What must be done so that we can all live comfortably on our planet Earth? We know that our lives depend on the resources that Nature can provide, the amount that we extract and consume, and the way in which we do this without causing harm to future generations. Food, clothing, energy, mobility, building materials and much more besides. This leads us to the concept of the ecological footprint.
The ecological footprint of a person living in Portugal is 5.3 tons of CO2.* What does this figure tell us? When I read this for the first time, I wondered how I could know the number of kilos of CO2 that correspond to my own ecological footprint? It’s like watching the hours pass. If you want to know what time it is, you need a watch, and if you want to know your weight, you need scales. How can this be done? It’s a question I’ve been pondering ever since ECO123 was founded six years ago. Now, after many hours of extra work, ECO123 has developed this “scale” for the climate and we present the result of our work here today.
It is important to look back briefly. Already in 1997, in the Kyoto Protocol, the dilemma of the warming of the atmosphere, the seas and the Earth caused by burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) was described in detail and recognised as the greatest threat to humankind. The Protocol unequivocally set a limit of three tons of CO2 emissions per person per year for European citizens. No one respected it. Nothing happened. Then, in Paris in 2015, the target of two degrees was set.** I have read both treaties several times, and I ask myself how we can achieve this goal, and whether we have the will to do so. How can each person know how much CO2 they emit? How can I measure and control my emissions at the same time? ECO123’s “climate scale” can do this.
There are some who deny and ignore climate change, and others who, when speaking of global warming, resort to complicated descriptions and apocalyptic stories. They remind us of those stories from the Middle Ages, when the Earth was still flat (a disc) and threatened to turn into a precipice for those who dared to go too far. Is it better to stick your head in the sand then? No! When we admire our forests, our rivers, our beautiful blue planet, from Space, for example, we can easily tell success stories to our children. With the “climate scale”, which we have named KYOTO, ECO123 has created a tool that can be the beginning of many beautiful stories.
KYOTO is available online at https://kyoto.eco123.info. With the KYOTO tool, we can accurately measure our footprint, improve it, reduce it and even discover how to offset our emissions. In order to arrive at exact figures, KYOTO operates like a kind of bank account. Today ECO123 invites you to participate. Subscribers to the magazine. are entitled to participate for free. In the first phase, it is open to 100 subscribers. Please register and login. Registration is a commitment to maintaining your participation for one year. You won’t need to devote more than ten minutes of your time every weekend. Join us in discovering that the Earth is round. The end goal, in this test, is to try to reduce your footprint by 40%, i.e. from 5.3 tons to three tons of CO2 emissions. These are the 3,000 kyotos that each participant has as their opening balance on their online account. This is how the test begins, as a game.
KYOTO will have the scientific support of Dr. Sofia Simões, from the Centre for Environmental and Sustainability Research of the Faculty of Sciences and Technology at Lisbon’s NOVA University. In partnership with Dr. Simões, an environmental engineer, we intend to find out if it is possible to reduce CO2 emissions, and if so, by how much, where, when and how. What works on a small scale may one day be useful for concrete applications on a large scale. Because anyone who can change their small world for the better, shows that this can contribute to a more comprehensive solution. To achieve this, many small steps are sometimes necessary. KYOTO is a small step on a great journey. Why do we take these steps? Because we want to leave for future generations an Earth where life is worth living. With KYOTO, dear reader, we offer you, for the first time, a tool that helps you find strategies to fight against climate change. In this issue of our magazine, we introduce you to several climate-defending heroes who are participating in this game. If you are already a subscriber, register now to take part.
Four years ago, when I first spoke to my son about KYOTO, we came to the conclusion that we wanted to develop something that would make sense for future generations. That was our goal. And now, dear reader, the time has come to define your own climate goal.
** Tackling climate change is a priority for the European Union (EU), which has set ambitious targets for the short and long-term reduction of emissions, i.e. a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020, 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2080, compared to 1990 levels (European Commission, 2011). Meeting these targets will increase the likelihood of achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 2015). The central aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep the rise in global temperature this century much lower than 2º C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to reduce the temperature increase even further, to 1.5º C.