR Practitioner, and Project Management expert (Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI), Israel).
Daniel Nkrumah, La Dade-Kotopon Municipal Assembly (Ghana)
Aditi Varshneya is the Membership Coordinator for GAIA U.S. and Canada. Originally from India, Aditi grew up in China and is now based in New York City. Her academic background centers on environmental justice, and she is pursuing a Master of Urban Planning at New York University. Aditi was a community organizer prior to joining GAIA and is fiercely dedicated to building a world that values people and the planet before profit.
Aditi Varshneya, GAIA U.S. and Canada (U.S.)
Mariel Vilella is GAIA’s Global Climate ProgramDirector, building bridges and identifying opportunities for collaboration across borders to promote zero waste policies and practices with members worldwide. Prior to this role, between 2014-2019 she was the Managing Director of Zero Waste Europe, during its foundation and early development. Before 2014 she was the lead climate policy campaigner for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).
Mariel Vilella, GAIA (U.K.)
Froilan Grate is the Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator and Executive Director of GAIA Philippines. He is a committed environmental justice campaigner who has assisted more than 20 cities/municipalities in the Philippines in developing and improving waste management programs and systems. He has extensive experience in module development and training and legislative work, providing support to legislators at the local government level, especially in areas of policy review.
Froilan Grate, GAIA Asia Pacific (The Philippines)
Christie is the International Coordinator of GAIA. She joined GAIA in 2005 and has 25 years of experience with social movements and international non-profit organizations. She began her work in Guatemala as a popular educator, program coordinator, and strategic planning facilitator for groups in the women’s movement and Mayan-Campesino organizing community, as well as in international human rights. For the last 15 years, Christie has worked from the U.S. on international waste, public health, and environmental justice issues.
Christie Keith, GAIA (U.S.)
Joe is the co-founder of YVE- Gambia, which focuses primarily on involving youth in local projects that incorporate concepts of sustainability, climate change adaptation, spread poverty-oriented and sustainable solutions to energy production and environmental preservation.
Joe Bongay, Young Volunteers for the Environment (The Gambia)
Amira has in-depth expertise in participatory and action research for waste management and recycling planning with different stakeholders. In Sierra Leone she is the Technical Coordinator and the Field Lead on the Plastic Circular Economy in Plastics for Sustainable Tourism and Economic Diversification Project.
Amira El Halabi, WIEGO (Sierra Leone)
Luyanda has been a reclaimer based in the city of Johannesburg in South Africa for 13 years. He is a founding member of Africa Reclaimers Organization and currently the project implementation officer focusing on the separation at source project. He is engaged in school educational programs to educate students the role of reclaimers and the impact of plastics.
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Luyanda Hlatshwayo, International Alliance of Waste Pickers(South Africa)
Mahesh is the Director of Paryavaran Mitra, a climate and environmental organization based in Gujarat, India. Known for his vibrant role as an environmental and human rights activist for almost two decades, Mahesh Pandya is also the editor of the bi-monthly publication Paryavaran Mitra.
Mahesh Pandya, Paryavaran Mitra (India)
Carissa is the Communications Coordinator for GAIA Africa. She has a background in journalism, with a special focus on new media and has previously worked with local news media as a journalist. She has developed multiple publications and materials with members across the continent and has a special interest in working with the informal sector and mainstreaming messages around waste picker integration in Africa.
Carissa Marnce, GAIA Africa (South Africa)

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

The following events are located within the official conference venue, any person wishing to access the side event area must be duly registered as part of a delegation of a Party or an observer organization and in possession of a conference badge. The link to access the virtual platform for badge-holders will be provided here as soon as it becomes available.

With the exception of the press conference and Zero Waste Hub, all events will be livestreamed on the UNFCCC youtube channel, which is accessible to anyone.

ZERO WASTE HUB

At the Zero Waste Hub, hosted by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), COP attendees can learn more about how zero waste strategies like reuse and repair, composting, and recycling are fast, affordable climate solutions that help build resilience, create jobs, and promote thriving local economies. Guests have the opportunity to speak with zero waste advocates from around the world and access the latest research on waste and climate.

WHEN:  Nov. 10-12, from 19:00-21:00 EET

WHERE: Blue Zone , Exhibit Space 21

ZERO WASTE AS CLIMATE JUSTICE

Zero Wate as Climate Justice: Frontline Solutions to Emissions from the Plastics & Petrochemical Sector. Plastic pollutes the climate and and perpetuates environmental injustices at every stage of its lifecycle. However, we can curb emissions by incorporating simple, effective and low-cost zero waste strategies. Our expert panelists organize on the frontlines of the plastics crisis and will discuss the opportunities and threats to a just transition to zero waste.

 

SCALING UP LOCAL VOICES AND SOLUTIONS

Scaling up local voices and solutions from urban informal settlements: Governance and finance models that advance climate justice and urban resilience. This event will illustrate the power of urban poor communities to produce governance and finance models that advance climate justice from the ground up, highlighting the transformative power of these strategies when partnerships with other stakeholders facilitate replication and scaling up of the work.  

WHEN:  Nov. 17, from 12:30-14:00 EET

PRESS CONFERENCE

Waste management will be one of the critical topics tackled at COP27, where host nation Egypt plans to put forward the Africa Waste Initiative, an initiative hoping to catalyse both adaptation and mitigation solutions and  aiming at treating and recycling 50% of the waste produced in Africa by 2050. In this press conference, civil society experts both from Africa and abroad will reflect on how the Africa Waste Initiative underscores the importance of tackling waste as a climate solution.

WHEN:  Nov. 11, from 12:00-12:30 EET

WHERE: Press Conference Room Luxor/2

JUST TRANSITION TO ZERO WASTE CITIES

Increasing GHG emissions in cities can be greatly reduced through just transition strategies toward circular and zero waste local economies. Panelists will reflect on how cities around the world are using zero waste strategies to reduce waste and emissions to meet their Paris Climate Agreement targets. The panel will underscore measures that support a just transition for workers and marginalized communities.

WHEN:  Nov. 16, from 15:00-16:30 EET

WHERE: Khufu (300)

 

METHANE MATTERS

Methane Matters: delivering on the Global Methane Pledge for ambitious methane mitigation. Speakers will present which measures need to be taken by Global Methane Pledge signatories to ensure ambitious methane cuts & explore the need for diplomatic efforts to develop an int’l governance framework on methane mitigation. 

WHEN:  Nov. 14 , from  17:00 – 18:30 EET, and Nov. 17, from 13:15 – 14:45

WHERE: Chile Pavilion, and Thutmose (150)

ZERO WASTE IMPLEMENTATION

Zero Waste Implementation as a Just and Equitable Approach to Climate Action.This cross-cutting session will showcase climate solutions and community interventions currently implemented in Africa. These are on the way to putting African countries on the path of decarbonising high-emitting sectors such as waste, oil and gas, cement, and transport. The panel will discuss key enablers to end the repressive behavior of national governments and the private sector towards the informal sector, and the corporate greed in fueling consumer culture. Panelists will guide the room on how to jumpstart a revolution for waste pickers’ recognition and frontline community empowerment.

 

WHEN:  Nov. 11, from 15:00-16:00 EET

WHERE: Sanafir Hotel

PANEL: WASTE DIVERSION AND SEGREGATION

Waste Diversion and Segregation, a huge opportunity for methane mitigation, and a challenge for ambtitious public policy and subnational implementation. During the event, we will discuss the relevance of public policy waste diversion and segregation as an opportunity for the global South methane mitigation, an OECD analysis on Food Waste/Loss and Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste public policy will be presented, and we will discuss how national and local governments could work and show good examples on public policies, data information, and environmental justice consideration

WHEN:  Nov. 17, from 11:00 -12:10 EET

WHERE: Science for Climate Action Pavilion

METHANE FROM THE WASTE SECTOR

Methane from the waste sector: Opportunities and challenges to deliver the Global Methane Pledge. At last year’s COP, over one hundred countries signed onto the Global Methane Pledge (GMP) to reduce global methane emissions at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030. These countries need to find affordable, effective strategies to reach their goals. The waste sector is the third largest source of methane emissions, primarily from rotting organic waste in landfills. 

WHEN:  Nov. 17, from 16:45-18:15 EET

WHERE: Thutmose (150)

COP27 Livestream Coming Soon!

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PUBLICATIONS

A new report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) provides the clearest and most comprehensive evidence to date of how better waste management is critical to the climate fight, while building resilience, creating jobs, and promoting thriving local economies.

 

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This report highlights the most actionable steps governments can take to reduce methane emissions. We found that by tackling the waste sector, governments will get fast results using some of the easiest and most affordable methane reduction strategies available.  Waste prevention, source-separation of organic discards, and other methods can reduce solid waste methane emissions by as much as 95% by 2030. 

 

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Waste is the third largest source of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas over 80 times as potent as CO2. Most waste sector methane emissions come from landfilling organic waste. This paper discusses how diverting organic waste from landfill is one of the fastest and most affordable ways to lower methane emissions.

 

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Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are submitted by signatory countries to the Paris Agreement that describe their plans and goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In October 2021, GAIA analyzed 99 NDCs to evaluate how zero waste solutions — plastic reduction, waste separation, composting, and environmental justice — are embedded in national climate mitigation plans. As an update to the analysis, we present a set of country profiles, featuring the governments’ commitments made for the waste sector and grassroots efforts for climate zero waste solutions in 12 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.

 

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The mission with the #breakfreefromplastic brand annual audit is to identify the world’s top polluting corporations. By gathering data on plastic waste collected at community cleanups around the world, brand audits allow us to challenge the plastic industry and demand real solutions. Our reports have revealed that the true driving forces of the plastic pollution crisis are the corporations producing all this plastic in the first place. For these five years in a row Coca-Cola–which is sponsoring COP27– has been implicated as a top plastic polluter.

 

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Net zero strategies put forward by key industries such as cement and plastic production will be insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5C. Current industry net zero roadmaps are projected to still not meet the target, resulting in warming of up to 2oCInstead, it is imperative to reduce resource consumption, particularly in the Global North in the cement and plastic production sectors. Zero waste systems provide an immediate and affordable opportunity for cities to meet ambitious emissions reduction targets in the context of rapid urbanisation and increasing waste generation. 

 

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News

Civil Society: Egypt’s 50 by 2050 Initiative Highlights Urgent Need to Address Waste in Climate Plans

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt –The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) held a press conference along with Friends of the Earth Nigeria at COP27 to provide civil society’s perspective on Egypt’s impending announcement of its Global Waste Initiative 50 by 2050. The initiative sets the ambition to recycle and  treat at least 50% of waste produced in Africa by 2050.  In this press conference, civil society and diverse experts including climate justice groups, waste picker organizers and government leaders from across the African continent emphasized the potential of waste reduction and management for climate adaptation and mitigation.

Interview with Daru Rini, Prigi Arisandi, and Tonis Afianto by Sonia Astudillo

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

Have you ever met a group of people who talk about the problems of the world, show you solutions, and suddenly you feel like there is hope for this world? That is what it felt like talking to Daru Rini, Prigi Arisandi, and Tonis Afrianto, Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation’s Executive Director, Senior Researcher and Founder, and Communication Officer, respectively.  

Once tagged as rebels by their university professors, Daru and Prigi who both studied Biology, found their calling when they set-up ECOTON as a research club in the university in 1996 and then as a non-government organization in 2000. Tonis joined the team in 2018 to bring in his communication expertise.     

“I worry about daily pollution that is happening right in front of our eyes. Fish are dying in the river, people are cutting mangroves, there was rampant building of houses in conservation areas, there was high pollution of heavy metals in coastal areas, and the water is changing colors” said Prigi. “It was difficult to understand why we are polluting the water on one side of the river and then drinking from the other side. Why is it happening? Those were the questions I had as a young researcher and I knew we needed to do something about it: research, compile data, present it to the governor via demonstrations, and get people in the city involved.”   

For Daru, it was about protecting biodiversity and the realization that the source of the problem is from the lands.  

“Back in the university, we were the naughty students,” added Prigi. “We felt useless because we had a lot of equipment but we did nothing. We were angry with the lectures because it seemed useless. Our professors became our enemy.”  Twenty years later though, Prigi was invited by the university and was given an Alumni Award for their outstanding work in ECOTON.

ECOTON, based in Gresik, East Java in Indonesia continues to promote environmental justice for present and future generations, especially in sustainable wetland resource management. The group uses the Himantopus bird as a logo to signal that just like the bird they will keep warning people if there is imminent danger. “We see our work as a warning system because we believe that we must provide good information to the community based on scientific research,” says Daru.

GAIA sat down with Daru, Prigi, and Tonis to know more about their work, their frustrations, and their achievements through the years.

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

What are ECOTON’s top priorities?

We believe: if you don’t know it, you don’t love it. We provide easy information. We transform difficult data into easy-to-understand information. Our job is to make scientific information easy to understand.  (Watch documentaries by ECOTON.)

Our dream is a people’s movement.  We want to see people conserving rivers by themselves.  We want data to translate into active participation.  

On top of that, we give early warning about environmental conditions like threats, pollution, and extinction. We share those information to stakeholders like the community, government, and media via social media and documentaries. We prioritize local community groups organizing so they can have the awareness, knowledge, and skill to participate. For the government, we push for policies that support environmental conservation while constantly reminding them through our scientific reports. Without reports and monitoring, the government will not act. 

What are ECOTON’s main ongoing campaigns? 

Our main campaign is for river protection to become a national priority of the government. Currently, there are policies on forest impact of mining but we don’t see river management programs.  

We use the information on microplastics as a tool for people to care more about rivers. Currently, all of our rivers are polluted by microplastics and it comes from the waste that we throw. It impacts our health because this same river supplies 86% of our drinking water. We want people to realize that everything we dump will eventually end up in our bodies. 

Research from ECOTON, from the UK, and Netherlands shows that microplastics are already in our bodies. We did a study that feces is contaminated with microplastics and we show how it comes from the waste thrown in the river. (Read the full report in Bahasa.

We are also suing the governor in East Java because they are not prioritizing waste management in the river despite Policy 22-2021 stating that all rivers must be without waste. 

At ECOTON, we write stories, we visit rivers, we make documentaries, and we talk to the media because we want the information that we have to become common knowledge. 

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

What are your biggest accomplishments/achievements?

For one, we are still alive after 22 years. ECOTON has now become more publicly known by the people and the government. It makes it easier for us to make educational programs and reach the public. We have more networks now, so it is easier to find support. Joining a global network also helped us develop our campaigns and gave us access to more funding, knowledge, and even volunteers. 

After we did the Stop Waste Export campaign, we got support from other NGOs in Europe and Australia and a response from developed countries that they will reduce waste trade. (Watch Take Back – a documentary on smuggling waste in Indonesia)

We have developed partnerships in communities in more than 68 rivers in Indonesia.

When we first released the dioxin report, the government said the report is not valid and said they will make their own report to counter ours. To this day, they have not released their report. But, it raised people’s awareness about plastics and its dangers. 

The relationship with the government is still not good but some officers are already warm and welcoming. Some cities welcome us but that is not the case in the provinces, especially after the dioxin report.

What challenges are you facing?  How is your work impacted by the COVID crisis?

Many people don’t think that the environment is an important issue to take care of. Indonesia is still a developing country. People still have low economic status. The priority for most is to earn money for living. That makes it difficult to educate them and stop them from dumping trash in the river. 

We need law enforcement. However, environmental management is not a priority for the government. There is very low funding and lack of personnel to enforce the law and respond to public complaints.

We also need more information or evidence of pollution. We do not have local evidence and no proper laboratory to conduct more tests and studies. Even if we want to know about dioxin pollution in Indonesia, we are unable to do so because of a lack of facilities. We need scientific data to make people understand.  People don’t have knowledge and information.  Evidence must be local. 

The university cannot speak even if they have the data. They are afraid to speak. Environmental activists are harassed and even criminalized. Even journalists are targeted especially when it comes to military members. That is why we need scientific evidence. 

What are the main environmental issues that your country/region is facing?

Harassment of environmental journalists, lack of scientific evidence, and extinction of freshwater fish, are just a few.

The latter can be blamed on microplastics because of its effect on the reproductive hormone. We have research showing that male and female fish don’t have the same time of maturation so they cannot reproduce.  Microplastics can also feminize fish.  Plastic polymers can influence the fertility of both fish and humans. The composition of male and female in a non-polluted river is 50-50 but it is 20-80 in polluted rivers. Given all these, it is safe to say that plastics can cause extinction in both fish and humans. (Watch Plastik Pulau/Plastic Island.)

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

How do you see your organization’s work evolving in the next years? 

We have new programs such as the Besuk Sungai or visit the sick. Our river is sick so we must visit them.  People must visit the river and when you visit, you must do something.  

We provide tools so people can monitor and measure the microplastic in the river.  We collect water samples and use a microscope to see the presence of microplastic. We want to encourage people to learn by doing, to see and smell the river, and to grow empathy towards the river.

We will have our national elections in 2024 and we want to push the candidates to speak about plastics pollution. We also want to push our findings on microplastics to go viral. We want to give full information on the state of 68 rivers in Indonesia and we want people to feel that they are cool if they know about river pollution.

What are your thoughts on the waste crisis that many countries in your region (and in the world) are living in right now?

The Plastics crisis is everywhere. There are problems with mismanaged waste and leakage but developed countries don’t have the capacity to recycle and then developed countries continue to send us their waste.

The solution: we need to have a global agreement – the Global Plastics Treaty. It is good progress because we are starting to deal with plastics, not as a waste issue, but as a material that should be addressed from production so we can achieve circularity and once and for all, solve the problem.

Our grandmothers used to use refills and we need to go back to that so we can reduce production and consumption.  

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

Community participation and global citizenship are important. We are one. We have the same responsibilities and the same rights. In developing countries, the right to speak and the freedom to get information is very limited. We want to fight that. As an NGO, we must produce information and strategize on how to get those information to the people.

We have produced 20 documentaries.  We try to transfer this knowledge to our modern culture, make it popular, and easy to receive. We must replicate a strategy to produce more information and get it outside our circles. We must change as an NGO, engage grassroots communities, and build movements not programs.

Currently we have good relations with the communities where we work not just in Surabaya but also in river communities from 17 cities all over East Java.

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

How does your work on waste relate to social justice?

Through the sustainable use of wetland resources and ecotourism and fishery, we encourage the government to establish protected areas in Surabaya. We proposed a conservation area to the mayor because once it is properly managed, it becomes a source of income for the local community.

We also promote social justice in our biodiversity programs because local people need to develop their economy by using their biodiversity resources sustainably. We discourage the use of destructive fishing equipment and teach the community how to harvest in a sustainable way, both in rivers and forests. 

We also use citizen science as a tool to monitor forest destruction. In every city and river we visit, we establish a community of mostly youth. We have tools to monitor water quality. We identify herbal plants and we promote fishers sanctuary.  We believe that we can live in harmony with the river. In some rivers, we show connections between upstream and downstream – water flow from upstream to downstream so money will flow. If people upstream are cruel, then that will affect those downstream and vice versa. We build connections so they can harmonize.

Who do you admire most in the environmental work (in your country or in the world)?

Silent Spring writer Rachel Carlson because she used scientific reasons. Her evidence made people move and we were inspired. Another is Che Guevara because he went around Latin America in a motorbike to know the condition of the people and then engaged them. 

Photo courtesy of ECOTON

ECOTON is currently raising funds for Besuk Sungai. Visit the Ekspedisi Sungai Suntara Fund Raising Page to know more.

  • Waste sector accounts for 20% of global methane emissions, a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2
  • Better waste management could cut waste sector emissions by 84% (1.4bn tonnes) and significantly reduce emissions in other sectors 
  • São Paulo, Detroit, and others could reach net-negative sector emissions by 2030
  • Governments preparing for COP27 should prioritise action on waste 

The introduction of ‘zero waste’ systems in cities around the world would be one of the quickest and most affordable ways to reduce global heating and stay below 1.5°C of warming, according to a new report released by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). 

The waste sector accounts for 3.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and a fifth of global methane emissions. Introducing better waste management policies such as waste separation, recycling, and composting could cut total emissions from the waste sector by more than 1.4 billion tonnes, equivalent to the annual emissions of 300 million cars – or taking all motor vehicles in the U.S. off the road for a year.   

But this figure underestimates the potential impact of waste management reforms. At least 70% of global emissions come from the manufacture, transport, use and disposal of goods, and a focus on waste reduction could significantly reduce the emissions in these sectors too. For example, manufacturing something from recycled aluminium uses 96% less energy than starting with raw materials. 

The potential for zero waste policies to reduce methane emissions is also critical. Methane is over 80 times as potent as CO2 but lasts only a short time in the atmosphere. Reforming the waste sector could cut global methane emissions by 13% globally. This would bring enormous climate benefits within the next few decades and ‘buy time’ to cut other emissions. 

Report co-author Dr. Neil Tangri at GAIA, said: “Better waste management is a climate change solution staring us in the face. It doesn’t require flashy or expensive new technology – it’s just about paying more attention to what we produce and consume, and how we deal with it when it is no longer needed.”

“Previous climate talks have largely overlooked the potential of reforms to the waste sector, particularly for reducing methane, which over 100 countries have now pledged to do. Zero waste strategies are the easiest way to rapidly and cheaply bring down emissions, while building climate resilience, creating jobs, and promoting thriving local economies,” stated co-author Mariel Vilella, Director of GAIA’s Global Climate Program. 

“As we prepare for another round of UN climate negotiations, we have a unique opportunity to put waste firmly on the agenda. Without concrete commitment from global leaders to zero waste, we will not be able to meet the 1.5° C climate target.” 

GAIA’s report modelled potential emissions reductions from eight cities around the world. They found that on average, these cities could cut waste sector emissions by almost 84% by introducing zero waste policies, with some, such as São Paulo  and Detroit, able to reach net-negative emissions by 2030. 

“GAIA’s report scientifically demonstrates that zero waste can actually get São Paulo to net-negative emissions from the waste sector, while promoting new jobs, providing a decent dignified livelihood to waste pickers and compost to support local agro-ecological farmers, groups who have been historically marginalised,” stated Victor  H. Argentino de M. Vieira of Brazil-based organisation Instituto Pólis. “What are our leaders waiting for?  The time is now to prevent waste and reduce poverty in São Paulo.”

The report also maps out how zero waste systems could help cities adapt to the escalating climate crisis, preventing both flooding and droughts, strengthening soil and agriculture, reducing disease transmission and generating employment opportunities. 

Despite this, more than a quarter of countries’ current climate plans neglect the waste sector. Waste management will be one of the critical topics tackled at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in November, where host nation Egypt plans to put forward the Africa Waste 50 Initiative, aimed at treating and recycling 50% of waste produced in Africa by 2050. 

In order to keep global warming below 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris Agreement, and prevent catastrophic climate change, GAIA is urging global leaders to take urgent and bold action on zero waste by:

  • Incorporating  zero waste goals and policies into climate mitigation and adaptation plans.
  • Prioritising food waste prevention and single-use plastic ban.
  • Instituting separate collection and treatment of organic waste.
  • Investing in waste management systems, recycling, and composting capacity.
  • Establishing institutional frameworks and financial incentives for zero waste including regulations, educational and outreach programs, and subsidies to recycling and composting. 

Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of the International Resource Panel of the UN Environment Programme, former European Commissioner for the Environment states: “This report demonstrates the huge importance of aligning our waste systems with climate goals. It shows how cities are already working to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from waste while building climate resilience and creating livelihoods. It highlights the absolute necessity of reducing root sources of waste through changing our production and consumption patterns – using all the tools at our disposal to achieve the deep emissions reductions we need.” 

Press Contacts: 

GMT: Cora Bauer | cora.bauer@digacommunications.com  |  +44(0) 7787 897467

EST: Claire Arkin | claire@no-burn.org | +1 ‪(856) 895-1505

Note to Editor:

The full report can be found at: https://www.no-burn.org/zerowaste-zero-emissions

Methodology

To ascertain the global emissions reduction potential of zero waste strategies, GAIA worked with local researchers to collect city-specific waste composition and generation data from eight diverse cities around the world. Bandung (Indonesia), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Detroit (USA), eThekwini (South Africa), Lviv (Ukraine), São Paulo (Brazil), Seoul (South Korea), and Temuco (Chile) were chosen to represent a wide range of conditions and circumstances, including climates, waste generation patterns, affluence and poverty, and current waste management systems. Projected diversion efforts focused on organics and easy-to-recycle materials such as paper, cardboard, metal, and glass. The degree of ambition or effort required for the potential zero waste scenario, as measured by the diversion rate (~50%), is well below what has already been achieved by multiple large cities in similar or shorter timeframes (~80%).  

GAIA found that the eight cities they studied could achieve average emissions reductions of 84%. Scaled up to a global level (i.e. assuming comparable actions taken in other cities and countries around the world), this represents a potential reduction of 1.4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas globally (3% of the global total), and reduction of 42 million tonnes  in methane emissions (13% of the global total). 

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How Reducing Waste is a Climate Gamechanger

A new report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) provides the clearest and most comprehensive evidence to date of how better waste management is critical to the climate fight, while building resilience, creating jobs, and promoting thriving local economies.

City Case Studies

GAIA’s report modelled potential emissions reductions from eight cities around the world. They found that on average, these cities could cut waste sector emissions by almost 84% by introducing zero waste policies, with some, such as São Paulo  and Detroit, able to reach net-negative emissions by 2030.

Bandung, Indonesia

The major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the city is from organics in landfills.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

In the Road to Zero Waste scenario, Dar es Salaam would achieve an increase in overall diversion rate from 0%-50%, avoiding annual climate emissions by 1,889,583 tonnes in 2030.

Detroit, USA

Through employing zero waste practices, Detroit could achieve net negative sector emissions by 2030.

Durban, South Africa

In the Road to Zero Waste scenario, eThekwini would achieve an increase in its overall diversion rate from 11% to 47%, avoiding annual GHG emissions by 1.5 tonnes by 2030.

Lviv, Ukraine

Zero waste activists in Lviv, Ukraine are aiding in emergency response. The city could reduce it’s sector GHG emissions by 93% in 2030.

São Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo could achieve net negative emissions in the sector by 2030, while creating thousands of good jobs for the informal waste sector.

Seoul, South Korea

The majority of Seoul’s waste sector emissions come from waste incineration.

Temuco, Chile

Temuco would achieve an increase in overall diversion rate
from 2% to 55%, avoiding annual GHG emissions by 64,000 tonnes in 2030.

Virtual Launch Events

Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe Launch
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 25 October 2021

300+ Organizations in 70+ Countries Sign Open Letter Demanding Leaders Stop Burning and Dumping and Transition to a Just Circular Economy

 

Glasgow, United KingdomAn analysis published today by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) finds that more than a quarter of countries’ climate plans are neglecting an essential climate strategy: reducing waste, despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identifying waste management as one of three sectors with the greatest potential to reduce temperature rise in the next 10-20 years.

 

As part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, national governments agreed to submit plans that

explain what strategies their country will employ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the 1.5˚C target. These plans are called Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, and many countries submitted updates this year in preparation for the annual UN climate talks (COP 26). GAIA’s researchers analyzed the 99 NDCs updated since 2020. 

 

Key Findings

 

Over 300 GAIA member organizations around the world have signed an open letter to COP-26 delegates, demanding that they close the emissions gap to ensure temperatures do not rise above 1.5ºC, exclude “waste-to-energy” incineration from climate plans, stop petrochemical expansion, fossil fuel extraction, and reduce plastic production, and avoid schemes like carbon trading and offsets under the guise of a “net zero” framework. World leaders must also hold the petrochemical and plastic polluter companies accountable for plastic pollution and climate change. Just today the Break Free From Plastic movement released their annual global Brand Audit report, finding that Coca Cola Company and PepsiCo are ranked as the world’s top plastic polluters for the fourth consecutive year. 

 

Emma Priestland, Global Corporate Campaigns Coordinator for Break Free From Plastic states, “The world’s top plastic polluting corporations claim to be working hard to solve plastic pollution, but instead they are continuing to pump out harmful single-use plastic packaging. We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels, including the significant amount of fossil fuels that are or will be turned into plastic.” 

 

The good news is that hundreds of cities have found that the reduction of GHG emissions in the waste sector can be maximized through zero waste strategies, a comprehensive waste management approach that prioritizes waste reduction and material recovery; through policy and business strategies to drive redesign of products and delivery systems; and increasing access to reuse, repair, recycling, and composting. The open letter advocates real zero targets where greenhouse gas emissions are phased out completely, and an investment in a zero waste circular economy. This would include transitioning from a single-use to a reuse-based approach to products and packaging, as well as robust social protection and income for waste pickers and workers. 

 

Dr. Neil Tangri, Science and Policy Director at GAIA, states: “With the climate crisis growing more urgent and deadly every day, governments are missing an important chance to employ zero waste as a common-sense, affordable strategy toward zero emissions and a sustainable economy. Ending bad practices such as the burning of waste and the overproduction of plastic will create new job and business opportunities in reuse, repair, recycling, and organics treatment.” 

Resources:

 

Press contacts:

Claire Arkin, Global Communications Lead

claire@no-burn.org | +1 ‪(856) 895-1505

 

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GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. With our work we aim to catalyze a global shift towards environmental justice by strengthening grassroots social movements that advance solutions to waste and pollution. We envision a just, zero waste world built on respect for ecological limits and community rights, where people are free from the burden of toxic pollution, and resources are sustainably conserved, not burned or dumped.