Eco-friendly projects set for U.S. - Mexico border
More than $720,000 in grants has been awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund 16 environmental projects along the Texas and New Mexico U.S-Mexico border. The projects include improving air monitoring, expanding waste collection and recycling, and improving environmental awareness and education among area residents.
The funds were awarded in partnership with the Border Environment Cooperation Commission, under the bi-national U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program, Border 2020. The projects selected address the public health and environmental protection goals of the Border 2020 Program and are part of the overall environmental funding available for the border region.
Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the 30th anniversary of the La Paz Agreement, which established the legal framework for cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico in protecting the environment of the border region.
Through these agreements, EPA has made significant investments that have resulted in major environmental benefits including more than 570 tons of e-waste properly disposed or recycled, the removal of more than 12 million scrap tires from dump sites border wide, and the connection of households to drinking water and wastewater services benefitting the more than 8.5 million border residents.
“At EPA, we are always looking for ways to help communities identify and solve problems. It’s one of the most important parts of our job,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Funding these 16 projects will help kick-start work to protect places along the border where people live, work, and play.”
The following organizations received grants:
City of Ojinaga, Chihuahua (Mexico) – Received $14,327 to improve air quality monitoring;
New Mexico Environment Department – Received $100,000 to provide training on soil control, maintaining septic tanks, and conserving water;
Adult Youth United Development Association, Inc. – Received $50,072 for septic tank maintenance workshops;
University of Texas Pan American, Rio Grande, Texas – Received $26,022 for stormwater management projects;
Secretaría de Desarrollo Sustentable, Nuevo León, México – Received $21,798 for waste management and recycling projects;
Public Works Department, City of Pharr, Texas – Received $20,000 to support a monthly cleanup program;
Water Utilities, City of El Paso, Texas – Received $6,220 to promote rainwater harvesting;
Comisión Estatal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios en Ciudad Juárez (COESPRIS), Juárez, Chihuahua, México – Received $43,076 to track air quality data and incidents of respiratory disease in local hospitals and clinics;
El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Piedras Negras, Coahuila, México – Received $39,875 to collect, track, and follow up on environmental and health information;
Texas A&M Transportation Institute, College Station, Texas – Received $89,750 to study effects on air quality from short-haul, cross-border transport of trade;
Department of Environment, Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico – Received $44,200 to improve water quality and habitat for plants and wildlife;
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Texas – Received $66,470 to support waste management and recycling efforts;
Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Valle de Juárez, Chihuahua, México – Received $44,850 to develop a program to use biosolids as agricultural fertilizer;
City of Alamo, Texas – Received $54,838 to improve solid waste management and recycling and improve environmental stewardship;
Comisión Municipal de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado, Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, México – Received $32,533 to reduce fats, oils, and grease entering the water system from restaurants and hotels;
La Amistad AHEC dba Southwest Border AHEC, Eagle Pass, Texas – Received $69,083 to educate families on the dangers of exposure to mercury, lead, and pesticides;
The Border 2020 Program is a bi-national collaborative effort with a mission is to protect human health and the environment in the U.S.-Mexico border region. BECC is an international organization established for the purpose of preserving, protecting, and enhancing the environment in the U.S. – Mexico border region.
Photo credit: spirit of america/Shutterstock.com
UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC
The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.
While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.
"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."
The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.
- Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
- Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
- Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
- Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
- Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.
In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies.
Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”
Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society.
Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."
Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).
Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.