2016: Year of the Trees
For the past 3 years i have been competing for ‘Masdar’s annual blogging contest’ and it feels great to take part to this challenge. For this 4th edition, the question is:
“In your view, what are the policies that governments should take to encourage public-private partnership and enable the private sector to develop the goods and services necessary for a global transition to a low-carbon economy by 2030?”
In my world, trees are the “lungs” of the Earth, and that is why i believe that the most important policy governments should adopt, is to encourage and promote tree plantation. Particularly in the urban areas, where the CO2 levels are highest. This solution might not make all things right, but i believe that trees are the most influential source when it comes to absorbing CO2 from the air. The fact that trees require little to no maintenance makes them the cheapest and simplest solution, but their only downside is the time it takes to reach maturity. Probably that is why the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, and the second best is now.
In the last century, population, cities, technologies, and basically everything that increases CO2 levels in the atmosphere, has rapidly increased, meanwhile the number of trees has decreased. Changes in weather conditions, temperatures, air quality, are just some of the many problems caused by this imbalance in the ecosystem.
One way to promote tree plantation policy, is to bring to the attention of the general public the benefits of taking part to this event. Creating ambassadors and involving as many people as possible will increase the number of participants and spread the awareness. Once this action becomes a habit, the following policies for a transition to a low-carbon economy should be considered:
Transportation, especially in the urban areas is overrated. We have reached at a point that even if we go to the shop around the corner, we choose to drive instead of walking, cycling, or taking public means. Because of that not only our health is being threatened but also the environments’.
Having restricted areas or hours for driving in certain locations, especially in city centre would be one ideal action for reducing the carbon emissions. And high parking fees is definitely not the solution, because people will pay anyway for having the comfort of hopping right into the car as close as possible from their point of interest. My idea would be to use as less cars as possible in commuting from one place to another, but for that to happen, the public system needs to be user-friendly and adaptable to different situations. -Nobody wants to carry their 5o” LCD for several kilometres.
Infrastructures. Majority of the cities are built on the basis of concrete, steel and bricks, materials that have the property to absorb heat from the sun during the day, and dissipate it in the atmosphere during the night. A friendly approach like ”dressing-up” the buildings with green coats, such as green roofs and façades can contribute to lowering the temperatures of the building materials and also bring back the ecosystem that once used to be before the existence of the ”concrete jungle”.
Policies for incentives towards green and sustainable solutions should be highly prioritized and implemented. Since the new technologies are highly priced, most inhabitants find it expensive to upgrade the living conditions to a low-energy impact, and in many cases they do not see the improvements brought by their investment.
If solar panels or green roofs would be an integrated part of a building, the costs will be higher in the start, but in the long run there will be financial paybacks and also environmental improvements. As an example, if the owners of a 100 apartments-building would split the costs of implementing a solar panel system and an insulated façade or a green roof, it would result in a small contribution from each. As i see it, the problem is that there are not enough responsible people involved in this type of actions; there is a lack of leaders in this field. Being part of a big project, is a great opportunity for each participant to contribute with as much as they can, thus creating shared purposes and greater values to be gained.
Education. An educated mind is the most valuable asset of a city. Peoples education is very important, and implementing new learning systems is no easy task, but it is essential. Most educational institutions have outrageous fees and by the time students graduate, the knowledge achieved is no longer ”new information”. Worst is, that most people stop learning once out of the educational institution. I believe that we need re-connect with our peers and continue to learn and share the knowledge, and eventually apply it.
Policies for public education, such as lower fees, incentives for significant results in competitions, improvements in learning materials and more educators, will bring more benefits than we can think of. Having an educated population will create more businesses, a better understanding of the market economy, more research and development programs, and most likely a healthier lifestyle.
As humans, we have the ability to adapt to new situations and i believe that changing our mindsets towards the environment and a low-carbon economy, is just a matter of time and involvement. In conclusion, while we focus on reducing the carbon footprint of services and implementing the aforementioned policies, the main action to be done is to continuously plant trees and hope they will manage to withstand the challenges they’re about to encounter in the years to come…
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