Article / 05 Sep, 2017
Saving Time, Money and Health – Climate Action from Around the World

Bonn, 5 September, UN Climate Change News – Saving time, money and health by climate action is the central message of success in a new set of videos profiling the 2016 winners of the UN’s “Momentum for Change” initiative, from local women in Africa and Asia to the biggest companies in the world.

These projects reduce greenhouse gases at the same time as strengthening societies against the impacts of extreme weather and building sustainable economies.

Listening to the people talking in the videos from companies, local government and entrepreneurial start-ups, it becomes clear that small-scale climate action is as important as large-scale action, not least because big projects often deliver direct benefits to small projects, while local-level action often prepares the ground for the big projects to take full effect.

These common themes link the projects under Momentum for Change’s three focus areas: “Women for Results”; “Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Solutions”; and “Financing for Climate Friendly Investment”.

She Used to be Known as Someone’s Wife. Now They Know Her by Name

The videos in the Women for Results sector demonstrate how women’s lives are being transformed by taking climate action.

Morocco’s video illustrates how Dar Si Hmad, an NGO led by women, has implemented a new initiative of “fog farming”, where 600 m2 of special nets harvest fresh water from fog.

A valuable and scarce resource, water plays a central role in women’s lives, often requiring 3+ hours per day to travel to distant, depleted wells, which seriously constrains the time they have to do other things.

Jamila Bargach, Director of Dar si Hmad, said: “Women have gained back half a day that they have put into economic activities like argan oil production. This has been good for them, for their households, and for their communities”.

Zayna, a participant in the project said: “The women and girls can see that there are things women can do outside the home. It’s a world I did not know before”.

Nepal’s video shows how a unique certification scheme, the W+ Standard, has identified how companies, governments, and individuals can drive women’s social and economic empowerment.

A monetary value is assigned to women’s unpaid work and contribution to climate actions and rewards projects that combine climate action with women’s empowerment. Thus, women’s critical role in tackling climate change is recognized and valued, with the W+ units providing women with a source of income.

For example, women have shifted from using wood to biogas digesters, which helps reduce greenhouse gases and supports forest conservation. Before using these biogas systems, women spent several hours each day gathering and processing firewood for cooking. By eliminating this time-consuming, labor-intensive task, women have gained time for leisure, self-improvement, income generation, and community activities.

Nima Dolma Lama, a beneficiary of this initiative states, “I used to be known as someone’s wife, but now they know me by my name.”

Bangladesh Farmer to Google Giant - ICT Tech Driving Change

Another video on offer demonstrates how a social enterprise, SOLshare, has developed an ICT solution enabling a peer-to-peer electricity trading network for rural households in Bangladesh. This affordable ICT solution provides off-grid access to solar energy that represents a shift away from costly, polluting, and unhealthy alternatives such as kerosene.

The trading network interconnects households through a meter, integrated with an ICT backend programme which is handling payment, customer service and remote monitoring. Each meter allows the user to buy and sell renewable electricity with neighboring households, businesses and rural industries.

This is neatly summed up by Sebastian Groh, the Managing Director of SOLShare: “If they have more power than is needed, they can sell it, and selling it means profit, it means income directly from the sun”.

At the other end of the ICT spectrum, Google’s video showcases their development of “project sunroof”, a simple and user-friendly tool derived from a unique dataset of images collected by Google airplanes.

This free service provides online images of individual rooftops and informs the home owners and potential solar panel customers about how solar power works. Tens of millions of potential solar customers from across the US can now evaluate their home’s suitability for solar and therefore how much they could save on electricity.

Solar panel installation has increased as a result of this initiative, which not only reduces CO2 emissions, but also raises awareness of how individuals can take climate action. Joel Conkling, Product Manager of Project Sunroof said: “It helps people take the next step towards a cleaner, lower carbon lifestyle”.

Friendly Taxes and Personal Power – Climate Action Changes the Game

In the area of Financing for Climate Friendly Investment, the video from British Colombia (BC), Canada, explains how a price has been put on carbon by introducing a revenue neutral carbon tax.

The tax is revenue neutral, so any revenue generated by the carbon tax is reduced from other taxes. The overall effect of this market measure has been to reduce carbon use within the area.

Co-benefits are impressive with BC experiencing one of the fastest growing economies in the country, increased investment in clean technology, and over 60,000 green jobs. Christy Clark, BC’s former deputy Environment Minister said: “This proves to us that you do not have to sacrifice the economy by having a carbon tax”.

Also under the finance theme, a video from Sweden outlines an app that provides information on how to be more “climate smart”.

Consumption Data is collected from areas such as housing, food purchases, and transport, which is then recalculated to indicate individual carbon footprints. Tips and recommendations provide guidance on reducing the carbon footprint and progress can be monitored.

Kerstin Lindvall, the Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer of ICA, the company who developed the app explains that “if all Swedes do what these engaged people did in six months, we would take out half of the climate reduction that Sweden as a nation is targeting for 2020”.

In 2015, under the Paris Climate Change Agreement, countries of the world laid out a path towards a future safer from extreme climate change.

Only more rapid and direct cooperation between governments, business and citizens is going to achieve that goal and all these stories show just how transformative effective climate action is in moving towards a lower-cost, healthier, more secure and cleaner future.

You can view all the videos on offer here: