The global average temperature is increasing at an alarmingly fast rate. As a result of this rapid change, we are seeing the Earth’s natural ecosystems put in jeopardy in real-time.
Consuming way too much and keeping unsustainable business practices like cutting down forests, manufacturing goods, generating power, and using transportation are some of the root causes of the extreme heat, flooding, large-scale fires, and other natural disasters that we experience all over the planet all year round.
One thing is for certain—these are all human activities. And it’s up to us to do something about them before we lose control of this whole situation.
The transition towards climate stability is becoming increasingly important as the world’s situation worsens. Progress will be determined by countries’ ability to meet their Paris Agreement obligations and, eventually, their collective efforts to maintain a global average temperature well below 2 °C.
Here in Geneva, we are not strangers to this extreme change in the climate. In fact, the city even declared a climate emergency in recent years and set ambitious goals to limit global warming and minimize degradation of living conditions. These objectives include lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030 and achieving a zero-carbon state by 2050.
The city is continuously and consistently taking action to combat and adapt to climate change by developing rapid measures.
Geneva’s Current Situation
When the city’s greenhouse gas emissions were computed, the findings were concerning.
The city of Geneva emits 14.3 tonnes of CO2/person/year, compared to the Swiss average of 14 tonnes. The following are the primary sources:
- 38% from the consumption of food, clothing, housing, recreational activities, and other products and services
- 33% from the building sector, heating and construction in particular
- 28% from mobility—half of which comes from plane trips
The majority of the emissions created by the city come from outside our boundaries, such as exotic foods or digital equipment.
It would take the equivalent of three planets to maintain the current lifestyle of the people of Geneva. Furthermore, although the scientific community considers a temperature increase of +1.5 °C to be the tipping point, the temperature in Switzerland has already increased by +1.8 °C.
The cause for alarm here is the fact that Geneva is one of the cities in the world that could experience the largest temperature increases in the 2020s, with a potential increase of 2.5 °C.
This rise in temperature creates a lot of health concerns for our citizens. This is in addition to an increase in the number of heatwave days, a decrease in cold spells and snow cover, and the melting of glaciers. Droughts have a negative influence on agriculture, while excessive rains produce landslides, soil erosion, and substantial infrastructure damage.
To cut a long story short, our current situation is not looking good, especially if we don’t act immediately.
Geneva’s Measures To Combat Climate Change
To address the concerns above, Geneva has created an excellent decarbonization program by adopting an extensive list of measures in various domains such as production and consumption, mobility, energy, planning and development, health, and biodiversity. This is based on criteria such as the impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions reduction, adaptation to the local context, cost, feasibility, and compatibility with expectations of our population.
Because climate change concerns absolutely everyone, everyone can do something about it at their own level. As a result, the city has suggested measures affecting the local area, administration, residents, and businesses operating inside the municipality.
Some of the highlights of the measures include:
- Preservation and development of cycle lanes
- Encouragement and increased public awareness of waste reduction and the use of reusable utensils and other tableware
- Introduction of 10% biogas to heat the city’s historic buildings, as well as a one-degree reduction in the heating temperature of city-owned buildings, whenever applicable
- Increased usage of vegetarian meals, as well as organic, seasonal, and locally sourced items in nurseries, school canteens, museums, restaurants, community centers, vulnerable people’s centers, and public facilities
- Encouragement of residents to consume in a sustainable manner
- Promotion of biodiversity conservation and restoration by establishing new zones where natural regeneration is encouraged
- Creation of a compilation of best practices for businesses
- Encouragement of revegetation through de-permeabilization of the ground, growth in tree foliage, and tree planting in public spaces
Geneva’s Role as a Pioneer and Exemplar
Right now, Geneva is regarded as the UN’s technical and operational center. As a worldwide center for diplomacy, its expertise is needed to support implementation efforts all across the world.
To help contribute to the worldwide drive to attain carbon neutrality, the City of Geneva will lead by example by accelerating existing initiatives and developing new ones. The city will continuously aim to lead the way in implementing this truly societal project by demonstrating how to do so and encouraging everyone to follow suit.
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