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Sustainable production key to achieving climate targets

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The COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 11, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

Summary

  • Achieving the international climate goals pursuant to COP26 is the responsibility of everyone.
  • Businesses have a major role in combating climate change by embracing responsible and sustainable production as a key tenet of their strategy and operations.

The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland, also known as COP26, produced the Glasgow Climate Pact, which, among other goals, seeks to achieve the 1.5-degree Celsius limit set under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Glasgow Climate Pact is significant as it sets the global climate agenda for the next decade. It also intersects with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of which climate action is a major pillar. SDG 13, for instance, directly addresses climate change and its impacts. Related to this is climate change mitigation, for example, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Achieving the international climate goals pursuant to COP26 is the responsibility of everyone. Businesses have a major role in combating climate change by embracing responsible and sustainable production as a key tenet of their strategy and operations.

Production and consumption are what drive the global economy. But it should not be at the expense of Mother Nature. Responsible production is about creating goods and services in a sustainable and ethical manner that minimises harm to the Planet through reduced pollution and environmental degradation.

SDG 12 on responsible production and consumption is therefore critical to accelerating global climate action through decreased carbon footprint of individuals, communities and businesses on the Planet. Sustainable consumption and production can also contribute substantially to poverty alleviation and the transition to a low-carbon and green economy.

Similarly, the transition to a circular economy is instrumental in eliminating waste and allowing for the sustainable use of limited resources. This is defined as a system that minimizes resource input and waste through innovative design, maintenance, reuse and recycling practices. In particular, the circular principles of reuse and recycling have been proven to be crucial in curbing GHG emissions.

Circle Economy, a group supported by the UN, advocates for widespread adoption of circular economy practices for the global warming target of 1.5 degrees to be realized.

As Harald Friedl, Circle Economy CEO puts it, “A 1.5-degree world can only be a circular world. Recycling, greater resource efficiency and circular business models offer huge scope to reduce emissions. A systematic approach to applying these strategies would tip the balance in the battle against global warming.”

Businesses, especially manufacturers, have a unique responsibility in ensuring their activities have lower negative impacts on society, the environment and the economy. It is about balancing profits with the greater value to humanity by bequeathing a healthy Planet to future generations.

Manufacturing does not need to be a wasteful process. With the right attitude, processes and technology, manufacturers should be at the forefront of promoting sustainable use of scarce resources while meeting the needs of their customers and the society at large.

At Pwani Oil, we have embraced responsible manufacturing by investing in the latest production technology using less resources but with enhanced productivity. That means the business continues to meet its production targets but at the same time, the environment does not suffer due to our activities. In other words, sustainable production is about doing more and better with less.

One aspect of good manufacturing practices is responsible waste management. This includes recycling waste materials. Using innovative technologies like pyrolysers to generate energy from wastes that are hard to recycle helps minimize contamination of soil and water.

Consumers also have a role in addressing climate challenges through responsible consumption practices. They should buy products from companies that demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment and tackling issues like pollution, waste management and prudent use of natural resources.

While the world still has some way to go in achieving the global climate targets, promoting the prudent and ethical use of resources is in everyone’s interest. This is the only way to secure the long-term sustainability of businesses.

Rajul Malde, Commercial Director, Pwani Oil Products