Human needs have been crossing the threshold of the utilization of natural resources for far too long. The climate changes present us with series of complex challenges whose end objective are creative solutions that positively impact our environment, economy and society, without ever changing the shape, pace or core structure of our needs.
To what extent can we mitigate the negative impact that comes from climate changes? The answer to that question is complex. Working through gradual, incremental changes is not going to achieve or accelerate going green. We have to systematically act to rapidly increase decarbonization rates, find better ways of harvesting solar and wind energy, and find better and more sustainable ways of recycling and reusing the waste we produce. Transformative initiative for economic, social and financial systems is crucial for exponential positive change in environmental remediation, reforestation, investing in clean, reusable energy and recycling, and strengthening climate resilience.
The GET model is based on the combination of project investment, policy dialogue and technical assistance investment. It finances large corporations, as well as clients in the agricultural business, in the power and energy industry. These finances are also offered to the tourism sector, the transport services and even to municipalities. The GEFF (Green Economy Finance Facilities) are indirect providers of credit to the smaller local financial institutions that continue to invest the small and medium-sized businesses and homeowners who want to convert to green housing.
Although the impact of EBRD investments results in intelligent usage of renewable resources, a lot of work is yet to be done in air quality and water-and-fuel-saving management. Moreover, there is still a significant gap between the countries that continuously work on their climate changes measures and countries that fall behind.
The reality in Ireland and the EU member states
The key ultimatums that Ireland faces are of complex design and dynamic in behavior. The environmental challenges range from taking measures in the industries to education about the benefits of going green. Perhaps, the most crucial is the prevention of green and blue areas. The urban parks, the lakes and rivers, the coasts and the forests are all playing a significant role in maintaining the health of Ireland’s people. Their protection is essential for Ireland’s health system and infrastructure because of the opportunities they offer to people to escape from everyday stress.
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), Ireland is generally on track in the fight against bad air quality and lower emissions. However, the need to balance the emissions produced from the agricultural sector is growing at a higher rate than expected.
The waste generation remains high in the densely populated urban areas and industrial areas, and the utilization of the materials remains underdeveloped. A life-cycle-driven ‘circular’ economy that targets the prevention of waste, maximizing the use of resources and its life-cycle is an initiative that aims to help to improve the waste economy.
Over half of Ireland’s surface waters fail to meet the legal requirements for a satisfactory ecological condition. The target of water and wastewater treatment investments is to prevent the contamination of natural water bodies. However, a further contribution is needed to push the slow-paced progress of urban wastewater treatment and management.The agricultural practices at this stage are a vital point in protecting the green and blue spaces in Ireland. The current trends are causing further deterioration of these spaces, and only a significant and transformative change could achieve the vision for preserving biodiversity.
According to the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard, Ireland marked a stagnation period between 2017 and 2019. Ireland ranks 13th in Europe and falls in the category of average ECO-I performers. Although there is a drop in eco-innovation inputs and outputs, there is a significant rise in the activities directly linked to the eco-innovation sector.
In comparison, Germany employs an environmental solid technology sector. German education is oriented towards producing skilled employees who value the importance of environmentally friendly behavior. Overall, Germany has a clear pathway towards climate transition. Croatia ranks in the middle of the Scoreboard and is improving communication between the scientific institutions and the business sector. Implementing the Waste Management Plan as a policy makes the objective of waste reduction and prevention an obtainable goal and is continuing to show positive results.Luxembourg is outranking all EU members states and has improved and maintained high levels of eco-innovation inputs and outputs.However, Luxembourg is still lagging on eco-innovation activities.
In conclusion, Ireland is right in the middle of the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard compared to the other EU countries. The main driver behind the solid economic model is technological diffusion and the fact that it is the digital technology leader. The need for more interest and education about the benefits of eco-efficient technologies is growing, and the activities in the eco-innovation sector are continuously rising. National initiatives and plans have a target to help the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society by aiming to improve public transportation, accelerate the innovations in sectors responsible for the sustainable management of water and other environmental resources. Activities for energy efficiency are defined, and investments are being made in the commercial and private sector to utilize their resources.
Asia at the crossroads
Although countries like Japan and Singapore are focused on energy efficiency and regime building to preserve the environment, emerging economic powers such as India and China are large contributors to the carbon output. Both of these economic powers are large consumers of natural resources. Their policy making is still prioritizing energy security to maintain their development. Asia needs balanced measures to support continuous development while preserving the environment.
Eco-innovation as a core concept in successful business models
Eco-innovations have been developed in the field of recycling, including the creation of biodegradable substitutes for plastic. Eco-innovations are present in a smaller context, like going paperless in a paper-dependent company. There are many branches of eco-innovations that can be reached, and one of them is the creation of biodegradable products that can replace plastic bags and packaging.
Turkey produces 225,000 tons of olive oil on an annual level, and the by-product can be used to create plastic that decomposes after a year. The start-up Biolive, located in Turkey, which represented the country at the UN Development Programme, has reduced the production cost by 90% by implementing the active ingredient ‘oleuropein’ in the bioplastic. This ingredient prolongs the bioplastic’s life and hastes the composting into a natural fertilizer.
MarineTex, a new UK initiative, started using the fish scales and skin mixed with red algae to make easily-degradable plastic that can decompose in 4-6 weeks. The plastic made of this type of by-products is stronger than the conventional plastic bag, making the traditional plastic obsolete from all perspectives.
Green Distillation Technologies invented a new type of process for the extraction of hydrogen from discarded tires. The method they employ does not produce any wastewater or emissions from the tires’ destructive distillation process.
Sulapac is a company based in Finland that develops solutions for sustainable packaging. The materials they produce are biodegradable. The resources they use range from wood to other certified renewable resources. These packaging can be digested by certain microorganisms and transformed into biomass, carbon dioxide and water. Their solution applies to a diverse range of products, from packaging for oily products to cosmetics and food.
Challenges we need to face
Unsurprisingly, global warming is one of the biggest obstacles we have to face to keep life on this planet. Every country should be concerned about reducing the carbon footprint and other emissions to keep the temperature below the threshold without disrupting society’s functionality.
Using raw materials has a breaking point, and we are getting close to ‘bursting the bubble’. There is a limit to which moment the natural resources can be drained and turned into one-time-use products. Products made of non-degradable materials end up to waste that is poorly managed on a global level. What needs to be done to prevent this problem is to limit the waste by using recyclable, degradable material. Waste management offers a wiser usage of waste as a potential resource that will directly contribute to saving natural resources.
Save the green and blue areas
Deforestation is the process that has the most significant impact on climate change and is another source of CO2 emissions caused by human activity after burning fossil fuels. Emissions due to deforestation, or reduction of areas with forests, are in some way indirect, given that by cutting down trees, we actually reduce their capacity to absorb CO2. Implementing national policies that protect our rivers and lakes from unscrupulous contamination from industrial waters, educating the citizens about the importance of saving water and making investments in environmentally-friendly business models are among the strategies that could preserve these areas obtainable goal.