Editorial note: This is an excerpt from an article originally published in Triple Pundit on December 29, 2016.
It has been almost a year since the Paris Climate Change Agreement was adopted in December of 2015. The agreement set out a goal and initiated a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
It took most of 2016 for the Agreement to be signed and ratified and the Agreement did not enter into force until November 4, 2016. Key to this process was a joint ceremony on April 22, 2016 in which President Obama of the United States, and President Xi Jinping of China signed and ratified the Agreement on behalf of their respective countries. The US and China are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet.
Turning aspiration into action
So now the hard work begins – turning aspirations of the Paris Climate Change Agreement into action. This was the focus of COP22. COP stands for the “Conference of the Parties,” which is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and 2016 was the 22nd annual convening of this Conference. This year’s conference focused on actions to achieve the priorities of The Paris Agreement – specifically action items related to adaptation, transparency, technology transfer, mitigation, capacity building and loss and damages.
Perhaps you were even unaware of COP22 this year as it convened in Marrakech Morocco on November 7 and concluded November 18, 2016. The U.S. election took place one day after COP22 convened, and there was scarcely mention of it, at least in the U.S. media, as the election results have dominated much of the news throughout the rest of the conference.
On Wednesday November 16 over 300 U.S. businesses released an open letter to president-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. congress at COP22, calling on them to support the process going forward from the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Tetra Pak was one of the leading signatories to this letter. Furthermore, Tetra Pak is committed to doing its part to realize the Paris Agreement’s commitment because ultimately the individual company and individual consumer must make changes, otherwise goals and governmental plans are just ephemeral aspirations with no accomplishment.
Food and beverage packaging’s role
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is in the process of investigating the environmental footprint of a variety of foods, understanding that food production, processing, distribution, and wastage are responsible for significant impacts. The foods to be considered in these reviews include tomatoes, wine, pork, beer, coffee, citrus fruit and juices, and fish from freshwater aquaculture. So far the DEQ’s contractor, the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems, has conducted literature reviews and produced draft summaries for two foods, tomatoes and wine, and the results show that:
- Packaging contributes to the overall environmental impacts of the food and beverage industry; and
- Packaging choices can make a significant difference in greenhouse gas impacts of the food and beverage industry.
Explore the full article in Triple Pundit here.
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