I am humbled and honoured to share this seasonal message with you wherever you are living. You have been a valuable seeder, reader and follower of the Seedinglives. New readership now spans many countries, including Dominican Republic and China, signifying presence in over 65 countries.
Our biggest top ten international readership is in the USA followed by European Union, Norway, UK, South Africa, Germany, Australia, Nigeria, Canada and Russia. We found deep joy in all of you for coming our way. The previous year presented moments in which a lot was achieved. We foresee a brighter and exciting 2018.
In propagating sustainability and SDGs in the New Year, we are aiming to bring light to peoples, places and planets. Seedinglives will offer chances for voices, young or adult, that are constrained and do not get fairly represented in development-environment solutions. Thus, Seedinglives will engage marginalised groups in sustainability conversations to bring to light areas they need improvements and hope.
People must live in safe and sustainable conditions. Socio-ecological sustainability is not possible when rising carbon is troubling people to mine, lose harvest, cut wood or migrate in and out of cities. In this sense, we will investigate to advocate on sustainable food systems, youth soft solutions, possibility of low-carbon society from low-cost intervention contexts, including visits and dialogues with informal industrial leaders.
Happy and Prosperous New Year! Thank you!
Increasingly, rising carbons are troubling global societies such that the search for innovative social solutions to sustainably decarbonise economic systems to lessen the carbon impacts on different human societies has intensified (Otto et al., 2017; Obama, 2017; Loftus et al., 2015). Decarbonisation is now a topical environmental issue because seeding sustainability through conventional economic models did not yield sustained gains shown by the inability to do away with poverty and hunger (Sachs et al., 2017), and to clean toxic carbons from the atmosphere (Hansen et al., 2007) – conditions that instigated why socio-ecological sustainability must be reconciled with economic growth (Hulme, 2009). Despite significant evidences that prove that carbons are killing earthworms, peoples and phytospecies thereby putting the future at risk (Stockholm Memorandum, 2011), the public is often confronted with dubious climate misinformation needing inoculation (Milfont et al., 2017; Linden et al., 2017). The overriding public view, however, agrees to sustainable decarbonisation to heal carbon ills.
Between hope and realism
A critical assessment of a gamut of challenges posed by anthropogenic, geochemical and biophysical forces on the earth’s climate system demonstrates that a complete decarbonisation is impossible. A dare mission not to begin with! Deforestation, fossil-fuel drilling and coal mining are continuing. As Sachs (2014) ascertains, ‘the world continues to explore, develop, extract and burn fossil-fuels at a rate that is increasing rapidly’. The continued reliance on fossil-fuel reaches a point where finding alternative energy (like renewable energy) to reduce CO2 was not just a dream but also a hopeless situation. In the 1980s, the technology to explore solar energy resources, for example, was in ‘primitive’ state (Clarke, 1985:127). Even three decades after Clarke alluded to the technological saddle, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) lately attests to the slow transition towards new energy technologies. It states that ‘the goal of establishing a renewable low-carbon energy technology system on global scale remains elusive, with modern renewables jointly, accounting for 0.7 per cent of primary energy, compared to fossil-fuels’ share of 81 per cent in 2008’ (UN-DESA, 2012). The renewables trend was observed in the first decade of the 21st century. Is the disjointed nexus of technology and renewable energy the same today? No! Solar and wind energy technologies are progressively rising to the top of energy growth on the international and domestic markets (International Energy Agency, 2016; Mileva et al., 2016).
Low-carbon progresses and breakthroughs
The transition to low-carbon society is a development goal of almost every country (Napp et al., 2017; JICA, 2016; Sachs et al., 2017) and a number of interventions have been initiated to stabilise or decouple CO2 in energy system, which yielded some results globally (Liebenthal, 2002; Obama, 2017). Sweden represents an excellent example of large-scale decarbonisation. In ‘2003, 26% of all the energy consumed [in Sweden] came from renewable sources – the EU average was 6%. Only 32% of the energy came from oil – down from 77% in 1970’ (Vidal, 2006). This year Sweden is among a few countries that received ‘green rating’ indicative of progress towards achieving SDG#7 (Sachs et al., 2017). Is this the only hopeful case? The ‘winds of transformation’ in terms of decarbonisation also reflected through the ‘concrete’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions in China, Brazil and India (Rockström and Schellnhuber, 2015). From the opinion of these authors, India aimed to increase ‘renewable energy systems capacity’; Brazil pledged to ‘practically exterminate forest destruction’ and China commenced ‘peaking of coal-based power production before 2020’ (Rockström and Schellnhuber, 2015). Also, Germany had constituted an ambitious ‘energy transition policy’ to generate 80% of energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2050 (Brick and Thernstrom, 2016). Developing countries can learn from Brazil or Sweden’s formation of intensive scientific strategies and technological energy solutions to tip socio-economic systems towards a fossil-fuel-free society.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) is working with several organisations and national governments through its model of an Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) and the National Cleaner Production Centres to decouple emissions from industrial environments in developing and emerging countries. The Global Environment Facility was able to raise US$4.5 billion, in the last millennium, to transfer knowledge and technologies to promote ‘energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions’ in developing countries (World Bank, 1999:133). Governmental agencies and development partners implemented ‘renewable energy’ projects in Central America and Caribbean region like Honduras to cut down fossil-fuel consumption (JICA, 2016:50).
Question of values and ingenuity
Choosing alternative development techniques (Sen, 1960), for example, by replacing fossil-fuel with renewable energy to propel economic growth need to utilise human values in (re)building social structures, capacities, markets and consumer behaviours linked to the new energy. Human values ought to inform sustainability leadership and good governance of renewable energy resources and social institutions in eliminating carbon challenges. As long as challenges exist, there is also optimistic perspective that throughout history development challenges, including climate change never deters humans from applying scientific knowledge and employing human values to safeguard planetary resources. Chakrabarty (2009:216) recounts how ‘human civilization surely did not begin on condition that, one day in history, man would have to shift from wood to coal and from coal to petroleum and gases’. Today, many nations are benefiting from solar and wind energy technologies suggestive that the transition to low-carbon society is definitely happening but at a slow pace. A concerted effort from both the public and private sectors is urgently needed to fast-force the processes of sustainable decarbonisation.
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