Reducing pollutant emissions and facing the inevitable consequences of global warming, two challenges to be addressed at the Climate Summit
How we will survive the global climate crisis and under what conditions is one of the main themes of COP 25, the UN Climate Change Conference held this week in Madrid (Spain).
At the summit, measures to counter the effects of climate change will be negotiated. Scientists agree that there are two lines of action: mitigation and adaptation. These two concepts, although closely related to each other, have very different meanings.
On the one hand, mitigating climate change means reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of the temperature increase on planet earth.
However, it is too late to completely avoid the effects of climate change. Even if emissions are reduced, the temperature will continue to rise.
For this reason, the other option is to adapt to the changes that the planet will experience if we want to survive. For example, some crops must be moved to other areas, because the increase in global temperature prevents them from being grown where they always were.
The sea level will also rise, and coastal populations should seek solutions to avoid flooding. Therefore, the more we mitigate the consequences of climate change, the easier the adaptation process will be.
As countries prepare more ambitious national #ClimateAction plans (#NDCs) in 2020, essential for human survival, they can take ❤️ in the fact that global #renewable power capacity is growing ~8.5% per year > https://t.co/YQslqpLO50 #COP26 @IRENA #CleanTech pic.twitter.com/37FgZRPjBk
— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) December 31, 2019
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), solutions in the field of adaptation vary from place to place, but it is important to establish an action plan. Here we highlight some examples in the fields of agriculture and construction.
Changing the crops
Global warming obviously affects food production. Crops need adequate land, water, sunlight and heat to grow; however, extreme heatwaves, lack of rainfall, and the proliferation of some insect pests are altering the pace of the harvests. All this has consequences on food security worldwide.
One of the possible solutions would be crop rotation, a technique that consists of alternating the planting of different crops on the same land over time.
In this way, soil erosion is reduced and greater efficiency in water use is achieved. Plants make better use of all layers of the soil and absorb the nutrients that are necessary to grow.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Sahel, northeastern Brazil, Central Asia and Mexico are among the areas most vulnerable to extreme temperature variations.
Passivhaus: sustainable housing
Another of the actions related to climate change mitigation has to do with the sustainability and efficiency of our buildings.
This is the case of Passivhaus homes, a type of building that has almost zero energy consumption. The idea arose in Germany in the early 1990s, at the hands of the Passivhaus Institut.
Passivhaus buildings are able to reduce heating and cooling needs by 75%. In addition, they are committed to the use of renewable energy.
In the European Union, 36% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the building sector. “The consumption of clean energy of close proximity is important, but more important is reducing energy consumption,” says Inés Fabra, Passivhaus architect at Rubén Muedra Architecture Studio.
According to Fabra, governments should launch new laws that favour the construction of buildings with almost zero consumption. But it would also be necessary to renovate existing houses and buildings, because they are mostly “inefficient”.