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We all must act now for a sustainable future

COP21 had ended last year in Paris with many media coverage of the event, followed by the big plans on how to reduce CO2 emission by country leaders. As an individual, when we do not even have enough time to spare, isn’t it too much for us to take care of these issues that seem so distant?

When you think some daily activities will not cause any harm to the earth, the truth is even the smallest thing like surfing Facebook or sending out emails will contribute to carbon emission. The total emission from IT-related service equaledemissions from the global aviation sector. And if you watch TV for 2 hours, it contributes 440g of carbon emission, same as a car that operated for 1.6km. We just somehow consume without knowing the existence of carbon emission in daily life.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that international efforts should aim at limiting global warming to 2°C by 2100 to avoid dangerous climate change. To do this, a substantial emission is needed. It is the responsibility of every one of us to help reduce carbon emission, and different parties can help in their own way.

For a country, they have the authority and resources to lead and set the goal, also to formulate regulations and rules that fit. That will cause a good impact in changing the fundamental consumption behavior and educating people on carbon emission. Singapore as an example, from 2001 they started a series of policies in improving the waste recycling rate and promoting renewable resources. In 2005, 56% of Singaporean families participated in the recycling program .The four waste-to-energy incineration plants now reduced the volume of municipal solid waste by 90% and contribute 2-3% of total electricity supply.This justified how the chain reactions from national policies will be helpful in keeping up the momentum on leading green habits and behaviors for businesses and individual.

All eyes are on the development of the application on renewable resources; no doubt this will be influential to business strategy and direction. In recent years, more companies are getting proactive on social responsibilities and took actions to show their commitments to the society and the environment. Asia Pulp & Paper  has kicked off a plan in China last year to install rooftop solar capacity at eight of its mills with approximately four million m2 of solar panels, the equivalent of 560 football pitches. The solar power generated will be enough to power more than 500,000 homes. With the additional support from government policies, it is foreseeable that more corporates will adopt sustainable production and take into consideration their impacts to the planet and the people in addition to profit.

As an individual, we can be a smart consumer and play our part by embracing sustainable consumption, such as choosing products that are from sustainable sources. One way to do it is by being more sensitive to the information attached on the package. Nowadays consumer not only can find product information on its packaging, green information or green labels can also be found. For example on one of the commodities we consume everyday, paper products, we can usually find environment logo such as the widely recognized industry certification, FSC  and PEFC. These certified products had gone through a series of strict and comprehensive audit to meet the standards. This and many other tiny logos are an easy first steps for consumers to develop a consumption habits that are more favorable to the environment. Every little steps you take counts on the path towards achieving the sustainable development of the environment, the society and the economy.

Lois Cheng 
Manager for Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement (Hong Kong) at Asia Pulp & Paper (APP)