We need to adapt to climate change
In 2022 records have been broken for droughts, heat waves, floods, and wildfires, highlighting that people need help today with the climate crisis.
At COP27, countries will come together to take action toward achieving the world’s collective climate goals, as agreed under the Paris Agreement, with one key theme on the agenda being Climate Adaptation.
Adaptation means helping people protect themselves from the worsening effects of climate change, and one of the successes of COP26 was the adaptation work programme. However, progress has been slow. Yet this is at a time when adaptation is increasingly needed because the impacts of climate change are accelerating.
Why has progress been so slow?
Like much of the response to climate change, a lack of funding has been key as those most affected have the least resource to fund programmes. For example, Pakistan, where floods left one-third of the country underwater, has a per capita income of $1,500 compared to the USA at $70,000.
But adaptation has other challenges, not least that the correct response is often local, which makes scaling adaptation plans hard as there is no one size fits all solution.
It’s also a problem in tandem with human life and livelihoods, as we also need to protect nature and natural environments.
One million animals and plants are facing extinction, out of a total of eight million species known to exist, highlighting the role that nature-based solutions and eco-system adaptation must play too.
What can you do to live more sustainably?
Knowing what you can do as an individual to help communities and nature be more resilient can seem very remote until it directly impacts our homes and lives. However, many of the small choices we make can collectively have a huge impact on nature and local resilience.
Here are two immediate actions you can take which, when we act together, can have an impact.
Action 1 – Think about your food choices
One of the main areas we can have an impact is by thinking about the food choices we make in the supermarket, in looking out for high-risk ingredients that cause deforestation.
Palm oil, found in many processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, and bread, is particularly harmful because it’s often grown in tropical areas where rainforests make way for palm oil plantations.
That means avoiding palm oil can have a global impact. It helps cut carbon emissions, supports biodiversity, and you’ll protect rainforests and the nearly extinct orangutan.
Palm oil can be grown sustainably, but much of it is not, and many of the promises that companies have made to cut unsustainable palm oil have not been met. Furthermore, it’s often hiding in products where you don’t suspect it, especially soaps and shampoos, where it goes by many different names. We’ve compiled a checklist to help you.
Your palm oil checklist
Some people try to avoid palm oil completely. Others try to avoid unsustainable palm oil.
You can do this with a few quick checks:
- Read the ingredients list for the products in your cupboards. Start with processed foods such as snacks first. Unprocessed food is much less likely to contain palm oil. In foods, it is a requirement in Europe to list palm oil if it is an ingredient.
- When you find palm oil, does the ingredient list say “sustainable palm” or has an RSPO certificate on the pack? If not, think about a different product you can buy. Although many people choose to avoid palm oil altogether, at least with certification there are some checks and balances on how it’s produced.
- Don’t forget to also look at the ingredients list for products in your bathroom. Start with shampoos and shower gels. Look for words that include “palm”, such as palmolein, or terms such as sodium laureth sulphate, which is usually made from palm oil. As with food, if there’s no mention of sustainable palm, or if you are trying to avoid it altogether, then look for a different product.
Check out Impact Score if you want an app to do the heavy lifting for you.
It’s not just palm oil though that matters. Growing soy is also a major contributor to deforestation. High-risk soy is much harder to spot because 80% of soy feeds pigs, chickens, and cows. For example, 100g of pork needs 51g of soy, and the 19kg of chicken we eat every year needs over 20kg.
A diet with more plants and less meat can help, but we also need more information from companies about what they’re feeding the meat we eat. One of the best things you can do is check out whether the supermarket you shop at has a zero-deforestation soy policy and, more importantly, whether they are achieving it. Unfortunately, this currently requires some internet sleuthing, although people in the UK can look at WWF’s report on soy.
Action 2 – Support restoration projects
You can take more direct action by supporting restoration projects, particularly those which help local communities to protect local habitats. Nature-based solutions are a crucial part of adapting to climate change, but they need funding.
Want more ways to support COP27?
If you’re looking for more ways to get involved in COP27, then download our guide on COP27, the Climate, and Me. As the Egyptian Minster for the Environment has put it, “COP27 is the COP for action”.
For more ways you can make changes to the way you live and help vulnerable communities, sign up for Giki Zero for free. To engage your organisation and employees on sustainability, check out Giki Zero Pro.