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Posts Tagged ‘Brussels

For a Sustainable Planet

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70.000 people mobilized in Brussels to ask for political measures in favor of the planet protection.

Today we were around 70.000 people gathered in Brussels to manifest in favor of a political change for the climate. But it is not the first manifestation of its kind. In recent weeks, students coming from different parts of the country, inspired by the action of Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish student climate activist, skipped school and came in Brussels to manifest too.  On 17th of January, they were around 12.500. On 24/01, there were 35.000!  Such mobilization can only rejoice us, insofar as it is a part of a sustainable ambition and strong commitment.

Climate change is a real challenge for the coming years. We already notice negative effects of the human activity on the climate. But the challenge is much bigger than the climate change, it is the preservation of our earth.  To reach such goal, it is important to see concrete actions on different levels. First of all, there is the individual action. Each of us, we can contribute to preserve the nature by changing our habit, by thinking to have a way of live having less impact on our environment. But changes in our live are never easy. Most of the time, we see changes as constraints instead of opportunities. By minimizing the usage of our car and using public transports or a bike for our travels, by consuming more responsibly, by recycling our waste or buying products with less or no packaging, we can contribute positively to our environment. But such change is an incremental process. It implies to change our habit, to be more organized, and to be convinced that it is not only on an individual level we have to act but on a collective level. Each of us we have to be an inspiring example to motivate the others. That Is why I mentioned that to manifest for the climate is a good point but it has to be followed by concrete actions, and it is not just the business of the others.

But if the individual action is a good start point, it remains insufficient. A real political action is also needed. We can only contribute to build a better environment if the political authorities implement a real environmental politic. We can reduce the usage of car if we have efficient public transports networks, if we have a secure infrastructure for cycling paths, and also some tax incentives. The reduction of car usage in big cities doesn’t solve only the problem of pollution, but also the problems of mobility, having a negative economic impact. We can reduce our wastes or recycling them, if there is an organized and efficient system for collecting and sorting wastes. But it is always better to reduce as much as possible the quantity of waste. Political authorities have to be aware that not all people are equal facing ecology,  that it is also a social issue. It is more difficult for vulnerable people to adopt green measures and habits that requires investments, such as the isolation of the home. Vulnerable people cannot be excluded from that issue and considered responsible for not acting.

A third important point is the contribution of the industry. Industry is responsible for a big part of the pollution. Most of the time, financial aspects are more important than ecological aspects. Ecology is seen as a constraint instead of an opportunity. It is obvious that our natural resources are limited, and that we are consuming more than the earth can regenerate its resources. And to hide this reality is the result of a short term vision, and most of the time, short term visions lead to failure.  Same as for us, ecology is seen as a constraint instead of an opportunity.  If you are looking backwards, only companies facing changes and anticipating succeed. Investments in clean technologies are opportunities to develop new markets, to create jobs, to create a more sustainable environment. The concept of blue economy is interesting on that point. I will come to it later.

Nevertheless, technology is not necessarily the only answer to the protection of our environment. For instance, we are presenting electrical cars as an alternative to fuel cars, contributing to reduce the CO2 rejections. That is an attractive conclusion when you read the car characteristics in the brochure given by the car dealer. Now, looking more ready, the reality does not seem to be so …green.  The production of batteries is the main reason why electrical vehicles can generate more carbon emissions over their lifecycle. The batteries recycling process is also generating CO2 rejections.  Other question: how is the electricity generated? By gas plants, or by coal?  If we don’t consider the thing in its entirety, we can only miss the goal. Of course, it takes time to develop a new technology and to make it more efficient.  It is only by investing money in research and development that we can progress in technologies efficiency.  But before considering new alternatives, it would be interesting to focus on those that already exist. Instead to reduce the CO2 footprint by decreasing the number of fuel cars by replacing them by electrical cars, why don’t we develop more efficient public transport like tramways, trains etc. As already mentioned, you solve two problems: pollution and mobility. Of course, here is the responsibility of political authorities to implement coherent ecological politics based on serious studies and not on “green-washing” marketing.

Now let us come back to the concept of blue economy. Blue economy concept is based on the usage of renewable resources contributing to preserve the nature, and in some case to regenerate resources. Blue economy includes also jobs dimension and social capital. To summarize, blue economy is an economy having a neutral impact on environment and providing benefits for human being. This business model based on buy-use-repair or recycle, is totally disruptive with the actual business model based on buy-use-throw. How can we use our waste to produce new goods with minimum or zero impact on our environment.  It implies development of clean technologies development but also a locally based specific organization. For instance, export wastes to another country to recycle them is generating also carbon footprint, which is totally senseless.

The equation of climate change is not easy to solve and will be probably the most ambitious challenge the humanity has to face. That is what I tried to underline in this article. The task seems to be unrealistic to accomplish. But each process of change needs time and different steps to be reach. Resignation is probably the worst thing we can do. We have to act as responsible persons who have the power to change things. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and consider that manifest for the climate and claim ecological values, is totally senseless if concrete actions does not follow on a daily basis. What is important is to act as responsible people and not as victims, in a way to develop a power of conviction to move to a more sustainable way of life. We need to make militant choices that change probably drastically our life, but as a lot of things, when we are used to act I a way, what is a constraint becomes an habit that we finally accept, especially if it is in line with the values we defend. We do not have the right to blame others for doing nothing if we do not do anything ourselves. We have to be actors of the change and inspire people around us, and not only to be preachers. To act for the protection of our environment according to our possibilities, is probably the most important personal and collective commitment we have to take, to try to build a sustainable future for our planet.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 28, 2019 at 07:56

Let Us Save The Climate

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On Sunday, 2nd of December, there was a demonstration in Brussels in favor of the fight against climate change, Claim the Climate. This demonstration was a success, as more or less 65.000 people have participated to this demonstration. We can only be happy of such citizen mobilization. Such mobilization can be a motivation for people who wants contribute to build a cleaner world but who are not yet convinced about the actions to do. A demonstration is a good start, but now actions on a daily basis are the essential conditions to reach this objective.

There are many ways we can contribute to build a cleaner world. And the most important thing is to start with simple daily actions, even if at the individual level, it seems like little to the issue.  To start with simple actions is probably the best way to get closer to the goal, as change is not an easy process. We need to act step by step, letting us the time to change our internal software and to move to new habits. By acting on an incrementally way, we can increase our contribution to build a cleaner world.

Let us take a few examples. This morning, I was shopping on the Sunday market. A merchant where I am used to go asked me if I want a plastic bag to carry my purchases. I said no as I have a backpack. No need to waste a polluting plastic back. Ok, does one plastic bag make the difference? No, but if few millions of people or even a billion of people do the same, so that make the difference. It is a small action but you bring a contribution to a collective objective.

Another example:  I am member of a citizen group who founded a collective compost. This group counts around 50 families. The local authorities allocated us a space in one of the municipal parks. Each Sunday, a member of the group provides a permanent of 30 minutes, and people are bringing their household waste. The waste is weighed, what allowed me to see that in one year, I bring around 50 kilos of waste. In 2017, the whole collective recycled around 1,5 tons of waste.  Not so bad ! 1.5 tons of waste recycled in compost, contributing to feed the ground and that is an excellent CO2 sensor. The municipality multiplied the allocated spaces to the development of such initiatives that meet a certain success. I could not imagine when I join the initiative that I will contribute to recycle 50 kilos of waste, and that I will save a few garbage bags. Once again, imagine a few million, even a billion of people doing the same, that makes the difference.

ClaimTheClimate2Let us talk also about the mobility and the pollution generated by cars in the cities. First of all, the public authorities have to play a fundamental role in order to offer alternative transportation modes. For people living in the countryside, the possibilities to use alternative transport mode like train, bus, etc. are nearly non-existent. In the cities, there are alternatives, but not always efficient. Nevertheless, as already mentioned, change is not an easy process, and often, because we have prejudices about alternative modes usage.  Few times ago, I was fed up to lose time in traffic jams when I was going to work. I decided to use public transportation. As most of the time, I had a seat in the metro, I was thinking I could read a book during the path. After a few times I noticed that I did not really save time, but I did not lose time too, as I was busy to do something, by reading a book, what I could not do when driving my car. I realized that the time of the path was not the constraints, but the constraint was how can I use this time usefully.  I read around 15 books in 6 months in the public transportation. That change process is a success as I sold my car last month. By using public transportation mode, I reduced my annual mileage around 80%, and so, the possession of a car was no longer useful, as I have an alternative to use the car of one of my family member. Why this change was a success? It seems following neuroscience scientists that a positive emotion is associated to the things we like and we are used to do. This positive emotion is printed in the reptilian brain. It is only when we replaced that positive emotion by another one that the change process happens more easily. Here, in my case, the pleasure to be in my car listening to music was replaced by the pleasure to read books in the metro.  So, I reduced my ecological footprint and I would like to underline also the positive impact on my mobility budget.

Another track to contribute to a cleaner world: buy second hand stuff. Our economics system, mostly based on waste (buy, use and throw) is contributing negatively to the environment. Why to buy a news product when you can find second hand products still in good condition for a better price? The advantage of this is that you can save money and use it for other occasions. And use second hand stuff will not make you a less beautiful person.

Here was a range of tracks to contribute positively to our environment. Of course, everybody have different constraints and cannot contribute on the same way. People can contribute if they have alternatives. Another point is that a change process based on an obligation will fail most of the time.  People have to contribute if they have the possibility to do it but they need a real motivation.  As already mentioned, the most important is to start with small and simple actions. The fact to act and to try to reach the goal of environment protection will make an experience you can learn from and discover motivation sources and opportunities. The most important is that everybody contributes following his own possibilities. Even if their possibilities are low, when it is done by few million or even a billion of people, a small contribution is always useful.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 3, 2018 at 06:50