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We all play a role when it comes to sustainability


Published in

The Courier

John Rincón

researcher Tecnun-School of Engineering

In recent years, the urgent need to address climate change and other environmental and social challenges has been recognized and has advanced the global diary on sustainability issues. This progress has involved promote sustainable business practices, supporting local communities and facilitating partnership between governments, businesses and pressure groups such as NGOs. As a result, we can see incentives and regulations that encourage companies to take action, such as reducing their greenhouse gas emissions or implementing sustainable supply chains.  

The strongest emissions are in industry, agriculture and electricity, but we have long seen that these sectors are able to develop innovative solutions and technologies to reduce their environmental impact while generating economic benefits.

In the electricity sector, renewable energies have not only become the safest and cleanest sources of energy, but in many cases they are cheaper to produce than conventional sources. And in the case of not being able to mitigate emissions in generation, the partnership between different actors, such as business and science, have managed to promote innovative technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 90%, which would have a significant impact on the fight against climate change. This means that many greenhouse gas-intensive industries can take a step towards decarbonization by financing these technologies.  

A more compelling case has been made with NGOs, see Oxfam and GreenPeace, which provide valuable insights and perspectives as result from a deep knowledge in specific areas, such as environmental conservation or social justice. They can therefore help mobilize public support for sustainable development goals and hold governments and corporations accountable for their actions.  

All these collaborative efforts, aimed at a sustainable society, seek to ensure that the economic development does not come at the expense of the environment or social well-being. However, despite these joint actions, no country is on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C, which is the measure imposed by scientists to avoid climate catastrophe. Not to mention the energy crisis we have been experiencing in recent months which sample that the world is still 80% dependent on fossil fuels. All this can cause a cascade effect that will bring dire consequences in environmental and social subject .

Undoubtedly, the problem is not the lack of solutions, but the lack of will for real change on the part of all the actors of the partner-economic system in which we live. If the system does not change, the actions and progress achieved so far will be marginal compared to the magnitude of challenge we are facing.

All stakeholders must be more actively involved to bring about the systemic change that will accelerate the transition to a sustainable model .

lecture A few weeks ago I read that the United Arab Emirates had declared 2023 as the year of sustainability, in addition to hosting the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28). For some skeptics it may not be a very credible move - it is one of the world's largest oil producers - but that one of the countries involved at the root of the problem also happens to be the host opens an important door. It opens a door and sends a message about the need to link the parties that emit the most in order to promote transparency and encourage actions with a positive impact on sustainability. This is the only way to promote sustainable practices to protect the environment and create thriving communities that are ideal to live and work in.  

Engaging polluting companies and countries in the transition can help ensure that the burden of change is shared fairly and that the most vulnerable communities are not left behind. In this way we can ensure that the transition to sustainability is a global effort in which we all work towards shared goals such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions or protecting biodiversity. There is no doubt that tackling environmental problems requires cooperation and action on a global scale, which implies the accelerated involvement of all parties. This will make it possible to attack the root causes of environmental problems and promote the responsibility and innovation that will ensure a just and equitable transition. A partnership between governments, businesses, NGOs and civil society can create a virtuous circle that will benefit the achievement of the objectives of a sustainable development .