- 1.Series on Sustainability: An Introduction
- 2.Series on Sustainability: The Costs of Air Travel
- 3.Series on Sustainability: From Planes back to Trains and Automobiles
- 4.Series on Sustainability: In Our Wildest Dreams…
It’s mid-21st century. Year 2047.
Climate increase has come to a staggering stop, keeping us in the safe range predicted by scientists. Our glaciers have been given the opportunity to recover from years of melting. Permafrost in the North and South poles have not seen a change in more than 20 years.
Sea levels have not risen as we feared at the beginning of the century. In turn, the whole of the Caribbean has survived and tourism to the islands has hit an all-time high. Underwater ecosystems in every one of our oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams are thriving, just as they should be. The Great Barrier Reef has not only recovered from extensive damage in the 20th century, but it has grown by nearly 30%!
What a dream that would be. And did you know that it’s not so impossible for us to attain?
We can do it!
As a species we, humanity, have started to focus on repairing the damage we’ve done to our precious Earth. We continue to strive for sustainability and ecological well-being, leaving greed and pollution behind.
The United Nations have worked hard over the course of 21 years of global meetings to draft and sign a plan called Paris Climate Agreement. Officially, this agreement came into action in November 2016.
There are a number of elements to the Paris agreement, the main one is to work together and lower annual carbon emissions to pre-industrial days. The hope is that by doing this, we will be able to maintain climate change at 2 degrees (or less!) Celsius in the future.
Even more, the Agreement aims to have all those involved — over 190 countries — work together towards more sustainable practices, and building the technology and infrastructure needed to maintain such practices.
Perhaps one of the most important aims is for climate change education, access to information, and getting the public involved in and aware of what we can be doing on a daily basis to help heal our Earth from further damage. It is so incredibly important for us to understand what it is each and every one of us can do to make positive change.
Set-backs won’t lead to a full stop
With that said, that dream we mentioned earlier? That dream may become obsolete due to decisions made by the current administration.
Unfortunately, on June 1, 2017, the President made a bold statement that the United States would be pulling out of the Agreement. His reasoning? He believes the previous administration made a poor economic deal. He has since stated that while he is all for clean air and clean water, it does not make sense to him to make a deal from which the United States will not make profit.
Luckily for the other 195 countries who have agreed to comply with the Paris Agreement, the United States’ potential rescinding from the deal will not cause a collapse of its framework. The lack of funding from the United States, however, will cause a wide funding gap in the plan which may make it difficult to keep up.
There is a non-official delegation, making up 40% of the United States economy, who continue to believe in the Paris Agreement. A large group of politicians and other officials intend to continue adopting policies which will help to reach the targeted emission reductions.
The change comes from us, not just the Paris Agreement
It is us who consume, who travel, who need to heat and cool our homes, and so it is us who need to make intentional changes. Overarching governmental bodies can have as many agreements and regulations in place as they want, but nothing will change if we don’t.
Why wait for The Man to make agreements and decisions about legislation that directly affects our lives? Why not work towards bettering the world, one small bit at a time?
The Paris Agreement wants to heighten taxation on carbon emissions. But what if, instead, we offered benefits to those of us who make concessions in our day to day life? What if city governments implemented a City Pass that you could use whenever you shop locally. With the pass, you could save up points (like an AirMiles card!) and at the end of the year you could submit your points to get some sort of reward. That reward might look like savings on city taxes for the coming year. Or maybe even an extra rebate on your income tax return.
Imagine how motivated this would get people to stay local instead of expending their energy on going long distances, both physical and carbon-fueled! Is this a viable solution? Who knows! But what’s important is that we start to think about these possibilities, it will benefit us in the near and distant future!