Consumers Driving Sustainable Change

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report detailing the actions that the world needs to take to reduce its carbon emissions, to ensure that our global average temperature does not exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. At present, it is estimated that the global rise in temperature is somewhere between 1.06°C and 1.26°C above pre-industrial temperatures.

But what would actually happen if we surpassed the 1.5°C target? Well…it would be detrimental as climate catastrophes would increase in both frequency and severity, causing exacerbated hunger, disease, and conflict.

As a result, the report emphasised the urgent need to reduce human related CO2 emissions to a degree of 45% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. This would be achieved through the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels in homes, transport, agriculture, and industry.

Global environmental activists have viewed this report as a dire warning to the world, as we only have 12 years left to take drastic steps to reduce CO2 emissions if we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change. And soon after, protests in support of climate action began to emerge in great numbers across the globe.

In late 2018 and early 2019, climate strikes led by Greta Thunberg reached major news headlines, encouraging young people to take a stance against the lack of action by political actors in combating climate change. The first day of global climate action, led by Greta Thunberg in March 2019, drew over one million protesters globally from more than 2,000 strikes across 125 countries, showcasing the mass support for climate change action.

In response to these events, both politicians and business owners came to understand the importance of sustainability and the scale of concern regarding a future of drought, food shortages, plastic pollution, and drastic sea-level rise. However, to keep the loyalty of their climate conscious constituents and customers, they need to take greater steps in implementing sustainable policies and ensuring a larger quantity of eco-friendly products are available to the public.

I want a hot date not a hot planet

Consumers are not only asking companies for more sustainable products; they are also asking companies to adopt sustainable policies and to improve their sustainability ratings. As companies realise their customer base is eco-conscious, they are beginning to adopt sustainable policies that attract more consumers.

In recent years, sustainable policies have predated governmental regulations in the sustainability sector. For example, the well-known outdoor clothing brand, Patagonia, has led the industry in sustainable consumption, as it uses mostly recycled materials and offers lifetime return and repair programs, promoting a circular economy. Furthermore, Patagonia aims to become carbon neutral by 2025.

The fight for a sustainable future is far from over! However, consumers who continually choose sustainable options force companies to take further action in the fight against climate change. We as consumers can also choose to support small and eco-friendly businesses, rather than large corporations with giant ecological and carbon footprints. So, join the push for a sustainable future by choosing the sustainable option!

As Earth day comes and goes, I want you to stop and think for a moment about what you have done in the past year to help the Earth.

♻️It might’ve been using reusable bags when out shopping to reduce your single use plastic waste
🥕Reducing your consumption of meat
✈️Travelling less to reduce your carbon footprint
🚮OR something as simple as picking up the rubbish in the park when you saw it blowing around

This Earth day I ask you to make a resolution to the Earth, about something you will do personally to help the Earth in the coming year. So, what will yours be?

Written by Connor Durkin
Top illustration by HYESU LEE 

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