“I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” – Greta Thunberg World Economic Forum, Davos, 24 January 2019

Fiona Wakelin

Wildfires in California and Australia. Tsunamis in South East Asia. Drought and famine in Africa. The Atlantic hurricane season 2020. These may seem such huge issues that nothing can be done about them – but in reality the future is in our hands. Here are the top five things you can do to mitigate climate change:

1. Join the clean energy economy

In South Africa our main energy supplier is nonrenewable and coal based – bad news for the environment. Solar, wind, water and biomass are great for energy efficiency and for the planet. To support the diversification of SA’s energy supply, our 3 major banks Nedbank, Standard Bank and First Rand will no longer fund “dirty” coal fired power plants. What can you do? Let your bank or investment adviser know you do not want your investments to include fossil fuels. Back at home buy energy efficient light bulbs and invest in solar panels – power your home by converting sunlight via photo voltaic cells – it will help reduce carbon emissions and save you money in the long run

2. Waste less

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) about one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste. That’s equal to about 1.3 billion tons – and when we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. Here are some tips to help reduce waste:

  • Make a list and buy only what you need.
  • Give some love to leftovers – make them into soups, stews, curries, smoothies, jams, stocks – and get your waste down to a minimum.
  • Put your deep freeze to work.

3. You are what you eat

For the benefit of your health and that of the planet make the move – reduce meat consumption. Go plant-based. Buy organic. Grow your own. In September 2019 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produced a special report Climate Change and Land compiled by 100 experts around the world – in it plant-based diets are cited as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change ― and included is a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption. Earth has 3 major lungs – the Amazon jungle, the Philippine jungle and the Congo jungle. They are massive carbon sinks and responsible for the majority of land-based oxygen production. Massive deforestation is happening in Brazil to make way for cattle farms – and the cattle themselves produce tons of methane which is adding to the greenhouse effect. In the Philippines massive deforestation is taking place, destroying the natural habitat of the Orang-utan and other forest dwellers. The forest is being replaced with palms to grow the cheap palm oil which is present in a massive number of everyday food products. Reading labels on food packets gives you all the information you need to choose whether or not to support this industry. Making informed choices about what to consume is empowering – and markets dictate production. But it is not only the planet that wins. Plant-based diets are high in fibre which is good for lowering cholesterol and stabilising blood sugars.

4. Join the conversation

As we say in South Africa – thetha. The are many climate change forums around the world which fuel the information highway. Being informed is crucial when confronted by denialism. Speak to others. Educate and inform. In 2006, then-Vice President of the USA, Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth pieced together incontrovertible evidence of climate change. The film generated world-wide interest and resulted in a new era of climate change activism. The baton has been ably taken by the younger generation, one of who is Greta Thunberg. When we join a conversation and communicate, the energy for change gathers momentum. You can make a difference.

5. People, planet and profit

Ensure you have solid environmental, social, governance (ESG) practices embedded in your business. Prospective investors are becoming increasingly interested in a company’s policies regarding sustainability – and to prove it the big four accounting firms, Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG, have got together to produce a White Paper to try to agree on a common set of ESG principles.  The White Paper, Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation was released at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit in September 2020 and is based on 21 core metrics and 34 expanded disclosures under the four pillars: people, planet, prosperity and principles of governance. Growing the sustainability movement and ensuring your supply chain is compliant is in your hands.

We are in this together – and – once again to quote the inimitable Ms Thunberg:

“Together and united, we are unstoppable.”

Great news! The ESG Top Sustainable Companies digimag is launching next month!

To showcase what your organisation is doing please contact Fiona Wakelin