LET'S GO GREEN! - The European Green Deal

Introduction

“Education is crucial to addressing climate change, as it enables people to acquire the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed to mitigate the impact of global warming and contribute to sustainable development.” UNESCO

Task

How much carbon dioxide do you send into the atmosphere? Anytime you do something that requires fossil fuels — like riding in a car, flying in a plane, buying something, eating something, or even just watching TV — you emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Our individual carbon dioxide emissions are a part of the total emissions on Earth. All of the cars and trucks that we drive, the boxes we ship, the products we manufacture, the emissions from the food we eat, the air-conditioning we use in our buildings — it all adds up.

Your task for this webquest is to find out how much your actions affect greenhouse gases. Once you have calculated your carbon footprint, you will think about ways to make it smaller. We add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as we go about our daily lives, but often we can make choices that reduce these emissions.

Process

 Activity 1: A Wicked Problem

Step 1: To solve the issues of climate change we need to learn to balance conflicting interests. Watch the video below and answer the questions:

  • What does the future look like for the monkeys in these videos?
  • In the human world where do we see these conflicts happening ?

Academics call tricky issues like these WICKED problems.

  1. They are complicated and difficult (maybe impossible) to resolve.
  2. There are lots of different people needing and wanting different things.
  3. They are interconnected and if you solve one thing somewhere it can have a harmful impact elsewhere.

 

Step 2: The Knotty Tree Problem

An ancient fruit tree sits in the middle of a village.  Half the village wants to chop it down and the other half wants to leave it.What could be their reasons?Consider:

  • Financial gain (selling the wood)
  • Basic needs (housing, heat, cooking, food, shade)
  • Local ecology (animals relying on the tree for food and shelter)
  • The environment (keeping the air and water clean, the soil stable)

You will now work in 4 groups and come up with arguments to make your case and share them with the class:

- group 1: you want to cut down the tree, and plan to sell the wood to make money

- group 2: you want to cut down the tree, and plan to use the wood to construct a building (a home, a school, a hotel)

- group 3: you want to leave the tree standing for the people and animals who rely on the fruit and shelter of the tree

- group 4: you want to leave the tree standing, as you are all scientists concerned with global warming and protecting biodiversity

 Present your arguments in front of the class. Can you work together to reduce the harm? How can we make everyone happy (or not too unhappy)? Is there a FAIR outcome?

Step 3: Research some real-world examples of WICKED problems: https://uq.pressbooks.pub/publicinterestcomm/chapter/wicked-problems/

 Present your findings to your colleagues. 

 

Activity 2: Your CARBON FOOTPRINT Explained

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.

The Consumer Footprint Calculator allows you to calculate the environmental impacts of your consumption pattern, as well as to evaluate how changes in your lifestyle may affect your personal footprint. It considers five areas of consumption, namely food, mobility, housing, household appliances, and household goods.

  • Go to https://knowsdgs.jrc.ec.europa.eu/cfc to calculate your carbon footprint.
  • When you have the results of the calculator, save the link to access your results and edit your submission if necessary.
  • From the main menu, check “Results by area of consumption” and “Comparison with the average EU citizen”.
  • Click on “Product contribution to your impacts” and check the tips on the right hand corner. Make a list of the 10 things you could do to lower your carbon footprint. Make sure you check the tips for all the categories (appliances, housing, food, household goods, mobility).

Tackling climate change is a big task, but there are clear ways of cutting your contribution to carbon emissions, also known as your carbon footprint. This is how changing three aspects of your life can make a difference:

 What are the 3 apects mentioned in the video? 

 

This is one of the comments to the YouTube video you have just watched: "The thing is there is a logical flaw in this vid: An individual does not create much of a carbon footprint that is within their ability to manage. (as mentioned in 1:58 ) The things that are out of their ability to manage is such things like buying a E-car to reduce carbon footprint but we can't choose the resources needed to make them which creates a carbon footprint. Can we choose renewable energy the electricity companies give us? Can we choose the type of plastic companies use for our bottles? Yes an individual can cut down their carbon footprint but such effort is in vain if a company is producing a thousand times that, which begs the question; should we be focusing on changing how companies source things rather than an individuals carbon footprint?"

Do you agree?

Do you know of any international, national or regional political initiatives to take action on climate change (global warming)?

 

Activity 3: The European Green Deal

The EU Green Deal is a coordinated set of policies and legislation designed to lower the European Union’s global warming emissions to zero over the next 30 years. It intends to not only do so without diminishing the EU’s economy but while also improving the quality of life for the nearly half-billion people who live within the European Union. 

Using the information from the website below, work in groups to analyse some of the policies of the Green Deal and write 3 objectives for each area of focus.

https://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/en/knowledge/publications/c50c4cd9/the-eu-green-deal-explained

Group 1: Climate action — for making the EU climate neutral by 2050

Group 2: Eliminating pollution — for efforts to cut pollution rapidly and efficiently

Group 3: Sustainable mobility — for promoting the roll-out of cleaner, cheaper, and healthier forms of transport, both private and public

Group 4: Clean energy — for decarbonizing the energy sector

Group 5: From farm to fork — for ways to ensure more sustainable food systems

Group 6: Biodiversity — for restoring degraded ecosystems and helping to reach a balance with nature

Present your work to the class. 

 

Activity 4: Everyday actions make positive change!

Check this website: https://www.anatomyofaction.org/ with useful tips on making a positive impact in the world.

In multinational teams, choose one of the key lifestyle areas of impact presented on the website (food, stuff, move, fun) and create a short video or vlog aimed at moving society to climate action. Take these tips into consideration:

1. make it feel personal, urgent and local. Keep in mind that for most people, climate change still seems like a fairly abstract problem–something that’s happening far away, to polar bears, or something that won’t really happen until the distant future;

2. be positive. People instinctively avoid stories about loss–whether that’s the loss of endangered species, or the loss of everyday behaviors like eating meat or flying. The alternative is talking about opportunity and solutions. Messages can also focus on personal and more immediate opportunities. New bike paths don’t have to be framed as a climate solution, but as a way to get healthier and look better.

3. give people a way to take visible, consistent action. It’s easy to rationalize non-action: what difference does it really make if one person decides to drive or not to recycle? But if we don’t take simple everyday actions, it might also mean that we’re less likely to support broader climate policy.

 

Evaluation

Try to answer these questions at the end of this webquest:

- How would you summarize today's lesson in one sentence?

- What 3 new things have you learned today?

- What did you find easy?

- What did you find difficult?

- Is there something you would like to learn more about, in the future?

 

Conclusion

Climate change refers to the change in the normal weather patterns experienced around the globe for an extended period of time. There are many contributing factors that play a role in climate change. Some natural climate change factors include ocean variations, tilt of the planet, plate tectonics, and more. Human contributions like burning fossil fuels play as a contributing factor by trapping that heat in the earth's atmosphere. Some examples of burning fossil fuels include oil and coal which emits greenhouse gasses in the earth's atmosphere.

Lowering individual carbon footprints doesn’t happen overnight! By making small changes to our actions, like eating less meat, taking fewer connecting flights and line drying our clothes, we can start making a big difference. The choices we make every day in our homes, our travel, the food we eat, and what we buy and throw away can help ensure a stable climate for future generations.