The solution to climate change: circular economy, SDGs and 2030 Agenda .

The coronavirus crisis has given us time to think about how we want our society to evolve. During the confinement, the human pace was set to zero and in a short time we could see the effect our actions have on the sustainability of the planet.

Remember the change in nature in Venice? This is just one example of what it would mean to slow down the climate change we are experiencing.

Climate change

The increase in population generates an excessive demand for the exploitation of resources that causes a spiral from which we still do not know how to escape.

The percentage of carbon dioxide has increased by 30% since the Industrial Revolution, causing the Earth's average temperature to be one degree higher than it was a century ago. At first glance these may seem like minor changes, but climate sensitivity is taking its toll. The gradual melting of the poles means that cities such as Valencia, Barcelona and Cadiz could find themselves helplessly watching as parts of the urban environment are submerged (sea levels have risen by 17 centimetres in the last 100 years in Spain).

Furthermore, the alarming figure that currently 12% of deaths globally are related to pollution highlights the scale of the problem we must tackle.

Climate change according to International Organisations

The United Nations and the World Bank warn that by the year 2050 we could be facing massive waves of climate refugees, movements for which more than 140 million people are expected and for which we have no precedents other than those experienced by our ancestors in their day, and whose product over millions of years is today, here and now: us.

As a species, the evolution of homo sapiens has been linked to adaptation to adverse climatic conditions and has been the turning point between survival or extinction. Today, our challenge is to adapt in record time to these changes and to be aware of the danger they pose to the habitability of the planet. To do so, we must rethink whether the current pace at which we are immersed is the right approach.

The origin of climate change

Although responsibilities are shared, experts are clearer that there is a common evil, a villain capable of appearing in systems as different as capitalism and communism and which we call linear economy.

Linear economics and climate change

It involves extracting, refining, manufacturing and assembling to finally generate a product. This chain, with the end of the useful life of the final product, has as its main output the word waste. The finished product itself will be a waste at a later stage, in addition to the waste generated by the different parts of the chain mentioned above.

This "throw-away" economy is a burden on the natural resources from which we manufacture 90% of the life around us, as they are not designed to be single-use, upgradable products. In the year 2000 the number of mobile phones registered was 700 million, while in 2015 the counter had already reached the relentless figure of 7 billion utilities in fifteen years alone! If we multiply the raw materials from which they are made - materials such as lithium, coltan, nickel, cobalt, etc. - and the fact that they generally do not last more than two years, we can then understand the danger that our consumerism is causing for the environment.

The solution to climate change

However, not everything is as black as we have presented it, there is some hope, and it comes from understanding the role of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which undoubtedly constitute the first major efforts to establish a line of action around the problems described. The failure to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 led the United Nations authorities to be more ambitious in their quest to alleviate inequalities and global environmental challenges.

The SDGs to curb climate change

The seventeen sustainable development goals that it incorporates represent a paradigm shift in the management of these issues that had not been addressed until now: it is a matter of solving problems locally in order to achieve a global objective. Kyoto and its emissions trading proved to be an ineffective and meaningless practice. The global problem has to be addressed through micro approaches within countries, within cities, within their neighbourhoods and ultimately also within each of us.

Agenda 2030 and the circular economy: a solution to climate change

We will focus on SDG 11 and SDG 12 as drivers of this mindset, which will undoubtedly permeate part of the 2030 Agenda's ideology. Firstly, SDG 12 refers to sustainable consumption and production, transforming the linear economy into the concept of the circular economy.

The latter is a way of understanding production as cyclical and updatable based on concepts such as reuse and recycling. To this end, society's consumption patterns and the way in which companies currently establish the production chain must be redefined in order to change to a culture called "from cradle to cradle".

Water and waste management, renewable energies or energy efficiency are fields that are paving the way towards this new model of understanding consumption and production. This type of conceptions will become increasingly important in the environment of cities as one of the environments with exponential growth in which the human being of the 21st century lives and will live to a greater extent.

We18 see the Sustainable Development Goals as channelling a catalogue of good practices that will undoubtedly have to commit public and private entities if we hope for some success for humanity. Ensuring the habitability of future generations is undoubtedly the right approach, i.e. the long-term vision as opposed to the short-term and ineffective approach used in the past. That is why we will always seek to promote initiatives that create the impact sought by the 2030 Agenda as the beginning of a new mentality that guarantees our own survival.