Climate action tips for offices and communities
The Manila Times
AS the country marches away from the medical and economic setbacks of the Covid-19 pandemic, itself exacerbated by the worsening climate, climate resiliency must be one of the priorities of every person, household, office, community and the entire nation. This ensures that humankind will continue to survive and thrive. We need to build a system that is more resilient to pandemics, climate change and other emerging global challenges. The menu for environment-friendly initiatives is long and can be adopted to ensure that climate change considerations are observed and practiced in our everyday lives. Here are eight tips: Harvesting rainwater. Rainwater harvesting can serve as an alternative source of water. It provides water when there is a drought and can help mitigate flooding. The collected rainwater can be used for cleaning office areas, flushing toilets and gardening. A law that will mandate the construction of water wells and rainwater collectors, developing springs, and rehabilitating existing water wells in barangay (villages) nationwide must be passed by Congress. At the local level, Marikina City has implemented initiatives to establish rainwater harvesting facilities in government facilities and school buildings. – Greening workspaces. Through simple ways, we can convert vacant spaces in our offices and homes, and even in public areas, to plant fruits, vegetables, and herbs for food sufficiency and sustainability. Having plants and trees also improves air quality, reduces stress and enhances the environmental landscape. Just make sure to plant species that are native to the area and can withstand the problems present in the community such as pollution, floods, etc. – Reducing energy consumption and harnessing solar and other renewable energy sources. Today, more and more establishments are choosing renewable energy. Onsite renewable power generation like the use of solar panels is a way to cut emissions related to electricity consumption. Installing energy-efficient lights by replacing incandescent lamps with compact fluorescents or light-emitting diodes, turning off office lights, slightly lowering the heating or the air conditioning, or unplugging devices when not needed are some good individual actions to implement. – Implementing solid waste management practices: recycling, reusing and refusing single-use plastics and reducing food waste. Aside from being dangerous pollutants, single-use plastics are fossil fuel products that contribute to climate change. Shifting to reusable containers or to products sold in bulk is a solution to reduce plastic waste. Another way to reduce our climate footprint is to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Segregate wastes by type. Recyclable materials such as newspapers, glass bottles, aluminum cans and discarded metal parts can be sent to junk shops and recycling facilities. The food waste we generate also leaves a higher carbon footprint. In order to reduce biodegradable waste, let us consume food responsibly. Unavoidable food by-products such as leaves and branches, peels, seeds, etc., can be used as natural fertilizers through biodegradable composting. – Choose greener equipment. When the time comes to buy new office materials or machines, if the old ones can’t be fixed or more are needed, choose the most efficient (energy-wise) and sustainable ones. We should also make the effort to choose suppliers who demonstrate good environmental practices. It is also important to use equipment and devices properly to avoid their deteriorating faster, and to repair gadgets when they break down instead of replacing them with new ones. – Optimizing transportation and promoting environmentally friendly ways of working. As we know, transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. By encouraging employees to use sustainable modes of transportation or by providing shuttle services, companies can significantly reduce indirect CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions and therefore their impact on the climate. Some ways of working are more ecological than others: telecommuting, for example, has many ecological advantages. One can also consider videoconferences that avoid employees traveling by car for meetings with clients. – Building the capacity of local communities to prepare and respond to climate and health risks. Understanding local climate and disaster risks and improving multi-hazard early warning systems will ensure early action and preparedness at the agency and community level. Ensure that our buildings and infrastructure can cope with extreme weather impacts such as strong typhoons and floods. Incorporate expected climate impacts in planning and decisionmaking, such as undertaking a climate risk assessment in our locales. Strengthening emergency preparedness and response capacities, including warning system communication protocols, evacuation procedures, contingency and recovery planning, and regular simulation exercises and drills in establishments and facilities will not only save lives but also enable communities to build back better from extreme weather events. – Raising awareness through information dissemination and capacity building. We all have a role in raising community awareness. Organizing webinars and learning sessions to raise and improve awareness on climate issues is a great idea. These initiatives gradually create the ground for best practices that individuals then reproduce at home and transmit to their families, friends and communities — the snowball effect, so to speak. There is a greater need to climate-proof our facilities now, more than ever, for we do not have the luxury of time to remain still if we want to halt the trend of devastating climate change impacts on communities. We must learn from another, support each other’s climate actions, advise on strategies and strike convergence where possible. The need to work together — as a community, as a nation and as a planet — is more urgent now as we continue to take pathways to creating a safer, sustainable and resilient future for us and the next generation. The author is the executive director of the Young Environmental Forum and a nonresident fellow of the Stratbase ADR Institute. He completed his climate change and development course at the University of East Anglia and an executive program on sustainability leadership at Yale University. You can email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @WiggyFederigan.