CIWEM President's Blog: Net Zero and ZeDay 

My term as President of CIWEM comes to an end today and I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce one message: its all about achieving net zero carbon emissions.

My Presidential theme focused on mobilizing CIWEM’s members into action, to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. Environmental professionals must step up and provide leadership to the public in tackling this crisis.

I encourage our members to go beyond our established role, of designing and implementing climate adaptation solutions. We also need to adopt an advocacy role, to actively promote an inspiring story of how the human race reverses climate change.

The only path to tackle the climate crisis is to decarbonize our economies and a net zero target is precisely the mechanism to do that. The past year has seen some significant developments in this regard, with legally binding targets of achieving net zero emissions by the year 2050 being adopted by dozens of countries.

Achieving net zero will require significant changes. The good news is that technical solutions are already identified and available to us to achieve this.It is important that we communicate this to the wider public. For many years now, the scientific community has highlighted the risks if we don’t take corrective actions. We now need to balance this message with one focused on the solutions. There are some great resources available to us, like Project Drawdown, which has produced comprehensive research on global climate solutions that will get us to net zero. Sharing these insights with the wider public is very effective in warding off despair.

Individual choices and actions are also important as we track to net zero. Zero Emissions Day, or ZeDay, on the 21st September, is a “global 24 hour moratorium on the use of fossil fuels”. It is an opportunity for us to take personal action to avoid direct use of fossil fuels for a day. It is also an opportunity for us to reflect on our use of fossil fuels and think about personal actions we can take.

On ZeDay next week, I plan on changing my electricity provider to one that supplies 100% renewable electricity. I will also be looking for opportunities to influence the wider public, by sharing this message that achieving net zero is possible, and I would like to invite you to join me in this role of change agent.

David McHugh

September 2020

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