Norway's Enova hands $114mn for hydrogen production    Gold prices in Egypt on June 29    World Bank to provide Egypt $500 million to enhance food security – minister    Saudi citizens could enter Schengen countries visa-free    Egypt's Petrojet returns to Libyan oil sector after 11 years    Cemex, VeryNile sign deal for Egypt's Nile River    NATO remarks Egypt's role in maintaining stability in Middle East and Africa    Congo needs Egypt's expertise to diversify its economy – FPI official    Dostarlimab drug cures rectal cancer patient 100%, trials show    Egypt: A royal train turns into a new tourism attraction    Conclusions and Recommendations of the 1st edition of Africa Health ExCon    For the first time John Legend to perform in Egypt    Egypt discovers newly treasure trove of ancient artifacts at Saqqara Necropolis    Noura Al-Mutair – first Gulf female boxer in World Championships    Liverpool fans: "You'll Never Walk Alone" to Cristiano Ronaldo    Egypt to play key role in integrating water, climate issues globally – World Bank official    Egypt's telecoms regulator announces working hours for holy month of Ramadan    Maha karara joins AAIB as Head of Corporate Communications, Sustainability    Egypt works on charting cooperation strategies with international institutions for 5 years: Al-Mashat    Over 2.4 million newborns examined for hearing impairment: Health Ministry    Netflix releases trailer of Arab adaption of 'Perfect Strangers' film    Balqees to headline concert celebrating launch of streaming giant LIVENow in MENA    Sawsan Badr to be honoured at Aswan Women Film Festival    MP Abdel Hady Al-Qasby calls government to facilitate and support NGOs    Al-Sisi follows up on 'Great Transfiguration Project' in St. Catherine    Cairo, London stress need to strengthen cooperation to face climate change    Foreigners account for 22.6% of Egypt's T-bills issuances in 1H 2021: CBE    Egypt's ambassador to Italy passes away    Egypt confirms readiness to help African countries face terrorism and extremism    An estimated 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, an increase of 40% compared to 2020: IOM Egypt    Egypt, DRC discuss water cooperation during WYF    Egypt, DR Congo discuss boosting bilateral cooperation during WYF    Cameroonian police probe assault on three Algerian journalists covering AFCON    Pharaohs start AFCON 2021 campaign with fierce clash against Nigeria    Foreign Ministry opens capacity building course for French-speaking African diplomats    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Sustainable humanity
Published in Daily News Egypt on 01 - 02 - 2012

ADDIS ABABA: Sustainable development means achieving economic growth that is widely shared and that protects the earth's vital resources. Our current global economy, however, is not sustainable, with more than one billion people left behind by economic progress and the earth's environment suffering terrible damage from human activity. Sustainable development requires mobilizing new technologies that are guided by shared social values.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has rightly declared sustainable development to be at the top of the global agenda. We have entered a dangerous period in which a huge and growing population, combined with rapid economic growth, now threatens to have a catastrophic impact on the earth's climate, biodiversity, and fresh-water supplies. Scientists call this new period the Anthropocene — in which human beings have become the main causes of the earth's physical and biological changes.
The Secretary-General's Global Sustainability Panel has issued a new report that outlines a framework for sustainable development. The GSP rightly notes that sustainable development has three pillars: ending extreme poverty; ensuring that prosperity is shared by all, including women, youth, and minorities; and protecting the natural environment. These can be termed the economic, social, and environmental pillars of sustainable development, or, more simply, the “triple bottom line” of sustainable development.
The GSP has called for world leaders to adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that will help to shape global policies and actions after the 2015 target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Whereas the MDGs focus on reducing extreme poverty, the SDGs will focus on all three pillars of sustainable development: ending extreme poverty, sharing the benefits of economic development for all of society, and protecting the Earth.
It is, of course, one thing to set SDGs and quite another to achieve them. The problem can be seen by looking at one key challenge: climate change. Today, there are seven billion people on the planet, and each one, on average, is responsible for the release each year of a bit more than four tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This CO2 is emitted when we burn coal, oil, and gas to produce electricity, drive our cars, or heat our homes. All told, humans emit roughly 30 billion tons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere, enough to change the climate sharply within a few decades.
By 2050, there will most likely be more than nine billion people. If these people are richer than people today (and therefore using more energy per person), total emissions worldwide could double or even triple. This is the great dilemma: we need to emit less CO2, but we are on a global path to emit much more.
We should care about that scenario, because remaining on a path of rising global emissions is almost certain to cause havoc and suffering for billions of people as they are hit by a torrent of droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, and more. We have already experienced the onset of this misery in recent years, with a spate of devastating famines, floods, and other climate-related disasters.
So, how can the world's people – especially its poor people – benefit from more electricity and more access to modern transportation, but in a way that saves the planet rather than destroys it? The truth is that we can't – unless we improve dramatically the technologies that we use.
We need to use energy far more wisely while shifting from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources. Such decisive improvements are certainly possible and economically realistic.
Consider the energy inefficiency of an automobile, for example. We currently move around 1,000 to 2,000 kilograms of machinery to transport only one or just a few people, each weighing perhaps 75 kilograms (165 lbs.). And we do so using an internal combustion engine that utilizes only a small part of the energy released by burning the gasoline. Most of the energy is lost as waste heat.
We could therefore achieve huge reductions in CO2 emissions by converting to small, lightweight, battery-powered vehicles running on highly efficient electric motors and charged by a low-carbon energy source such as solar power. Even better, by shifting to electric vehicles, we would be able to use cutting-edge information technology to make them smart – even smart enough to drive themselves using advanced data-processing and positioning systems.
The benefits of information and communications technologies can be found in every area of human activity: better farming using GPS and micro-dosing of fertilizers; precision manufacturing; buildings that know how to economize on energy use; and, of course, the transformative, distance-erasing power of the Internet. Mobile broadband is already connecting even the most distant villages in rural Africa and India, thereby cutting down significantly on the need for travel.
Banking is now done by phone, and so, too, is a growing range of medical diagnostics. Electronic books are beamed directly to handheld devices, without the need for bookshops, travel, and the pulp and paper of physical books. Education is increasingly online as well, and will soon enable students everywhere to receive first-rate instruction at almost a zero “marginal” cost for enrolling another student.
Yet getting from here to sustainable development will not just be a matter of technology. It will also be a matter of market incentives, government regulations, and public support for research and development. But, even more fundamental than policies and governance will be the challenge of values. We must understand our shared fate, and embrace sustainable development as a common commitment to decency for all human beings, today and in the future.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. This commentary is published by DAILY NEWS EGYPT in collaboration with Project Syndicate (

Clic here to read the story from its source.