Celebrating Earth Hour 2019 – and what we can do beyond the hour
What will you be doing this Saturday, March 30th, at 8:30 p.m.? Like many of my colleagues and friends, I plan to join millions of other people around the world to celebrate Earth Hour by switching off the lights and using the evening to focus on the world’s urgent environmental issues.
For many years now my family and I have used Earth Hour as an opportunity to sit together in candlelight and take part in the global discussion. We then agree on some family actions, such as further reducing our car travels, planning vacations without flying, cutting back on our use of fossil-based packaging materials, and eating vegetarian family meals more often.
Listening to the children
Fighting climate change has always been a big part of my family's Earth Hour discussions, but this year my children are more engaged with that topic than ever before as a result of all the media attention that the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has generated with her school strike. For example, my nearly thirteen year old daughter and her friends recently joined hundreds of thousands of children in 100+ countries around the world who participated in the Global Climate Strike for the Future on March 15th to demand action on climate issues from "those in power".
"Now that we know what the situation is and how important it is to deal with it, lots of kids are getting involved," my daughter told me. I am so impressed by the dedication that she and her friends have shown during and after the demonstration.
One of the children I listened to after the demonstration said something that went directly to my heart: "Why should I spend time in school to educate myself for future opportunities, when the future is probably not there for me and my friends?"
It's encouraging that many leaders seem to be listening to Greta Thunberg's message – she was invited to speak at this year's World Economic Forum (WEF), for example, and President Emmanuel Macron of France arranged to meet with her when she was in Paris in February. Hopefully we will begin to see the results of this sharp rise in climate change awareness and public engagement in terms of bolder commitments and more effective climate policies sooner rather than later.
Doing our part, both as individuals and as companies
Whatever our politicians do, it's important to remember that we all – as individuals and as companies – need to take responsibility for figuring out how we can make a positive contribution toward lowering emissions and reducing our carbon footprints.
In the case of Ericsson we have been working hard to reduce climate-related emissions from our facilities. I'm pleased to report that at the end of 2018 our total facility emissions were down from 170 kton CO2 to 145 kton, which is a reduction of 13%. In 2017 we had reduction of 14% against baseline, which leave us with an 8% target to reach the 2022 agreement of 35% against baseline, so we are well ahead of reaching our commitment.
We are also proud of the fact that green energy accounted for 54.5% of total measured and estimated electricity consumption at Ericsson in 2018. In 2019 we are focusing on reviewing the increased share of green electricity and working locally with facility management providers to further reduce energy consumption, for example by concentrating on energy conservation measures such as changing lighting to LED, and optimizing assets. The yearly target for our facilities is part of our commitment to reach the Paris agreement, via our Science Based Targets.
Using our technology to cut emissions around the globe
As important as it is for us to reduce the emissions and carbon footprint of Ericsson's own operations, we remain firmly convinced that we can have a much greater impact by seeing to it that our technology is used to help others – both companies and individuals – reduce their emissions and carbon footprints. In the run-up to WEF this year, Ericsson's CEO Börje Ekholm and Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), wrote an excellent blog post on this topic called Digital technology can cut global emissions by 15%. Here's how.
A recent report about household energy consumption in the Stockholm Royal Seaport (SRS) project is further testimony to the fact that ICT can enable reduced emissions. Margareta Borg, head of strategy and sustainability & CR for market area Europe and Latin America, represented Ericsson in the panel discussion that was held when the report was launched.
Together with several other leading companies and organizations in Sweden, we contributed our technology and expertise to the SRS project to make it possible for energy consumers to see their total energy consumption – including electricity, warm water and heat – in real time. As a result, the participants could compare their energy consumption over time, as well as comparing their own results with those of their peers in the program. The report's findings clearly demonstrate that the increased awareness changed energy behavior in a positive direction for the environment and reduced annual energy consumption per household by an average of 10%. Check out the behavior results in Chapter 3 of the report – fascinating stuff!
Rededicate yourself to concrete positive action
Climate change and environmental degradation more broadly are undeniably very worrying subjects and it's all too easy to lose hope in the sea of bad news that we are all swimming in every day. But instead of feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, I hope you will join me in using Earth Hour as an opportunity to rededicate yourself to taking concrete positive action every day to make the world a better place for ourselves and our children. Check out the Earth Hour toolkits page to get some inspiration!