Week 5 Sustainable development and climate change

Some reflections encapsulating some of the core points from last week:

Looking closely at the discussion last week based on four theories of development, it appears that generally we agree that we want development strategies to enable people to be free to choose their own development path as individuals. It has also been suggested that countries should want to avoid dependency and that unfounded senses of hierarchy between nations, even through categorising, can be unhelpful.

Adam (Ghana): ‘Development should rather not be milestone imposed by another country for the perceived ‘underdeveloped ‘ country to achieve.’

Zoe (UK): ‘People should be able to live their lives and development should help people’s opportunities and capabilities in what they do.’

Eliasu (Ghana):  ‘I am wondering though, whether the extreme classification of nations as either developed or developing is any help in mapping out where more work needs to be done?’

Gloria (Ghana): When this approach is critically analysed, it is seen that, the yardstick for measuring development varies making it almost impossible due to the widespread differences between people’s contexts and preferences.

Eve (UK): ‘If development goals are more personal, for example, ‘senses, imagination and thought’ it is a simpler and more direct way of developing. In turn this makes more people happy which is one of the most important outcomes of development.’

Emmanuel (Ghana): ‘Cross-checking online with top 5 countries with the highest GDP, you would get a different result for top 5 most happiest countries, that’s because the individuals or persons do not have the much needed freedom to create what is deemed valuable.’

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Key to any understanding of development is an awareness of the need for environmental sustainability. Increasingly, businesses, NGOs, and governments are placing sustainability at the heart of their strategy – certainly, environmental sustainability is a core aim of the EduSpots strategy (in terms of offering environmental education and supporting community-led environmental action moving forwards, and in using solar power as an energy source).

Greta Thunberg (a young Swedish climate activist who first ‘striked’ outside her school) and the Friday’s for Future movement that has since developed, has certainly drawn the climate crisis into the forefront of public attention across the world. This is Greta speaking at Davos:

This week’s post aims to just offer a brief (and very much surface-level) introduction into considering the links between climate change, environmental issues more broadly, and development. Climate change is not just an ‘environmental’ issue but a phenomenon which is already affecting the life of humans (and animals) globally. It is often the poorest people in the world who are already experiencing the devastating impact of climate change. The ‘developed’ world is responsible for a huge proportion of global emissions historically and the most poor communities in the world are disproportionately affected, not only because of their location but due to their lack of resources and support-system to take on measures to protect them against climate changes. Part of the issue is that it has been historically ‘been managed as if it were largely de-linked from its social and environmental contexts.’ (Tanner and Horn-Phathanothai, 2014)

In 2016, the World Bank stated:

‘The poor live in uncertainty, just one natural disaster away from losing everything they have. We need good, climate-informed development to reduce the impacts of climate change on the poor. This means, in part, providing poor people with social safety nets and universal health care. These efforts will need to be coupled with targeted climate resilience measures, such as the introduction of heat resistant crops and disaster preparedness systems… without this type of development, climate change could force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.’ (World Bank (2016)  Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty).

Whilst there are disagreements within the field of climate change, the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change is resounding. A 2013 research study by John Cook and others, which was built upon 4000+ academic papers over 20 years, concluded that 97.1% of climate change is anthropocentric – caused by humans. They concluded: ‘our findings prove that there is a strong scientific agreement about the cause of climate change, despite public perceptions to the contrary.’ Increases in greenhouse gas emissions are mainly the result of fossil fuel combustion, energy processes in the energy industry, and transport.

‘Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.’ (International Science Academies: Joint Statement 2005)

This graph shows the quick rise in temperature anomalies in recent years:

Image result for global warming sudden spike graph

This graph shows the distribution of greenhouse gases by sector:

This graph depicts the global CO2 emissions by area (do look at this closely). It’s noticeable that energy generation is the highest contributor to green house gas emissions, and continues to increase in its emissions. Why do you think this is?

As an example, EduSpots invests in solar power to ensure that free and consistent electricity is provided to communities and that we use a sustainable energy source. Solar power is expensive, however, requiring an initial invest of roughly £1000 (6000 cedis) per ‘spot’, the batteries do need replacing every 6 years, and we are continuing to work on training volunteers in local communities to use the equipment, and respond to any difficulties.

Image result for the world in global carbon emissions

The main areas that are of specific concern in relation to the impact of climate change on human development are: agricultural production and food security, water stress and scarcity, health risks, gender power, migration and economic impact. Some specific ways in which climate change is making an impact today (from 80/20 Development in an Unequal World):

  • The World Health Organisation predicts 250,000 additional deaths per year globally from 2030, with 38,000 due to heat exposure in elderly people, 48,000 due to diarrhoea, 60,000 due to malaria and 95,000 due to childhood under-nutirion. Climate change has also been linked to increased epidemics (e.g. to dengue fever and malaria).
  • In 2015 the Human Development Report indicated that in some countries drought could halve the yields from rained agriculture by 2020, with 250 million exposed to greater water stress in Africa.
  • The 2015 UN review suggested that ‘high sea levels and swells have already resulted in the displacement of people in a number of small island developing states including Kiribati, Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands.’
  • Monsoons displaced 14 million people in India and 3 million in China (with the second highest death till since records began).
  • Almost 1/5th of the world live in areas where water is scarce; climate change is increasing this vulnerability.

This video offers three stories from Africa of how climate change is affecting individuals and communities:

This Guardian article gives some powerful photos of village on the Ghanaian coastline swept away by the sea:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/gallery/2016/oct/07/ghana-villages-destroyed-climate-change-in-pictures

The world’s poorest are ultimately more vulnerable to changes to climate. A 2015 report, From Decisions to Actions by The UN Conference of Trade and Development summarised the challenge: ‘ One of the great injustices in our world is that those that are more often the most vulnerable… as such they tend to carry the brunt of the cost of economic, social and environmental versus. For some crises, as in the case of climate change, this may even boil down to a question of life or death.’

The Sustainable Developing Goals replaced the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, placing a particular focus on sustainable development, with environmental concern and considering being shaped as existing within each part the world’s development rather than being seen as a separate issue.  In addition to this embedded nature of environmental concern and sustainable policy, several of the specific goals direct address environmental issues: for example, goal 7 is ‘renewable energy’, and goal 13 is ‘climate action’. Take a watch of this brief video:

It is clear that this area provokes and important debate about equity and justice, as those who are contributing the least to climate change will feel the effects most strongly, and have also benefited the list from the development that has taken place. It is also clear that not all countries have the financial means to move towards a low carbon sustainable economy, transitioning to the use of renewable energy sources.

The United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was created in 1994, and recognised the differing responsibilities of countries required to take action in reducing emissions. The Kyoto Protocol (1997) gave specific emission reduction commissions to different countries; however the USA failed to ratify it due to their concern that it would have a negative impact on their economic growth, and many questioned the lack of commitment required from all countries. Following this the UNFCC signed a a new agreement in Paris in December 2015 which  195 nations agreed to take action but with ‘differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances’. However, many countries still respond to climate change as necessarily holding a negative impact on its development, rather than recognising the economic opportunities that might arise from investing in sustainability energy sources and other methods of adaptation at this point. For more on the Paris Agreement see here: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php

Trump’s recently confirming the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement:

So what can be done?

Many believe that urgent adjustments to ways of living are necessary in order to move on from the Paris Agreement to reduce global GHG emissions. Here are some suggested paths (in brief) forward for countries:

1. We need to move towards low carbon economies.

Many countries around the world are designing and implementing low emission development strategies (LEDS) that aim to achieve social, economic and environmental development goals while reducing long-term greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience to climate change impacts. This could involve switching to nuclear power, or increased use of solar, wind, or hydroelectric power.

2. We need to consider what we use energy for.

We could aim to change our consumerist global society that leads to the use of energy in the first instance – this is a combination of changing the habits, lifestyles, and demands of individuals, and also the production methods and outcomes.

3. We need to change our capitalist economic system

Naomi Klein argues that UNFCC summit ‘started to seem less like a forum for serious negotiation than a very costly and high-carbon group therapy session’ where poor nations outlined the impact of climate change and richer countries ‘stared sat their shoes’. She argues that we need a corporate led ‘green-washing’ of private and public organisations, arguing that ‘the bottom line is that our economic system and our planetary system are now at war…. only one of these sets of rules can be changes, and it’s not the laws of nature.’

4. We can look for other scientific solutions: 

This could involve the removal of green house gases (e.g. reforestation and algal blooms) and solar radiation management to dim the warm of the sun (e.g. stratospheric sulphate aerosols and space parasols).

Here is an article with some further ideas. I’m aware we’ve only touched the surface of this topic.

What can we do as individuals or organisations?

This list from the UN provides al starting point for changes or actions that can begin from your coach, home, community, or workplace (see below).

I personally believe that education plays a vital role in habituating people towards new norms – however, the pace of change that is needed clearly needs also government-level strategy that engages corporations into new ways of thinking. We certainly need to address that ‘sigh’ which accompanies people talking about the environment, and call people out when they declare that they are not interested in the environment – this, it seems to me, is just as an outrageous statement as declaring a lack of interest in human rights or discrimination; even if we are unsure of how to address the issue, it is clear that it does matter to the future of the planet.

TASK: How should we respond individually, and as a society, to challenges posed by climate change? What are the core difficulties with finding solutions?

Reading Suggestions

Tanner and Horn-Phathonathi (2014) Climate Change and Development 

Shiva (2005) Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Pace 

Wayne Ellwood (2014) The No-Nonsense Guide to Degrowth and Sustainability 

www.carbonbrief.org

www.guardian.co.uk/global-development

www.climasphere.org

 

55 thoughts on Week 5 Sustainable development and climate change

  1. There is only so much we can do as individuals, as arguably we are not to blame, but rather it is the big corporations shifting blame onto us. Fundamentally, we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, whether it be by going fully vegan (of course, this lifestyle doesn’t work for everyone, though you could adapt this by not eating red meat on, say, a Monday), or by buying less from fast fashion brands which profit off our consumerist, materialistic society (and are very often unnecessary). As a society, now it seems that the biggest challenge is pushing these big corporations to make real change, invest in more sustainable solutions for our future as this is the only way. As Greta stated, we only have about 12 years before we reach a tipping point of no return, so this is a crisis.

    A considerable difficulty, however, is that of the developing world. It would be hypocritical for developed nations, such as the USA and UK, to suddenly place a blanket ban on greenhouse gas emissions, as this would put developing countries at such a huge disadvantage. It is because of the industrial revolution that we got to where we are today, and it would be unfair for us to prevent other countries from having this as well. Perhaps the way forward is finding a sustainable, long-term solution whereby all nations can develop, without disadvantaging those communities who have not yet done so. This needs to be done soon, and such a solution does not yet exist.

    1. I wonder, actually, if the answer would be to invest in the developing nations, to mitigate their environmental impact without the hypocrisy. Take, for example, plastic pollution, the top 10 worst countries are all developing (https://www.earthday.org/2018/04/06/top-20-countries-ranked-by-mass-of-mismanaged-plastic-waste/), and they are like that because of a lack of infrastructure, hence a lot of plastic is improperly disposed of.

      If certain countries where to offer ‘environmental aid’ to say Thailand, Indonesia or the Phillipines, not only would it help them develop, but also mitigate the environmental impact felt by the whole world.

      1. Hi Matt, I’m so interested in your idea of ‘environmental aid’. What would this look like? What form could it take?

    2. Hi Zara,

      I agree with your point that it would be hypocritical of ‘developed countries’ to place a blanket ban on greenhouse gas emissions in ‘developing countries’, however, I do not think that the development of countries needs to follow the same stages e.g. countries do not have to follow the steps taken by say the UK who are only now shifting to cleaner energy sources etc. (e.g. switching from petrol/diesel cars to electric cars)… rather than building infrastructure that relies on ‘dirty’ energy sources, why not start building them from scratch using renewable energy? And I think that these innovations do not have to come from ‘developed’ countries. Countries in Africa, for example, have different resources that could potentially be used as energy sources that do not exist to the same extent say in the UK (e.g. far more exposure to sunlight that can be harnessed for solar at a different level to what is possible in the UK). E.g. if you and your family have never owned a car say in Ghana, why should you get a diesel/ petrol or even electric car , if you could get a solar powered car created in Ghana https://www.ghscientific.com/solar-taxi-launched-in-kumasi/ (I understand this is more complicated as other factors such as cost of the car etc. come into it, but my point is simply about the fact that I do not think ‘development’ needs to rely on the ‘dirty’ energy sources of the industrial revolution, just because this is what some countries did in the past).

    3. I agree with you, there is only so much that us as individuals can do to protect our environment. If we soley take on this task, yes some change will come of it but in reality big coorporations have to help out in some way. If they keep doing what they are doing it is not going to help anything.

  2. In the basic school, my science teacher told me that one of the ways by which energy can be conserved in through ironing my clothing in bulk. Growing up, this has become a culture that I love so much. It does not only saved energy but also saves time. Surprisingly, most of us trivialize how acts as simple as this could help relieve the burden on our energy systems which would further lessen the dependence on our conventional energy. In an era where having a car has become a necessity, we should move from the suggestion of car pulling into it’s practice. By this, public transportation becomes a good way of burning less fuel. These simple actions I believe can help mitigate climate change at the individual level

    As a society, the education should be ongoing. We should encourage each other to put into practice some of these basic acts. Is there anyway, education about this phenomenon can be brought to the basic and the informal level?

    The challenge which I have been thinking about more often is poverty. A person who cannot feed himself or her family will care less about climate change. As a basic need, he or she would go for that first before thinking about his or her actions on the climate. We still have a lot to do as people and I hope we all in one way or the other make this right a priority

    1. Hi George! Thanks for your contribution. I’m interested to know whether from your perspective people would be more likely to act if they new they were lowering their energy bills? Are people more motivated by this than by the thought of reducing their impact on climate change.
      I’m also interested to know what you were taught about climate change and global warming in your school?

    2. A very interesting comment. I agree that “simple actions can help mitigate climate change at the individual level” and think that encouraging this outlook is important. I am also intrigued by your concept of bulk ironing. How does that work?

  3. There are so many ways as an individual to reduce climate change in my society.
    I have to use less hot water.it takes lot of energy to heat water.Use less hot water by taking shorter and cooler shower and washing my clothes in cold or warm instead of hot
    As a society,we can plant many trees.A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over it’s lifetime

    1. Tree planting would be a great way to address climate change as forests serve as sinks for carbon dioxide. That’s a great suggestion

    2. Ultimately, day-by-day changes make a vital impact on the level of emissions. Many people believe that ‘one person’s change will not make an impact’ and that it is ‘mainly large companies that are contributing to climate change’ — however, the main issue of the role of supply and demand. Yes, one is correct to state that the meat industry is one of the main contributors to climate change. But, the industry will never recuse their emissions is the demand for meat is still rising. Changing a small part of your day-to-day life (such as promoting ‘Meat Free Monday) at your school can make an enormous difference to the demand for a product. However, it can be easy to forget that these changes can be easier for wealthy people. This comes down to the issue of the more sustainable products, or options are more often than not, more expensive than the less eco-friendly’ product.

      Greta Thunberg recently posted a video which focused on three main motives to tackle climate change; protect, restore, fund. (https://www.instagram.com/p/B4stLphJgIA/)
      As a society, it can be hard to know what to do when so many different opinions are being thrown at us. This short clip sums up the vast difference that changing something as small as planting trees can have on the CO2 levels in the air.

  4. Despite efforts like the Bamako Convention less developed countries still continue to be the sites for dumping toxic waste, radioactive wastes and so on. This is one of the reasons why climate change has taken a greater toll on African Countries. Yes it it allowed to export discarded goods to poorer countries that is if they can be recycled but corporate giants in countries such as China where technology innovations are taking place at a fats pace take the chance to dump used laptops , phones and much more in the light that they can be recycled which is not honestly true. It seems like the UN branch in charge of E-wastes are not keeping track of the exporting these wastes to the third world countries. As a result we remain the most affected by climate change.Speaking of third world countries Indonesia even has an imported plastic dump site which shows all the more why we are the most affected.

    I am not sure if more developed countries would be genuinely interested in the fight to curb climate change in Third world countries because that would mean no place to dump the wastes. These negotiations I believe do happen between governments and compensations are made so there is need that our leaders stand their ground on such issues because one thing they do promise us is development which is hindered through their activity because it alters the climate patterns which means droughts and famine.
    From a lay man’s standpoint this is far fetched issue but its impact is real so I have reason to believe that each one of us should be part of the fight to reduce the amount of E-waste imported into our countries.

    1. Hi Pfungwa,

      I completely agree with you and your example shows clearly how the consumption of individuals such as in the UK can directly impact individuals overseas (I remember seeing these photos from Accra, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2014/feb/27/agbogbloshie-worlds-largest-e-waste-dump-in-pictures which shocked me). I think this issue is similar to that of ‘fast fashion’, technological change is happening so quickly and individuals always want the latest phone/ laptop and do not think about where the one they bought just a year ago will end up.

  5. It is very difficult for individuals to be sustainable and make a direct impact to climate change. One of the most important and effective ways of responding to the issue is education. For many years, the climate change issue has not been highlighted in any sort of main stream media outlets. However, in the last few years it has changed massively with people such as Greta Thunberg inspiring million’s of young people all over the world. And although this is very promising it is not sparked any real change in countries being more sustainable. Leaders such a Donald Trump, who is arguably the most powerful man in the world has failed to even recognize the epidemic our world is encountering which is terrible as people believe they can trust their leaders but in most cases around the globe these are the people who are ignoring the warning signs.

    I also believe that much more money needs to be invested into finding and implementing carbon free energy sources as this is the biggest problem affecting climate change. If more well-off individuals were more willing to invest in such a critical solution it would make both the governments and private companies job’s a lot easier to make a sufficient change.

    1. Completely agree, Evé. By investing in education the next generation can learn about these issues and how they can be fixed – for good. After all we will be the most affected generation, and so perhaps we will be the ones to find a solution.

    2. Don’t you think that one person could influence another to influence the next person in an ongoing cycle and then that would enable change?

      1. I do agree with your comment Ore, but to enact the most effective change I do believe it is trying to reach the most amount of people directly

    3. Yes implementing carbon free energy sources is a viable solution. As of now scientists are coming up with ways to suck the carbon dioxide in the air and if funds are available to maybe work on machinery or to purchase the existing machines used for this. Africa is an innovative continent and so I believe that the young minds that we have can come up with something to counter this problem.

      1. Yes I’ve heard about this idea (sucking CO2 from the atmosphere) and also various techniques to dim the impact of the sun’s heat.
        However, I wonder whether turning to such inventions (which are as yet not concrete solutions) may actually serve to distract the population from the key needs at hand: switching energy sources, and changing the consumption habits of the global population?
        I believe that what we need is global leadership on this issue – political leaders need to step forward. Global collaboration is deeply lacking, and the world’s leaders are distracted by issues within their own countries such as Brexit and economic downturns. It is difficult to plan to protect the future generation, when the current generation are the voters, however.

    4. I agree that education is one of the most important things we can do at this point in time in relation to climate change. It will eventually allow for more action as more people will understand the threats and will want to make a difference.

  6. Contrary to popular belief, individually we can reduce the impacts of climate change. if everyone does one thing every day to reduce their carbon impact on the environment, we can together cause great change. By living a lifestyle that promotes sustainability others are influenced to join your cause. This knock-on effect will eventually lead to businesses changing their policies because; in reality, businesses promote what the consumers want not vice versa. If more people started using public transport and less used cars car manufacturers would have to start manufacturing buses to keep up with the demand. We need to stop thinking one person can not change such a systematic problem because regardless of how long it takes that one action can and will make a change.

    The core difficulty of finding a solution, in my opinion, is stubbornness and inconvenience. People don’t want to change what they’re used to doing (eating meat for example) and people don’t want to inconvenience themselves (by starting to use public transport instead of cars).

    1. I agree that individual changes can make a difference. What shall we all pledge to do today? I pledge to turn my lights off, use public transport or walk (I purposefully don’t own a car), fly less often (and pay to offset my flights when I do). I also tend not to eat beef or lamb.
      Sometimes it is easier for wealthier people to change their habits, and I think the impact of some environmental measures on those with little income also needs to be considered. Education has an important role to play in this process, and I believe every country should fully integrate environmental education into their curriculums from Primary level.

  7. One fascinating approach to development in an ecological context was theorised by Kate Raworth, an English economist in Doughnut Economics. Here site outlines the main points pretty comprehensively: https://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/.

    She says we need to view development as a doughnut: the lower limits of human living standards (known as the social foundations) in the centre, with the upper limits of our environment around the outside. She claims we need to develop within the ‘sweet spot’ in between.

    Any difficultly we find with development is effectively a result of infringing upon one of these zones, whether that be slowing improvement in the ‘social foundations’ as a result of bans on coal and the like, or improving these foundations at the risk of smashing through our ecological ceiling, something we are doing at the moment.

    The response to climate change needs to be global, and it needs to be organised flawlessly, because if not, we risk breaking thought one of the limits.

  8. On 28th September 2019, I volunteered for an NGO named Plastic Punch in a cleanup beach campaign exercise as part of the European Union climate celebration week. I was baffled with the number of plastic we had gathered from the shore. A problem caused by humans must be solved by humans.

    Ghana used to experience rainy reasons during the month of April, May June but currently, the dynamics are changing due to global warming where heavy rainfalls now occur in November.

    Like Greta Thunberg rightly said, the solution is clear; “Stop the emissions of carbon gases”. I strongly believe as individuals, our responsibility will be to limit emissions and move to renewable energy sources.

    We have very little to do as individuals if there is no political will to solve these challenges. Collectively, as a society, the time has come for us to join forces and present a strong case to our lawmakers to start taking serious steps to address the dangers associated with climate change.

    1. I completely agree with your point Kwesi (Ghana) and am utterly appalled by not only the destruction that the human race is capable of but also the lack of acknowledgment or responsibility that is taken. We must act to reverse our own wrongdoings, no one else can fix our mistakes. I support your argument expressing our desperate need of government support and see the potential each and every one of us have to improve our current climate situation.

      1. Hi Kwesi, I’m interest to know what environmental changes you’ve observed in Ghana in a little more detail?
        In the UK we have experienced hotter summers which is the main thing that people have noticed, with significant heat waves.

        1. Currently, we are experiencing high sea levels and high incidence of weather and disasters. There is also the worsening coastal and riverine erosion sweeping away homes in places like Ada. I will be visiting the place on 26th December to have a look as well.

          I live in a place called Dome, a suburb of Accra. It rained recently somewhere in the month of September for an hour. I had to walk on the street in the flood because the majority of vehicles could not move through the flood. It was a terrifying experience for me that night.

  9. As a society, there is an endless combination of improvements that can be made to reverse the death spiral that is climate change. With lack of sufficient support from multiple large countries, this issue has continued to be an ongoing acceptable fact to the point where even those who are meant to be our leaders say nothing out of complete cowardness instead leaving it to the children of our world to deal with. Surely, we can agree that this is an issue.

    Every one of us is responsible in some way, whether, it can be helped or not is, however, an entirely separate conversation. Those living in rich highly modernised countries have the research and opportunity to do something but simply don’t. As a human race, we have come up with countless excuses avoiding the real issue when in reality these excuses our digging us even deeper into the irreversible cycle that is climate change.

    It simply isn’t good enough that most countries have agreed to take part in the ‘Paris agreement’ an agreement that should have existed many years ago. If the United States one of the largest consumers of electricity isn’t willing to change then what example does this set for the remainder of the world? Climate change is a global issue that must be expressed on a global scale. We have the resources to stimulate change, the only factor stopping us in the nativity of our leaders. Why should they be able to decide if our future generations live or die?

    There is simply only one way forward, each one of us must adapt our lives to saves the lives of our future. We can not simply throw this issue onto developing countries just because they experience the true horrors when we who live in the modern world have caused these horrors. The modern world must act as role models for developing countries. We must change before it’s too late.

    1. I echo your outrage. The thing that frustrates me in the current election campaign in the UK for example is that often when individuals mention environmental issues, many politicians simply say that ‘the UK is doing more than most other countries’. This is such an infuriating excuse…. it’s like committing a petty crime and saying ‘well most criminals do far worse things than me’.

  10. I am appalled by Trump’s refusal to acknowledge climate change as a global crisis. Taking America out of the Paris agreement laughs in the face of the crisis. Climate change cannot be ignored. It is affecting thousands of people’s lives every day. We, as a society, need to work together to prevent the destruction of our world. If individuals reduced their carbon footprint, by even a small percentage, the overall difference would be tremendous.

    As we are becoming more and more aware of the dangers humanity will face if climate change is not dealt with, there are an increasing number of ways in which we can incorporate climate change solutions into our everyday lives. We can all do something to improve this situation. For example, tree planting, having showers instead of baths, walking or biking or using electric cars, solar panels, switching off the lights to name a few.

    I understand that we may not yet know all there is to know about climate change but what we do know we should act on. I feel one problem is that the small things (though, in the long run they make a big impression) are often disregarded and we leave it up to others to do what we should be doing ourselves.

    However, climate change should also be a key concern of governments to ensure that long term solutions are accessible to all nations. That is why the concept of the Paris agreement is so important. It unites countries in the fight against climate change and ensures that an impact is made on a global scale. The fact is, that “many countries still respond to climate change as necessarily holding a negative impact on its development, rather than recognising the economic opportunities that might arise from investing in sustainability energy sources” and this is holding us back.

  11. I think the challenges posed by climate change are the consequences of our own individual actions. If everyone is going to protect the environment in the little possible way he can, I believe Climate change would have being less of a worrying situation than it stands now. Sometimes I sit to think that, we as individuals may have no choice in controlling climate change because some of the notable causes such as use of CFCs built devices rather than HFCs are less of in our capacity to prevent this as these devices are sometimes what we have in our societies or what we can afford. The danger then of these is the emissions of green house gases into the atmosphere which is to our own risk.
    However just as some causes of climate change may to some extent not be in our individual capacity to solve, others undoubtedly are in our full potential for solution. Take for example, In most communities in northern Ghana, it is a common practice to see farmers during farming seasons burning spoiled tyres of vehicles to have access to the metallic wire of the tyres to be used for the construction of their farm fences.This practice leads to the release of tons of green house gases which to a greater degree cause sever climate change.
    It is also same in some countries where the amount of CO2 gas released by the exhaust fumes of certain commercial vehicles is very dangerous and worrisome to the quality of the environment. I think state laws should be passed so such vehicles can be repaired to help protect the environment from the damming destructions they cause the environment.
    The core difficulties with finding solutions to these problems is the lack of interest in climate change activism. If more and more people especially the youth were to be trained on the need for to protect the climate, I think their spread of the message of climate change would go a long way to affecting peoples thought about the need to protect the climate positively.

  12. As individuals, I think it is hard to find many different ways to make a difference as usually there are only a few small things we can change, especially at such a young age. One of the most important things we can do is help spread awareness about the challenges posed by climate change as this will inspire others to make a difference as well. Other things such as not eating meat and being aware of how much electricity we use is also important. As a society we need to use different sources of energy, such as solar panels, and work together to come up with more solutions. This is hard as many people do not believe in climate change, which means that they will not participate, making it harder for others. By educating these people about climate changes and the challenges it poses, we might be able to make a bigger change and respond in a more impactful way.

    1. I absolutely agree with this, i believe education is the way forward if we want to tackle climate change as peoples mind sets need to be changed in order to make a difference

  13. I believe that for climate change to be tackled it needs to start with education. It is very hard to break the routine of citizens across the world that have lived everyday thinking and doing the exact same thing. By helping people understand the causes and the effects of climate change and giving simple and small things for individuals to do it can create a large impact. Greta Thunberg is doing a fantastic job of spreading awarness but i believe that it is simply not enough as to some they view her as someone who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I believe that we still have time for actions to be done on the basis of wanting to help and them not to be enforced as for climate change to really be tackled everyone needs to work together with everyone aiming and believing in the same thing. It is extremely hard for this to work when there are still people with an immense amount of power uneducated in the issue such as Donald Trump. As soon as everyone joins together to beat climate change the better.

    1. I totally agree with your point on education and taking action Marina. It will be difficult (if not impossible) for anyone to fully appreciate climate change and remain unconcerned. With more people like Greta, you and I taking action, and with powerful people like Trump losing power soon, I believe there is some hope.

  14. It is completely understandable that almost all of us agree that shifting to cleaner energy sources holds the greatest potential for climate change mitigation. I have always believed that Africa is the biggest beneficiary of a renewable energy revolution for at least, these two reasons: 1. She is the most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change; partly because she relies the most on rain-fed agriculture, which is adversely affected by a changing climate.
    2. Africa is the most endowed with renewable energy resources (largely solar energy), and can, therefore, most cost-effectively industrialise on sustainable energy; the Noor project in Morocco is a success story that should inspire all African countries to take advantage of the enormous potential of solar power to for industrialization. The project is the largest concentrated solar project in the world and generates over 500MW of free electricity. The annual CO2 savings from the plant is estimated at 760,000 tonnes; this is the amount of CO2 that a fossil-based power plant of that size would have emitted every year. Plus, it’s sited on an otherwise idle land, the Sahara Desert, a vast of which is still available. Intact, the Noor project used precisely 0.00005% of the desert.
    https://www.ecohz.com/renewable-energy-solutions/powerplants/noor-solar-power-in-morocco/

  15. I sometimes think the problem is not being tackled wholistically.

    For instance, with the advent of electric cars, when the technical know-how guys are invited to talk about issues, i hardly hear them talk about renewable energies (kinetic, wind and solar) in powering the machines.
    Means the concentration is just about reducing the carbon emissions from vehicles.

    And secondly we need to discipline ourselves to adopt lifestyles that saves energy as GEORGE suggested and society also helping by naming and shaming those individuals that show a disregard for such issues.

    1. Interesting point about car manufacturers Emmanuel.

      And about disciplining ourselves to conserve energy, do you think it will be helpful if governments regulate the amount of power supplied to households on a monthly basis?

  16. I never heard about Climate Change until I got to the university (and that was in my personal reading and not during academic work). And when I heard about it, it appeared to me as a distant problem ‘leaders’ need to deal with. What this has taught me is that any discussion of climate change need to include what individuals can do about the problem.

    Intensifying awareness and education on climate change can be beneficial as thousands of people have no idea our ‘house is on fire’. I find that people are ‘suffering’ the effects of climate change but have less knowledge of it (and thus, do not act). In my hometown (a fishing community in the Volta region) for example, there has been a significant reduction in fishing yields and many young people have moved because of the accompanying falling income.

    I also think there is a link between poverty and climate change because many local people would engage in activities like lumbering to put food on the table without being mindful of how it affects the environment. In such cases, finding alternative sources of livelihood could help the situation.

    Personally I have resorted to wearing more clothes that do not need any ironing, and I am conscious of my use of plastics and electricity. As much as I believe individual efforts can make a difference, much more effort is required from industries, businesses and policymakers if we want to see significant change.

    When all is said, we need to be wary not to fall into the flamboyance of discussing climate change without acting, because the talk will not bring change until it leads to action.

  17. Well done Stephen! It’s great o see that you are doing your part as a citizen of this planet to curb climate change. I think one of the major difficulties faced in solving this problem is the lack of awareness. Reading through this course last week, I too felt like this was a distant problem. My mind was not even tuned to what was being said. However, this week at school it was the turn of my house to deliver the news and I was in charge of world news. The gravity of the issue was quite alarming. It was said that even if all countries adhered to the carbon emission cuts stated in the Paris climate agreement the world would still be three degrees hotter. People need to be made aware.

  18. I have gone through most of the contributions made and I’m glad that we all agree that the issue of climate change is massive. Most people don’t even realise that something is going on and posing danger in the future. Before all the said individual and societal measures can be followed, there is the need to get all informed as much as possible (somebody should tell somebody to tell somebody) so that in the very little way, awareness can be created and minimal contributions can make great impact like the saying which goes” little drops of water makes a mighty ocean”
    In short, educating people in any form about the issue could be how the individual/society can help.

  19. Education is obviously first in addressing the issue of climate change but it should go beyond education and lead to formation of advocacy groups that will champion the action of addressing climate change in communities and extend to social media and government institutions because governments mainly play the role of policy forming . The difficulty in addressing solutions will be first making people understand climate change, getting people to join the advocacy group and support (technical and financial)

  20. To solve our climate change issues there is so much change that needs to take place. I firstly believe our whole economy needs to be restructured so that economic growth and GDP is not the sole measure of a ‘strong’ economy. I recommend Kate Raworth’s ted interview talk on the theory of doughnut economics for this. I also believe that every individual needs to take full responsibility for the daily choices they make and what impact this is having on the environment.

    However, the main difficulties that faces climate change comes from governments and large industries therefore it is hard to solve the problems created individually as it is our leaders who need to wake up to the reality of the condition our planet is in.

  21. Climate change indeed has a great influence in our lives either positively or negatively. As shown in the research conducted by John cook in the year 2013. climate change is as a result of our own doings whether we are conscious about it or not.
    But the question is, what did we do or did not do?

    My focus will be on carbon cycle.
    We can prevent global warming through Afforestation, avoid burning of fossil fuel as found in certain commercial vehicles and lastly we have to avoid deforestation. The Government have an important role in climate change. Security measures must be put in place to make sure that commercial vehicle are in good shape before usage. On the other hand, measures should be put in place to prevent Defforestation.

  22. This is an area we must all take an interest in. Climate change affects almost everyone but a few mostly large corporations contribute to a large proportion of it. Most countries do not enforce environmental laws all with the aim of an increase in economic growth. What is the importance of having more money and cannot spend it in a healthy environment? A perfect example of this is China, though it is now the leading exporting country, a lot of greenhouse gases have been emitted into the environment causing even the air toxic to take in. This has gone a long way to have a negative effect on the world at large.

    The rainfall pattern in Ghana has changed totally. Instead of the rains been distributed quite evenly throughout the year, we have all the rains in few months and the rest of the months with very high temperatures with harsh weather conditions.

    Individuals can do less to curb this problem. It must begin with the large corperations. corperation must adopt sustainable means of production while keeping environmental protection in mind.

    Governments must put the world at hearth and before any other goal. Environmental protection rules must be enforced to enable a sustainable world.

  23. The issue is the cosmetic nature of the modifications that governments around the world default to in an attempt to gain voters’ support. To create lasting and meaningful changes in the way that advanced economies deal with climate change there must be two major modifications in the manner with which climate policy is decided upon: the decision making process must be outsourced to an unbiased independent body and there must be vast investment into researching the science surrounding climate change.

  24. Hi everyone,

    To be honest, on an individual basis, there are definitely things that we can do to improve our carbon footprint, like taking public transport instead of driving, maybe installing our own renewable energy sources, or joining organisations such as Greenpeace. However, the impact of these choices is so marginal on an individual basis that few people trade off practicality and ease of life to help out. It is exactly this that needs to be addressed through education.

    However, although this will help if EVERYONE cut down on carbon emissions, but the same effect can also be achieved much quicker.

    35% of all carbon emissions globally are stemmed directly from the 20 largest fossil fuel companies. Although these companies do spread some wealth and infrastructure across the developing world, it is greatly outweighed by the huge negative environmental impact caused. The only way to make these firms greener is through political action across the globe. However, many governments are reluctant to change environmental policies due to ‘cost’ and lost revenue from fossil fuel companies’ tax. This may only be overcome by protest from the people.

    Whilst there is definitely things that individuals can do to help, but if everyone clubbed together to organise more climate strikes and protests, then governments will take action to defend the will of the people and real change will occur.

    Alongside this, investment needs to occur into the green sector, so that green energy sources become more efficient and less expensive, in turn making it more profitable for governments and firms to invest in these industries rather than further developing fossil fuel extraction, as this is a short-term way to generate revenue. By investing more into green sources, we can generate more jobs, more future profit and also reduce carbon footprint.

    All things said and done, the only way that changes like this can happen is through protest and government reforms. That is why, it is so important to try to change government policies.

    1. I agree with you, I believe there are things as individuals that we could all do to help improve our carbon footprint. But we do need everyone to participate in order to make big changes. I believe big companies should help by investing in the expensive parts of making change like they should be using solar power energy for their companies and they should donate to others to help bring change. I also agree with you that everyone should come together to make climate change strikes and protest in order for real change to happen. Then the governments could take charge and enforce everyone to help as well.

  25. This has always been the question at hand when talking about sustainability in school. There has always been things brought up that we can do in order to protect our environment. These things include, reducing your water use, using more environmentaly friendly products, buying from brands that take procautions to protect the environment, recycling when you can, etc. I think that we as individuals can only do so much to make an impact. Even as a society if we all had a common goal than I think this would show our efforts. Big corporations need to also make changes within their own factories for us to start seeing a real change. I think that the problem isn’t finding solutions, it is sticking with those solutions and changes. I think another problem with the solutions provided is that some people cannot afford somethings. For example switching your electricity to be ran by solar power. This is something that would be great for the environment, but not easily afforded by everyone.

  26. As individuals, there is a reasonable amount that we can do to try and reduce carbon-emissions. Turning off your lights when you leave your room, for example, or not only using the dishwasher when it’s full to minimise uses. Although these actions are easy and I would encourage everyone to try and be as environmentally friendly/ aware as possible, the affect it has on reducing global climate change is rather minimal. The only way that the actions of everyday individuals could make a difference is if everyone tried their best to reduce their carbon-footprint. The people who could make the biggest difference, however, would no doubt be those in positions of power or leadership and the big corporations. If countries were able to come together and agree to create international laws in the hopes of reducing carbon emissions, then we would truly be able on the right path in creating a more sustainable future.

    There are several difficulties with tackling global warming but perhaps the largest is the difficulty of change. As one of the graphs above showed, most carbon emissions are down to the production of energy. Unfortunately, changing our energy source is not only expensive, and thus difficult for less wealthy countries, it also would mean not reaching energy requirements in some places. Of course the optimal solution would be to find a new source of energy or more renewable way of harvesting it.

  27. I believe as individuals we should try to help with what we can the challenges of climate change. If that means changing the way an individual lives than that can help. If we all work together to make changes then we can see some differences in climate change. One way we can help for sure is helping the poor locations that don’t have the resources. We can find a way to try and help them get the resources they need. We should also try informing those of climate change, many people don’t even know what it is or what challenges we face. By informing those people with knowledge about it is one big step. Like stated in the readings, we can help introduce different developments like “heat resistant crops” which will help them not loose their only source of food or income they might have. Now there is core difficulties with finding solutions because it requires new inventions which is really expensive and it requires for people to be committed to the change. Many people aren’t willing to change the way they live or don’t have the money to invest in solar power energy (as an example). But we can try with smaller changes like watching how much energy we use and trying to use less. Then work on bigger changes like reducing our greenhouse gas emissions with the help of bigger companies as well.

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