Exhilarating, Exhausting, Extraordinary and Eccentric—that’s Davos for you! And Davos 2020 did not disappoint. All week long, the “global elite” of nearly 3000 delegates from 117 countries and 121 nationalities gathered in this small Swiss ski town, attending scores of sessions, hundreds of panels, and countless bi-lateral meetings at the ‘World Economic Forum’. At the end of the week, out of the massive blur of important issues and topics, a few things always stand out. What stood out this year? Climate change. And an unusually warm and sunny Davos underscored this point.
Without question, climate change may be the number one issue the entire world—businesses, governments, civil society—is waking up to and worrying about. Almost every session, regardless of its focus, wove in climate change as the priority issue of our times. As if to underscore this point, temperatures in Davos soared to the 50s during the day—you almost didn’t need snow boots. Walking down the Promenade with snow melting under my feet and without my heavy coat, earmuffs, and scarf, I could not avoid the reality of the climate change crisis staring me in the face.
Of course, for anyone oblivious to this unseasonable environment, Greta Thunberg, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and a leading moral voice on the topic, made sure everyone did. Thunberg opened a debate at the Forum by discussing “how to avert a climate apocalypse.” Addressing global leaders, she repeated her 2019 call-to-action: “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour.” Frustrated that not enough was being done in meetings and debates, Thunberg took to the streets, leading a protest march on the last day at Davos, urging world leaders to take action and quickly.
Throughout the week, many leaders made commitments to reduce or erase their carbon footprint—and as I left Davos, I, too, made a pledge to do my part in solving the climate crisis. Because every individual can make a contribution, and if all of us do our small part, our joint efforts can make a major impact.
So what can we do as individuals? For starts, here’s four easy things:
Energy: Easily educe your carbon footprint by using energy wisely. Use energy-efficient light-bulbs and appliances, unplug your computer when not in use, and wash clothes in warm and cold water rather than hot water.
Food: Eat to protect the planet. According to UN experts, moving to a more plant-based diet can help reduce our carbon footprint. Eat more meat-free meals and buy organic and local foods whenever you can. Try not to waste food and consider growing your own herbs and vegetables.
Recycling: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by recycling more. Move to cloth bags or reuse plastic bags and plastic water bottles. Take every opportunity to recycle paper, plastic, aluminum cans, cardboard, glass, and milk cartons. Every little bit helps.
Transportation: One of the major causes of CO2 emissions comes from the transportation sector. Planes, trains, and automobiles are responsible for almost 29 percent of carbon emissions. So what can you do? Walk more, bike to your destination, use more public transportation, or carpool to work. Consider your decision to travel by air and whether you can travel less. In my case, my work involves a great deal of air travel, so my strategy is to offset my emissions. What does that mean? It means I make up for my share of CO2 from air travel somewhere else. I do it in the food, recycling, and energy arenas.
Finally, educate yourself and learn more about offsetting carbon footprints and how you can help.