The world is facing a powerful challenge of halting the negative environmental impacts of industrialisation of ever-increasing areas of the globe.
For some, the choice is simple: you have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at all costs and try to change business models in such a way so as to ensure that they would benefit not only the companies and their shareholders, but also the environment. I am thinking here of the European Union, which, for years, has been setting an example and implementing ambitious programmes to reduce the carbon footprint of the economy, including the energy sector, and to ensure that raw materials are recovered from waste and a closed-loop economy is created in a comprehensive way.
But the EU is not the whole world. Some of the so-called developing countries do not want to hear about restrictions, because they wish to develop freely, pointing out that 200 years ago, without looking at the environment, Europe exploited raw materials and emitted pollutants. Unfortunately, this group has also been joined by the United States, acting according to the slogan: Make America Great Again. Once again, the United States is to be powerful thanks to its own production without looking too much at the environment.
Then, there is also a group of countries that are increasingly affected by climate change and, as a result, they have to flee from the water that takes their land or the desert that destroys their crops. This group is not influential, and the only thing that remains is to demand changes loudly during events such as the upcoming climate summit in Katowice.
If we do not radically change our approach to CO2 emissions over the next few years and the global average temperature rises by more than 1.5 degrees, this may result in irreversible changes in ecosystems and an increase in extreme weather phenomena, which we are dealing with more and more often.
And here we come to the fundamental issue – what next? Are we aware of the changes that await us on the planet and are we able to change anything in our approach to the environment? Is the energy sector able to reduce CO2 emissions and switch to renewables that are more environmentally friendly? Is the industry able to manage raw materials rationally and make even better use of waste in the spirit of a closed-loop economy? Are entrepreneurs able to take greater responsibility for the product they make and not only produce it in such a way so as to make it environmentally neutral, but also ensure its longer service life than the two-year-long guarantee? Are we, citizens, able to contribute to improving life on earth through waste sorting and making conscious ecological consumer choices? These questions will also be relevant after COP24.
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