Quoting United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on emphasizing carbon neutrality by 2050 via Le Monde:
‘…Second, we need to align global finance with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s blueprint for a better future. It is time to put a price on carbon; end fossil fuel subsidies and finance; stop building new coal power plants; shift the tax burden from income to carbon, from taxpayers to polluters; make climate-related financial risk disclosures mandatory, and integrate the goal of carbon neutrality into all economic and fiscal decision-making. Banks must align their lending with the net-zero objective, and asset owners and managers must decarbonize their portfolios…’
Carbon neutrality is the balance of carbon emissions into the environment and their absorption by carbon sinks. It is a state where there’s a net carbon footprint of zero. Carbon footprint, on the other hand, is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment by human actions. For example, the manufacturing of plastics, its remaking/redesigning, disposal, incineration, and transportation all emit large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. As there are limited carbon pits (places that absorb the released carbon like forests), there is the carbon that is left in the atmosphere. This in turn causes global warming. The negative domino effect continues to worsen climate, low food production, etc.
The road to carbon neutrality leads to a safer future for all of us than the one we have now. Less pollution of any kind, better waste management, protected animal and plant species, increase in employment, better living standards, improved weather, and climate among other benefits. That is what all the fuss is about. Sustainable tourism, no single-use plastics initiatives, circular economy and environmental protection among other concepts and techniques are striving to build a future that takes care of the environment and us.
As tourism slowly re-opens, should we do things differently this time?
Important decisions and policies such as linking global finances with Sustainable Development Goals as Mr. Guterres suggests, need to be made in order to prioritize and actualize achieving carbon neutrality. That can be slotted to an international and national level. Finding crucial factors that can prompt us to start making more sustainable options such as finances will be a strong foundation to building a better future. This endeavor will come to fruition when all the stakeholders come together and work at it side by side. More than the Corporate Social Responsibility activities tourism enterprises take part in such as tree planting exercises, we need to re-evaluate further in our businesses to adopt greener and more responsible actions. This will go a long way in encouraging others to take part in sustainable tourism. Tourism is one of the sectors that earn Kenya a significant foreign exchange contributing to approximately 8.1 billion US Dollars to the Gross Domestic Product in 2019. It’s a pivotal avenue to adopt and grow a sustainable economy.
The circular economy is offering an opportunity to greatly reduce carbon emissions that are produced when materials are being manufactured. This is achieved by the several options that are provided by the circular economy; reusing, redesign, recycling, etc. For instance, instead of thinking to acquire a new item to fulfill a task, we are encouraged to use what we already have that can accomplish the task we want. This reduces the demand for primary extraction of resources which contributes to carbon neutrality. A good example is the city of Turku in Finland. Although they are doing great in adopting a green economy by using renewable energy, having low carbon transport and decarbonizing district heating, the carbon footprint for an individual is quite high; 4tCO2e per capita per year. This is according to the 1,5 Degrees Lifestyles Report by Sitra and IGES. Hence, they are already working into investing in a circular economy to challenge consumption-based emissions. At the local level, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers and Sustainable Inclusive Business move forward in starting to implement the circular economy.
Make your positive contributions by joining the two movements below for a better future:
- Launch of the Kenya Plastics Pact
- The Kenya Plastic Action Plan