Wind turbine

By Alice Hutchins

For the last two weeks, organisations and climate leaders from around the globe have met to discuss the resounding issue of Climate Change, and how we can mitigate it. The Global Climate Action Summit called for a meeting of co-operators who were willing to commit to ensuring a climate-safe future for all. The GSAN blog below will address the humanitarian aspects of the summit and human impact into Cities and the Built Environment, Decarbonising Transportation Systems, and Inclusive Economic Growth. To read more of the environmentally impacted aspects of the summit such as resilience, deforestation and ocean preservation, please click here.

Cities and the Built Environment – ‘132 million tonnes of waste will be diverted from landfills or incineration by 2030 as 25 cities and state and regional governments accounting for almost 150 million citizens commit to moving toward zero waste. By 2030, at least 15{b1c79403d7905ff141a1e235ab9e84bc074cc55fe397d1dd7adc8f80e3269f34} less waste will be produced by each citizen in these cities, states and regions, and the amount of waste sent to landfill or incineration will be halved compared to 2015 levels, with at least 70{b1c79403d7905ff141a1e235ab9e84bc074cc55fe397d1dd7adc8f80e3269f34} of waste diverted.’ From the Summit Outcomes.

Cities are a hive of human activities, they are our homes and places of work, our connections to each other and other countries around the world. People within cities buy and use billions of pounds worth of resources each year, and not every person or every city is conscious of how much of this is wasted, contributing to increasing consumerism demands, placing immeasurable strain on the limited resources of the planet and entering hazardous pollutants into the environments like land-fills and toxic chemicals. The main issues that were addressed at the conference were how to make cities and its inhabitants zero waste, to clean up our materials that do not biodegrade, and to recycle any waste that is produced in order to make it a sustainable source. There were also debates about the possibilities of cities investing in green energy for its buildings and its businesses, as well as research into education and co-operation of countries in the Global South who have less access to these resources and implementations.

Decarbonizing Transportation Systems – ‘To realize global climate targets, it is imperative that the world shift to a zero-emission transportation fleet, while building more walkable and bikeable communities, investing in mass public transportation, electrifying all buses and passenger vehicles with clean, renewable energy, and moving toward low-emission heavy-duty fleets.’

C02 emission from human transportation, heating, water and electricity use and industrial organisations is by far the largest single contributor to Climate Change and its subsequent harmful effects to the planet, its animals and its people. The summit addressed the idea of moving toward furthering electric transportation methods in several cities around the world, in order to use fewer fossil fuels like coal, petrol and crude oils. A move towards renewable energy sources in major cities would lessen the harmful CO2 emissions polluting the environment. The conference aims to build more ways in which humans can be in harmony with nature, including more protected nature walks, cycle lanes to provide alternative routes to and from city centres, and even to reduce emissions from planes, one of the largest contributors to carbonise our atmosphere.

There are simple changes to every-day routines that can be made to significantly lessen the impact of C02 emissions. Cycling, public transport or lift-sharing to work will create fewer cars on the road, as well as simple things around the home like using energy-efficient light-bulbs, turning them off when leaving the room, and using renewable sources like wind or solar power where possible.

Brian Grodsky, a researcher in the field of climate change adaption states ‘we’re seeing a rise, not fall, in the CO2 emissions most responsible for altering our planet. According to UN estimates, CO2 emissions in just over a decade need to be about 55{b1c79403d7905ff141a1e235ab9e84bc074cc55fe397d1dd7adc8f80e3269f34} lower than where we are today in order to contain global warming at 1.5C.’

We can all help to stop this in it’s tracks.

Innovation and inclusive economic growth –  ‘488 companies from 38 countries adopted emission reduction pathways. The Summit also saw a great breadth of actions and commitments from companies that included pledges toward physical plant resource efficiency and operations, commitments to ensure that climate action fosters decent jobs and protects workers, a prize for clean energy and transportation innovation, and a new platform for value chain resilience.’

The summit stressed the fact that in order to make the commitments we need to reverse Climate Change before it amasses irreversible damage, all nations, countries, communities and individuals must work together. It is important that large businesses consider their employees and their effects on their consumers, that developed countries enter into collaborations with countries in the Global South in order to educate and promote these climate changes, and that individuals act within their communities to ensure that recycling is carried out, energy is conserved, and renewable sources are used in a variety of circumstances across daily life. This includes large-scale businesses growing their franchises and stores to include energy and water efficiency, less waste, responsible use of materials from sustainable sources, and greener electricity.

The message everyone can take from the summit is that co-operation and collaboration are the keys to reversing the damages we have caused by climate change. Each person can take small steps to reduce our large carbon footprint.

Alice is a Creative Writing Graduate from the University of East Anglia and has recently joined the ImpacTeam, Department of Government at the University of Essex.  This is Alice’s travel blog.