Zero Emissions Day – 21 September 2022

Zero Emissions Day is an International Day of Action to demand a future without air pollution which is contributing to global warming. This day has been designed to give the world a break from fossil fuels and to raise awareness about the harm caused by carbon emissions. In addition to CO2, there are other greenhouse gases such as CH4 (methane), N2O (nitrous oxide) or fluorocarbons.

The theme for Zero Emissions Day 2022 is: Beyond net zero - to grow your climate impact by maximising your carbon handprint. Carbon handprint is a positive climate impact indicator. In contrast to carbon footprint, which refers to the negative environmental impact caused by greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life cycle of a product.

For many companies and organisations the day-to-day challenge of reducing their environmental footprint, using resources more efficiently and minimising emissions and waste, is already business as usual. Some have gone beyond this and are developing products, services and technologies that also reduce the environmental impacts of their customers. The need to calculate and communicate these positive environmental benefits is clear, yet there has been a lack of effective methods of achieving this. Some industries, individual companies, and initiatives have introduced handprints to communicate the environmental benefits of their actions.

A number of different mechanisms can contribute to a handprint. For a carbon handprint these contributors are typically more efficient material and energy use, replacing or avoiding unwanted materials, reducing waste, extending service life and reuse, or any combination of these. Carbon capture and storage may also be of growing importance as a carbon handprint contributor.

Japan, Korea, Canada, and New Zealand have passed laws committing to achieving net zero by 2050 while Ireland, Chile and Fiji have proposed legislation. The United Kingdom has a legally binding net zero target by 2050 and new interim targets to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035.

South Africa is the world’s 14th largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Its CO2 emissions are principally due to a heavy reliance on coal.

Many people participate by pledging to avoid using polluting transportation, such as cars and planes for the day. Others use the day to learn about renewable energy and natural resources, such as solar and wind power.

Ways to celebrate Zero Emissions Day:

Educate yourself and others about climate change

Watch documentaries, read articles and have conversations about what can be done to stop climate change.

Turn off all lights and electronics for one hour

This will save energy and help cut down on pollution.

Plant trees

Trees help to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide shade and shelter for local wildlife.

Unplug everything that is not essential

Save energy by unplugging your devices when you’re not using them. This includes your computer, TV, and phone chargers.

Support sustainable local businesses

Look for businesses that use recycled materials, renewable energy, or sustainable practices.

Plan a no-cook meal to eat

Use public transport rather than driving your car

This will help reduce traffic and pollution in your city.

Don’t use or burn oil, gas, or coal

In order to leave a liveable planet for future generations, it is necessary to set clear goals and provide the corresponding infrastructure. Zero Emissions Day is an important reminder that we all have a role to play in protecting the planet towards a future of environmental sustainability.

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