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Ireland Looks to Become First Country to Stop Funding Fossil Fuels

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The Irish Parliament has just passed a bill to halt all public funding of coal, oil, and gas companies. If the bill becomes law, Ireland will become the first country to completely divest from fossil fuels.

The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill saw wide support from almost all of Ireland’s major political parties and will require the nation’s massive Strategic Investment Fund to sell off all existing investments in fossil fuel industries by 2023.

Deputy Thomas Pringle, who introduced the bill, says he sees divestment as a necessary action for people and for the planet.

“Ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change, and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated,” Pringle told the Independent. “We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration, and civil unrest as a result.”

In October, the Irish government also voted to ban fracking, but Ireland isn't the only European nation taking steps to distance themselves from fossil fuels and address the causes of climate change. Norway divested from coal in 2015, yanking €7.4 billion (nearly $8 billion) back from their investment fund. And in January, Sweden’s fierce deputy Prime Minister signed a law mandating zero emissions by 2045.

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environment
To Encourage Responsible Trash Disposal, a Startup in Nigeria Pays People for their Waste
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Nigeria is home to more than 180 million people, who produce more than 32 million tons of waste per year and just 20 to 30 percent of this garbage is collected, according to one estimate. To provide Nigerians with incentive to dispose of their trash responsibly, Junks, a Nigerian waste management startup, provides people with the chance to exchange their trash for cash, according to Konbini.

The company offers to pay for items and materials like discarded electronics, glass, plastic, aluminum, books, and clothes. Once purchased, these materials are re-sold to wholesalers and recycling companies, according to Techpoint. Potential users who want to sell their trash are required to register on the startup's website, Junks.ng, and fill out a form with a description of the trash they're selling, along with their asking price and contact information. Once this information is received, representatives from Junks are sent to pick up and pay for the waste.

Computer programmer Bradley Yarrow founded Junks.ng in August 2017. Based in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, Nigeria, the company currently has just three employees, in addition to Yarrow. That said, the tiny startup appears to be doing big business, judging from a growing list of sold junk—which includes laminating machines, old laptops, and scrap car parts—already listed on Junks.ng.

[h/t Konbini]

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High-Tech Skyscrapers Could be Built with Low-Tech Wood
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When we think of wood construction, we often think of log cabins, tree houses, or the framework of residential properties. But if a new start-up has its way, we might soon be gazing up at 12-story buildings made almost entirely out of Douglas firs.

In a report for CityLab, journalist Amanda Kolson Hurley profiled Portland, Oregon's Lever Architecture, a firm attempting to revitalize wood-based towers that reduce the carbon footprints of conventional buildings. Their offices are located in a four-story property made from wood; their next major project, titled Framework, is expected to be 12 stories and slated to debut in Portland in 2019.

Part of Lever’s goal is to reduce concerns over wooden structures—namely, that they’re prone to fire hazards or might not be structurally sound in an earthquake. Developers use a building material called mass timber, a special type of strengthened wood in which timber panels are glued together to make beams and cross-set layers for walls and floors. Fire tests have shown the mass timber doesn’t ignite easily: It chars, which can insulate the rest of the panel from the heat. Strength testing has shown the layers aren’t easily jostled by outside forces.

Lever’s architects hope that wooden buildings will lessen the environmental impact of commercial towers that use concrete and steel, which are responsible for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions during their manufacturing.

Other firms have designs on taller buildings, including one 35-story tower in Paris and a 24-story building in Vienna.

[h/t CityLab]

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