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Only half of young people able to identify definition of climate change

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Only half of young people able to identify correct definition of climate change
Oumnia Anfer, Secretary of the YoU-CAN Network, speaks at the Wellcome event during the COP28 | Photo: Maged Hela

Most children and young people say they have heard of climate change but only half understand what it is, according to a new UNICEF-Gallup poll, as world leaders gather at this year’s COP28.

The global poll found that on average, 85 per cent of young people aged 15-24 surveyed in 55 countries said they have heard of climate change, yet just 50 per cent of those chose the correct definition as per the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when asked to select between “seasonal changes in weather that occur every year” and “more extreme weather events and a rise in average world temperatures resulting from human activity”.

“Young people have been some of the biggest heroes in driving action to address the impact of climate change. They have been calling for climate action on the streets or in meeting rooms, and we need to do even more to ensure that all children and young people understand the crisis that hangs over their future,” says UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “At COP28, leaders must commit to ensuring that children and young people are educated on the problem, considered in discussions, and engaged in decisions that will shape their lives for decades to come.”

Climate change knowledge among young people was found to be lowest in lower-middle- and low-income countries – those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – such as Pakistan (19 per cent), Sierra Leone (26 per cent) and Bangladesh (37 per cent).

According to The Children’s Climate Risk Index, published by UNICEF in 2021, children in all three countries are classified as at extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, threatening their health, education, and protection, and exposing them to deadly diseases.

The global poll – a follow-up to the initial Changing Childhood Project in 2021 – analyzes results from UNICEF’s subset of 2023 Gallup World Poll questions. Alongside climate change, it explores two long-term challenges shaping the lives of children and young people – trust in information, and constraints on political change in a globalized world.

When it comes to trust in information, the results show that 60 per cent of young people surveyed use social media as their primary source of news and information, yet only 23 per cent have a lot of trust in information on those platforms. In fact, social media is the least trusted information source across all institutions in the poll.

In line with the initial Changing Childhood findings, the data reflects how globalization is impacting this generation, with 27 per cent of young respondents identifying as citizens of the world – higher than any other age group polled.

In August, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child affirmed the children’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, following the recognition of the UN General Assembly in July 2022 that a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right. The guidance explicitly addressed the climate emergency, the collapse of biodiversity and pervasive pollution, and outlined countermeasures to protect the lives and life perspectives of children.

Despite these rights, ratified by 196 states under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and that children are among those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, children are largely disregarded in the decisions made to address the climate crisis, meaning their unique vulnerabilities, needs and contributions are often overlooked.

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Sustainability

The importance of sustainability initiatives for modern businesses

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The importance of sustainability initiatives for modern businesses
Research shows that almost three-quarters of employees believe environmentally sustainable companies make for more attractive employers. | Photo: Yan Krukau

Consumers are understandably shopping with more eco-awareness than ever before considering the current climate. Not only do they want assurances that the product was made ethically, but there’s also a growing curiosity about understanding where our products come from and the impact of their journey from mine to market.

At the same time, modern customers are also wising up to greenwashing schemes, meaning they aren’t going to blindly align themselves with the first company that appears to be doing the right thing. It’s important to invest in sustainable policies in the first place, but it’s even more important to invest in the right way.

Here we explore the core benefits to promoting sustainability initiatives across your company and explore how doing so can help to future-proof your organisation in the context of the rising climate crisis.

Retaining and attracting talent

Particularly with younger generations developing a widespread eco conscience, in order to open yourself up to the best candidates in the talent pool, it’s important to demonstrate that your company aligns with these beliefs. Research shows that almost three-quarters of employees believe environmentally sustainable companies make for more attractive employers. This means that not only will you be more appealing to prospective employees, but you’re also more likely to retain talent once they join your organisation. In addition, you may find that employees are happier working in a business that has strong eco-awareness, positively impacting upon staff morale and productivity. 

To leverage your green policies to attract more talent, it’s important to publicise the work you’re doing; keeping everything internalised means prospective hires won’t be able to fully understand the company’s principles. There are several ways you can do this, from advertising your policies on your website in a company handbook to including information on job postings. Celebrate the wins and progress you’ve made to position yourself as a forward-thinking company with a clear social conscience.

Potential cost savings

It’s a common misconception that adopting more eco-friendly policies will eat into your profit margins and come at the expense of business growth. But the opposite is true. There are so many examples of small changes businesses can make that can actually save huge amounts of money over time, helping to fuel more sustainable expansion.

One of the biggest areas for potential savings is in reducing waste. In 2021 alone, businesses in England produced an estimated 33.9 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste. From food to documents, any items that contribute to this huge number ultimately amount to wasted money, while also contributing to the amount that ends up in landfill. Simple things like cutting down on inessential printed documents and using reusable coffee cups can make a huge difference.

In order for businesses to cut down on waste, it’s imperative that you get the buy-in from employees. Make waste reduction schemes accessible and provide staff the tools to reduce waste and ultimately cut costs. Even if teams are working remotely, you could provide training to educate employees on simple techniques to limit their waste, such as how to properly care for equipment to reduce the need for replacements.

Driving innovation

When businesses pledge to operate more sustainably, it encourages people at all levels to find more innovative solutions to long-standing problems. This is because they’re restricted by the ways in which they can use key resources such as water and carbon across the supply chain, encouraging them to use more inventive processes without diminishing the quality of their product or service.

Often, when businesses operate without much of an eco conscience, they’ll do as little as they can get away with and comply with only the lowest environmental standards. However, for companies who are looking to future-proof themselves and stay ahead of the curve, it’s advisable to conduct business in line with the strictest rules.

When the entire business is working to these higher standards, employees are encouraged to be proactive in solving problems to facilitate growth while also sticking to the wider corporate responsibility. Plus, you’ll be safeguarding yourself from future legislation roll-outs, with governments around the world likely to continually enforce more stringent rules to meet long-term sustainability goals.

Understanding the corporate climate

Time is running out for businesses across the globe to reduce their carbon footprint and play their part in protecting the planet for future generations. However large or small, every business has the opportunity to establish eco-friendly principles that can make a huge difference in their local communities and beyond. Best of all, your actions may just inspire others to do the same.

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Sustainability

New solar power plant goes live in Poland

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New solar power plant goes live in Poland
The new photovoltaic power plant is expected to generate electricity for around 16,000 households in Mysłowice

A new solar power plant, equipped with Kehua inverters has successfully connected to the grid in Poland. The project was commissioned by Tauron, one of the largest businesses in the Polish energy sector.

The 37 MW photovoltaic power plant is expected to generate 39,000 MWh of green energy annually, meeting the electricity needs of around 16,000 households. This amount of power is also sufficient to meet the annual energy needs of a city with 50,000 residents. The ecological impact of the project is significant, with solar production expected to reduce up to 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The project is located in a remote suburb of Mysłowice, one of the oldest cities in Upper Silesia, where humid summers and cold winters pose a challenge to the PV system. Kehua’s research led to the use of an inverter solution with IP66 protection, which prevents corrosion from water vapor and protects the internal electronics.

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Council and Parliament strike a deal to boost EU’s green industry

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Council and Parliament strike a deal to boost EU’s green industry
Progress towards the objectives of the net-zero industry act will be measured by two indicative benchmarks | Photo: Jason Blackeye

The Council and the European Parliament today reached a provisional deal on the regulation establishing a framework of measures for strengthening Europe’s net-zero technology products manufacturing ecosystem, better known as the ‘net-zero industry act’ (NZIA). The regulation aims at boosting the industrial deployment of net-zero technologies needed to achieve EU’s climate goals, using the strength of the single market to reinforce Europe’s leadership in industrial green technologies.

Under today’s agreement, there will be a single list of net-zero technologies, with criteria for selecting strategic projects in those technologies that will contribute better to decarbonisation.

“With the Net-Zero Industry Act we want to support our industry in its transition. The NZIA is an important step in creating the necessary ecosystem to boost the manufacturing of clean technologies. Europe launched a pathway towards a cleaner and sustainable future for the European industry. Now the time is ripe for Europe to take back the lead on the global scene for clean technologies and to build a competitive, green, and job-creating industrial sector,” says Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture.

The net-zero industry act aims to ease conditions for investing in green technologies, by simplifying permit-granting procedures and supporting strategic projects. It also proposes to ease market access for strategic technology products, enhance the skills of the European workforce in these sectors (notably through the launching of net-zero industry academies) and create a platform to coordinate EU action in this area.

To foster innovation, the net-zero industry act proposes favourable regulatory frameworks to be created for developing, testing and validating innovative technologies (known as regulatory sandboxes).

Progress towards the objectives of the net-zero industry act will be measured by two indicative benchmarks: reaching 40% of the production required to cover EU’s needs in strategic technology products, and their evolution in comparison to world production for products such as solar photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, batteries and heat pumps. The proposal also sets a specific target for CO2 carbon capture and storage, with an annual injection capacity of at least 50 million tonnes to be achieved by 2030.

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