There’s no doubt that we can all reduce our carbon footprint, but there’s one segment of the population who drastically need to cut their carbon output: the rich. Recent headlines have made it clear that the poor are impact most by climate issues, while the rich can afford solutions the rest of us cannot. What’s more, according to the UN, the wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%. The richest 5% contributed 37% of emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.
If we’re going to avoid climate catastrophe then we need the polluter elite to do their part – not just the rest of us.
He continued: “Rich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air. But these schemes are highly contentious and they’re not proven over time.
The wealthy, he said, “simply must fly less and drive less. Even if they own an electric SUV that’s still a drain on the energy system and all the emissions created making the vehicle in the first place”.
Sam Hall, from the Conservative Environment Network, told BBC News: “It’s right to emphasise the importance of fairness in delivering (emissions cuts) – and policy could make it easier for people and businesses to go green – through incentives, targeted regulation and nudges.
Economist argue that efficiency produces profits, which is why we see mass layoffs and (bizarrely) large payouts for executives. 20th century economists ignored a lot of opportunities for more efficient operations because the costs weren’t put on corporations themselves. The costs of running the business were covered by the governments. There is no better example of this than how companies treat the environment.
An easy example is in Alberta where companies in the tar sands have ransacked vast tracts of land for low-quality bitumen while leaving the costs of cleanup on the government. If companies had to pay for their environmental damage then the tar sands wouldn’t be profitable.
Finally economists have caught up to what environmentalists have been saying for decades: if we don’t act on the damage done to the environment by companies then all companies will suffer (obviously nature suffers more). Recent studies show that not getting to a carbon net-zero economy soon will cost the global economy $30 trillion a year due to ecological destruction.
Sylvan said he was surprised that so many saw net-zero action as “economically desirable, even on the pretty short timeline that we’re talking about.”
Most of the international climate economists questioned for the survey in February said they had become more concerned about climate change over the last five years. The most common reason they gave was the escalation in recent extreme weather events, which have included climate-linked wildfires and heat waves.
Lawns are unnatural and require a lot of maintenance, so why do we have them? As a non-lawn person I just don’t get the appeal of a lawn when there are so many better alternatives which require less work to maintain. It turns out I’m not the only one baffled by the obsession with barely keeping grass alive through. There’s a growing movement in the UK (and elsewhere) to replace labour intensive lawn care with easy to maintain landscaping. Instead of a lawn you can plant clover, switch to xeriscaping, or any of these alternatives.
The no-mow trend is gaining momentum across the gardening community. The wildflower conservation charity Plantlife runs an annual No Mow May challenge, which encourages people to share their experiences of letting the grass and wildflowers grow, or even learning how to plant a wildflower meadow in the process.
Sarah makes an important point: not mowing your lawn this spring may help redefine your relationship with your garden, making it more about relaxation and quiet – and watching bee friendly plants grow. If you do like keeping active in the garden, you can always give yourself a challenge by growing a new plant, starting a vegetable patch, or building a bird box or a home for a hedgehog.
Like the rest of the world, the United Nations is looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and they’re projecting what our future may hold. The UN sees a consistent theme of ecological thinking as a way for cities to succeed in all the sustainable development goals. Most people live in cities, and in those urban settings people can see the clear interaction between societal forces like governments, commerce, the built environment, and so on. As a result, if we focus on making our cities sustainable and a wonderful place to live then the whole world can benefit.
The report explores how well-planned cities combining residential and commercial with public spaces, along with affordable housing, can improve public health, the local economy and the environment.
It calls for cities to be at the forefront of moves towards a Social Contract between governments, the public, civil society and private sector.
The new social contract should “explore the role of the state and cities to finance universal basic income, universal health insurance, universal housing”, said Sharif.
For one real-world example, Claudia Lopez Hernandez, Mayor of Bogota, explained how in the Colombian capital, their new social contract prioritises women and children.
It is a “social contract that includes women, that provides them with time, with time to take care of themselves, with time to educate themselves, and with time and education skills to come back to the labour market”.
“To have self-sustainable women is to have self-sustainable societies”, Hernandez explained.