Choices made by ordinary people are of great importance for the Finnish carbon footprint
Pledges made by countries for the Paris negotiations will not be sufficient to limit global warming to +2 degrees Celsius. New and stricter measures are needed - also from citizens.
Almost all the countries of the world and more than 4,000 cities and companies have set their own climate targets for the beginning of the Paris Climate Conference. These pledges will not yet be sufficient to limit global warming to the targeted level of +2 degrees Celsius. It is estimated that the current commitments will only be enough to limit the level to +2.7 degrees Celsius at the most, which is too big a risk with respect to the future of humankind. In other words, new and even stricter measures are needed. It is essential that we rapidly quadruple the investment volumes in clean energy and maintain this level for several decades.
One of the key methods of steering the economy in a more low-emission direction is the pricing of greenhouse gas emissions. The coverage of CO2 pricing mechanisms has tripled over the past three years, and they currently cover 12% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. The coverage of CO2 pricing mechanisms will expand, when China introduces a nationwide emissions trading system, as promised. The financial world has woken up to this change, and a large number of major investors are reducing investments involving carbon risks and focusing more on clean energy solutions, energy efficiency and renewable energy in particular.
However, these measures for curbing CO2 emissions do not yet guarantee a sufficient pace of change. New players are also needed. It is surprising that attempts to activate ordinary people to join this transformation on a larger scale have not yet been made. The role ordinary people play with regard to the carbon footprint is great. According to the ENVIMAT (Environmental impacts of material flows caused by the Finnish economy) study carried out in 2009, household consumption accounts for 68% of the Finnish carbon footprint. The personal carbon footprint of Finnish people is also one of the biggest in the world.
Choices made by consumers can have a significant mitigating effect on climate change, since they also steer the way companies operate. When companies see that demand for low-carbon products increases and demand for high-carbon products decreases, the investments will soon shift towards making low-carbon solutions increasingly competitive. This way, the significance of everyday choices for climate emissions is greater than we may think. If we choose domestic low-carbon solutions, we support the competitive development of our companies, which, for its part, increases employment. We can make the Finnish economy grow with our own choices.
Supported by Sitra, the NGO Myrskyvaroitus – Storm Warning ry has launched a Climate Pledge campaign in Finland this autumn. The goal is to convince as many Finns as possible to sign a climate pledge and cut their personal carbon footprint by at least half within ten years. When we cut our personal carbon footprint, we also create opportunities and markets for companies that develop clean solutions. Cutting emissions does not mean compromising our quality of life. Many low-carbon solutions are also more affordable and comfortable than the traditional ones.
At the time of writing (on 3 December 2015), the climate pledge has been signed by 1,352 people, including several influential people, such as President of the Republic of Finland Niinistö, Prime Minister Sipilä, Ministers Tiilikainen and Toivakka, Archbishop Mäkinen, Mayors Pajunen (Helsinki) and Randell (Turku), and Director General of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) Häkämies as well as several business leaders, artists and representatives of the sporting world.
By making the pledge to cut your personal carbon footprint by half you are also telling decision-makers and companies that you wish to make your own contribution to reducing emissions. You can sign your climate pledge here: www.ilmastolupaus.fi. You can calculate your own emissions using the climate diet calculator at www.ilmastodieetti.fi (in Finnish only), and you can visit the following sites, for example, to search for methods to cut your emissions: www.pieniatekoja.fi (in Finnish only).
Join us and sign your personal Climate Pledge, and participate in creating the cleantech markets!
Jouni Keronen, Myrskyvaroitus – Storm Warning ry
Lari Rajantie, Sitra