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My climate action wish list for 2019

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a great holiday break and are ready to make the world a better place this year.

2018 was a pretty amazing year for me on a personal level. I got settled into a new job and a new city, started a campaign against single-use plastics with a group of friends, and started giving guided tours in Brussels to showcase citizen initiatives that are making the Belgian capital more sustainable. Although these two projects kept me from writing blog posts as much as I would have wanted, they were very rewarding and brought me in contact with a lot of inspiring people.

The satisfaction I got out of my work was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that humankind did a pretty bad job preparing for a low-carbon society. Over and over again, I was disappointed in the lack of urgency in the business world and among policy makers. Not the least when the climate conference COP24 in Poland ended with meagre results and barely increased commitments from member states. All this after a number of unambiguous scientific reports laid out clearly that time is running out.

In short, they come down to the following: to limit catastrophic climate change, we need to keep global warming under 1,5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. How to make that happen? Cut carbon emissions by half by 2030 (12 years from now!) and be carbon neutral by 2050. Footnote: worldwide emissions are currently still on the rise.

What better way to wash away that somewhat bitter aftertaste of 2018, with some optimistic dreams for what the future could bring? I sat down with a cup of cinnamon tea and drafted up a list of climate action wishes for 2019. By no means exhaustive, but hey, if we can move forward on all these fronts this year I will be a happy man!

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6 presents with a purpose (Infographic)

Oooff, that went quick! We are at the end of yet another year and it seems like time flew by even faster than usual. In less than two weeks it is Christmas, which means we all have to start the increasingly difficult search for original presents for our loved ones. My personal favourites are things people make themselves: homemade chocolate cookies, a hand-drawn card, maybe a knitted beanie against the winter cold. It might cost you a lot more time than buying something in a shop or online –and that’s exactly the point: that effort is highly appreciated! It is also far better than going on a shopping haul, ending up with stuff nobody really needs, and often packaged in tonnes of plastic. Planet Earth does not approve.

That being said, if you are horrible in the kitchen and have two left hands, or are just short one time, buying a gift might be the safest option to avoid disappointment on Christmas Eve. In the infographic below, I listed some of the brands I discovered in 2018 that create products with a heart for the planet. Besides creating great products, many of them donate part of their profits to a good cause. This way your purchase can help address environmental or social issues around the world!

I wish all of you a great holiday season with family and friends, enjoy the time together :)

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COP24 in coal town Katowice: what to expect?

It’s that time of the year again. The days are getting shorter, the trees have shed off their last leaves, and the city is preparing itself for the Christmas festivities. It can only mean one thing: the yearly climate conference is around the corner! This summit, known as Conference of the Parties or COP, in short, is ready for its 24th edition. This year’s host is the (former) coal king of coal-addicted Poland: Katowice.

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How to reduce the footprint of your furry friends

As some of you know, I live in the centre of Brussels, where green space is scarcer than the hair on my old math professor’s head in the second year of university. I, therefore, was a bit shocked that a couple of weeks ago, a fence blocked off part of the already limited patch of greenery around the corner. ‘Dog zone’, the plaque on the newly installed enclosure read.

I truly was a tad annoyed at first. But when I saw two four-footers testing out their new playground, I just could not hold back a smile at the sight of their playful fight. Grumpiness gone. Nonetheless, the whole situation had sparked a question. While it is easily measurable how much green space we give away to pets in our cities, it is less obvious how much of humankind’s carbon budget is eaten away by them –literally.

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Why I will not read the new IPCC report

I have been extremely busy lately and therefore running completely behind on my writing schedule. If that was not enough, the IPCC decided to publish another of its so-many-hundreds-of-pages-counting reports on climate change. This time I decided to not even start reading the executive summary. Why, you ask? Because I am getting so damn tired of reports, press conferences, talks, climate summits, and what not the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been dropping on us since the first global Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

The cover of the IPCC’s latest special report on global warming.

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What happens in the Arctic… does not stay in the Arctic

I just returned from a hiking trip through the North of Spain when sitting down to write this blog post. Besides the beautiful deciduous forests, mountains, and the refined kitchen of the Basque country, I also faced the ever burning sun. Once I crossed the mountains along the coastline and headed onto the plateau of Alava, no trees stood between me and the burning rays. At one particularly hot afternoon, my thoughts drifted off to cooler places. Maybe, I thought in the delirium of the moment, next year I go to the Arctic instead.

My dull train of thoughts came to a sudden stop. Travelling to the Arctic? yelled my inner voice outraged. Do you even realise what kind of impact that would have on such pristine environment?

Arctic ice is melting at an accelerating pace, as a result of warming at a speed twice as high as the global average.

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