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Realistic Scenarios

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PIK for short, is a scientific institution whose renown extends far beyond country borders. Currently working with 356 international scientists from countries from all over the world, the Institute uses an interdisciplinary approach to look for realistic solutions – even advising governments – and publishes information on current developments in scientific journals. Four research departments are working on what is known as the Earth System Analysis (oceans, atmosphere, biosphere), on climate resilience (the consequences of climate change and adaptation), transformation paths (climate risks and development) and complexity research (machine learning, non-linear methods and decision-making strategies). Here at ECO123 we are using our magazine space to publish information in conjunction with the PIK. Which solution-focused plans are available to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5°C?

We all have to start being more aware of what goes on in our lives in that respect. The energy sector is key to reaching the goal of lowering temperatures by 1.5°C: on the one hand through managing energy demand, i.e. lowering our energy use and reducing mobility, on the other hand through decarbonising the consumption and production of clean energy. Put into practice this could mean dropping the combustion engines and changing for instance from SU (formerly EDP) to a green democratic energy provider: www.coopernico.org. This company is actually cheaper and offers electricity that is 100% clean. If you’re wondering about other areas where you can reduce your consumption, Coopérnico is also able to advise you there. Telephone 213 461 803 or 969 806 229.

How do I start to truly reduce my climate footprint? First of all by taking more responsibility and not always just pointing out other people’s failings. For instance, personally, I give myself and my car a mileage limit per week, month and year. I check my car documents and look for my car’s CO2 emissions. On the third page of my Documento Único (or online) I find the emissions information for my compact car: around 120 g/CO2 per km, and around 150 g/CO2 per km for a mid-range polluter.

Let’s leave the major polluters, the SUVs and jeeps out of the equation for now… (Sell that car, or deregister it. In truth, it should head to the scrapyard.) Personally, I set myself an annual mobility limit of 1,000 kg/CO2 emissions.
If drive a compact car, that gives me an annual mileage of 8,333 km, max. That’s 160 km per week. With a mid-range polluter that parameter goes down to 6,666 km per year, 128 km per week. That way I’m able to constantly control and reduce my footprint. At the same time I keep looking for alternative mobility options. Maybe, say I live in the countryside, could I start doing my shopping with an (electricity-powered) bike? In the city you have buses or the metro, and my own two feet can also easily get me to the shops and to the theatre.

Climate goal ZERO Emissions

No-go? All flights are damaging to the climate. So if I’m travelling far I could think about coaches, trains and ride-shares. Adeus long-haul destinations. And then I’ll look to split my footprint with others. If I’m using my own car I’ll try and find ride-sharers. This works for overland drives and also for trips abroad. Here’s an example. Let’s say I’d like to travel from Lisbon to Paris, return. Going by train doesn’t always work out well, money-wise. So I’ll hunt for deals on the www.sncf.com website. If I use my car, I’m looking at 1,800 km one way, with another 1,800 km for the return journey. Multiplying 3,600 km by the value of, for instance, 120 gr/CO2 km means I am clocking up 432 kg/CO2 for the whole journey. But if I offer up two more places in my car for the drive to Paris, I am reducing the costs for the drive and my CO2 footprint, and am down to 144 kg/CO2 for the entire trip. Not bad, not bad! If I took the plane I’d quickly reach 2,200 kg CO2. An environmental disgrace!

Right. So stick with it, think, talk to friends and ask yourself if the trip is necessary, and if so, how could you travel in a climate-friendly way? ECO123 online is published weekly, every Saturday, with plenty of tips for a
climate-friendly life. Because all of us want to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5°C. Fare ye well for today. Next time we’ll take a look at the issue of food. Till then…


Uwe Heitkamp (60)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123. Traduções: Fernando Medronho & Kathleen Becker | fotografias: dpa

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