How can each of us celebrate World Environment Day

    06 Jun 2021

    World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated annually on 5 June and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. First held in 1974, it has been a platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, human overpopulation, global warming, sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. World Environment Day is a global platform for public outreach, with participation from over 143 countries annually. Each year, the program has provided a theme and forum for businesses, non-government organizations, communities, governments and celebrities to advocate environmental causes.

    In August 2018, an unknown ninth-grader protested alone in front of the parliament building in Sweden. Instead of school, the girl decided to demand that her country’s authorities take decisive action against climate change.

    The following year, in 2019, she spoke at the UN Climate Summit, at the World Economic Forum in Davos and even became the person of the year according to Time magazine.

    So Greta Thunberg did the impossible – she forced people to take to the streets with slogans with the words “climate”, “Paris Agreement”, “greenhouse gases”. On March 17, 2019, 1.4 million teenagers in 123 countries took part in street protests over the climate.

    Climate strikes have engulfed the entire progressive part of the planet.

    2021 is the fourth year since the beginning of the mass climate strikes and the sixth year since the signing of the Paris Agreement, the main UN framework document on climate issues.

    Let’s get acquainted with what the climatic expert of the Ecodia NGO Yevheniya Zasyadko thinks about climate movement in an interview with Ukrayinska Pravda.

    I’ll start with a short question: does global warming exist?

    – In general, after abandoning this concept, now we use another – “climate crisis”. Since 2019, the UN has adopted this concept as a “climate crisis”, and we can no longer say that climate change is not happening.

    Yes, global temperatures are really rising, now it is more than 1 degree from the pre-industrial level, which has been counted since the 1880s. This does not mean that the temperature has risen by 1 degree worldwide. In different parts of the world, in different seasons, it can be somewhere lower, somewhere higher. But overall, each of the next five years will be hotter.

    Climate skeptics often say that in the history of mankind there have been periods of rising temperatures, but over time they have been replaced by periods when temperatures have dropped again. What makes the current rise in temperature special?

    – Because this is a rather sharp rise in temperature for the history of the planet. It has been going on for several hundred years, even a hundred years since the 1880s. Now, roughly speaking, the second hundred years have passed, and we are recording a rise in temperature of one degree.

    Usually these fluctuations occur over a thousand years and not so sharply – it only adds (theory) that it occurs under the influence of human activity. We burn fossil fuels, as a result of which greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere – there have never been so many of them in the atmosphere. And this leads to drastic changes.

    There’s a risk of adaptation of organisms, in particular animals living in different areas. The world is not adapting so fast. In general, the UN claims that many animals, plants and other biological diversity will be lost.

    – So what used to happen in a thousand years, now happens in 100?

    – That is, in 140 years the temperature has risen by 1.1-1.2 degrees, according to various sources – usually it takes a thousand years.

    – Is the idea that human activity is the cause of the climate crisis already considered commonplace?

    – Yes, 97% of scientists believe that this is the right theory, and only 3% – that man does not play a significant role.

    – A study from the University of Bern in 2019 states that in the pre-industrial era, the biggest factor influencing change was the activity of volcanoes. How is it related?

    – During a volcanic eruption, greenhouse gas emissions also occur. There were stories when during the eruption volcanoes “covered”, so to speak, some areas of the Earth, and this led, for example, to a decrease in temperature – because due to dust in the atmosphere, sunlight could not get to Earth.

    So, yes, it really was. But scientists have calculated that the impact of volcanic emissions can be compared to a fairly small fraction of what humans do.

    – You mentioned 1880, can it be considered the starting point of the world’s climate crisis?

    – Why has it been counted since then? Because just then they (Western countries – Ecolife) began to actively burn fossil fuels. Britain began to use coal to heat its buildings, and the United States and Europe started active coal mining. This has led to a sharp increase in emissions.

    But the peak is happening now, because the population is growing, industry is growing, technology allows us to extract even more, burn more.

    There has been talk of global warming since the 1970s. Then there were NGOs that actively promoted the topic of global warming, saying that we need to change something. Greenpeace has appeared.

    Of these 50 years, the last 5-10 have been actively talking about climate change. But so far they are only talking about it. And given the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, we can say that this has very little effect on real actions.

    Indeed, some countries have reduced emissions, such as the European Union. But not all – China, India, on the contrary, increased them. Therefore, the process continues, and now we see that, unfortunately, not enough has been done.

    Greenhouse gases are composed of different gases, not only CO2, so they are reduced to a single type by the formula. Different gases have different greenhouse effects, methane, for example, has 84 times more CO2.

    – Can you briefly explain the harm of the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere? There is a conventional plant, through the pipes of which emissions enter the atmosphere – what’s next?

    – Greenhouse gases create, so to speak, a dome around the planet, which transmits the sun’s rays, but does not allow them to fully return to space. Most of them remain in the atmosphere, and this causes the planet to heat up.

    During the pandemic, many countries started talking about green recovery, the European Union set a course for green recovery. We’re talking about the development of public transport, energy efficiency measures, support for organic agriculture, waste management – these are all sectors that currently emit greenhouse gases.

    Eugene, in one of your interviews you used such a term as “climate refugees”. Tell me, who is it?

    – Climate refugees are a relatively new concept. These are people who will have to leave the places where they lived because of climate change – because they will be uninhabitable (for the first time the UN recognized the right of climate refugees to asylum in January 2020 – Ecolife).

    For example, in Central Asia, there is a risk of water shortages because the glaciers from which they now receive water are melting. That is, there is a risk that they will have to move somewhere. And they will move to those countries that are most optimal.

    – Is climate change an irreversible process?

    – Yes, this is an irreversible process, now the question is how large it will be. The Paris Agreement sets a target of 1.5-2 degrees (by the end of the century), but according to politicians in 2015-2018, the planet is moving by +4 degrees. And if the world stops doing everything at all (to slow down the climate crisis – UE), it will increase the temperature by 7-8 degrees. Therefore, depending on how actively we reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, it will depend on what future awaits us.

    – If climate change is irreversible, then what are climate policies aimed at – to slow down this process?

    – Yes, it’s called “climate change mitigation”.

    We can no longer stop this process, but we can prevent large-scale critical situations. This is possible if the temperature does not rise high by the end of the century – and the next decade, by 2030, will be important in this struggle.

    Scientists have calculated that to keep temperatures at one and a half degrees for the next decade, we need to reduce emissions by 45% from 2010 emissions. In this case, no country can afford to increase its emissions for economic development, and we all have to reduce emissions.

    – The last question: what can I do while sitting at home?

    – Even while sitting at home you can turn off the lights, use less water. You can go to the store by public transport, on foot or by bicycle – so you don’t use your car.

    In the supermarket, it’s desirable to choose local products, as local products require less transportation and, again, fewer emissions. Plus, choose products that have less packaging, because it also usually uses energy from fossil fuels. Also you can install energy efficient light bulbs at home.

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