We will only stop the changes together

Globalna emisja dwutlenku węgla (CO2) zwiększyła się w 2012 r. aż o 61 proc. w stosunku do roku 1990
Globalna emisja dwutlenku węgla (CO2) zwiększyła się w 2012 r. aż o 61 proc. w stosunku do roku 1990

One of the important aspects of climate care and practical implementation of the idea of circular economy is intersectoral cooperation.

„One and a half is the new two”. Such a message about limiting global temperature increase comes from the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Increasing our ambitions will require a considerable effort on the part of the international community. It will pay off, however, by reducing the scale of biodiversity loss, the number of people at risk of hunger or the scale of exposure of all of us to heat waves.

Global picture

New IPCC data should be added to a long list of other facts known to us:

– From 1880 until 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85 degrees Celsius;

– Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased in 2012 by as much as 61 per cent compared to 1990. Between 2000 and 2010, compared to other decades, they grew the fastest in history;

– In the years 1901-2010, sea level grew every year by approx. 19 centimetres. The coverage of Arctic ice has been decreasing significantly since 1979.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) has been reminding us for years that our actions are the cause of environmental changes with long-term negative effects. These include temperature changes, precipitation fluctuations, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and the higher frequency of droughts.

It is precisely these drastic changes that led to the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, which aims to halt the increase in temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius in reference to the pre-industrial period – including efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

A gap to fill

The commitments made at that time are, unfortunately, not sufficient to halt the increase in temperature at the target level. An increase above 2 degrees Celsius will result in the global climate system slipping out of control.

For several years now, the UN Environment has been trying to calculate the emissions gap – the difference between the level of emissions that countries have committed themselves to achieve under international commitments and the level necessary to stop the temperature rise under the Paris Agreement.

The IPCC points to the scale of the challenge: to reach the 1.5°C target, global emissions must fall by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010. By 2050, we should enter a carbon-neutral state where any remaining greenhouse gas emissions are offset by action to remove them from the atmosphere.

New, better economy

Fortunately, in this transformation process, we can draw on extensive literature describing activities that serve people and the environment. It is becoming increasingly clear that they are not only a great business opportunity, but also an opportunity to improve our quality of life.

Investments in the thermal upgrading of buildings will reduce their energy needs and help combat energy poverty. Developing public transport will reduce smog levels and help solve the problem of traffic exclusion outside big cities. Renewable energy sources will reduce the demand for fossil fuel imports, and in the Global South they have already increased the access of local communities to cheap and clean energy.

One of the tools used to build a low-carbon economy of the future is the creation of a closed-loop economy. This idea, in which we treat waste from one production process as a raw material for another, showcases all the benefits of taking care of the environment.

It supports increasing the innovativeness of the economy and allows to reduce the demand for import of raw materials. By contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, it helps create new green jobs.

Together – for our planet

One of the important aspects of climate care and practical implementation of the concept of circular economy is intersectoral cooperation. It is one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which are a set of guidelines for global actions aimed at creating a better world. Climate care, sustainable production and consumption are also among these goals.

Their implementation requires cooperation of entities from various sectors – public administration as a market regulator, business know-how, scientists’ ideas and a broad perspective of social entities, such as environmental organisations or trade unions.

The UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre is developing such cooperation within the framework of the Partnership „Together for the Environment”. Together with our partners, we discuss circular economy and climate-related issues at the workshop „Circular Economy – closing the cycle!”, organize social campaigns to sensitize everybody to e.g. responsible production and consumption (Green Ribbon #For Planet), support sustainable urban development within the Eco-city initiative and many others referring to SDGs.

Climate change is a huge challenge for economic development, health and people’s quality of life. We try to show that actions undertaken for the sake of the environment can bring benefits to all of us. In recent years, this perspective has fortunately become more and more popular in Poland.

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