Each Christmas season many of us enjoy sending season greetings, increasingly more digitally than by post. Is one of those activities that makes senders feel closer to recipients. This year, a very different year, has led me to a different message as well. A Safe and Sustainable Christmas!
Although Safety has been always an issue, particularly as road accidents and fatalities increase around this time of the year and in spite of more stringent traffic measures from governments, this year it goes beyond road traffic. An invisible to the human eye element has disrupted the world. Traffic has dropped significantly. And it’s very likely that traffic around the world drops significantly too during this Christmas, as Covid-19 restrictions are imposed, particularly in Christian countries.
Imposed lockdowns meant safer citizens from Covid-19 infections. It also meant a drop on road traffic that globally averaged 50% reduction, as recently informed by the IEA. Consequently, the GHG emissions transport generates have also dropped, forecasts say it’s the sector with the highest reduction this year. Transport is the 4th most pollutant sector, accounting for 14% of the global GHG emissions, for the past decade. With more restrictions imposed until the end of the year, a bigger drop is expected in comparison to same period of previous years.
Less GHG in the atmosphere also means an increase in the air quality, and consequently healthier environments and less respiratory complications. Although sustainable, there is another element, which we cannot forget as it has been our 2020 companion and likely to remain in the first half of 2021, as the pandemic health experts inform. The invisible to the human eye disruptor that has multiplicated exponentially across the globe. Safety this year also means, skipping Covid-19 by practicing social distance and the correct health measures.
In certain geographies, Christmas is celebrated with food abundance. It is a time that less sustainable behaviours are conducted. Unilever and Love Food Hate Waste estimate that waste generated during Christmas is equivalent to 4.2 million dinners, in the UK only! FAO has found out that, in general, 33% of the yearly produced food is wasted, corresponding to a financial impact of $2.6trn. 68% occurs in industrialised countries and 31% in developing ones. Whilst in the latter the loss occurs mainly at the beginning of the value chain, the former occurs mainly at the end, as per a UN study. Food waste is thus the biggest problem of the too. Agriculture accounts for about 10% of global GHG emissions. In wasting 33% of production, we’re not only lavishing our carbon budget but also continuing with the big asymmetries in food supply and ingestion.
If we all reduce the waste, we’re saving our Planet and the money saved can be used, for example, to support a project where food supply is in deficit. If we protect ourselves, skip infection, our governments can also use the saved money in measures to stimulate the economy. In the end, by protecting ourselves properly we’re ensuring a sustainable life, too.
A Safe and Sustainable Season!