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Small things matter

“Changes begin with small actions,” writes Laura Varja. “Reducing our emissions and compensating for those we cannot reduce plays an important role in preventing climate change.”

Changes begin with small actions. Although we can’t change the world at the push of a button, we can start on a journey towards a more sustainable future. Reducing our emissions and compensating for those we cannot reduce plays an important role in preventing climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on global warming, which was published in October last year, has triggered a lively discussion on climate issues. To reach the 1.5-degree temperature decrease target for climate warming, agreed in the Paris Agreement in 2015, we will need to take significant actions globally.

Fortunately, the work has already begun and successful examples have already been introduced. Finland has been, and can continue to be, a forerunner in sustainability: the country is known for its cleantech industries, and it has the second-highest share of renewable energy in Europe.

For me, responsibility means minimising our environmental impact, having equal encounters with people and, in my working area, ensuring sustainable business. Only responsible choices create a sustainable future. For example, the airline industry has been building the future of more sustainable air transport for a long time, and the work continues. Flying has significant positive economic and social impacts, and therefore it plays an important role in today’s world. For example, the Aviapolis area, created around air transport in Finland, corresponds to about four per cent of Finland’s GDP. For many countries, tourism is a major source of work and income. Global aviation demand is expected to grow by about 4.5 per cent per year over the next two decades – and it must be done in a sustainable way.

“Only together can we stop climate change, and we must take actions now.”

Technology, such as modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions. By optimising the weight onboard and the flight route, altitude and speed, we can minimise the fuel consumption of aircraft. The aviation industry has also committed to carbon-neutral growth in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). It also contributes to the world’s first and biggest carbon market, the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).

Carbon offsetting initiatives offer individuals and companies the chance to invest in environmental projects in order to balance out their own carbon footprints. Carbon sinks, like Finnish forests, reduce CO2, as they absorb more carbon than they release as carbon dioxide.

On top of the technological innovations and regulations, we also need solutions for individuals – and compensating for our personal emissions is a good alternative. When travelling, by aeroplane or ship, I always compensate for the CO2 emissions caused by my trip. I also consider carefully what to take with me and pack light. Choosing the most direct route and combining other transport means such as train are other ways to reduce my carbon footprint. These are maybe small acts, but they are significant to me. Only together can we stop climate change, and we must take actions now. I also truly believe that small things matter.

Laura Varja
Communications consultant, Finnair