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Ed’s note: Where are the eco-warriors of today?

I am encouraged by developments and the stories reaching my desk on the green economy and environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. This domain is where eco-warriors, who had chained themselves to trees, are now moving the fight to for our home, Earth.

Through these warriors’ efforts corporates, governments, and individuals are now, for the most part, aware of the need for sustainability and what they can do to attain a Wakanda-type existence.

But the motivation is not always on par with that of our eco-warriors.

Large corporations and governments are led by consumer preferences or civil society lobbying. An example is the move to e-mobility driven by consumer interest in electric vehicles to reduce their carbon emissions or petrol/gas expenditure.

This intention by consumers could have been what spurred the Shoprite Group in South Africa to fit solar panels to their refrigerated trucks. This allows drivers to switch off the truck’s ignition at delivery locations, reduce noise, exhaust fumes and keep the cold chain intact.

How marvellous! I applaud this endeavour as they are on the road to making a difference. Hopefully, the next junction for them is to replace their fleet with electric trucks.

Identifying the areas where change is possible is just the first step in a long process to achieving sustainability and ESG. But it’s the implementation, the cost of these projects, and change itself that can stall these efforts.

That’s why initiatives such as Earth Day, taking place tomorrow (22 April), are so important. They keep us grounded by reminding us of what is at stake if we continue on an unsustainable path.

Since 1970, the Earth Day movement has been where monumental agreements have been initiated such as signing the Paris Agreement.

This year will be no different.

The US Biden Administration has announced that it will convene a global climate summit on Earth Day 2021. I’m excited to hear what President Biden has to say on energy-related carbon emissions during this virtual Leaders Summit on Climate conference—especially after the Trump Administration’s absence in this discussion for the past four years.  

A report leads my concern around emissions by the IEA. The Global Energy Review 2021 states that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are on course to surge by 1.5 billion tonnes in 2021. The IEA believes this will reverse most of last year’s decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I had alluded to this in last week’s Ed’s Note: “Attributing the reduction to lockdowns means that no real effort was made to reduce fossil fuel induced carbon emissions. It was the overall demand for electricity that slowed down during this period and will pick up again when lockdowns ease.”

The IEA also warns that it will also be the biggest annual rise in emissions since 2010, during the carbon-intensive recovery from the global financial crisis.

The eco-warriors of today have a tough fight ahead, but you can play your part. Take an Earth Day pledge that resonates with you the most. Whether it’s advocating for climate action, reducing plastic in your home, becoming a well-versed prosumer, or calling on local government for more green spaces—your pledge, your activity will make a difference.

Until next week.

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
Nicolette is the Editor of ESI Africa print journal, ESI-Africa.com and the annual African Power & Energy Elites. She is passionate about placing African countries on the international stage and is driven by the motto "The only way to predict the future is to create it". Join her in creating a sustainable future through articles and multimedia content.