This past January, over 340 world leaders came together for the 48th annual World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland. The goal of the summit was to discuss economic progress, technology, equality and environment. In attendance were a record number of heads of state, along with executives from public and private institutions, all dedicated to making positive global change. Across various fields, the following high-impact environmental goals drew attention. Our Positive Planet was especially drawn to these exceptional changes:
1. With coal being one of the largest contributors to current greenhouse gas emission levels, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, has gone the extra mile. He has sworn to divest from coal plants and terminate their use by 2021. Indeed, climate is one of the five pillars of his plans for national economic reform.
2. In a similar vein, environmental reform is also a strong focus for China. At the summit, Chinese officials spoke of the importance of high-quality growth in environmental sustainability. National plans include restricting uncontrolled waste disposal, pushing for renewable energy use, and improving air and water quality.
View another Our Positive Planet post on the new Chinese environmental waste tax here.
It’s worth noting that government officials everywhere were quick to confirm that US President, Donald Trump, is practically alone in his decision to ignore climate effects, and to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. In fact, within the country, 15 of the US states – representing 40% of the national economy – formed the United States Climate Alliance, with the goal of continuing their commitment to the Paris climate targets.
3. By way of business involvement, corporate leaders are quick to follow these momentous changes. An example being Anand Mahindra of Mahindra Group, an Indian multinational conglomerate. Mahindra has pledged that all enterprises under his direction will follow the standards set out in the Paris climate agreement using proven, science-based targets. The conglomerate has operations in over 100 countries, with interest in countless fields, including aerospace, construction, energy, and utility vehicles. Spanning across these fields, Mahindra’s implementations are expected to have a BIG positive impact in countless industries.
4. Recently, Tyson Foods, the world’s second-largest meat processor has invested in Memphis Meats, a small cell-cultured meat operation. The traditional meat industry is a huge source of methane greenhouse gas production. It also uses vast amounts of clean water and is a cause of widespread deforestation. Tyson’s goal is to minimize the negative impacts of the meat industry on the environment. To their benefit, these changes will incur lower production costs from minimal use of antibiotics, decreased space requirements, etc. The company is taking a step in the right direction by investing in alternatives, and effectively acts as a role model for others in the industry.
5. Remarkably, 11 retailers and consumer goods companies have pledged to use only reusable, recycled, or compostable plastic by 2025. Among them include high-profile and wide-reaching companies such as Coca Cola Co., Pepsi Co., Walmart, L’Oreal, Unilever, and more. Plastic use is becoming an increasing concern worldwide. Across the globe, inefficient disposal is a massive problem, and more often than not, plastic waste ends up in the ocean, leading to accumulation zones. Notably, marine life is negatively affected. Further, the plastic degrades into microplastics, tiny particles that are harmful for consumption. With companies making these changes, it is expected that recycling will be encouraged, and the amount of plastics polluting the environment will be minimized.
The World Economic Forum summit is a fantastic opportunity for countries, and companies, across the world to work together. Many of the environmental goals stated above assume cooperation, emphasizing the universality of environmental action. It is impressive to see the large diversity in the types of institutions and governments agreeing to the discussions and pursuing positive plans at the conference. The projected goals paint a positive vision of our future environment, and the leaders in attendance are an excellent example to those who wish to contribute to a healthy and sustainable environment.