Sustainability Stories 2020

BuzzOnEarth is an online publication on environmental sustainability and human wellness, focused on creating positive impact. BoE aims to bridge the knowledge gap and act as a catalyst in accelerating sustainable development.

1. Green flag for Amazon Fiscal and Environment Sustainability Programme

While the world still struggles to cope up with the implications of the pandemic, the country of Brazil sighed a major breathe of relief after the World Bank announced funding for Amazon Fiscal and Environment Sustainability Programme. The country made it to the top three countries, which were severely impacted due to the pandemic; with the Amazona state leading in mortality rates.

If one knew about the Amazonas state, it is said to house one-quarter of the entire Amazon basin, which is about one-third of its Brazilian part and boasts of the largest forest carbon stock in the world! Despite being a natural resource state, things are far worse than they seem… Extreme poverty and having witnessed rising levels of deforestation year after year, the country has been struggling to protect its forest to maintain an ecosystem that supports rainfall vital for agriculture, hydropower, as well as livelihood rural and urban populations across South America.

With the World Bank lending a whopping $200 million with First Amazonas Fiscal and Environmental Sustainability Programmatic DPF, Brazil will be able to bolster fiscal reforms aimed at promoting fiscal sustainability while integrating forest conservation and development. If you think that ecological conservation and development cannot exist, we need to re-assess our approach.

2. Green with Microsoft’s sustainable data centre in Denmark

Ever think of a green digital revolution? You are a bit too late for the revolt. It has already begun and Microsoft is paving the way for it. The tech giant, in the history of their 30 years of existence announced the most significant investment for the Danes. So, what does it mean for a country known for the best quality of life?

The total emissions from on-premises servers in Denmark amount to an estimated 355,000 tons of CO2 per year! This sustainability centre will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy will help reduce their Dane customers’ carbon footprint associated with computing while accelerating digitization. Microsoft is also leveraging their technical abilities to store data in Denmark, and a plan to bring digital upskilling to 200,000 Danes by 2024.

I think I am going to take cues from Microsoft to start my digital revolution.

3. Spike in cases of Sustainability Reporting in the UAE

The pandemic year of 2020 witnessed some of the companies taking major strides in sustainability trends and social responsibility through various programmes. The concept of ESG – environment, social, and corporate governance has widely gained prominence, with companies focusing on their ESG quotient to attract investments and increase stakeholder confidence.

One of the largest producers of oil and gas in the world, UAE, turned a new leaf and witnessed 51% of corporate sustainability reporting in 2020 among the top 100 UAE companies as per KPMG reports. The increase is being perceived as the companies’ strong commitment to the on-going national initiatives and efforts to gain stakeholder confidence by proactively communicating ESG performance.

Through the implementation of SDGs on a national level by the UAE government, companies have managed to embed the goals into their activities by 49% Someone rightly said…The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but, the way to your stakeholder’s heart is through your E S G initiatives.

4. From plastics to crocodiles – Tide Turner Sneha Shahi

If you ever visited Baroda, you would hear about stories of the river over flooding and finding crocodiles on the road. If you are lucky enough, you may get to meet one on a fine night even after monsoons with many reporting to meet the man-eater greeting them in the middle of the streets. Why this sudden need to revolt?

We have our old friend plastic to thank… Plastic consumption and our irresponsible disposal methods harm our flora, fauna, and land-water systems. This often leads to depriving the animal of its habitat. Sneha Shahi, the young champion who would often joke about finding crocodiles in the stream which flowed through their college campus, realized the damage done to their habitat and decided to revive the river ecosystem.

Sneha fiercely led a campaign to clean up the filthy river stuffed with plastic waste, as a part of UNEP’s Plastic Tide Turners Programme in India. She took up rigorous training and learning under the programme, to address the cause of marine pollution within her country and community. Getting the river rid of plastic had an unexpected outcome – bringing crocodiles back. Kudos to you Sneha! And to the crocodiles too

Also Read- Adidas making shoes from Ocean Plastic

5. Machu Picchu to go Carbon Neutral

Much before the pandemic, eco-tourism has been actively discussed to promote sustainable travel. Many travel influencers in India like Shivya Nath, Savi, and Vid from Bruised Passports have been engaging their followers with ways to travel sustainably locally and internationally as they realize that drastic action must be taken to secure the future of the planet.

This year, one of the wonders of the world, decided to make a significant difference in sustainability. Machu Picchu announced its Carbon Neutral initiative, a project that seeks to make it the first tourist destination in Peru and the world to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The goal of this project is to reduce emissions by 45% and 100% by 2030 and 2050 respectively as per the guidelines of the climate agreement of Paris. The country has also launched a sustainability brochure that celebrates the unique natural attractions, animals, and landscapes that visitors can enjoy in a low-impact way.

Guess, a visit to Machu Picchu after the pandemic seems like a sustainable idea!

6. Sportswear from recycled plastic – Puma did it!

Following its industry peer Adidas, German sportswear brand Puma launched a collection made with recycled plastic in collaboration with UK-based waste management and recycling company First Mile. The co-branded sustainable line is selling footwear and apparel made from recycled yarn manufactured from waste plastic bottles.

The programme has already diverted about 40 tonnes of plastic waste from landfills and oceans, just for the products made for 2020, which is roughly estimated to be 1,980,286 plastic bottles being reused! The apparel is said to be made of at least 83% to even 100% from the sustainable yarn sourced from First Mile.

Seems like conscious buying will get easier over time… at least for athletes and sports enthusiasts.

7. The smallest pygmy survives the wrath of the bushfires

Whenever we think of the Australian bushfires, we can visualise the horrific images of the smoke from the wildfire, animals trying to escape unscathed from the fire, loss of greenery… The blaze wiped out an estimated 88% of the animals and they had not been seen after for some time. The damage was significant with loss of biodiversity and threat of extinction looming over for some wildlife species. But not for our little pygmy possum.

Weighing less than ten grams, the little pygmy possum (Cercartetus Lepidus) was feared extinct. However, as per the Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, a biodiversity conservation program that aims to provide safe havens for plants and animals, surveyed 20 fauna sites and captured 20 different wildlife species during and after the bushfire. Among them was a little pygmy possum, leading to new hopes that the animals have survived.

Truly a case of – the lone wolf dies but, the little pygmy survives…

8. Leapfrogging into the era of BS-VI norms

Taking some of the major leaps and bounds during the pandemic, India in April moved to Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) norms despite a countrywide lockdown. Despite the constraints in movement and slump in demand, India maintained the rollout date of April 1. Supporting the transition, many oil companies started selling the ultra-clean fuel around 10-12 days ago.

The transition from BS-IV to BS-VI norms is India’s way to honour the guidelines under the Paris agreement to reduce emissions. With BS-VI norms coming into play, the petrol and diesel contain just 10 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, and NOx emissions are reduced by 25 per cent in petrol cars and by 70 per cent in diesel cars.

Let us hope our AQI reduces in the new year…

9. Commitments to Net Zero Double in Less Than a Year

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced that the number of commitments to reach net-zero emissions from local governments and businesses has roughly doubled in less than a year, as many prioritize climate action in their recovery from Covid-19. According to a major report published by the Data-Driven EnviroLab and the NewClimate Institute today, cities and regions with a carbon footprint greater than the emissions of the US along with companies with combined revenue of over $11.4 trillion have been pursuing net-zero emissions by the end of the century!

While governments take major strides in regulating greenhouse emissions, many corporates have been realising the role of small and medium-sized businesses in achieving net-zero emissions. Corporations such as Ericsson, IKEA, Telia, BT Group, and Unilever have been working closely with the small and medium businesses in their supply chains to reach net-zero or negative emissions before 2050.

Enabling SMEs and MSMEs to go sustainable? Sounds like a great plan!

10. Starbucks solidifies pathway to a planet positive future

Starbucks kick-started 2020 with its multi-decade commitment to become a resource positive company by storing more carbon than it emits, eliminating waste, and replenishing more freshwater than it uses. As a means to reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact, the company formalized its 2030 environmental goals to cut its carbon, water, and waste footprints by half.

Focused on carbon reduction, managing water, and reducing waste, Starbucks aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in Starbucks direct operations and value and supply chain; withdraw water by 50% for direct operations and coffee production to conserve or replenish, and reduce waste by 50% sent to landfill from stores and manufacturing for propelling a greater shift towards a circular economy.

Time for a good coffee break! How about a good cup of sustainable coffee from Starbucks?

We are not done yet… Watch out for the next 10 stories.

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