The symptoms of climate change are not subtle anymore. Disastrous effects that are a threat to Earth’s life sustaining environment are more frequent than ever. Such a scenario has led the world to lay the foundation of new ideologies that introduce the idea of sustainability. Sustainability Day comes in recognition of these ideologies and actions towards identifying, tracking, promoting and paving the path for new endeavours.
With an 80% share in world’s energy consumption1, fossil fuel is amongst the key reasons behind global warming and still has a tight grip on our world. With each passing year, our fossil fuel consumption continues to become more of a threat to us. Even though global CO2 emissions declined in 2020 due to the pandemic, energy-related CO2 emissions remained at 31.5 Gigatonnes (Gt). CO2 emissions are expected to increase by 4.8% in 2021 as demand for fossil fuel grows2.
However, fortunately, the world is now trying to phase out conventional energy and shifting towards renewable energy. While that is a decisive move, we have to understand that natural resources are very important for our existence on the planet.
The ideas reflecting from the Sustainability Day while have to be towards changing our tact in regards of energy generation and usage, it has to have a point on managing resource efficiency as well. There can be substantial gains that the society and economy can enjoy by integrating sustainable resource efficient policies. It can introduce circular economy principles, offering option for reducing usage, reusing resources, and recycling waste. Research suggests that circular economy can lead to savings of $630 billion a year for businesses in the EU3.
The policies have to closely follow the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Goals like- Ending hunger, Promoting education, Protecting water and promoting sanitation, Access to energy for all, Building resilient infrastructure, Making consumption and production patterns sustainable, Combating climate change etc can help countries to pave the path towards a comprehensive sustainable growth that leads to socio-economic transformation.
This Sustainability Day marks a new dawn for the world to take responsible actions in a collaborative manner as only country specific achievements will not lead to a speedy worldwide transformation. Managing resources, waste, and opting for green energy is a global commitment. Thus, if majority of the countries continue to fail to create, establish and follow the process, the result will be limited global environment improvement.
Cross country collaboration and development in building and incorporating policies as well as actions are needed to solve this problem.
India has been at forefront of enabling the clean energy transition with over 100 GW of installed renewable energy capacity. Overall renewable energy sector in India has shown a growth of 250% from 2014 to 20214. With Government support, solar growth in India has climbed from 10-15 MW in 2010 to 45 GW in 2021. Solar currently has 45.30%5 share in India’s renewable energy sector and quickly growing. With growing demand for energy and awareness towards sustainable energy, renewable energy sector in India has received $10.2 bn FDI inflow within FY 20-21 only, making the prediction of $500 bn investment6 in the sector by 2028 a little closer to reality.
Besides, the announcement of implementing polices such as- Smart Cities, Swach Bharat, Zero Effect-Zero Defect Scheme, Ganga Rejuvenation Mission, Make in India, Aatmanirbhar India etc, resource efficiency and circular economy initiatives will contribute towards saving resources and expenses.
Other countries like the US are already focusing on opting solar energy to bring in an enormous impact on their economy and growing energy demand. Enterprises in the US and across the world are adopting a sustainable business model. In a nutshell, it is a ‘triple bottom line strategy’- maximizing returns through offering better solutions, supporting the people and the planet.
These strategies limit CO2 emissions from industries reducing solid waste production from 27 billion tons by 2050.7
It is crucial that we practice sustainable and modern lifestyle choices and engage in positive behaviours that focus towards saving energy, repair and reuse of products, efficient recycling processes. Continuous growth in consumerism has transformed the pattern of material use, volumes and kinds of wastes produced, thus adversely affecting existing energy, resource, and waste management infrastructures.
Therefore, it is of immediate importance that we uphold this year’s Sustainability Day as a marker to understand how far we have to rise to build the future we deserve. The policies, strategies, and actions determined in this day should be followed every day to realize the true intensions of Sustainability Day.