PROBLEM, CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY
Climate change requires immediate action on all levels. It is especially critical to mobilise those who have both the power and resources to effect change on a large scale. Much of the responsibility for the current state of affairs lies with the world’s more affluent citizens –high quality of life often goes hand in hand with the intensive use of natural resources. The route to sustainability, however, shouldn’t focus only on restrictions, but rather, it also opens the door to innovation and social, economic and political change, which will ultimately benefit everyone.
A change of system, technology, and lifestyle
There is no one, simple way to deal with climate change. It requires many adjustments – from civic pressure to enforce new policies, lifestyle changes that encourage less wasteful lifestyle and new technologies to replace obsolete pollution-producing systems and support for the renewal of resources instead of their depletion.
We have already made much progress towards these measures with the introduction of, for instance: improved energy efficiency in our cars and buildings, the development of wind and solar energy, the conversion of organic waste into biofuels, forest protection measures, and the imposition of carbon taxes.
The global level:
unprecedented political changes01
For changes this extensive, governments across the globe must make a tremendous effort and adopt an unprecedented political action.But those cannot exist in a vacuum and they must be a part of a broader programme formed by international agreements.
Discussions about climate change have been taking place on the international level since the 1980s. As a result, emission reduction agreements have made it possible to frame and negotiate effective and systematic bureaucratic and legislative measures.
The Paris Agreement Problem
The 2015 Paris Agreement is the high point of the world's efforts to protect the climate. Most experts agree that the Paris Agreement will not be enough to keep warming to 1.5°C. The agreement itself does not allow for the imposition of sanctions on its signatories, making it impossible to enforce. To reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, countries would need to lower their emissions by 7.6 percent every year over the next decade, which requires immediate, rapid and far-reaching action.. And as per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 1.5°C limit will be exceeded by 2040 if immediate and extensive measures to lower emissions are not undertaken. According to scientists and experts, such warming will have far-reaching effects on the global climate and humanity.Source: United Nations Environment Programme Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change More on the impacts of climate change
The European Green Deal
The European Union’s climate plan aims to lower CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030 when compared to 1990 levels, and to put a complete stop to the sale of combustion engine cars by 2035. Some countries are more ambitious in their plans – Denmark wants to reach carbon neutrality by 2035, Germany by 2030. EU member states will also have the opportunity to apply for funding , 1.8 billion euros in investments will be available under the NextGenerationEU European green Recovery Plan.
180 billion CZK for the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic stands to gain up to 180 billion CZK from the NextGenerationEU programme if it fulfils a series of criteria, including the allocation of at least 37 percent of the resources to ecologically friendly projects. The National Renewal Plan (CZ only) details where exactly the money goes.
Did you know...
SHAREHOLDERS VS. OIL GIANTS
The Exxon Company (today’s Exxonmobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company) was aware of climate change beginning in 1977 – more than 10 years prior to climate change becoming a part of the public discourse. Exxon supported the spread of disinformation downplaying climate change and publicly refused to admit it exists. Its approach is being compared to efforts to conceal the true hazards of smoking by tobacco companies. Both industries were aware that their products would not be profitable once the world was aware of their risks and impacts.
However, with climate change discussions gaining traction, the priorities of the investors and shareholders of these companies are also changing. In the spring of 2021, shareholders deposed two Exxonmobil directors for not handling the issue with sufficient urgency. At Chevron, another oil and gas company, shareholders voted in favour of measures to decrease pollution. And Royal Dutch Shell was forced by the courts to lower its emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.Source: Scientific american Source: Patria.cz
The national level:
adaptation and mitigation strategies02
Concrete measures to reduce the impacts of climate change and vulnerability to climate change (adaptation) and prevent further warming (mitigation) must be implemented at national and regional levels, including within the private sector, i.e. companies.
continuity of operation
Adaptation and Mitigation
of urban forests
Cities account for more than 70 percent of the world’s energy consumption and over 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. By 2050, approximately two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities; with this level of urbanisation, cities must start to focus on new energy sources.
The good news is that this is already happening: more than 100 cities around the world are getting at least 70 percent of their energy from renewable sources. 40 percent of them use renewable energy exclusively, and tens more have laid out similar goals.
Materials used in construction are also changing. Instead of demolishing old buildings and constructing new ones, architects are working with existing materials. City planning is also changing; with people walking more and riding bikes more often to get around, streets are becoming more green.Information on a range of adaptation measures in cities:(CZ only) Un.org Cities pollution
Thanks to technological and legislative advances, energetically self-sufficient buildings, which produce enough energy to satisfy their own needs, are becoming more common. These buildings utilise renewable and sustainable technology, including passive ventilation and cooling, photovoltaics, dehumidifying systems, and systems that enable energy to be recouped.Source: MDPI Academic journal Tip: 10 eco-friendly buildings in the world
The pressure on lowering emissions has led to the creation of low-emission materials, from cement that uses 30 percent less carbon compared to the current standard, to plastic that converts carbon into a reinforcing material.Source: Science Daily Tip: OECD international organisation
Limiting new construction and reusing existing structures
Construction work accounts for 40 percent of the world’s emissions. To significantly reduce these, it is enough to stop demolishing.Already existing unused buildings contain a wealth of materials , which will go to waste after demolition. An increasing number of architectural studios are thus changing the way they handle materials. For example the creators of the Madaster database are working to compile a list of public buildings in order to prevent their demolition and make the most of already existing materials.Source: International energetic agency
Traffic in the city should increase the quality of life, not limit it. In cities around the globe, no-emission zones and new cycling routes are being created, while public transport is being modernised to support the change from personal to public transport. City planning should also support the construction of buildings that are sized and located in a way that limits automobile traffic.
The faces of cities are changing - improvement of pedestrian access to services, augmentation of public transport, car parks or the adaptation of historic and formerly industrial buildings to new uses that are less demanding on carbon emissions than the construction of new buildings. Cities are also working to integrate nature into the city’s ecosystems through more than just enclosed parks or grassy strips along streets, resulting in urban areas that include biophilic design. Examples of cities successfully using this approach are Oslo, Portland, and Singapore.Source: Kniha BIOPHILIC CITY Information on a range of adaptation measures in cities (CZ only)
Where can we get inspired?
Reykjavik gets most of its electricity from water and geothermal energy, and is working to eliminate cars and public transport dependent on fossil fuels by 2040. Iceland as a whole uses clean energy for producing electricity and heating homes almost exclusively.
The City of Basel is committed to sustainability. Up to 90 percent of the city’s electricity comes from water power stations, and 10 percent is generated from wind. In May 2017, Switzerland voted for the gradual elimination of nuclear energy in favour of energy from renewable sources.Source: CDP Worldwide
Copenhagen has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2025, with the goal of becoming the most ecological city on earth. It seeks to achieve this by using renewable sources of electrical energy, making the heating of households and administrative buildings more effective, and increasing investments into public transport and bicycle infrastructure.Source: weforum
Tips for greener Czech cities
Every city has its own unique, local context, and what might be par for the course in some countries is still new for the Czech Republic. In our local environment, we still lack basic information on concrete steps that cities can take to tackle climate change, so we have compiled the list below.
Enter the Czech Covenant of Mayors
Join this group of mayors for the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, as well as to receive support with grant applications for green initiatives.
Implement a system of energy management
Implement a comprehensive system of energy management, including the appointment of a designated “energy manager,” to save money while improving the quality of energy sources used and moving away from fossil fuels.
Prepare a plan for sustainable energy and climate action
With help from the Covenant of Mayors, municipalities can create a Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAPs). The creation of the plan can be significantly financially supported from state resources and also includes a section dedicated to the climate change adaptation plan. SECAP therefore also serves as a full-fledged adaptation strategy, thanks to which the municipality can subsequently apply for otherwise unattainable European funds.
Support communal energy
Support local renewable sources serviced by entrepreneurs or associations. Decentralised energy where, for instance, one citizen owns a solar panel and sells energy to their neighbours, is an efficient way to provide a stable and durable energy supply to households with minimal losses and consumption of fossil fuels. In the future, communal energy should be supported by the state.
Engage the public
It is critical that the public understands the importance and purpose of climate adaptation measures. The public should be engaged in a structured and participative way, so that they can play an active role in decision-making. Experts and urbanists often lack local knowledge, and can only stand to benefit from the input of local citizens who are rightful holders of knowledge about their municipality and its problems. We should not let the decision-making rest only on the experts and urbanists, who often lack the local knowledge and we should gain the information directly.
Did you know ...
Each year, Adapterra Awards. are given to projects that help Czech cities adapt to climate change. Examples of best practice are added to the Adapterra database, which serves as inspiration for future projects.
Adapting businesses to climate change is often seen as arduous and expensive, however, with relatively small investments into lowering emissions, these measures can lead to financial savings and increased profits. In addition, these actions can help companies satisfy the changing needs of customers, improve their reputation, or gain and retain new talent.Source: oliverwyman.com
Tips for a greener business
Make an energy management plan
We recommend www.zroutienergie.cz(CZ only) on how to lower energy and water usage, as well as waste production.
Adopt circular economy principles
Set the control mechanisms of selection of suppliers and service providers
This applies to both services, product and material. Prioritise suppliers who respect the environment and uphold high ethical standards. Use tools such as those which analyse the life cycle of a product, through which you can learn how much a specific product pollutes the environment and how its production and recycling can be improved.
Transfer to renewable energy sources
Changing to renewable energy sources may seem difficult or expensive, but it shouldn’t actually be either one. For more information about making this change, we recommend: https://www.bezuhli.cz/jakprepnout/ (CZ only)
Offset your emissions
The individual level:
living with a smaller carbon footprint03
Individuals can hardly be blamed for climate change. However, the world economy− and thus the production of emissions− is driven by consumption. The world’s richest 10 percent, or around 700 million people, (owning a flat valued at two million CZK is enough to fall into this category, Source: E15) are responsible for 48 percent of emissions per person. Climate measures need to tackle the behaviours and attitudes of this group as a priority.
Climatic measures should affect those who pollute the most. Still, they will affect all of society. We have to embrace a lifestyle whose quality is less dependent on the consumption of industrial products and services. Reduction of consumption and orientation towards good interpersonal relationships, time well spent and altruistic values instead of materialism will lead to a more sustainable and responsible society, which will create a better environment for living.
Did you know...
Carbon calculators were actually designed by PR specialists hired by British Petroleum, as was the term “carbon footprint.” Since 2000, the company has been using advertising in an attempt to shift blame for global warming away from the fossil fuel industry and onto individuals. This campaign has proved to be ingenious, as carbon calculators and guides to reduce your personal carbon footprint are being widely promoted.
British Petroleum campaign also sought to divert attention from the fact that they are the ones who mine and sell fossil fuels, so they have the main responsibility for climate change. BP experts hired by BP replicated the successful Coca-Cola campaign of 1971,which blamed increases in waste on irresponsible consumers to cover up the fact that it is the main producer of disposable plastic waste, and therefore the main and sole perpetrator of the problem.
The carbon footprint
The term “carbon footprint” refers to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere as a consequence of the actions of an individual, company, production and transport of a product, or operation of a building. Reducing your own carbon footprint may seem insignificant, but every kilogram of greenhouse gas heats the planet a bit more, which can impact people, be it on the other side of the planet.
Reducing consumption is usually connected to an increase in expenses in the form of time, money, effort, or comfort. First and foremost, we should demand that political leaders make sustainable elections easier and more accessible for us, for example by improving the public transport network or promoting better diets with less meat. For this reason, it is helpful to focus our energy on the most impactful changes. For instance, avoiding plastic straws, despite all the media attention devoted to this topic, is far less impactful than omitting some car rides.
Emphasising the negative effects of animal product consumption is also popular, but this doesn’t mean we should all become vegetarians and vegans. Yes, we should lower our meat consumption and improve meat quality. At the same time, an integrated production cycle on individual farms, where animals provide fertiliser for plants, which then serve to feed the animals, can be beneficial for the planet. However, this process does not work on industrial farms.
To recycle or not?
Recycling is often talked about as a key factor in helping to fight climate change, but it is only useful when materials are really recyclable. Great examples are glass, paper, and aluminium, while some plastics, namely those labelled with the numbers three through seven, are difficult to recycle. However, recycling the plastic packaging of a pair of new jeans you purchased at an unreasonably low price, does not absolve you of responsibility for your consumer behaviour. When thinking about waste, use the rule “reject, reuse, and only recycle if there is no other choice.” In Czech Republic, the Institute of Circular Economics is dedicated to keeping resources and materials in circulation in the highest possible quality and for as long as possible.
Consumer carbon footprintSource: Consumer carbon footprint
Tips to help change the world
Become civicaly and politically engaged
Although reducing the carbon footprint of individuals is part of the solution to climate change, reforming the entire system is the most critical: reforming the laws, strategies and grant policies. Vote for candidates who take climate change seriously and have a detailed and progressive plan for lowering emissions and protecting ecosystems. Take part in decision-making outside of politics, for example through participative planning and budgeting. Join asocial movement or campaign, focused on environmental activities or one which enforces climate change measures.
Decisions regarding the environment, green areas, roads, infrastructure, waste and recycling, air quality, and energy efficiency are made by your voted representatives. Find out who represents you in your local government and find a way to reach out to them in a positive, honest, and non-confrontational way. Share your opinions and experiences with your family, friends, customers, and clients.
Teach children about climate change
To be capable of conscious decision-making, we must understand the basic functioning of ecosystems and the climate from a young age. Teaching children to appreciate and conserve limited resources and the impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations is therefore the first step to a full societal transformation. Many teaching materials can be found here and here (CZ only). We need to be better educated about the environment and climate change in order to be equal partners in making decisions about it.
Consume less, waste less, enjoy more
Avoid disposable objects and fast fashion, and choose things that will last. Try to bring life back into things you don’t use, or send them on. Try to minimise waste and let brands know they are using excessive packaging. Don’t buy more than you need, and focus on spending time in nature, being with people you care about, and your own personal development, rather than consumption.
Consider the ecological footprint of food
Industrial agriculture is a notable producer of greenhouse gases, namely methane, which is emitted by livestock during their natural digestive processes. In contrast, closed systems of local, environmentally-sound agriculture, which can include the raising of animals, can actually be beneficial. In addition, the industrially-produced meat that is often found in supermarkets is largely dependent on ingredients such as soy, which is used in animal feed. Farmers in Brazil, who are some of the world’s largest producers of soy, have been clearing vast areas of the Amazon rainforest in order to make room for farmland.
Reducing the mass consumption of products with a high ecological footprint such as industrially-produced meat would result in less waste and greenhouse gases, and healthier food with fewer pesticides, fertilisers, and other toxic substances. To do your part, try to look for seasonal products and limit your consumption of those that must travel long distances before reaching your table.TIP: A diet for humanity (CZ only)
Leave the car at home
Think about how often you use your car, and whether you can go on foot, bike, or public transportation instead. Car trips can sometimes be worse for the environment than airplane travel. If you must travel by car, consider swapping your diesel or petrol-fuelled car for an electric vehicle, or take advantage of shared car services.
Think about how often you use your car, and whether can you go on foot, bike, or public transport instead. Car trips can sometimes be worse for the environment than airplane travel. If you must travel by car, consider swapping your diesel or petrol-fuelled car for an electric vehicle, or take advantage of shared car services.
Lower energy consumption
Small behavioural changes on a household level can make a difference and save money at the same time. Turn the heater down by one or two degrees. Turn off your devices when they are not in use. Use high-quality LED light bulbs. Buy a water-conserving shower head. Find out if your home is insulated and consider the insulation of doors and windows. Power your household with renewable energy sources and support their development locally.www.zroutienergie.cz https://www.bezuhli.cz/jakprepnout/
Respect and protect green areas in the city
Green areas including parks and gardens absorb carbon dioxide and capture air that isn’t clean. Thanks to evapotranspiration, (water evaporation from plants), these areas help regulate the temperature in overheated urban areas. They also limit the risk of floods by keeping rainwater in the soil, and can serve as important habitats for animals in the city. Help protect places like these by establishing or joining an association focused on ecological agriculture, urban agriculture, community gardens or making courtyards greener to improve your local neighbourhood.