Anup Garg is the Director and Founder of World of Circular Economy (WOCE), a climate-solutions initiative, which contributes towards the sustainability of planet earth by providing solutions for sustainable transformation to organisations that are committed to achieving net zero targets.
Education can effectively improve young people’s ability to comprehend the severity of climate change by fostering critical thinking and green skills. They require both a solid understanding of the factors that contribute to global warming and a strong set of transferable skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, the ability to deal with uncertainty, empathy, and negotiation, to better their future.
Student-driven and student-led community-based climate action initiatives could be a quick win for enhancing the overall quality of education for a 21st century replete with environmental crises. This can be accomplished by releasing the creativity of teachers and students to combat climate change and corporate social responsibility.
We might be well on our way to attaining net-zero emissions by 2070 and ensuring the quality of life for future generations on this planet if done at scale throughout the academic institutions across the length and breadth of India.
What to do?
Behavioural change needs to be introduced in masses, especially in students and youth, towards emerging responsible. We all must understand our actions, which are unwittingly depleting the ozone layer and causing harm to the environment.
Green values should be inculcated right from childhood. For students who will soon bloom into responsible citizens, a minor course in Environmental studies is a must, along with an introduction to some tool/s that makes them understand what damage they cause and how it can be lessened.
Be the change you want to see! Relevant education is the key
Seniors/elders must lead by example. Youth observes, creates their own moves, and inspires!
Corporate can be of great help here. They can leverage the intellect of their employees while rousing a sense of responsibility in them. Spreading awareness about how to emerge ‘green’ is paramount and can be pursued through active corporate social responsibilities.
Take a note: In India, 80% of the people are aware about the impact of plastic and waste management on climate change but fail to act due to lack of alternatives. Also 88% of the population thinks that eco-friendly alternatives are either not effective, or are expensive.
Interestingly, corporate surveys in public domain, indicate that respondents will be able to contribute actively towards climate change if their employers offered them alternative solutions. This behavior, where everyone passes the buck to another, needs to change. The world is facing climate change challenges, and India was the 7th most affected nation vis a vis the climate change’s devastating impact in 2019 according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 report.
Even though India is one of the few countries where environmental education has become compulsory in formal education, the themes introduced in schools and colleges are far away from the immediate concerns of climate change.
They do not talk about- greenhouse effect (to the detail as needed), health concerns emerging from climate change, impacts of changing climate, how to measure GHG emissions and more importantly, or actions that individuals can take to reduce their impact vis a vis GHG emissions. A few simple examples of behaving responsible, here, include planting of new trees, avoiding usage of plastic, using notebooks with recycled material, using school buses instead of private vehicles, etc.
Besides, higher academic institutions now offer courses designed to learn about fossil fuel emission, greenhouse gases, renewable energy, carbon footprint, and related challenge. However, a focused approach to environmental science studies, can help create environment enthusiasts for the future while combining the basics of environment studies with every academic programme. For instance, students can study environmental communication with journalism, environmental art with photography, environment with history and economics or business studies, agriculture with a pinch of environment studies or psychology etc.
The future will need innovative minds who can develop and prepare strategic frameworks, policies, and procedures, conduct live field research, maintain biodiversity conservation and monitor activities for land management, crisis and disaster management, and so on. One of the report highlighted that the demand for green skills is estimating 400, 000 opportunities by 2050. So any responsible citizen today has innumerable options towards making a green career too.
Role of educators and government
Trainers/teachers need to be trained too to help young minds to understand the causes and consequences of climate change and should encourage children to take proactive steps to become champions of climate action.
While educators are making students aware of climate issues, the system needs support of the policy makers as well. If policy makers and educators carry a green attitude and a sense of belonging to a common cause of saving mother earth, the nation can produce responsible green citizens.
While education is one part of the solution, technology needs to be harnessed towards Net-Zero 2070.
India has population of 1.4 billion people with its per capita emission of 1.9 tons. If every individual can make subtle changes to their lifestyle, then together it can help accelerate India its journey to Net-Zero 2070.
Until now, there were not many tools available to measure one’s own footprint. But now they are there. One needs to wise enough to select for to reduce our GHG emissions.
How can technology help?
Let’s now dwell a bit deeper into how technology can help or helping to become more aware of and educated about the environment.
For instance, smart homes, usually driven by a renewable energy source, advocate green living. They track the actions people in the house and help them make decisions that can help in sustainable living.
Generation of power with the sustainable use of available energy resources is vital to conserve the environment. As generating energy with technology involves three main aspects: storing, energy grids, and electricity generation- the benefits of technology-efficient energy solutions like fuel cells, lithium-air batteries, hydrogen energy storage, and thermal energy collectors, and relevance of smart grids are important to be understood, for a ripple effect.
Besides, we must understand that carbon management is the most important in achieving the Net-Zero 2070 mission. Various organisations have already started to develop solutions towards the same. Amongst others, the World of Circular Economy (WOCE), offers climate-solutions. It captures-calculates-offsets carbon emissions. It recently launched an App called Carbon Book, to build a sustainable ecosystem and instil change in people’s lifestyles, which promotes green living.
With this app, downloaded for free, an individual/ employee can keep a check on his/her emissions- when he travels (air, rail, bus, car, bike), cooks/eats, utilises energy (gas, power), and disposes of waste, etc. daily. This way, an individual can account for his/her, and a company can account for its employees’ carbon footprint, and measure, reduce and neutralise emissions by offsetting methods (by investing time and money in green initiatives).
Let’s keep it simple; follow the philosophy- “What cannot be measured, cannot be managed”. And lead everyone to join the decarbonisation wave towards India’s Net-Zero mission!