Quick Fix: Bringing Temperatures Down
While experts and governments look for long-term solutions to climate change, what can be done quickly now by individuals and businesses? Su Aziz lists examples of what can be done. This article was first published in In Focus issue 10 magazine.
If you hadn’t noticed how chaotic the weather has been lately, then you must have been living under a rock. Everywhere on earth has been affected by climate change – be it rising temperatures, increasing amounts of rainfall or intense and lengthier droughts, there’s no escaping the fact that climate change is an emergency. The UN defines climate change as ‘long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil and gas), which produces heat-trapping gases.’
So, what do we do about this? What would be quick fixes to positively affect climate change while more permanent solutions are being looked into? Here are some actions to take besides recycling, of course.
Take Action: For Individuals
- Avoid Food Waste and Waste
It’ll take a bit of thinking ahead. So, plan your meals, buy only what you need, use up quick-to-perish produce such as leafy greens first, learn to store food well such as freezing and pickling. Minimise or avoid single-use items and fast fashion. Don’t buy more than you need, repair and reuse wherever possible. Support stores and brands that are environmentally responsible.
- Eat More Veggies
Livestock farming has a very big carbon footprint. So, reducing the consumption of meat as well as dairy products, and replacing them with veggies plus non-daily alternatives, helps a great deal. Better still, choose seasonal produce grown locally to further reduce carbon emissions by transport and refrigeration.
- Be Mindful About Energy
Start thinking about renewable energy to replace environment-damaging source like fossil fuel produced energy. LED uses significantly less energy than your usual bulbs and fluorescent lights. Reportedly, up to 90 per cent less and gives off no heat, thus, wastes no energy. Switching to LED lights will reduce your electricity bill by quite a lot and prevent substantial amounts of carbon emissions.
- Rethink Mobility
Take note: are you driving a single passenger vehicle to work? Also, global transportation systems such as commercial trucks alone, according to Green America magazine, ‘account for six per cent of the world’s emissions. [This is] more than the collective emissions of airplanes around the globe.’ What we can do is, leave the car at home and choose public transport, use electric or hybrid vehicles as well as reduce flying.
- Invest Responsibly
Be wise about your money. Save and invest in financial institutions that offer ethical investments and support environmentally conscious causes.
- Be Loud and Be Heard
Share your sustainability efforts with groups of friends. Ensure policymakers or those in positions to make a change take measures to positively affect climate change. This may include efficient and sustainable public transportation, bicycles lanes and manage waste by recycling.
Take Action: For Businesses
Here are a few examples of what multinationals are doing to be climate positive.
Seven Principles to be Carbon Negative by Microsoft
1. Grounding in science and math: stay grounded in ongoing scientific advances and an accurate reliance on the basic but fundamental mathematical concepts involved.
2. Taking responsibility for their carbon footprint: by 2030 cut them by more than half and remove more carbon than they emit each year.
3. Investing for new carbon reduction and removal technology: deploy USD1 billion of their own capital in a Climate Innovation Fund to accelerate the development of carbon reduction and removal technologies that will help everyone become carbon negative.
4. Empowering customers around the world: develop and deploy digital technology to help their suppliers and customers reduce their carbon footprints.
5. Ensuring effective transparency: publish an annual Environmental Sustainability Report that provides transparency on their progress, based on strong global reporting standards.
6. Using their voice on carbon-related public policy issues: support new public policy initiatives to accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities.
7. Enlisting their employees: recognise that their employees will be their biggest asset in advancing innovation and create new opportunities, enabling them to contribute to the organisation’s efforts.
Doubling Down on Net Zero Emissions by PepsiCo
1. Further scale sustainable agriculture and regenerative practices that help lead to emissions reduction and sequestration, as well as improved soil health and biodiversity, decreased deforestation and increased productivity for farmers.
2. Lower GHG emissions impact with a continued drive to reduce virgin plastic use and increase recycled content in its packaging.
3. Through the implementation and upgrading of environmentally sustainable manufacturing, warehousing, transportation and distribution sites, they aim to maximise efficiency in their supply chain while adopting zero- and near-zero-emission technologies.
4. Implement innovative business processes that enable GHG emissions mitigation such as their Sustainable from the Start programme that puts environmental impact decision-making at the heart of product design.
5. More and more of their brands are being made using electricity from a mix of renewable energy sources.
10-year Roadmap to Lower Emissions by Apple
1. Low carbon product design: increase the use of low carbon and recycled materials in their products, innovate in product recycling and design products to be as energy efficient as possible.
2. Expanding energy efficiency: identify new ways to lower energy use at their corporate facilities and help their supply chain make the same transition.
3. Renewable energy: remain at 100 per cent renewable energy for its operations — focusing on creating new projects and moving their entire supply chain to clean power.
4. Process and material innovations: tackle emissions through technological improvements to processes and materials needed for their products.
5. Carbon removal: invest in forests and other nature-based solutions around the world to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Key Steps to Reach Carbon-Neutral Goal by FedEx
1. Vehicle Electrification: by 2040, the entire FedEx parcel pickup and delivery fleet will be zero–emission electric vehicles. This will be accomplished through phased programs to replace existing vehicles.
2. Sustainable customer solutions: will work with customers to offer end-to-end sustainability for their supply chains through carbon–neutral shipping offerings and sustainable packaging solutions.
3. Sustainable fuels: continue to invest in alternative fuels to reduce aircraft and vehicle emissions.
4. Fuel conservation and aircraft modernisation: build on its successful FedEx Fuel Sense initiatives designed to reduce fuel consumption in its aircraft.
5. Facilities: continue to make their more than 5,000 facilities worldwide sustainable through continued investments in efficient facilities, renewable energy and other energy management programs.
6. Natural carbon sequestration: funding to establish the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture to support applied research into natural carbon sequestration solutions.
5-pillar Packaging Strategy by Nestlè
1. Reduce use of plastic packaging material: examples of how include removing unnecessary plastic lids, accessories, layers and films.
2. Scaling reusable and refillable systems: eliminate non-recyclable plastics and investing in innovative, alternative delivery systems such as reusable containers and dispensers.
3. Pioneering alternative packaging materials to facilitate recycling: collaborate with industrial partners to develop new packaging materials and solutions such as replacing plastic straws from their products with paper ones – a key technical challenge: bendable paper straws that are durable while meeting rapid dissolvability criteria for paper recycling.
4. Supporting infrastructure that helps to make recycling easier: aim to collect and recycle the same amount of plastic as they use in their products under a ‘one tonne in, one tonne out’ principle.
5. Driving new behaviours: through programmes, campaigns and solutions, they aim to educate and encourage people, helping them to imagine a waste-free future.
Steps Towards Ambitious but Positive Commitments by IKEA
1. Designing all IKEA products with new circular principles, with the goal to only use renewable and recycled materials in our products by 2030.
2. Offering services that make it easier for people to bring home, care for and pass on products.
3. Removing all single-use plastic products from the IKEA range globally and from customer and co-worker restaurants in stores by 2020.
4. Achieving zero emissions home deliveries by 2025.
5. Reducing the total IKEA climate footprint by an average of 70 per cent per product, by 2030.
6. Expanding the offer of affordable home solar solutions to 29 IKEA markets by 2025.
Main photo by Alin Andersen on Unsplash.