A recent article by the World Economic Forum really kept me thinking about a subject, which already had been on my mind for quite some time, but it reminded me again of our collective responsibility: how to better manage our ecological footprint.
The article (click here for more information) states regarding the global picture: “Earth Overshoot Day – the point at which humans use more than the world’s resources – takes place earlier and earlier each year. This year it will fall in July. Up until the 1970s, the planet was able to produce more than we consumed on an annual basis: now we are using up resources at a rate of 1.7 Earths a year”.
Viewing the graphs in the article, I must admit I’m quite worried and also shocked that there hasn’t been any real progress to be seen during the last few years.
That we focus on CO2 footprint reduction, in order to limit global warming, is great and essential. Yes, our circular economy thinking is becoming more and more part of our daily lives but does it really encompass all aspects? Shouldn’t our entire personal focus be much more about looking at our own ecological footprint and what our behaviour results into?
To be honest: I need to rethink what this all means for my personal life. We take things for granted, as I live in a part of the world where there are no shortages. Except perhaps the somewhat restricted and smart use of drinking water in case we experience a hot summer, like we did last year.
Shouldn’t we develop more insight into our daily life patterns and what this all means for our ecological footprint. We started to link products now with CO2 emissions over its product lifecycle. From creation, and usage to end of life situation. But to be perfectly honest, we are only in the early stages yet. Yes, I know that when I drive my car, what the CO2 emission has been. The public discussions on meat and its environmental impact is becoming larger. But to know the CO2 numbers for, for example, eating a peanut-butter sandwich few times a week is another thing. You may consider the latter a ‘silly example’, but it illustrates that we must make this subject of ‘ecological footprint’ very concrete and approach it in a very pragmatic manner. And to be honest: we still have a long way to go. So practical guidance is required. And I’m realistic enough to see that this will be a difficult journey, viewing how the Netherlands is struggling with the energy transition and what this means for a normal household.
Hence our, or at least my focus on this subject must change. How to do this most effectively? I’m not sure yet, but at least I will try to do my best. The difficult part will be to change our living habits. The minimum action is to write about it and to create discussion and hence awareness. Not by pointing fingers, but by engaging each other in information-sharing encounters. Because by knowing and realising, we can act better.
Ideally each product should have, besides the obvious euro value, a CO2 value and an Eco value. I recently mentioned to a colleague: let’s use the analogy of the airmiles card, and see if we can visualise each product into actual environmental contributions and savings. We have the technologies to support us, so nothing is stopping us, except perhaps our own willingness.
Note: The author of this article, Thijs Aarten, is involved with various transition projects.
Key excerpts of a joint letter are provided below which was signed by a group of 60 investors, academics, business and faith leaders and NGOs (including Carbon Tracker) and sent to Fatih Birol and the International Energy Agency (IEA) governing council chair;
1) Make clear that the ‘New Policies Scenario (NPS)’ is a business as usual scenario that charts a dangerous course to a world with between 2.7ºC and 3ºC of warming. …..
2 ) Develop an updated, fully transparent, ‘Sustainable Development Scenario’’ (SDS) to reflect the full range of ambition of the Paris goals and make this the central reference of the WEO . This scenario should include a reasonable probability (66%) of limiting warming to 1.5ºC; a longer time horizon (beyond 2040); and a precautionary approach to negative emissions technologies. …… Read more ….
A recent study by Navigant, for the “Gas for Climate consortium“, shows that a smart combination of hydrogen and green gas together with electricity is the optimal way to make the energy system CO2-free.
A good gas infrastructure will be needed in NL in order to sufficiently scale up the share of renewable gas by 2050 for the realization of a CO2-free and sustainable energy system at the lowest costs.
For more details refer to the Navigant website or Gasunie website.
The above message is a confirmation of what we have been arguing about a long time.
So let’s preserve what we have. And above all bring nuance in the discussion. We realise that different solutions for homes and businesses will continue to co-exist in the coming decades; natural gas-dependent solutions, hybrid solutions and so-called all-electric. We know that making the whole of the Netherlands all-electric is unrealistic in view of costs, physical (im)possibilities, the measures to be taken, time required for this, etc. The natural gas transition takes time and will have to be done in phases. Particularly when a municipality has made a decision to become ‘natural gas-free’ in a district. We realise that with the (generally) good gas infrastructure in the Netherlands there are various other solutions in the field of green gas and hydrogen. And that optimum use must be made of this. With transition solutions, so-called “no-regret” solutions must also be considered; after all, we cannot do everything at once. And it must remain affordable.
UN Emissions Gap Report 2018: clear warning that our efforts to reduce CO2 must increase SIGNIFICANTLY
“Current commitments expressed in the NDCs are inadequate to bridge the emissions gap in 2030.
Technically, it is still possible to bridge the gap to ensure global warming stays well below 2°C and 1.5°C, but if NDC ambitions are not increased before 2030, exceeding the 1.5°C goal can no longer be avoided. Now more than ever, unprecedented and urgent action is required by all nations.
The assessment of actions by the G20 countries indicates that this is yet to happen; in fact, global CO2 emissions increased in 2017 after three years of stagnation”. Read more ….
Global Carbon report: global CO2 emissions are likely to increase again in 2018 compared to 2017 (ca. 2,7%); the second year in a row that emissions are rising (in 2017: + 1,6%). Read more ….
CE Delft states that the Netherlands may miss its CO2 target of 25 percent reduction in 2020 by 10 percent Read more ….
COP24 Katowice December 2018
The UN climate summits, or the so-called COP (Conference of the Parties), are global conferences where action for climate policy is negotiated. Read more .…
IEA: World Energy Outlook 2018
WEO 2018 details amongst others global energy trends and what possible impact they will have on supply and demand, carbon emissions, air pollution, and energy access. Read more ….
“An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty”. A must read for all those involved in energy transition programmes ! Read more ….
Tracking Clean Energy Progress examines the progress of a variety of clean energy technologies towards interim 2°C scenario targets in 2025. Go to the website of IEA.org and click on any of the technologies to find out more.
The Dutch Sustainability Monitor provides an account of sustainability in the Netherlands according to three different aspects: quality of life (‘here and now’), resources (‘later’) and the Netherlands’ ranking in the world (‘elsewhere’).