Sunday, 12 September 2021

Moving towards healthier travel habits

 Guest post by Camille Bon


 
The EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK will celebrate its 20th edition this year. Celebrating on the week starting 16th September and ending on the 22nd of September, which is World Car Free Day, this EU wide campaign seeks to promote behavioural change in favour of active mobility, public transport and other clean, intelligent transport solutions.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has fostered an interest in more sustainable modes of transport and brought a new perspective on our public space. Last year gave us a momentary relief from busy traffic, allowing people to enjoy streets and public spaces. Since then, not a week goes by without a new article or survey being published on this topic. First was the announcement of the pioneering Slow Streets initiative by the Local Councils Association, which aims to offer an opportunity to experience our neighbourhoods in a new way. Their goal is to make streets more people-friendly by limiting through-traffic in residential streets. Last April, Hamrun's mayor, Christian Sammut, floated the idea of making the town's main street pedestrianised. His proposal was positively welcomed by the public. Then, in June, Zejtun council announced it will be among the first local councils to introduce car-free zones in their locality.


When we know that the average car commuting journey is only 5.5km and 20 minutes long, there is great potential to encourage walking, cycling and other micro-mobility solutions as faster and cleaner alternative means of transport. According to Transport Malta, many destinations are only a 10-minute walk away from the town centre. The more we create safe and aesthetically pleasing streets, the more we will encourage people to use alternative modes of transport to move from A to B. Furthermore, it is being increasingly recognised that good quality public spaces are important for people’s wellbeing and health, both mental and physical. Pascal Smet, Secretary of State for the Brussels-Capital Region considers public space as the living room of a city: “Just like in your house, the living room is the most important room in the house”.


The question now is how to encourage walking, cycling, and other forms of physical activity in our urban areas? How can we reduce the impact of pollution and advocate for more greenery and open public spaces, promoting physical exercise, opportunity for social interaction and better mental health and well-being?



In line with this year’s theme for the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK 2021, Project Aegle Foundation (PAF), on behalf of the EIT Urban Mobility RIS hub Malta, is organising an online seminar themed “Safe and Healthy with Sustainable Mobility in Malta” in collaboration with Transport Malta on September 16th, from 15:30-18:00 (via Zoom and Facebook Live). Addressing policy makers, government representatives, educators and school staff, architects and urban planners, and students and professionals in the health and transport sectors, and the general public, the event includes 3 panel discussions with experts and practitioners in the field, on the following topics:
 
        How is transport impacting health in Malta?
        As a place of work or education, what can you do to promote healthier travel habits?
        What can cities do to promote active mobility to boost residents’ physical and mental health?
 
The momentum towards sustainable mobility is growing and the time to act is now! 
Learn how to encourage healthier travel habits during our online seminar here or visit PAF website or PAF on Facebook.
Camille Bon is Lead Project Manager at Project Aegle Foundation (PAF)




Tuesday, 24 August 2021

The Earth's hottest month ever recorded

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared July 2021 as the world's hottest month in the 142 years since it started keeping record. "This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe'. the NOAA Administrator said in a statement. 

(Photo: ABC Chicago)


During July 2021, news of extreme weather scenarios came from all corners of the world. Data shows that the combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 0.93°C (1.68F) above the 20th Century average of 15.8°C (60.4F). We have researched the web and put together a comprehensive list below.




EUROPE

Northern Ireland: Broke all-time heat records twice in five days

Italy: Europe's new all-time record of 48.7°C in Siciliy, plus over 800 wildfires recorded nation-wide including the island of Sardinia

Germany: Massive floods180 dead + 150 missing and a Eur400 million recovery package

Belgium: Floods causing substantial damage and landslides, 50 dead

Switzerland, The Netherlands, Luxembourg: Floods causing substantial damage

Spain: Blazing countryside and record-braking snowfall and snowstorm

UK: wettest 3-day period on record, and extreme flash floods

France: Unusual, larger and faster spreading wildfires

Greece: More than 580 wildfires caused by heatwaves

A firefighting helicopter flies in front of a thick cloud of smoke from a forest fire at Spathovouni village, Greece. The Mayor called the situation "an immense catastrophe". (Photo: Global Citizen)

Damaged houses are seen at the Ahr River, Germany. 148 litres of rain per m2 fell in 48 hours, compared to the 82 litres that are normally expected in the month of July. (Photo: Global Citizen)

 
Heavy downpours and thunderstorms have caused severe flash flooding in parts of London. Tube and rail networks suspended after a month's worth of rain in a day. (Photo: The Telegraph)



AMERICA

California: Extreme heatwaves 53°C and devastating wildfires

Canada: Heat dome 50°C and wildfires

North America: Extreme heatwave, 840 dead and wildfires

Texas: Extreme low temperature of -13°C, 210 people dead

Oregon: One of the largest blazes in history, hundreds of homes consumed by the flames and thousands evacuated

Mexico: Heavy rains, severe flooding and a long-term drought

Saint Lucia, Dominican Republic, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Jamaica, Cuba, Cayman Islands (Caribbean): Storm Elsa caused relentless storms and mass flooding

Brazil: Extremely rare snowfall with huge risks for crops

The Andes Mountain range, in South America, is facing historically low snowfall during a decade-long drought that scientists link to global warming. (Photo: Reuters)

There are currently 86 active large fires across 12 U.S. states, as more than 22,000 firefighters are battling the blazes that have so far burned over 1.5 million acres. (Photo: Newsweek)

Disaster is brewing in Brazil as the world's coffee supply is at risk as temperature plunge and snow falls, also threatening sugarcane and orange cops with frost. (Photo: Gizmodo)
 


ASIA

Turkey: Record high temperatures, devastating wildfires and floods

Japan: Severe weather with torrential rains, strong winds, landslides and flooding

Russia: 1.5 million hectares of forest in Siberia on fire, and record temperatures in Moscow 34.8°C

Nepal: Heavy rainfall triggering flooding and landslides

Oman: Heavy rains and severe floods

China: 60 dead and 1+ million evacuated due to deadly floods caused by a typhoon, and the worst sandstorm/duststorm in a decade

India: Extreme floods in various states, 200 dead

Iraq: Strong heatwave 50°C causing loss of electricity

Iran, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece: Floods causing substantial damage

The National Disaster Response Force rescuing people in Maharashtra, India, where heavy monsoon downpours caused landslides, flooding and killed at least 180 people. (Photo: Global Citizen)


A huge search and rescue operation is underway in north of Turkey, after dramatic flash foods killed at least 77 people. The country is also battling huge wildfires in the south. (Photo: Global Citizen)

China was hit by 2 major events in July; floods in Henan province left 73 people dead and a typhoon in Zhejiang province that caused $516 million in damage. (Photo: Bloomberg)


AUSTRALASIA

Fiji: Two cyclones in a row

New Zealand: Floods causing substantial damage

New South Wales: Extreme flooding, thousands of evacuations

Australia: Coldest weather in 17 years in Queensland


Major roads turned into lakes across Perth as they were deluged by flash flooding, leading to almost 700 calls to the State Emergency Service for help. (Photo: The West)


AFRICA

Algeria - Forest fires killing at least 65 people

Nigeria: Floods causing substantial damage

Madagascar: Worst drought in 40 years; famine effecting 1+ million people

South Africa: Rare and unusual snowfall twice in a month

Ghana & Ethiopia: Below-average rainfall results in abnormal dryness

Firefighters battle more than 30 blazes amid blistering temperatures in Algeria, killing at least 65 people including 28 soldiers deployed to help the firefighters. (Photo: News Central Africa)



Meanwhile, in August 2021, rain fell for the first time on record on the snowy summit of Greenland, where tempreatures rose above freezing for the third time in less than a decade. The result was a loss of ice mass which is seven times higher than the daily average for this time of year. 


Collapsology

According to Sir John Beddington, England's Chief Scientist Advisor and author of 'A Perfect Storm', by 2030, the world will be dealing with an increase of 33% in population (6bn to 8bn); a 30% demand for water, a 40% demand for energy, and a 50% demand for food; challenges which we will need to face and find a solution for, amidst natural disasters, 50 million climate change refugees, deadly diseases, failed states and economic instability. 

The term collapsology refers to the collapse of societies and of industrial civilization; a likely consequence, unless drastic measures are implemented immediately to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. 



We were warned

"All of this was predicted in climate science decades ago" says John P. Holdren, a Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard's John F Kennedy School of Government. The reason why this alarming news went mostly unnoticed was because of the interference of the oil industry, that deliberately manipulated and distorted scientific evidence, and spent millions in climate hoax campaigns. Instilling doubt was enough to convince people that it might not be true. If you'd like to read more about this subject, we recommend this BBC article.  


On the 10th of August, 2021, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued the 'Sixth Assessment Report'. In this landmark report, the world's top climate scientists are warning that Earth is headed toward unprecedented warming. They believe that in order to prevent the worst effects, the Earth needs a drastic U-turn away from the use of fossil fuels. 

This report is accessible to the general public and it explains the science in plain language and you can read it here.



___________________________________________________________________________________

Sources:

https://www.noaa.gov/news/its-official-july-2021-was-earths-hottest-month-on-record?fbclid=IwAR1uvI6IiMZAXdrf2IVxirGgnAplf9a5gmbovB8E3i68zg1YWcz5-E3OcPQ

https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/environment/953574/worlds-most-extreme-weather-events-2021

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/turkey-china-canada-photos-extreme-weather-climate/

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/19/weather/greenland-summit-rain-climate-change/index.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58208792

Friday, 6 August 2021

#movethedate

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we have used all the biological resources that the Earth can renew during the entire year. 

This year, Earth Overshoot Day was on 29 July, meaning that between 1 January and 29 July our demand was equivalent to what the planet can regenerate until 31 December. 

The world's population is using as much as 1.7 planets a year, a figure that is thought to increase to 2 planets by 2030. Yet, we only have one planet.

The past does not necessarily determine our future. Our current choices do. Through wise, forward-looking decisions, we can turn around natural resource consumption trends while improving the quality of life for all people. While our planet is finite, human possibilities are not. The transformation to a sustainable, carbon-neutral world will succeed if we apply humanity's greatest strengths: foresight, innovation and care for each other. 

The Earth Overshoot Day Organisation has identified five key areas that are defining our long-term trends most forcefully. All of them are shaped by our individual and collective choices. 


If the world's population lived like Indonesia, Earth Overshoot Day would fall on 18 December, a fantastic achievement, followed by Ecuador (7 Dec) and Nicaragua (2 Dec). On the other side of the spectrum, there is Qatar with a shocking Earth Overshoot Day falling on 9 February, followed by Luxembourg (15 Feb). 

The rapid depletion of resources, causing an early Earth Overshoot Day is mainly due to deforestation, over-fishing, over-farming and green house gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, particularly for the industrial and mobility sectors. 



Let's have a look at the dates of the past 11 years:

2021                29 July                          2015                6 August

2020                22 August                      2014                5 August

2019                29 July                          2013                3 August

2018                1 August                        2012                4 August

2017                3 August                        2011                4 August

2016                5 August                        2010                8 August


Last year, the date was pushed back to where it stood some 15 years ago. This was due to the pandemic-induced lockdown measures around the world that slowed human activity down. Pandemics are not the solution to Earth Overshoot Day however - it came at a great cost and millions of lives. 

The solution is when humans and nature learn to thrive together in equilibrium. This recipe can be found in the 17 Global Goals, for which 193 countries have signed their pledge to.



Earth Overshoot Day has been calculated since 1970. Note the advancement in a period of 10 years:

2000                23 September

1990                11 October

1980                4 November

1970                30 December

Humanity started to consume more than the planet produces and regenerates in the early 1970s, and since then the deadline has been brought forward every year, largely due to increased consumption and population growth.

What happened in the 70s? It was the decade when dependence on oil increased, and airlines (such as Boeing 747) started their commercial trips; it was the year of rockets and moon landings and later, the Industrial Revolution. 


#movethedate

This movement helps eco-conscious individuals like you to explore and tackle solutions to contribute positively to move Earth Overshoot Date. Check out their website to learn how to help nature thrive, create a sustainable community, empower ourselves, feed ourselves and discuss population concerns. For instance, if every other family had one less child and parenthood was postponed by two years, by 2050 we would move Overshoot Day by 49 days.

Did you know that you can calculate and discover your ecological footprint? How many planets do we need if everybody lives like you? Find out your own personal Overshoot Day!

Go here.



Saturday, 10 July 2021

Plastic-free July

Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution - so we can have cleaner streets, oceans and beautiful communities. 


Why is plastic bad?

Plastic is basically made from natural gas and crude oil, which are both fossil fuels, and its creation process significantly contributes to carbon emissions. Plastic bags pose a great threat to marine life and birds, as it is often mistaken for food, which leads to poisoning, choking, entanglement and blocked intestines - all of which usually result in death. Plastic does not biodegrade. Unless recycled properly, plastic will remain on our sideroads, beaches, and oceans for well over 500 years. Compare this with the average plastic bag use of 25 minutes. Not more than 9% of plastic is recycled globally. Malta has the lowest recycling rate in Europe, at 19% compared to 56% of Germany.

We need to move away from this throw-away society that we have sadly been accustomed to. It is killing the planted and killing us, too. Either through pollution, new diseases, or even by plastic consumption. Studies reveal that humans are consuming a horrifying amount of plastic. A 2019 joint study quantified that a human on average eats the equivalent of a Lego brick of plastic every year. Even scarier, microplastics, which are tiny plastic particles smaller than 5mm, are even present inside human placentas, which researchers say is a matter of great concern.


So what do we do?

It is not easy to live without plastic since it is the primary packaging for almost everything, but there are many different actions we can take to fight the plastic problem. Here are some ideas:

* Refuse plastic straws and plastic cutlery

* Take reusable bags with you when you go shopping


* Get hold of a reusable water bottle and always carry it with you

* Install a water filter at your home

* Pack your lunch in reusable food wraps and containers


* Avoid snacks and supermarket shelf-products with excessive plastic packaging 

* Switch to reusable metal razors and bamboo tooth-brushes


* Choose return & refill schemes to buy food items such as nuts, pasta, and legumes, but also washing liquid, body wash, and shampoo

* Write to your favourite brand and ask them to ditch the plastic! You can find a sample letter here

* Support local businesses that are plastic-free

* Join the Wave of Change, a local non-profit organisation raising awareness about marine pollution. Last month, its founder Neil Agius broke a world record for the longest swim (124.4km) from Linosa to Malta, in 52 hours, in an attempt to encourage more people to take action. You'll need to pick up 6 pieces of plastic trash, snap a picture and post it on social, and ask 6 friends to do the same. 

* Take the worldwide Plastic Free July challenge. Enter your details here to take the challenge and get inspired by the latest plastic-free ideas. Together we can make a difference and be a part of the solution. Join 326 million people worldwide!



Tuesday, 29 June 2021

9 Benefits of becoming a sustainable business

The future is green. (We never get tired of repeating this phrase!)

As the effects of climate change are now being felt by everyone, consumers around the world are becoming more sensitive about their consumption and are demanding more responsibility and bold actions from businesses in order to reduce their carbon footprint and produce more environmentally sound products and services.


Businesses with a serious intention to be active in the next 5-10 years have started working on strategies to make their operations more sustainable, in line with their customer's demands, upcoming laws & regulations, and because it is simply the right thing to do. It is highly unethical for a business to generate a profit whilst disrupting and damaging the environment. 

Some of the most important aspects that a business needs to look at are energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste generation, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; and whilst there are many other actions that a business can take to go green, it is imperative that the first step is a change in mindset. Starting from the CEO all the way down to line employees, everyone must put sustainability at the forefront of every decision regarding the business; from the choice of suppliers to the type of coffee served in the kitchenette. 


Benefits of going green

In 2019, Forbes stated: "What is good for the planet, is also good for business." Let's have a quick look at the pro-points for becoming a sustainable business.


1. Brand Image
A business going green makes customers feel that it is a trustworthy company and will gain favor. A good business is not about making tons of profit, but about providing an excellent product or service according to customer's needs. 

2. Minimized costs
Investing in efficient lighting will reduce your utility bills. Reusing and repurposing as much as possible will save you money on purchasing new stuff. Using the cloud will decrease your printing needs. Refilling your ink cartridges will also save you money.

3. Increased profits
Every improvement, no matter how small or minuscule, can enhance the productivity of your business operations ultimately resulting in savings. 

4. Compliance
Being the first to regulate your business in view of upcoming new legislatures pertaining to your industry, will provide you with numerous advantages, one of which is the flexibility to work with your own timeline and not be restricted by deadlines and the threat of fines.


5. Attract new customers
Customers who may have previously preferred a competitor will be happy to make the switch in the light of your environmental practices. Studies show that businesses that regard the environment, enjoy higher consumer retention and lasting loyalty.


6. Attract funds
The EU Green Deal is a set of policy initiatives with the aim to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. For this purpose, it is mobilizing 1 trillion euros over the next decade to support businesses with a genuine intention of going green. 

7. Press attention
Journalists are always looking for new exciting content, and sustainability makes good PR. Be creative by organizing something to attract their attention and you will be gaining a ton of free press.


8. Become a role model
Establishing yourself as the market leader and becoming a great example for others to follow will bring about new unexpected benefits, such as new partnerships, new opportunities, and a happy loyal workforce. 

9. Get featured on Eco Market Malta's platforms.
As a sustainable and responsible business, you can benefit from additional promotion by being featured on Eco Market Malta's platform. Product-based businesses can join our online sustainable marketplace Coral, while service-based businesses can be featured on our Green Directory, which will be launched very soon. 


A Green Directory for Malta & Gozo

Our aim is to make it easy and convenient for customers to connect with sustainable businesses for everything that they need. For this purpose, we are launching a 'Green Directory for service-based businesses in Malta'. A virtual place for such consumers and businesses to interact and promote green practices that are both environmentally responsible and commercially feasible. 

Thanks to the Green Directory, all sustainable businesses, whether small or large, will have space to showcase and promote themselves to an ever-growing list of conscious consumers. They can highlight their environmental attributes and green policies, receive direct messages from potential clients, and enhance their online presence. Consumers, on the other hand, will be able to find environmentally responsible service-based businesses in one site, with quick search functions, smart filters across several industries and categories, all to make it easy and convenient for them to make the right choice when choosing a genuine service-based business, without having to worry about greenwashing. If you own a green business you can submit your listing today from here. Choose between free or premium listing for a minimal yearly contribution and benefit from several additional cool perks. 


Success through sustainability

Do you want to learn more about transforming your business to be more successful and more sustainable? Download our latest free e-book 'Success through Sustainability' from here. (You will need to subscribe to our newsletter).