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2019 Is Tracking Toward the Largest Drop in Global Coal Power Use

Source: Data sourced from Carbon Brief, projection based on analysis of national electricity data

2019 is likely to see the largest drop globally in electricity produced by coal, as this year’s trends suggest a reduction of 300 terawatt-hours by the end of the year, according to an analysis from Carbon Brief. Declines in coal generation in some countries in 2017 and 2018 were counterpoised by increases in others, the report says, but in 2019, “coal generation in India and China is slowing sharply, precipitating a global reduction.”

This record drop is also due to declining use of coal “in developed countries, including Germany, the EU overall and South Korea,” the report says, with “the largest reduction … taking place in the U.S.” The U.K. also set a record this year when its power plants went more than five days without burning any coal, partly due to wind power energy, which has more than doubled in use over the last two years. 

Businesses are expected to turn to solar power to “exploit falling costs [of solar] to help cut their energy bills,” the International Energy Agency’s executive director, Fatih Birol, said in the Guardian, but he added that its “rapid rollout could disrupt electricity markets unless regulators and utilities adapt.”

Vaccine Hesitancy Is Highest in the US and Russia

Source: Morning Consult

The Russian population has the highest percentage of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy — at 29% — compared to the 14 additional countries surveyed. Experts believe that skepticism specific to this country’s population comes from the relationship between the Russian government and the public. The United States ranks second in vaccine hesitancy at nearly 20%, according to the Morning Consult. 

Concerns over potential side effects and whether the approval process was rushed through clinical trials are the two main drivers for vaccine skepticism across the world. Income, race and education levels also seem to impact the decision-making process. Compared to mid-April, however, the share of vaccine skeptics dropped by an average of 10 points in the 15 countries surveyed. 

Some countries, including Russia and the U.S., recently announced vaccine-related incentive programs, such as lotteries and other cash prizes. U.S. public officials are already seeing positive results from these programs, yet experts warned that this method may not bring reassurance to those with safety concerns around the vaccine. Instead, the World Economic Forum suggests that local leaders to prioritize reaching out and educating the public on misinformation circulating around COVID-19 vaccine risks.

Confidence in Mass Gatherings Remains the Lowest in Japan

Source: World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey

More than three-quarters of the respondents surveyed in nine countries plan to continue socially distancing themselves in public areas despite being fully vaccinated. Findings also show that the majority are also going to continue wearing masks in public areas. As the Delta variant spreads rapidly throughout the world, hospitalization rates are rising, and the WHO is urging fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks in public spaces.

Of the countries surveyed, Japan responded with the lowest level of comfort in terms of attending large gatherings. But this Friday, the Summer Olympics will begin in Japan, where over 11,000 international athletes are expected to compete. The majority of the Japanese public would like the Games to be either cancelled or postponed again in fear of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections. The government announced that a state of emergency in Tokyo will run throughout the Games to combat the virus, and athletes will have to follow a long list of rules while they’re in the country. 

Rebuilding Trust Is Key to Business Travel Recovery

Source: Morning Consult

Business travelers represent only 10% of total airline travelers but up to 75% of airline revenue — and roughly one-third of business travelers are not planning any trips for the remainder of the year, according to a Morning Consult survey. Meanwhile, most of those planning to travel for business in 2021 only have one or two trips scheduled.

Trust in brands plays a key role in how business travelers approach the industry. Over 60% of business travelers say trust determines which company they travel with compared to 57% of the general public. Similar to other travelers, business travelers value brands that are reliable, have good customer service and hold a high safety record. However, business travelers also assess trust based on a brand’s commitment to sustainability, how long it has existed and whether it earned the recommendation of a trusted individual. 

COVID-19 brought an unprecedented halt to the travel industry last year, but with vaccine rollout,  domestic leisure travel returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021. Although the disruption in business travel isn’t expected to fully reverse anytime soon, rebuilding trust has a clear role to play in accelerating industry recovery.

Food Production Is Pushing the Climate Target Out of Reach

Source: Our World in Data

Food production alone could cause the world to miss its 1.5 degree Celsius climate target even if countries stop burning fossil fuels immediately. Along with energy, food production is one of the biggest contributors to global greenhouse emissions — one-quarter to one-third of emissions come from food systems.

Our World in Data identified five ways to reduce emissions from the food industry: adopting a plant-based diet; consuming healthy calories; limiting food waste; and improving crop yields and farming practices. Shifting to a plant-based diet would lead to the biggest reduction in emissions. If these practices were fully adopted by 2050, the world would see net negative emissions.

Both consumers and producers have significant roles to play in reducing food emissions that involve legislation, investment and creating better policies. Although fully incorporating these five methods into daily activity could be difficult, the changes would lead to “a global food system that is more productive, has a lower environmental impact, and provides a healthy, nutritious diet for everyone.”

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