A lot has changed since I joined UPM Raflatac two years ago, fresh out of university. On a personal level, I have had the opportunity to focus on sustainability, one of my core passions, and I have learned so much. But in that timespan, there has also been a dramatic shift in the global discussion on sustainability.
While some still somehow deny the reality of man-made climate change, the scientific community has provided unequivocal evidence that our climate is indeed warming as a consequence of human activities.
According to the United Nations, climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face and it is continually placing additional stress on both societies and the environment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten our food production to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in magnitude. Without drastic action today, it will be more difficult and costly to adapt to the future consequences of global warming.
As the impact of climate change is expected to increase over the coming decades, future generations will have no choice but to tackle the problem head on. With thousands of school children going on strike and dedicating their voices to change, it seems like the younger generation has been hearing the message of scientists much more clearly than many decision makers – including many business leaders and politicians.
Another major topic in the headlines is rapid population growth: by 2050, the global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion individuals. If our current consumption and production patterns remain stable, we will need the equivalent of almost three planets worth of resources to sustain our way of living. And in addition to these challenges, our daily news feeds are alerting us to shrinking clean water supplies, plastic waste accumulation in the oceans and biodiversity vanishing at an accelerating pace. These tragic announcements redirect the attention of too many people elsewhere – but for others, they’re a call to action.
How to move forward: together
As the Chinese proverb goes,
the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second-best time is now. This also applies to climate change mitigation: as we cannot change the past, the best time to act is now. Climate change will not wait; the pace of change evident in nature is alarming.
As a millennial, I feel it is my responsibility to my community to constantly look for new options that make my every-day life more sustainable. This spring I had the chance to talk about my climate actions in a climate campaign organized by the city of Tampere. I, for example, use public transportation or bike to move from place to place, as well as I avoid buying anything I do not really need. For me, it is both a privilege and an obligation to make better choices for the environment and for future generations. Individually, all of us can achieve notable emission reductions also by cutting household energy consumption, through heating and cooling efficiency upgrades and choosing green energy sources and by making smart dietary choices, like favoring a plant-based options. There are plenty of easy ways to support a more sustainable future.
At the business level, reducing our impact on the climate can mean investing in new, greener technologies and renewable energies, such as wind and solar power, making older equipment more energy efficient or changing management practices. Mitigation may also be achieved by increasing the capacity of carbon sinks, e.g. through reforestation, as well as through the smarter use of resources, e.g. producing more from less and recycling and reusing materials.
I am pleased to be part of a company that considers climate change mitigation as a top priority and works towards it at all levels of the organization together with its stakeholders. Most importantly, I am proud that UPM is a company that is open to new emission reduction practices.
What we share as individuals, companies, NGOs and governments, is the need to find new ways of thinking and develop space for innovation. And most of all, we all need to act shoulder to shoulder, as the only way to tackle global challenges is by standing together – right now.
Climate campaign organized by the city of Tampere, Finland »
Specialist, Sustainability, UPM Raflatac
”If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." – African Proverb