By Patricia Hernandez
Climate Change and Polluting Emissions
Did you know that in the 2015 Paris Agreement, all participant countries committed to reduce their gas emissions to prevent the increase in the average temperature of the planet from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels? Well, at the 26th United Nations World Climate Change Convention it was confirmed that the Paris agreements are not being fulfilled. At the same convention, the United Nations Environment Agency estimated that if global methane emissions were reduced by 30%, 200,000 premature deaths related to respiratory diseases could be avoided each year.
This proves that the response of the United States to climate change is slow and not very forceful. It is therefore worth thinking about what each of us can do to mitigate or adapt to the threats of climate change.
Article 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as "change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods." One of the central drivers of climate change concerns the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the consequences of these emissions on global warming and ocean acidification. A highly topical issue is the carbon footprint.
Wikipedia defines carbon footprint as:
A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, place or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Greenhouse gasses, including the carbon-containing gasses carbon dioxide and methane, can be emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels, land clearance, and the production and consumption of food, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services.
Not just industries, but each person also leaves a carbon footprint. For example, we leave a carbon footprint when we consume non-renewable energies or general consumer goods like food produced with polluting energies. If you want to calculate your carbon footprint you can do it here: https://carbon-calculator.climatehero.me/?source=GoogleKeywords&gclid=CjwKCAiAuOieBhAIEiwAgjCvcv_aZCG9nq8tLp4m0hdnIBytLMsliweopvT2v1PRX0aw_uNhPSlhcBoCbkgQAvD_BwE
Ecuador Facing Climate Change
Now let's take a closer look at the national reality of Ecuador and ask ourselves:
How are we in Ecuador? How is Ecuador regarding climate change goals related to pollutant emissions? What is the space for action of citizens?
According to PNUD (2021), "Ecuador's total net emissions (net value resulting from emissions minus removals) indicated in the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory conducted in 2012 were 80,627.16 Gg CO2-eq (representing approximately 0.15% of global emissions) (MAE, 2017; Republic of Ecuador, 2019). Of these emissions, 46.63% correspond to the Energy sector, followed by the sectors Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (USCUSS; 25.35%), Agriculture (18.17%), Industrial Processes (5.67%) and Waste (4.19%)" (p. 12).
When compared to other countries in the region, Ecuador has a privileged position in that its emissions are considerably lower than countries such as Colombia, Peru or Venezuela. In 2019, total GHG emissions were 52,746.57 kt, with Peru's emissions being 1.4 times higher, while Colombia and Venezuela tripled (3.3) and quintupled (5.3) Ecuador's figure.
The country has progressively built Ecuador's National Climate Change Strategy under the tutelage of UNDP. In this framework, in 2019 the Ministry of Environment, Water and Energy Transition of Ecuador established four prioritized climate change threats in the country: heavy rains, very high temperatures, droughts, and frost. Droughts especially affect Manabí, a province whose geographic location limits the availability of freshwater tributaries and exposes it to desertification conditions. As a result, hydroelectric power generation is limited.
On the other hand, the sunny days in Manta are almost infinite and solar energy appears to be a good option.
Would you dare to bet on solar energy?
Ocean Acidification in Manta: Education and Citizenship
Although the major measures to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change come from the United States and large companies, an indispensable cross-cutting measure is the educational actions that allow each person to reflect on what their carbon footprint is and on what they are doing to mitigate the effects of climate change.
LemonSea EC is an environmental educommunication project whose purpose is to educate the citizens of Manta about the major environmental problems of the city and the province. It was born as an associated nucleus of the LemonSea France Project. In LemonSea we promote actions to train citizens in environmental activism and in the search for solutions. One of the problems that we prioritize is the action against ocean acidification whose consequences could be devastating for an economy centered on the richness of the sea like in the City of Manta.
Through interventions in schools and public spaces such as parks, squares, and beaches, the use of games, experiments, and audiovisual productions will be carried out to understand the main environmental problems that pertain to the city of Manta, especially ocean acidification, and to generate actions of adaptation, mitigation and environmental activism.
Do you know the Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg? Would you like to volunteer with LemonSea Ecuador?