What's the deal with climate change?
Climate change is an increase in global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions. It’s happening. Not in 100 years. Not in the next generation. Now. The average global temperature is increasing and is certain to continue unless we take drastic measures to change our lifestyles.
The impact of this is very real - forest fires, hurricanes, reduced food output, rising sea levels, etc. What will happen to your home when the seas rise by 2 meters in the next 80 years? Most of Abu Dhabi and Dubai will be flooded. See it for yourself here.
The effect of climate change on the global economy will be 5-6 times worse than the impact COVID-19 has had this year. Except this would happen every single year in perpetuity. No vaccine. No waiting for the second wave to pass. Just...forever.
Unfortunately, most of the things we enjoy in our daily lives are causing greenhouse gas emissions, which is why this is so difficult to solve. The main causes of emissions are:
- Power (30%) that we use for the air conditioning, lights, and appliances in commercial buildings and at home
- Industry (18%) to produce the cement and steel we use in building our cities, homes, and vehicles
- Transportation (17%) that we use on the road, trains, ships, and airplanes
- Agriculture (10%) to produce the food we eat, including what we waste
What is the global community doing?
The first estimates of the effect of climate change were already made in the late 1800s, but it took the world 100 years to start taking the problem seriously. Renewables, like solar power and wind turbines, are some of the most important developments to curb climate change so far. But still only deliver around 2% of the worlds’ energy needs.
In 2015 most countries committed to the Paris agreement, which aims to curb climate change by reaching net-zero global emissions by 2050. As with many initiatives that require shifting nations, it is a slow journey when time has already run out.
The good news is that consumers are increasingly demanding action and this is actually working! In our region, a few large investment companies have stopped financing the oil and gas sectors. Oil and gas companies themselves are investing in renewables, and some of our governments are taking stronger action in funding green technologies.
What can small businesses do?
At Ruson we believe that small businesses can have big impact. SMEs represent 90% of businesses and contribute to over 50% of the GDP in the UAE. We wanted to create a climate responsible framework that other small businesses can lean on and customers can learn from. The world needs a ‘net zero’ economy and getting there means everyone needs to be ‘net zero’.
At Ruson we take three main steps to have net-zero emissions:
We calculate the emissions across our entire value chain; from production of the clay to the emissions caused by producing the power your washing machine uses when you wash a Ruson cup. Creating transparency is the first step to understanding where the issues are.
We look across all areas of our business to reduce emissions. Whether it is establishing a home-studio (to reduce transportation emissions) or sourcing raw materials locally – we take action to avoid emissions in the first place when we can.
However, in today’s energy system it is not possible to get to zero emissions. Some supplies are still shipped in from abroad. The electricity consumed in the kiln is still mainly coming from gas-fired power plants. But, because we know how much carbon is still being emitted we make sure to take these emissions out of the air again. To do this, we plant trees in areas directly affected by our supply chain, such as mangrove and ghaf trees locally in the UAE.
There is more work to be done, but our meticulous implementation of each of these steps means our ceramics are Carbon Neutral. While the Ruson team works with governments and large corporations on the climate agenda at a large scale, we encourage our fellow small business owners to try experimenting with any of the three steps above. We’re happy to help. If you need it, please get in touch.