‘1.5 to stay alive’ – and what it means for us (Part 2)

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Trees are a potent way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (Photo courtesy the Department of Environment)
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In Part 1, we discussed how global warming could affect weather and climate conditions, leading to crippling droughts, more frequent and extremely devastating hurricanes, and negative effects on our tourism and fishing industries.

We learned that “1.5 to stay alive” arose from a goal stipulated in the Paris Agreement to hold the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The stated plan of attack is to implement measures to reduce massive greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. What are we doing, and what else can we do to contribute to achieving this goal?

Antigua and Barbuda, as a signatory to the agreement, has submitted an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution policy document that reflects a mitigation and adaptation strategy. Antigua and Barbuda has taken steps to mitigate energy consumption demands, and has started work towards one of the stated goals of generating 50 MW of electricity from renewable resources.

Currently, solar power arrays and distributed solar power installations in Antigua have the combined capacity to generate up to 9.5 MW of electricity, and wind energy installations have the capacity to generate 4 megawatts of power. A further addition of approximately 10 MW of renewable energy generation capacity is in the planning stages.

Recently, we’ve also seen solar panel installations on the roofs of residences, businesses, schools, and other institutions. Both private individuals and the government have been involved with these changes, one of the stated national goals being to supply 15 percent of our energy via renewable sources by 2030. These projects help to relieve our reliance on imported fossil fuels to meet our energy needs.

Individuals can also contribute. ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ should be everyone’s mantra. It’s important to remember that practically every manmade object contributes to greenhouse gas emissions directly and indirectly.

Think about the energy often used during manufacturing processes, and their byproducts. Think about the fossil fuels that are burned during transportation of these products. With our heavy reliance on importation, our demand for new products affects the rate of greenhouse emissions. That’s why it’s important to find ways to reduce this reliance. How?

Can we reuse or repurpose many of the things we purchase that have reached the end of their originally intended use? For instance, many things we purchase may come with a lot of packaging. Did it come in a box? Why not repurpose that box instead of buying storage containers? Other uses can be found for empty bottles.

Old clothes can be converted into rags for household cleaning activities and other creative ideas. A little thinking outside the box can go a long way with helping to reduce demand for products that would need to be imported.

Power generation facilities are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The more electrical appliances that are connected to the grid, the greater the demand on these generators. We can lessen their load by investing in energy efficient devices.

Energy saving lightbulbs are an easy way to start. Also, don’t hesitate to turn off electrical appliances once they aren’t in use. As a rule of thumb, if it doesn’t have an essential use, it doesn’t need to be pulling power when nobody is there to benefit from it.

Not only do you reduce electricity expenses over time, you reduce energy consumption that leads to net temperature increase, because of the heat emission and the demands imposed on power production infrastructure to keep everything running. 

Trees help to beautify one’s surroundings, improve air quality in the neighborhood, and lower temperatures, meanwhile removing carbon dioxide, a notorious greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. The Department of Environment has an ongoing tree planting programme. This was and is a major part of Arbour Month and Climate Fest, which is celebrated annually in November. Why not make a personal effort to plant trees or cultivate a home garden?

Ensure that your vehicles are running efficiently. Something as simple as keeping your tires properly inflated not only improves your gas mileage, thus saving you money, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions since you burn less fuel. Also, keeping your vehicle well maintained leads to gains in fuel mileage as your vehicle burns fuel more efficiently.

These simple activities help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in seemingly minor ways that accumulate over time, especially if they become habits adopted throughout the population. There really is no good reason to not incorporate them into our routines as they often have tangible financial benefits. So, let’s all see how we can play our part to achieving the goal to “keep 1.5 alive”.

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