Nine big and small climate initiatives that give us hope
Last week week the IPCC has released another meta report (1.500 pages, 14.000 different researches!) on the impact climate change has on our planet. If we don’t speed up our efforts– then the painful effects that we are already noticing are going to hit us harder and more often. I am worried.
But there are some great examples out there that show that we can turn the tide and that give us hope. So for a bit of inspiration this week, I have listed some great initiatives – some big, some small, some corporate and some just from amazing citizens.
Mangroves are complex ecosystems which do more proportionally than any other forest to sequester carbon – up to 5x more per hectare than tropical rainforests! However, it is not easy to restore mangroves, and most projects up until now have failed. Mikoko Pamjoa is a long running small scale mangrove restoration project in Kenia, and the first to use carbon credits to protect the forest. One of its secrets is community engagement: as the mangroves protect the fish that the community is dependent on, there is a ‘business case’ to protect the blue forests.
World renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado and his wife restored over 2.000 hectares of Mata Atlantica forest. Originally his parent’s farm, it is now a federal reserve and a non-profit organization – Instituto Terra - that raises millions of tree seedlings in its nursery and trains young ecologists. According to Salgado, ecological degradation need not be absolute.
For 2030, Marfrig, one of Brazil’s biggest slaughterhouses, has committed to zero deforestation beef, with an ambitious plan on how to achieve this. This is an example of corporate action that I’m personally excited about, as there is so much to gain in the beef sector – for both the farmers and the environment, in this case the Amazon. Marfrig launched this strategy in the summer of 2020 and subsequent funding with the &Green Fund was announced this February. &Green invests in commercial projects to make agriculture more inclusive and sustainable.
Almost everyone has something from Ikea in their home, and where I’m from, Billy is not a boy but a bookshelf. Ikea is taking circularity to a next level, aiming to use only renewable or recycled materials by 2030. According to the adagio reduce, reuse & recycle, they opened their first second-hand store in Stockholm this past November, and in several countries it is now possible to bring back your Ikea furniture in exchange for a gift card. This is key, because as consumers, our individual footprints are largely determined by how much stuff we buy. Another line of action that I’m excited by is their collaboration with MUD jeans to make KLIPPAN sofa covers with recycled denim (2 recycled jeans per cover!).
Before we start to think that we can fix everything ourselves, here a well-known example that shows just how powerful (and interlinked!) nature is. Elk and deer in Yellowstone had limited natural enemies, which eventually resulted in their population pushing the park’s carrying limits. Wolves changed everything.
According to the UN, the fashion industry is believed to be the second most polluting industry in the world, responsible for 8% of global emissions and 20% of global wastewater. We need to buy less and buy better – a dilemma of course, for fast fashion chains. One of the biggest fast (and cheap) fashion chains in The Netherlands has started a pilot in 6 stores where they collect and sell second hand clothing, in collaboration with thrift store het Goed.
7.The Ocean Cleanup
A well-known example by now, however this started small. The Ocean Cleanup aims to get rid of 90% of floating plastic in the ocean. This plastic has a huge cost – to biodiversity, tourism, and to our health – microplastics have even been found in placentas of unborn babies! After criticism that they should do more to tackle the origination of the problem, the foundation now also aims to stop the flow from land to the ocean, and currently has 3 river interceptors operating – in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Dominican Republic. Goal is to tackle the 1000 most polluting rivers in 5 years’ time.
While the Ocean Clean Up is key in cleaning up the mess we already created, it is still an uphill battle. We need to use and produce less plastic, especially single use plastics. I can speak from personal experience when I say that banning plastic packaging from your house is pretty hard – but awareness campaigns have a larger effect. Plastic Free July is a very accessible global movement that helps in providing solutions and ideas to help reduce plastic waste.
The huge corporates of this world are no longer free to do as they please. In this groundbreaking case, a Dutch judge determined that Shell was liable for causing climate change and needs to drastically reduce emissions – by 45% in 10 years. This sets a huge precedent.
Inspired to take your company’s sustainability a step further and contribute to making the planet a better place? Let’s have a conversation!