Caio Guatelli for Folha de S. Paulo
Despite intense protests to steer the course of climate policies, the resolution achieved by negotiators at COP26, which ended last Saturday, to limit global warming was below target.
The hindrance for global cooperation around climate goals was the lack of capacity to finance the renewal of environmental preservation policies of poorer nations. Increased flexibility in the carbon market and the setback in plans to reset fossil fuels subsidies show how government actions continue to be insufficient in order to mitigate the impact of human interference in the environment’s stability.
Preserve forests, stabilize human consumption and decrease the emission of pollutants – crucial actions to interrupt global warming – are goals for all of us, citizens that rely on the clean water and the clean air that are still left in this world.
It is not necessary – nor is there time to – await international or State agreements for the restoration of our environment to occur. The change of habits by society could be the big leap needed to correct the course of our planet, avoiding a state of intense social and economic crisis caused by a severe environmental imbalance.
As cycling activist and documentary filmmaker, Renata Falzoni stated: “we are still ashamed to sweat, to arrive places on a bike” – a reflection of the perverse investments from the industrial sector that, for decades, dictated “developed” social habits; habits that almost always relied on excessive consumption of natural resources.
To push for a reverse path, where society imposes standards to the industry, through a collective movement of changing habits, is vital for the shift in climate policies that governments have not been able to achieve.
For various reasons, not everyone can immediately embark on new ecological habits. To eat organic food or reset personal carbon emissions from night to day is practically impossible for the majority of humans. Yet, to those who can, swapping the car for the bike, the elevator for the stairs, or at least avoiding as much as possible everything that moves the oil, mining and pesticide industries is already an remarkable effort to help restore the environment and force governments and industrial sectors to reassess their interests.
Choosing electric vehicles (EVs) is an option that can make a difference and it should be a decision made with care. To follow this path with a “clean” environmental conscious, two basic questions should be aligned with the concepts of sustainability.
1- Where does the energy that moves the electric motor come from?
In Brazil, the energy matrix is in its majority renewable, and a bulk of the energy is produced in power plants (this isn’t necessarily a good thing as forest flooding occurs during this process). Moreover, production in thermal plants continues to be high, especially during dry seasons. The most sustainable alternative today would be wind and solar power plants.
The safest way to guarantee the supply of clean energy is to have your own generating plant to fuel your vehicle. To the sceptics I say: this is not a utopic idea! There are people paying “zero” to fuel all types of EVs. Installing solar panels on their homes or businesses to charge their electric bikes (or cars) with clean energy is an investment that can pay off in less than 5 years according to 77Sol, a company that offers such services and equipment.
For those who prefer to test before buying, ZMatch is a pioneer company that offers the service of sharing EVs that are fuelled exclusively by solar panels. For now, the vehicles are offered only to those that buy investment quotas, but the plan is to have, in as early as 2022, publicly shared electric bike stations – as well as stations of other types of EVs – in strategic locations in some capitals of the country.
2- Where does the battery of this EV come from and where does it go?
For David Noronha, CEO of Energy Source, the only company that recycles lithium ion batteries in Brazil, guaranteeing minimum mining – and maximum reuse and recycle – of metals and battery components is the great challenge for the future of transport and electricity. David conveys that, besides being a pioneer in recycling, Energy Source also holds the patent for the recycling process with zero carbon emission, developed in partnership with UNESP, CNPQ, UFSC and Uni Maringá.
Technological resources are abundantly available to put our planet back on track. The big question is our willingness (and the willingness of brave companies, like the ones mentioned above) to change our hazardous habits. To quote a group of scientists concerned with the faulty policies from COP26: “Our greatest challenges are not technical; they are social, economic, political and behavioural”.