Welcome to the blog of the Broad Curriculum course Living Sustainably: A complete guide to surviving a changing planet. This course is run by Professor Nick Gray of the Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Agreeing to Painting Paradise rather than Conserving It

Society today is empowered with knowledge regarding sustainable living. We are more aware than ever of the devastating impact that we are having on our environment. Governments have implemented plans, strategies and quotas, yet we continue to cut away chunk after chunk of our natural habitat and replace it brick by brick with concrete and carbon dioxide. We side step the rules, cheat the system and admire the photos of nature while grumbling at our expanding dull, grey environment. Below I outline how we silence our conscience while disregarding the impact that we are having on the environment.
The Kayoto Protocol was set up in 1992 in order to reduce and stabilize emission levels. Although in theory the concept looks good it has ultimately failed because America refused to sign on, claiming that it was ‘fatally flawed in fundamental ways’. As the largest total emitter and the largest emitter per capita in the world this resulted in drastic under-achievements of KP.
The Cap and Trade system implicated in Europe in 2008 initially sounded positive. However we created loopholes for major companies allowing them to buy extra CDM/JI credits on the market, which now are too inexpensive to impact the emission levels of a company at any significant level. We also were extremely generous with the emission allowances allocated to countries, therefore impinging on the possible positive outcomes for our environment.
In short we seem satisfied with paying lip service to sustainable living in an effort to silence our conscience without really acting upon ideas. In order to actually make a difference we must begin to implement our policies correctly and be willing to come to a compromise between economics and sustainability.

Rebecca O’Connor

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