The COP26 summit is currently underway in Glasgow, Scotland.
It's mission is to bring parties together in order to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
This year, countries will be submitting their 5-year plans for climate action called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to meet the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.
The hopes for COP26 are: to achieve global Net Zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach; adapt to protect communities and natural habitats; mobilize finance; and work together to deliver.
Since becoming a Salesforce Partner in 2020, we've been working side-by-side with Salesforce towards achieving the Net Zero imperative.
By integrating modern software in business operations, we're able to influence change and make every member of a business part of the solution.
Let's take a little more detailed look at what is Net Zero and what can Africa do to achieve it.
Net Zero is a goal to reduce carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2030. In order to reach this goal, countries need to take aggressive phasing-out measures with things like coal power, gas powered vehicles and deforestation. It also will require more countries, businesses and governments to start investing in renewable energy.
But governments, businesses and corporations can't do it alone. If countries and continents want to hit their Net Zero targets, they'll need help from their citizens. Because it's ordinary people working together that create extraordinary change.
Change is hard, and to detest change is to be human. We all like staying in our comfort bubbles for as long as possible. And you shouldn't feel guilty. (Because it is normal.) But you should realize that, while comfort feels nice, it's not always the right state to be in. It's not a good environment for long-term growth. And it's not how improvements are made.
Thankfully, there is good news. Because, according to the Afrobarometer SDG scorecard for Namibia, we've seen an increase in climate action over the last few years among private citizens. And we're seeing similar trends across the African continent.
When it comes to our climate, our environment and our future, we can't afford not to change. Because the climate will keep changing for the worse if we refuse to change for the better.
And while some aspects of the COP26 goals simply can't be met in Africa (like electric cars for the masses in the foreseeable future). There are still plenty of changes we can start implementing in order to achieve the Net Zero goal.
Here are some examples of simple changes you can make for a big environmental impact (in a good way):
1. Save Water This change gets the number one spot because of the one-two combo it punches. Water is a rare commodity in Africa. By saving water you're contributing to saving the physical resource, and you're reducing energy costs (and waste) on the water system as a whole. Saving water can look like letting your washing machine drain water into buckets, instead of the drain. Or boiling water, instead of running the tap waiting for the water to heat up. Every drop counts.
2. Eliminate Single Use Plastics Plastic is harmful to the environment. Full stop. Reducing the amount of plastic you use on a day-to-day basis makes a massive difference in the long run. Some ways you can minimize plastic consumption are: using reusable bags instead of plastic and opting for brands that use recycled materials for their packaging. It takes a little getting used to at first, and the change won't come easily. But if you can hold yourself accountable, you'll help the environment and you might learn a thing or two about self-development.
3. Switch to Solar Coal power is an environmental killer. In Namibia, for example, most of our power is imported from South Africa. And, unfortunately, that power is created using coal. Importing 'dirty energy' is a major hindrance in the pursuit of Net Zero. Solar power is a modern solution to coal energy that's perfect for sun-drenched African climates. Over recent years' solar power systems have become more affordable and accessible to the average home-owner and not only larger businesses. When more homes move to solar solutions, we'll eliminate the need for coal power, making a massive shift towards the Net Zero goal.
4. Minimize driving While most African countries don't have access to electric cars as yet, we can work to minimize the impact of our gas powered vehicle. Besides saving you money from additional gas costs, driving less means your car emits less CO2 into the atmosphere. Less people driving means less money spent, less emissions in the atmosphere, and less impact on the environment. So have a Zoom meeting or call, rather walk or e-bike to the store that’s 5 minutes away, or synchronize your travels so there's less back-and-forth trips.
Changing your habits and routines isn't ideal, but when it comes to an issue as pressing as the environment, we have to be on our A-Game. Sometimes you'll forget to catch the drain water or you'll be in too much of a hurry to bring your tote bag to the shop. And that's okay. Change takes time and resilience. But as long as enough of us are doing what we can, when we can, it'll be enough to make a continental impact and global change.
Like Vincent Van Gogh said: "Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together."
Now get out there and make a positive change!