Climate Action is Humankind’s once in a Lifetime Opportunity

Contributing to the blog this week is Valeria Duflot, co-founder of Venezia Autentica & Overtourism Solution, EUSEW 2020 Digital Ambassador.

We are living in a time of crises. Since the beginning of 2020, the pandemic COVID-19 has been wrecking our world, families, systems, and habits. Through great pain and loss, it has brought to light many of our society's shortcomings and shown how interconnected and interdependent our world is. The fact that air pollution particles harbour microbes 1 and that, therefore, pollution is likely to have contributed to an increased spread of COVID 19 – and of other viruses before – reminds us that to take care of our health, we need to take care of our planet.

The truth is that this terrible pandemic should not make us forget about an even greater challenge facing humanity: the climate emergency. 

As exciting as they are, the cleaner skies of Europe, the return of birds in our cities, and the less turbid waters of Venice we observe in this time of lockdown-induced limited human and industrial activities should not make us lose sight of a hard reality. Our planet is heating up rapidly.

Far from impacting only the future of the youngest generations, climate change is already a reality. Global warming has so far led to extreme weather, armed conflicts, migrations, loss of biodiversity and livestock, and the spread of infectious diseases. 23

These effects are the consequences of a single-degree increase in temperature from pre-industrial times, and we are on track to reach 3C of total warming by 2100, a scenario that would lead to a global catastrophe. 4

The good news is that science says that we can still slow warming significantly and stay under the 1.5-degree limit advised by the United Nations – if we act boldly now. 5

There is good news here: such action could deliver a staggering $26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030. 6

To reduce greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, we need to act on two lines. We must capture the already released gases by planting trees, preserving our ecosystems, and using technology. At the same time, we need to work hard to limit our emissions.

The primary sources of human-made emissions are the use of fossil fuels in industry, transportation, energy production, as well as agriculture, and land use. 8 Reducing them requires switching to renewable energy, clean & smart mobility, new food habits, and more sustainable industries.

These are all strategies Ursula von-der-Leyen’s EU commission is looking to pursue.

Through the EU Green Deal and plan – a series of policies, laws, and financial instruments – the Commission is aiming to decouple its economy from resources while staying competitive and “leave no one behind.” The objective is to reduce the EU’s emissions by 50-55% by 2030, create a competitive circular economy, and make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. 9

That the EU wants to lead on climate action sends a strong message to the world. It could be a turning point in our common history.

However, as with any plan, delivery will be critical and, now more than ever, action will be vital. Indeed, what is at stake is more than the success of “Europe’s man on the moon moment”. What’s at stake is the future of life on our planet — it is the future of humanity.

Bio:

Valeria Duflot is an entrepreneur, social innovator, sustainability advocate, tech4good practitioner, as well as a speaker, consultant and mentor. She has chosen to dedicate her life to creating a positive impact and does so by inventing solutions to our biggest challenges and helping others be successful at achieving their own mission. She is currently focused on transforming the tourism industry -one of the biggest sectors in the world- into a driver of sustainable development and on empowering others to make an impact. She does so through the social initiatives she co-founded: Venezia Autentica and Overtourism Solution, and through coaching, consulting, speaking and community building.  You can learn more at valeriaduflot.com and connect with Valeria on Linkedin and Twitter: @duflotvaleria

Disclaimer: This article is a contribution from a Digital Ambassador. All rights reserved.

Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of the information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and should not be considered as representative of the European Commission’s official position.