The world's been busy tackling climate change. These are five positive actions!
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- Jan 12, 2021 10:03 pm GMTJan 12, 2021 6:15 pm GMT
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The biggest environmental crisis facing the world today is climate change. The extreme atmospheric changes over the last century and the ensuing economic and social disruptions that these have had on our lives, give credence to this global crisis. But what is the world up to, in its bid to fighting climate change? In my recent readings, I came across some significant and positive actions that the world, at various levels and sectors, is undertaking to fight climate change and with these and many more, we're headed in the right direction.
To begin with, it is refreshing to know that 120 of the world's countries have made commitment to net-zero carbon emissions to be achieved at various target dates. A few of these include Norway by 2030, the UK and France by 2050 and China, the world's largest emitter of CO2 by 2060. Apart from these "serious-minded" countries, other countries are also doing their bits to mitigate the effects of climate change. Kenya for example is embarking on reforestation initiatives and employing really innovative ways of planting trees. The country is planting trees with special 'seedballs' covered in charcoal dust to prevent animals from eating the seeds and to protect them from sun until the natural environmental conditions are ripped for germination. The seeds are broadcast using various innovative methods to ensure that the seeds take roots where they land. Kenya has distributed over 13 million seedballs since 2016 and the survival rate is remarkably high.
About one thousand (1000) multinational companies have committed to reducing emissions (World Resources Institute), while some 340 companies have committed to become net-zero. Recall that net-zero emissions by 2050 is the level of commitment that the IPCC says will be necessary to hold global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to avoid the worse impacts of climate change. Top global companies from varied sectors of industry including automotive, oil and gas, consumer goods, technology and services, energy and power, etc have committed to achieving net-zero emissions at various times. Prominent among these companies are Apple Inc., Ford Motors, Amazon, BP and Nestle. All together, these 340 companies have a carbon footprint bigger than the country of France for instance. Educational and research institutions are also making significant contributions to the fight. Research scientists at the University of California, San Diego are making biodegradable flip-flops from algae which are grown in dense ponds. The algae are then turned into paste and its oil extracted to build polymers, just like plastic. The flip-flops can decompose in just 18 weeks when left in compost. This innovative initiative by UC San Diego could help tackle plastic pollution significantly.
Cities across the globe have joined the fight. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reports that about 400 cities around the world now aim for net-zero emissions by 2050. That is remarkable. Many of these cities are taking great innovative steps to combat climate change. Paris for example is creating about 650km of new cycle lanes by getting rid of some 72% of on-street car parking spaces (Anne Hidalgo/Le Figaro), to make way for the city's new 'corona-ways'. The city also aims at becoming a '15-minute' city where everything you need is close by. The city of Shenzhen in China has electrified its entire fleet of public buses. The whole city of Amsterdam will be a zero-emission zone by 2030 and the city authorities say, by this initiative, Amsterdam will reduce its CO2 emission by 9%, improving air quality and public health. The Toronto-based non-profit organisation, 880 Cities, has reported that about 490 cities around the world have copied Bogota's idea of closing 120km of its streets to traffic every Sunday and on public holidays. This initiative helps to reduce emissions from road transport in cities. The city of Cape Town in South Africa is "moving mountains" to stem the effects of climate change as it faces an 'uncertain climate future'. The city's Energy2040 and ECAP programs provide a road-map for Cape Town to achieve carbon emissions reduction of up to 37% by 2040.
Financial institutions are abandoning fossil fuels and banking their money in clean energy. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) reports that 130 private banks have agreed to align with the Paris Agreement. The European Investment Bank will, from 2022, stop funding oil, gas and coal projects. Similarly, the world's largest asset management firm, Blackrock, is shifting its US$7 trillion portfolio to focus on climate change.
Lastly, but not the least, the mood of the people is also shifting and their conscience awakening to the realities of the impending climate catastrophe. From Greta Thunberg's school strikes to the Extinction Rebellion, the public appetite for change and against the "business as usual" is growing rapidly. The global environmental movement, Extinction Rebellion, is aimed at "using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government actions to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse". They say, "life as we know it is on the brink of collapse". In September 2019, over 7.6 million people joined what became known as the largest global climate strike in history. 350.org, organizers of the strikes, say the goal is to "end the use of fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy by building a global, grassroots movement". This is the extent to which the public's interest has risen in the matter of climate change and the desire to reverse or halt the phenomenon.
What is your country, city or company doing to tackle climate change?
What is your individual contribution to tackling the global crisis?
You may want to plant a tree or two, use a bicycle instead of car to work, manage your household energy use or use energy efficient appliances.