The gathering of COP26 member countries held in Glasgow at the end of 2021 and the report published more recently by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underline the urgency for humanity to act on a war footing to mitigate human-induced climate change.
The IPCC report, in a nutshell, is code red for humanity to take notice of the alarming human-induced climate change that is already affecting weather and climate globally. According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the earth is dangerously close to exceeding the internationally agreed threshold of 1.5° above pre-industrial levels of global warming. It’s time to act to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions through effective decarbonization actions, such as switching from fossil fuels to adopting zero-emission electricity and other low-emission carriers such as hydrogen.
The climate and pollution catastrophe that accompanies climate change is a direct consequence of our actions as a whole. As a thought experiment, if all 7+ billion Homo Sapiens stopped behaving unsustainably tomorrow, the world would turn into a place of sustainable living. Climate change is real and no longer just an aberration. We have reached a stage where empty words will not suffice. We must urgently and systematically implement climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. If we make a difference at the individual level, we can and will change our human habits of consuming materials and energy (goods and services), focusing on implementing the 4Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Restore.
In our homes, switching to LED-based lights and using energy-efficient household appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions and water heaters can make a big difference. Using electricity wisely and switching to renewables like solar power can also go a long way in preserving the environment. It is also advisable to reduce the use of non-biodegradable single-use plastics by switching to more sustainable alternatives or biodegradable plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) to reduce levels of plastic waste and buildup in the environment. Globally, schools and colleges are working tirelessly to instill the message of a sustainable lifestyle. Today’s students are tomorrow’s ambassadors of change and have a duty to educate other family members by leading discussions about the impact of increasing global warming and climate change. In some cases, this task may fall to the younger generation!
Companies also need to determine their carbon footprint and quantify and analyze emission levels to identify the course correction needed by switching to more sustainable methods. Once this data has been collected and a baseline determined, each company must put in place a roadmap, with clear milestones for climate change mitigation and adaptation. This plan will help understand the resources and time required to reduce these emissions both per unit and on an aggregate basis. Today, companies and manufacturing units around the world are beginning to prioritize incorporating sustainable practices into their business strategy and HR guidelines. Organizations can also seek to reduce emissions by adopting environmentally friendly and energy-efficient materials and deploying renewable energy throughout the value chain. While this places a burden on small and medium-sized businesses, they can start with additional efforts to quantify emissions based on rules of thumb, after which they can start with key emission reduction areas in their operations.
At a higher level, governments around the world must also urgently develop policies that promote the use and scale-up of climate-friendly technologies and innovations, thereby facilitating faster technology adoption. clean. Although the technology has universal applications, each country or government, even each region, will find its own emissions mitigation measures and adaptations over time. Policies and incentives should be put in place, such as the use of more environmentally friendly electric transport as well as faster adoption of renewable energy such as solar or wind power to reduce emissions in all countries.
Finally, on a global level, it is imperative that all nations collectively, especially developed countries, unite to become net zero and slow down the adverse effects of global warming. Beyond reducing their own emissions, advanced or developed countries must lend a hand in the form of capital or technology, or a combination of both, to developing countries, which need support to muster the necessary resources. to reduce their emissions and adapt. Globally, governments must highlight the criticality of the situation by periodically publishing local data on climate change and the actions needed to achieve agreed goals, and continue to spur collective action. Governments around the world must have a clear vision for their own country and deploy methods to work towards a sustainable and better future by adjusting their climate action plans if and when necessary to keep up with environmental changes.
Bruce Lee once captured the need for action in the pithy statement: “Knowing is not enough. We have to apply. The will is not enough. We have to do.”
The world stands at a crossroads today, and it’s time to drive change for a healthier, cleaner and more livable future for generations to come. There is no doubt that global economies need to transform very quickly to achieve net zero emissions. The message for all of us, young and old, local and national governments and for the planet as a whole is: let us make individual, coordinated and collaborative efforts to rise above narrow agendas, taking sustainability and economic progress for the marginalized as agendas that go hand in hand.
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