Published: 7 Dec 2021
In other sections of Amdani! we have covered certain specific sectors such as transport and green spaces but here we’d like to look at some other ideas, interesting stories and hopefully possible sources of inspiration to keep us all motivated as we move towards 2030.
We all know that climate change/climate chaos/global heating, whatever we want to call it, is a pretty daunting and frightening prospect, not only for us but for future generations and all the species we share this beautiful planet with.
At some point or other we’ve probably all thought ‘what’s the point in taking action if it’s just me’. Thankfully, there are so many individuals and communities around the world taking action at all sorts of different levels that joining in and taking action has now become the norm rather than the exception.
As we count down to 2030, which science tells us is the timeframe in which we need to act decisively on climate chaos, it becomes even more important we share and learn from our experiences and those of others elsewhere.
There are fantastic, amazing and truly inspirational people everywhere working hard to reduce climate emissions, and as this project goes on, we aim to bring you ever more inspirational stories from people, communities, organisations and governments to give you ideas and hopefully provide platforms through which you can share ideas and motivation with others.
Learning from others and maintaining our collective motivation are critical over the coming years as the solutions to climate chaos are many and varied.
Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth Cymru are part of the larger Friends of the Earth International family, who work with local and indigenous communities on the most urgent environmental and social issues around the globe from food sovereignty in Uruguay and sustainable development in Poland to the dangers of nuclear power in Japan and gas extraction in Mozambique.
During our journey to 2030, we will seek to share information, news and motivation from our member organisations and community groups around the globe. We can all learn and take inspiration from others and stand in solidarity together and we hope to be able to facilitate links with those taking similar actions elsewhere whether they are in the global south or global north.
Friends of the Earth started out in San Francisco in 1969 and moved to the UK in 1971. Looking back all those years, it seems ironic that the first action Friends of the Earth did was to take back empty bottles to the London HQ of Cadbury Schweppes to promote re-use and yet here we are, still needing to talk about waste and reuse issues.
Such a lot has changed during that time and now is the time of our greatest struggle yet. Thankfully the movement for change is colossal and growing all the time. As ever, people and communities are leading the way where they live. In the space below we’d like to give you a further brief flavour of some of the interesting, different and inspirational ideas currently going on. Please share more ideas and stories with us as you come across them and we would be delighted to help raise awareness of these.
We can take inspiration from amazing individuals like Afroz Shah, who has spent the last few years undertaking what the UN calls the ‘world’s largest beach cleanup project’ in Mumbai. He started by offering to clean communal toilets and pick up the beach litter himself. After a few weeks of doing this he started to be joined by others who wanted to join him and help. Their efforts have led to Olive Ridley turtles returning to Versova beach to lay their eggs for the first time in decades.
Of course, most of the plastic waste entering our seas and oceans gets swept down rivers and water courses. Not producing a lot of these products in the first place will be a step change forwards in reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ entering the oceans but it’s interesting to see some other innovations coming forwards to try to address this as well as related issues such as chemicals being washed out to sea.
Hopefully more and more changes to the ‘business as usual’ approach will help achieve real change and stimulate other creative solutions.
And from one group of climate heroes to lots more. These stories are fascinating, and the people involved such as Victorin Laboudallon are true inspirations.
Whilst Victorin and others are busy in the Seychelles, we thought you might also like to see this interesting graphic which shows afforestation rates around the world.
Finally, there can be few more inspiring individuals than Greta Thunberg. In 2030 she will still only be 27!
Sustainable cities and communities
While we don’t exactly have many cities in Wales, we did still want to include here some of the initiatives going on around the world. For instance, in the US, the Green Cincinnati Plan is leading to the city being regarded as something of a national leader on sustainability issues. There are also some very interesting developments in Copenhagen, a city with plans to become carbon neutral by 2025. Read more
We can also take inspiration from things happening in the UK. For instance, the Place-based Climate Action Network (PCAN) is a project focussing on renewables, building energy efficiency, business and low carbon projects that have social and economic benefits for communities. In 2019 Norwich became the UK’s first ‘sharing city’, joining cities like Athens, Barcelona, Dallas, New York and Singapore. Read more
In Manchester a very interesting project called The Carbon Literacy Project started a few years ago. It is an accreditation course aimed at individuals, groups and organisations. The aim is to become ‘carbon literate’ and be aware of the impact of everyday activities on the climate, what can be done and how to motivate others. Might this be of interest to your local council or to the businesses or organisations you work for?
Project Drawdown is a non-profit organization that seeks to help the world reach “drawdown”—the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. Check out all their solutions here. It is fascinating!
Talking about solutions, it is heartening to see more and more films, TV programmes and documentaries out there about climate change and environmental issues in general.
One film you might like to check out is Demain (Tomorrow) from Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent which looks at solutions from around the globe. It’s a few years old now so it might have passed you by at the time but it is a powerful look at worldwide actions and solutions.
Another interesting one is 2040 by award-winning director Damon Gameau who ’embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream.’
Surprisingly, video games can have a disproportionately large carbon footprint with the energy usage of the games themselves being around the equivalent of 5 million cars. There are changes afoot and companies are also getting in on the action with more and more games focussing on or featuring environmental issues and climate change. In 2018, a group of Welsh scientists even hosted a climate jam to investigate creating games to communicate climate change and explore ‘people’s perceptions and attitudes about climate change’.
Stop ecocide campaign
In 2017, the late UK lawyer Polly Higgins and environmental activist Jojo Mehta founded the Stop Ecocide campaign which seeks to stop ‘the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems taking place globally.’ They are working to make it an international crime at the International Criminal Court.
When Greta Thunberg won the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity, she donated $100,000 to the Stop Ecocide Foundation.
Simply buying and using less it is still the easiest - and most effective - thing we can all do!
While it is fantastic and heartening to see positive and often very simple solutions taking place around the world, the rate at which we consume energy and materials has risen dramatically and will continue to rise inexorably if we don’t address this most fundamental of all issues - consumption.
Consuming less will save money, resources and the planet but this is a message that politicians don’t want to address! It's important to keep the pressure up on politicians and big business to change, and change quickly.
If you would like some more ideas of what you can do then do have a look at these articles, these Gaia Says No! and BBC podcasts.
Carbon hand and footprints
The Footprint Network has a calculator that measures your ecological footprint and also your personal overshoot day. WWF, Carbon Independent and National Energy Foundation also have footprint calculators.
In our Food section of Amdani! we discussed the idea of a new carbon or eco label for food produced in Wales as a way to give consumers more choice, support Welsh food producers and help reduce climate emissions. With figures suggesting that we in the UK import around 45% of all our food from other countries, switching to supporting more home grown produce would also reduce climate emissions.
Finland are currently working on a ‘carbon handprint’. It is an interesting concept in that a company for instance would develop a product or service which allows their customers to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Our inspiring past
Just in case we ever wonder what the point is of us, as a small nation, taking action, well, Wales and the people of Wales have a proud history of social and community action and of inspiring change. An incredible and somewhat forgotten about historical event is the1923 example when the women of Wales organised a campaign for world peace and a petition which 390,296 women signed (over 60% of women in Wales), calling for the USA to join and lead the League of Nations (an early forerunner of the UN).
These next 10 years or so are the only time we have left to act. It’s not a long time and no one else is going to do it for us.
As Greta has said: “We need to get angry and understand what is at stake. And then we need to transform that anger into action and to stand together united and just never give up.”