The year 2020 was one of the three warmest on record, and according to experts, the situation is not going to improve much this year. So what shall be done about that? We asked those who are actively addressing the climate crisis:
Ondráš Přibyla: Founder of the Climate Facts project. They aim to simply explain complex scientific data to the public. Eva Hemmerová: : Communication Manager of the Czech Vegan Society. Their goal is to reduce animal consumption by 50% by 2040. Markéta Pavlíková: Hub Innovation Operations Director, and prior to that, as Program Director, she led the acceleration of Future of Food. Barbora Valešová: Climate Coalition Coordinator. It acts as a platform for non-profits that deal with climate protection. Veronika Ambrozyová: Education Coordinator in the People in Need organization. She is responsible for the online Climate Change course.
How can each of us contribute to make the climate better in the Czech Republic?
Ondráš Přibyla: Climate, as well as coronavirus or the issue of fake news and social networks, are not topics where an individual would have significant power – unless they own a power plant or social network :-).
So let’s act less as separate individuals and become more aware that we’re part of a society. If you are part of an organization or company, you can try to influence their activities, for example through material and energy flows.
Eva Hemmerová: From our point of view, it is clearly a matter of reducing meat consumption and other animal products, which is a relatively simple step. A carbon footprint of a vegan-eating individual is about 60% less that of those eating meat. Maybe you could try replacing one meal a day with a vegetable, try a vegetable Monday, or join the monthly vegan challenge.
Markéta Pavlíková:It would be great to keep the trend of a fireworks free New Year’s Eve, more walking, and less food and water waste.
Barbora Valešová: At the personal level, it makes the most sense, for example, to switch to a supplier of electricity from renewable sources, use public transport instead of a car, limit flying, and reduce consumption in general. Of the total carbon footprint, however, coal energy accounts for the largest share, so with this issue, it is not enough to focus on oneself as an individual, but to look for solutions, for example, for your municipality, company, or organization.
Veronika Ambrozyová: Each of us can contribute to change by sharing our “more climate-friendly” behavior with others – with family, friends, followers… It is definitely good to deepen our relationship with nature as well. And if you have children, also help them build a relationship with nature and understand the connections between human society and the environment.
Are you expecting any positive changes in 2021, developments in climate protection issues?
Valešová: Across Europe, coal is being phased out, and as a result, a large amount of money has been released in the EU budget in funds that Member States can use for green economic recovery, modernization, and equitable transformation. If the funds are used well, it can be a big step towards positive change.
Hemmerová: We believe that the year 2021 will be a continuation of the growing trend and interest in plant foods, either because of health (prevention of civilization diseases), ethical (animal rights), or precisely because of the targeting environmental motivation, which is evident especially in the younger generation.
Přibyla: I wonder what the Biden administration will bring in the US and how China’s commitment to carbon neutrality will begin to show (the signals are already quite interesting). In November, there will be a COP26 conference in Glasgow, which can also bring significant results. And I think that the development and learning will also come from looking back at the response to the pandemic, because it is possible to study how individual states and society as a whole respond to crisis situations.
On the contrary, what will be the biggest challenge in the fight against climate change in 2021?
Ambrozyová: The biggest challenge will be turning our attention back to tackling the increasingly urgent climate crisis and to commit to concrete political, economic, and social decisions that will lead to a sufficiently rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions around the world.
Valešová: I think that the biggest challenge lies in ensuring that EU funding for the transition to green and sustainable management really goes to the meaningful projects for which it is intended. For the years to come, it is also crucial that political actors in government include the current climate as well as the environmental crisis among their top priorities. That’s why the autumn elections to the Chamber of Deputies will be very important.
Přibyla: I think the biggest obstacle will be broken trust and the huge fragmentation of society. We see it both in our country and, for example, in the US. We stop being able to trust our government or even mathematical models, and we stop being able to see a shared reality – specifically, for example, to see the exhaustion of doctors in hospitals. The challenge will be to gradually heal as a society and restore the ability to act as a whole.
Hemmerová: For us, the challenge is to raise awareness of the impact of the food industry on the environment. When they talk about what everyone can do for our planet, people tend to think of linen bags and the need not to waste water. At the same time, replacing one beef burger with a soy burger will save approximately as much water as if you had not showered for 2 months.