Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 12

opinion
continued from page 11
will be in the atmosphere on the
day we finally reach net zero,
and it is that peak concentration
on the net zero day that will determine
the climate for the following
centuries.
So if we get to net zero before
we have ruined the climate, our
grandchildren will be thrilled.
However, if instead we ruin the
climate before we get to net
zero, our great-grandchildren
will likely hold us in contempt
for our knowing but callous indiff
erence to their fate.
What does all that mean for
today's executives in the plastics
industry? Perhaps neither
more nor less than it does for
executives in other high-emitting
industries such as aviation,
steel, surface shipping and, of
course, the fossil fuel industries
themselves. All of these industries
are modern behemoths because
of the vast demand that
industrialised societies have for
the products and services they
produce. In the context of a still
burgeoning human population
and a desire by the developing
world to live like their counterA
3┬░C change in global average
surface temperatures would be
utterly profound.
Wake Smith
parts in the developed world,
that demand is in most cases
likely to increase. And that demand
will have to be met somehow
- very few consumers are
yet volunteering to sacrifice
their standards of living on the
altar of climate change.
Nonetheless, the science in
the latest IPCC reports is without
serious challenge. What had
once been a furious debate 20
years ago has resolved into a
rout, with continuing reverberation
in the political arena but
none in the scientific literature.
The greenhouse gas emissions
produced by the global industrial
economy now vastly exceed
the ability of the climate
system to harmlessly absorb
them. Emissions are still rising,
and the Paris Agreement has
not yet demonstrated a capacity
to restrain these trends. We,
therefore, appear to be headed
for roughly twice the climate
change that the Paris negotiators
had deemed to be a safe
limit. Physics is physics - objectively
true whether one believes
in them or not. Our grandchildren
will have little choice but to
square with all of that.
However, in the interim, the
current generation of leaders in
the plastics industry and elsewhere
must strain to bend the
emissions curve as quickly as
consumers will tolerate. This will
require expensive investments
in new technologies and processes,
as well as price signals
to consumers about how their
choices must change. All of that
will take time, of which we have
less than we think. The fabled
first step when you find yourself
in a hole is of course to stop
digging, and that's a fair way to
think of the climate problem. The
longer it takes to get to net zero,
the deeper the climate hole will
be when we finally get there. But
of course, if the path to net zero
takes until the end of the century,
it will not be we who will find
ourselves standing in that hole,
but our descendants. They may
have great diff iculty understanding
why we kept digging at their
expense.
Wake Smith, a lecturer at
Yale University, teaches an undergraduate
course on climate intervention,
the syllabus of which forms
the basis of his new book, " Pandora's
Toolbox: The Hopes and Hazards
of Climate Intervention. " Smith is
also a senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani
Center for Business
and Government at Harvard Kennedy
School. Prior to his academic
career, Smith served in several
executive roles in the commercial
aviation industry, including as the
president of the flight training division
of Boeing and the COO of Atlas
Air. He is a graduate of Yale College
and Harvard Business School.
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12
2203036ERE_Sustainable Plastics.indd 1
May/June 2022
24.03.22 16:49
http://www.erema.com

Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022

Contents
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - Cover1
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - Cover2
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - Contents
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 4
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 5
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 6
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 7
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 8
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 9
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 10
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 11
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 12
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 13
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 14
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 15
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 16
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 17
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 18
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 19
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 20
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 21
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 22
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 23
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 24
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 25
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Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 27
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 28
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 29
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 30
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 31
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Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 34
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Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 37
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - 38
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - Cover3
Sustainable Plastics - May/June 2022 - Cover4
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