Who doesn’t love a walk in a nice well-maintained park or forest? Or a walk in a clean beach? Or at the nearest park? Who doesn’t love the fresh air from clean environments? I’m sure the vast majority of human beings love that. So, why has Nature been so damaged by Humanity? Isn’t time to take bolder actions, preserve the environment and restore what has been damaged but still on time to be recovered? Why waiting for an irreversible loss to hypocritically talk about it?
In her opening speech at the 5th UNEP meeting, its executive director Ms Inger Andersen called for a united action of the whole society, driven by UNEP, as its duty to also care for the Planet so harm is contained: “We have to acknowledge that we need an all of society effort to radically change our ways if we are to make peace with the planet and therefore create the environmental conditions so that all of humanity can thrive, now and for generations to come.”
The UNEP report, Peace with Nature, launched last week calls for the urgent need to act on the global and interlinked emergencies of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, so well-being for current and future generations is maintained, justice delivered and poverty eradicated.
“…our war on nature has left the planet broken”.Mr Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, on the forward for the Peace with Nature report
Climate change consequences on increased extreme weather events leads to sea level rise, biodiversity loss as reduction of coastal wetlands (which can be reduced [20%; 90%] depending on sea level rise), land degradation, pollinators loss, agricultural underproduction, or zoonotic diseases amongst other consequences that affect Health, the food system and well-being in general. For example, the loss of pollinators is expected to cause an annual drop on food production valued between [$234; $577] billion. So, why do we keep killing bees?
As mentioned in my first post in this blog (Beginning: https://sustainabilityinhabit.org/2020/11/12/beginning-2/), anthropogenic GHG emissions have raised mainly due to the fast economic growth that accompanied the population’s explosion. As social capital wasn’t as elevated as nowadays, industrialisation was fuelled by the abundant- thought fossil fuels, which had strong energetic power to make engines produce at a speed that frequently met demand, overproducing too. As social capital increased and negative externalities such as air, water or soil pollution increased, along with clairvoyance of resources’ scarcity, energy fuel alternatives emerged and started to be used in some transformative processes and residential heating. Recently, corporations are adopting renewable energy sources to keep their premises running throughout the year, too.
Nationally, although some countries have already submitted its initial Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), many studies reveal further contributions are needed to reduce GHG emissions aligned with the 1.5º C trajectory, the ideal level set under the Paris Agreement. In its Emissions Gap Report 2020, UNEP mentioned that out of the G20 only 16 are on track (the EU27+UK, Argentina, Japan, India, Mexico, Russian Federation, South Africa and Turkey), Australia, Brazil, Canada, Rep of Korea, USA fall short. What has been done isn’t clearly enough. Not only uncompliant countries need to become compliant with its PA commitments but also more impactful actions need to be taken, including increasing the Paris Agreement commitment levels by some of the current top polluting countries. The emissions gap graphic (UNEP, 2021) illustrates that. Maintaining the current policies, GHG emissions will reach 60 GtC02e in 2030, an unsustainable level due to the carbon budget the Planet has to limit global warming to 1.5º C by 2030. However, if global action is performed in a collaborative effort by all governments, businesses and society, transforming our economy into a decarbonised one, then halving GHG emissions by 2030 is possible, as illustrated in scenario B.
So, businesses, citizens and governments need to change the current production and consumption behaviours by raising the standards to include sustainability in their criteria. They need to consider the impact on the natural, human, manufactured, social and financial capitals when deciding. Not only on the financial or/and the manufactured capitals, as the linear models have been considering. But embracing Circular Economy to increase resources’ effectiveness and reducing GHG emissions.
Reducing the gap between what we need to do and what we’re doing is thus paramount. It’s time to fully #MindTheGap!