The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Can We Reduce Emissions? We Can.

For a couple of months early this year (2020) the world reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25% - 30%1.  That's substantial!

Q:  How did we do it?

A:  More solar panels were installed.  No!
A:  More wind farms were built.  No!
A:  More electric vehicles were driven.  No!
A:  The population was reduced.  No!

How then?

We consumed less!

Primarily we consumed less travel.  Over the first couple of months of coronavirus, international air travel dropped by around 70%.  Traffic on the streets of the world's cities declined by between 70% -  90%.

The correlation between CO2 emissions and transport makes sense.  Transport accounts for almost one-quarter of the world's total emissions.  Thus, when this sector has a huge decline, it must translate into significant reductions in COemissions.

In last weeks post I suggested that we needed to talk about PAT (Population, Affluence, Technology).  Many of the messages that we have been hearing over the past decade or two about how to reduce COemissions have been about renewable energy.  More recently, perhaps because of the coronavirus, some have been suggesting that population is key.  

Yet, the circumstantial evidence presented above would suggest that it is our consumption (affluence) that has the potential for making the biggest, and quickest, impact upon reducing these emissions.

Can we reduce emissions?  We can.  We can by reducing consumption.

Now, the next question becomes: how?  How do we reduce consumption without having to endue a global pandemic to scare us into it?

In answering this question we have to recognise some uncomfortable facts.  It is the western-styled, rich, nations who consume most, and who emit most (per capita) of the world's emissions.  For example, a person in Australia, Canada, or the US emits as much COevery day as a person in most of central Africa.  Other rich nations (e.g. UK, Germany, France) do so every two or three days.

In just two or three days, the average person in a western, rich nation, emits as much COas does an average person in Africa, in a whole year.

The responsibility to reduce our consumption lies with us - the individuals and societies of the rich nations.

We can do it.  How do we reduce consumption?  That is the question that we should be having in the rich nations.  That is the question climate activists should be asking.

Let's ask it.  And let's have the conversations needed to answer it.

There is, of course, an unasked question, lying hidden below this question:  Are we willing to reduce our consumption?

Who is willing to ask that question?

1. The expectation is that reductions will amount to around 5% for the year, because it is assumed we will go back to business-as-usual.
2.  A back-of-the-envelope calculation (using official death tolls and CO2 emissions per capita by country) suggests that a reduction in population because of coronavirus accounts for only 0.02% - 0.03% of the emissions reduction.

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