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Many people around the world, including school children, are demanding bolder action against climate change from governments, businesses and investors. Here are huge opportunities to "think outside the box, solve differently", transform our economies and change the way we live.
Actions to halt climate change are key to sustainability, and are an integral part of globally agreed efforts in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
"While the current scale and pace of action are not enough to achieve sustainability, we may still radically reorganize the way we produce, consume and invest," says Niklas Hagelberg, climate specialist at UN Environment.
Here are some areas we need to focus on:
Agriculture and food
According to the 2018 United Nations Emissions Gap Report for the Environment, food systems from production to consumption have the potential to mitigate up to 6.7 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is only surpassed by the sector energetic. We need a global food transformation in the next 12 years to stop climate change in which food waste is cut in half and diets and health improve through decreasing animal protein intake. We must also incentivize sustainable and climate-smart agriculture and end the current unfair food situation where more than 820 million people are undernourished.
Buildings and cities
Responsible for approximately 70 percent of energy use, buildings and construction account for 39 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Large amounts of urban infrastructure will be built in the next 15 years as rural-urban migration accelerates. There are great opportunities here to modernize existing buildings, improve building standards, and rethink urban planning, for example by providing incentives for mini-grid solutions. We must also address human-induced emissions of methane, nitrous oxide and CF11, and find smarter solutions for cooling, heating and waste management.
Educating girls: educated women have fewer and healthier children. Improve global access and education on family planning. We must focus on economic, social and political inclusion so as not to leave anyone behind. Education, skills and awareness are essential ingredients for meaningful inclusion.
Invest in renewable energy and stop commissioning new coal-fired power plants. We need to redirect subsidies to fossil fuels to incentivize large-scale investment and job creation in renewable energy. At the same time, we need energy efficiency standards for electrical equipment (lighting, appliances, electrical motors, transformers) and a transition to electrical equipment with an efficiency label.
Help poor countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. According to the 2018 UN Emissions Gap Report for the Environment, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries could significantly reduce emissions by 2020 if industrialized nations deliver on their promise to mobilize $ 100,000. million a year of climate finance. While investment in energy is increasingly flowing towards clean energy, it is not flowing at the pace necessary to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Forests and land use
Protect and restore tropical forests. Plant a trillion trees to increase carbon sequestration, with associated benefits for biodiversity, food security, livelihoods and rural economies. To do this, we need to increase investment to halve tropical deforestation by 2020, stop net deforestation by 2030 globally, and raise around US $ 50 billion per year to reach the goal of 350 million hectares of restoration. of forests and landscapes by 2030 in line with the Bonn Challenge. So far, 47 million hectares of restoration have been promised by 47 countries. We should avoid any further conversion of peatlands to agricultural land and restore drained and underused peatlands by rewetting them. We also need to plant more trees on farmland and grasslands.
Transport is responsible for about a quarter of all energy-related CO2 emissions, and is projected to rise to a third by 2050, growing faster than any other sector. With the right policies and incentives, significant emissions reductions can be achieved. For this to happen, we need to establish vehicle efficiency standards, incentives for zero-emission transportation, and invest in non-motorized mobility. For example, the Indian government is prioritizing policies that are helping to shift freight transport from road to rail.
During the United Nations Environment Assembly, March 11-15, UN Environment urges people to think outside of the box and live within. Join the discussion on social media using #SolveDifferent to share your stories and see what others are doing to ensure a sustainable future for our planet.