HOW CAN WE CONTRIBUTE TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?
It all starts with defining sustainability. This definition has evolved over the years. They come from the Latin term “sustentare” which means to sustain, conserve, support, defend.
The Bruntland Report in 1987 presented sustainable development as “development that meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” with a clear focus on the environment.
More recently, this concept has evolved into a “balance between environmental, social and economic needs” – the three pillars of sustainability – whose coexistence must interact in a balanced way.
We are currently faced with several challenges that require the definition of strategies and the implementation of short, medium and long-term actions, otherwise the planet will move towards a severe future. We are still in time to ensure a balanced and sustainable development for future generations.
Climate change is undoubtedly one of those challenges and an issue on the agenda.
Not only because the strategies and the plans are being defined, but also because we have all felt that the climate has changed with an obvious impact on life on the planet.
The rise in temperature on the planet has been a cause of these changes, and is a consequence itself of the increased greenhouse effect that certain gases have caused.
These gases, the main one of which is carbon dioxide, are produced by the combustion of fossil fuels, that is, coal, natural gas, oil and its derivatives.
Calculating the impact that certain activity has on this Greenhouse Effect is determining your Carbon Footprint. Once the diagnosis is known, each organization can thus define its action plan with a view to reducing its emissions and thus mitigating their impact.
In December 2016, Portugal took over the words of Prime Minister António Costa at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the “firm commitment to be neutral in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the first half of the century.”
Once the strategy is defined, it is time now to define the plan. The “Roadmap to Carbonal Neutrality 2050“, presented on 4 December 2018 in a session dedicated to this subject, at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, includes 3 alternative scenarios, and in 2 of these scenarios it is possible to achieve carbon neutrality at national level during this time horizon.
Carbon neutrality means a situation where emissions of greenhouse gases are in amounts equivalent to the carbon dioxide produced by the forest and agricultural crops.
In implementing this Roadmap, the major contributors are the Electric Power Production Sector and the Transportation Sector, and it is expected by the end of 2050:
– Achieve values close to 100% of renewable energies;
– Eliminate petrol and diesel vehicles, reaching almost totally electric mobility (possibly also with hydrogen), with the exception of sea and air transport.
To do this, we will have a massive use of renewable energy resources, of which more than two thirds are sun and wind, representing at the end of the period under analysis more than 80% of primary energy consumption. This is expected to happen in the 2 scenarios mentioned above.
The Industrial and Agricultural Sector have a lower but still significant reduction potential, especially in the last decade.
Carbon neutrality is possible in Portugal, there is technological feasibility, but it requires a significant investment.
If we consider only the energy system, it is estimated that around 15% of the national GDP will need to be invested each year in the period 2020-2050.
The transition has already begun and is inevitable.
It not only depends on technological solutions, it depends a lot on the implementation of new business models and new behavioral models.
The information already exists, we all know how we can contribute to sustainable development.