How sustainable practices can keep climate change at bay

By Johan Potgieter, cluster industrial software lead at Schneider Electric

Climate change and sustainability are intrinsically linked; the former causes devastation and the latter provides feasible solutions for generations come.  According to the UN. climate change leads to disasters such as flooding and drought, displacing millions of people, sinking them into poverty and hunger. “By 2030, an estimated 700 million people will be at risk of displacement by drought alone”.

In contrast, says the UN, sustainability provides the opportunity for a profound, systemic shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet.

In South Africa, the country’s response to climate change and subsequent sustainability efforts are driven by a number of key factors:

Attainable, organisational steps

As Lord Kelvin quite rightly said: The life and soul of science is its practical application.  What climate change and sustainability require is feasible, practical application that offer measurable results.

Here, organisations have a major role to play in fighting climate change whilst establishing sustainable operations that will become a business standard and the norm.  Some areas to consider include:

The low hanging fruit

The one aspect that certainly needs more discussion is reducing energy demand.  In a country which is already under immense pressure (due to volatile grid), reducing energy demand is a lower hanging fruit than many realise.

It entails boosting energy efficiency - in the quest for net-zero - and circularity and sharing, re-using, repairing more materials and products in factories, households, buildings, and even entire economies.

The good news is none of this requires reinventing the wheel, technologies already exist to for example develop buildings that are sustainable and hyper-efficient and renovating existing ones to reduce energy consumption.

The Schneider Electric Sustainability Research Institute’s scenario modelling report finds that if we rebalance our efforts on demand optimisation, energy supply decarbonisation and electrification, were one step closer to keep global warming in the vicinity of 1.5°C.

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