Bhubaneswar: The world is in the midst of a climate emergency, with growing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endangering human and environmental health.
Experts said human activity is directly linked to a majority of GHG emissions, which lead to increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events—including flooding, droughts, wildfires and hurricanes—that affect millions of people and cause trillions in economic losses.
According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, with the right policies, infrastructure and technology, nations can make the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce 40-70 per cent of GHGs by 2050, thereby improving humankind’s health and well-being.
Ahead of the World Environment Day 2022, the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) Sustainable Lifestyles and Education team has released a policy brief titled ‘Enabling Sustainable Lifestyles in a Climate Emergency’ and offered policymakers tools to support sustainable living.
An expert Lewis Akenji, who co-authored the policy brief, said everything we do has an impact on the planet. What we eat, how we move around, where we live, what we do for fun, what we wear everything has an impact on the Earth. And, it is not restricted to the impact on the climate crisis. For example, food systems alone are responsible for around 80 per cent of deforestation and biodiversity loss. But this doesn’t mean that we as individuals are fully responsible for these impacts and are able to make the required changes on our own.
“The systems that provide for our needs and aspirations – made of infrastructures, laws, social norms, etc. – need to change the daily options we have to become more sustainable, accessible, affordable and desirable. Collective decisions and government actions are needed to make such changes happen,” Akenji added.
Magnus Bengtsson, who is another author of the UNEP policy brief, stated, “Changing our ways of living is critical in confronting the climate emergency and other environmental crises. The changes that need to happen as a society vary from country to country and also within countries. Yet, there are some things that have to change in many places. We need to travel less by car or motorcycle and instead walk, cycle or use public transport.”
Those of us who can do so need to switch to cleaner types of energy at home and try to use less energy to heat and cool our dwellings. Those who often eat meat, fish and dairy need to eat more plants instead, while we all need to reduce the amount of food we waste, Bengtsson added.
“Finally, we need to seriously reconsider the goods and services we need and buy. We all have a role to play, but for change to happen as a society, we need policymakers to step up. The goal of this policy brief is precisely to offer a framework and provide examples of what is already happening around the world to enable policymakers to step up,” Bengtsson said.
[Note: This story is a part of ‘Punascha Pruthibi – One Earth. Unite for It’, an awareness campaign by Sambad Digital.]