Environmental action: Words versus deeds

, by Chloé Lourenço, Translated by Juuso Järviniemi, Voix d’Europe

Environmental action: Words versus deeds
Photo: CC0

Global warming is a major problem facing all of humanity. 2016 was the hottest year on record so far. Polar ice caps are melting, climate catastrophes are already reality. Fortunately, humanity has decided to react. But sometimes, words aren’t easily translated into actions.

Fight for the planet remains dead letter

In 2015, the COP21 climate conference in Paris led to a historic agreement, the Paris Agreements. Since then, France has been particularly active in defending the environment. In 2018, the COP24 conference of Katowice brought to life a new agreement whose purpose was to help implement the Paris Agreement. In other words, we had to wait for three years before states began to consider the question of applying the agreement.

In 2017, pushed by Laurent Fabius who was the President of the French Constitutional Council at the time, France presented a Global Pact for the Environment to the UN. On 10 May the next year, the UN adopted, with a very large majority, a resolution aiming to fill in gaps in international law in the field.

One can note real awareness of the urgency of acting against global warming, even if some heads of state like Donald Trump remain sceptical, or perhaps irresponsible. This May, a G7 meeting specifically focused on the environment, is taking place in Metz in France. Fifteen other countries are also expected to join in this mini-G7 meeting, which provides a golden opportunity for strengthening the international impact of the meeting. However, it seems very likely that this goodwill on the part of the states won’t lead to much “in real life”.

Even if states are eloquent on paper, their voice is difficult to hear when it’s time to move to action. However, some enterprises continue to act to reduce their carbon footprints. Or is that fake news?

Actions of big corporations

Big corporations are often reproached for tapping into natural resources without giving anything back. We’ve therefore made an overview of how certain corporations and enterprises respond and what actions they put in place.

Enedis, which runs French electricity networks, dedicates a part of its website to sustainable development and highlights the importance of adapting its equipment to ‘increase security, efficiency and sustainability of electric networks.

Enedis also cites the law on energy transition that sets objectives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030, and a reduction into a quarter by 2050. The electricity company lightens its carbon footprint by improving efficiency and by reducing the consumption of energy in its buildings and vehicles. Moreover, it has meters in place to allow for easier monitoring of electricity consumption in homes. Finally, it has created systems for developing renewable energies as well as installing charging spots for electric cars.

Apple, on its website, says that the environment is one of its values. Its famous Liam robot, now replaced by Daisy, that disassembles old products to extract primary materials and reuse them in the use of new products, is one of Apple’s flagships as it has asserted its respect for the environment.

In the keynote presentations of its products and services, Apple likes to remind about its environmental impact, give figures about its actions, and highlight the subject. For example, when the corporation presented its new computers in October, it was very proud to say that they were manufactured with 100% recycled aluminium. On its website, Apple also says that it seeks to one day make its products without extracting anything from the ground.

Finally, we’ll look at the environmental commitments of a company that has sparked much discussion because of its lack of action for the environment, namely Starbucks. A directive recently adopted in the European Parliament foresees a ban on straws, cotton buds, cutlery and other single-use objects containing plastic starting in 2021. The Earth is thankful for the decision but many companies, including Starbucks, will need to adapt to this new legislation.

The world’s best-known coffee shop will, because of this, launch in Europe new lids specifically designed for its cold drinks that generally require a straw. Like other enterprises, Starbucks also dedicates a part of its website to the environment and exposits its actions, starting from reusable cups. These are for sale at shops, and for each time a cup is used, the customer has a right to a reduction. Another point highlighted is the construction of more ecological shops. In France in particular, many Starbucks shops have been under renovation, and this “because of” the renewal pursued by the company.

Finally, Starbucks has for a long time worked with the NGO Conservation International to respect fair competition when purchasing its coffee.

One cannot know the true intentions behind the actions taken by these enterprises, and others around the world. What one should grant, though, is that these decisions help to raise public awareness of the subject of environment, which is of great public importance.

This article, courtesy of Voix d’Europe, is a part of “Le Grand Format Européen”, a cooperation initiative between The New Federalist and three Paris-based student journals. This week, we publish articles concerning environmental protection from Voix d’Europe as well as Eurosorbonne and Courrier d’Europe - Made in Sorbonne.

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