We’re running out of time. Research has overwhelmingly shown that the concentration of CO2 in earth’s atmosphere is being increased by human activities like construction, shipping, and industry. Studies conducted by the International Energy Agency project that by the year 2050, global CO2 emissions will pass 50 giga-tonnes per year.
It is estimated that emissions have to be reduced globally to 15 giga-tonnes per year in order to limit global warming to approximately two degrees Celsius above the levels of the pre-industrial era. But the good news is that it is technically possible to cut CO2 emissions to 15 Giga-tonnes per year if all societies can manage to become low-carbon communities. It is technically possible for the electricity sector to become nearly carbon neutral by using renewables, nuclear energy, and carbon capture and storage.
Programmes to improve energy efficiency and substituting bio-fuels for fossil fuels can greatly reduce emissions from the building and transport sectors, and according to a study by Imperial College London in the UK, end users will be able to reach a 30 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2050. Everyone can make a difference in the overall achievement of a transition to a low-carbon world.
But there’s a long way to go, and governments the world over seem determined to do less than the bare minimum. It costs too much for them to go green, and so other companies and organizations are taking the lead. Here are five organizations which have already made a huge impact, setting an example for all companies in the quest for energy efficiency.
Bruce Cheng And Delta Electronics
After four decades at the helm of Delta Electronics in Taiwan, Bruce Cheng recently announced that he is retiring, but he will continue to do volunteer work in environmental protection. During almost half a century of working with Delta, Cheng made a huge contribution to the quest for alternative energy sources. Even as global governments reduce subsidies because of the current economic uncertainty, Delta’s commitment to its solar energy business remains strong.
Cheng was also the driving force behind an eco-school which was built in a remote area of Taiwan, where the local village school was destroyed by a mud slide a few years ago. The eco-school brought new hope to the community and is a testament to what can be done by committed people in the face of huge environmental challenges.
In a recent interview, Mr. Cheng said that “Human beings cause a lot of damage to the Earth in the pursuit of a better quality of life.” Many organizations try to find a balance between our need for a richer life and the survival of our planet. Next we will look at a few more of those heroic groups.
Aksyon Klima In The Phillipines
This organization is a collective of civil society groups, based in the Philippines, which started its journey around 2004 and has laid out what they call the “AK 10-Point Agenda”:
1. Prioritize adaptation
2. Climate-proof budget and development plans
3. Pass the Peoples’ Survival Fund Bill
4. Review all midnight mining agreements
5. Shift to a renewable and low-carbon energy system
6. Generate a million green jobs out of saving the environment
7. Lobby developed countries to reduce their GHG emissions
8. Fast-track the shift to organic farming
9. Push for immediate-priority technology transfer and its financing
10. Halt all carbon trading until safeguards are in place
Aksyon Klima has carefully managed to create an insightful and influential group with member organizations from diverse political backgrounds. Despite huge challenges, it continues to advocate and bring its voice to the table where the Philippines participate in international forums, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. Its tireless work is noteworthy because the Philippines form a nation which is one of the hardest hit by the reality of climate disasters.
CIFOR In Indonesia
The earth’s forests have a huge impact on climate change. As forests grow, they are like lungs – they remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in leaves, in the wood of the trees, as well as in roots and in the organic matter in the soil. All the forests of the world work together as ‘carbon sinks’ absorbing a total of 2.4 billion tonnes of CO2 each year. That’s about one-third of the CO2 produced by the burning of fossil fuels, according to an article by Y. Pan et al in the journal Science, volume 333 (2011).
The forests of our earth are also the largest terrestrial carbon store, containing twice as much carbon as is found in the atmosphere. So clearly it’s hugely important to protect the world’s forests. The latest science tells us that almost 20% of world-wide carbon emissions are caused by deforestation. The CIFOR organization (Center for International Forestry Research) is a global, non-profit organization with the main goal of maintaining equity, conservation of the environment and advancing the wellbeing of the world’s people. The center is based in Indonesia. It created a strategy for 2008-2018 which will make a difference for forests and people. In early May 2014, CIFOR will host the Forests Asia Summit 2014, in Jakarta. CIFOR envisions a world where:
2. Forests are high on the political agenda.
2. People recognise the value of forests for maintaining livelihoods and ecosystems.
3. Decisions that influence forests and the people that depend on them are based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflect the perspectives of developing countries and forest-dependent people.
BioVerse Energy Pty Ltd
BioVerse Energy is a small Australian based company specializing in BioEnergy. The company provides consulting to private and government bodies across Australia, Asia Pacific and Africa. They also engage in Renewable Energy Project Management and Operations. They are “committed to developing clean commercially sustainable renewable assets that will provide positive long term global climate benefits in reducing greenhouse gases.” Bioverse Energy was established in 2010 after completing successful trials of feedstock crops in Africa to produce biofuels.
It’s important to understand that in developing countries, tensions sometimes arise between the interests of biofuels supporters and organizations such as CIFOR who aim to protect forests, because certain biofuels goals in the developing world sometimes include clearing of forest lands. This makes the playing field of environmental protection extremely complex but this is where organizations such as Aksyon Klima, CIFOR and BioVerse have a huge role to play in collaboration and creating broader understanding through solid research and sound science.
The Three-Fifty organization started out when a group of university friends in the United States joined forces with author and activist Bill McKibben. The number 350 represents climate safety in terms of CO2 in the atmosphere of our planet. Scientific research shows that we must reduce the amount of CO2 in earth’s atmosphere to below 350 parts per million in order to preserve a livable planet.
350.org organizes “Days of Action ” among a global network which is now active in over 188 countries. In 2012 350.org coordinated Climate Impacts Day and also held “the world’s biggest art installation” in 2011. They are heroes of 2014 because their stated vision is: “All of our work leverages people power to dismantle the influence and infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry, and to develop people-centric solutions to the climate crisis.”
(Image Credits: Justin Black, CIFOR, Watershed Organization Trust, Civica, HistoryLines.net, DaddyLee1969.com)