Researchers say policies promoting bioplastics “ill-designed”

March 19, 2020 |

In Germany, while is true that plastics made from corn, wheat, or sugarcane are, in principle, climate-neutral and protect declining oil reserves—a broad shift in consumption from conventional to bio-based materials could be bad news for the environment given the current state of technology. After all, plant based raw materials are produced on land and unregulated agricultural expansion often leads to the conversion of natural, such as tropical forests. This jeopardizes climate change mitigation efforts, because forests bind considerably more carbon than, for instance, corn or sugar cane plantations. Hence, the unintended consequences of promoting “green” products through ill-designed environmental policies, could potentially lead to more harm than good for the global climate, not to mention other consequences, such as rising food prices and biodiversity loss.

A number of such examples can be found in the special issue “Focus on Leakage” of the journal Environmental Research Letters. They show that policies intended to combat climate change and environmental destruction often produce impacts that planners had not anticipated in the design phase.

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Category: Policy

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