World Environment Day: Saving Planet Earth

by Ajit Dalvi 05 Jun 2021


It’s June 5 today and World Environment Day. Coming 45 days after Earth Day (April 22), since 1974, this date has been associated with World Environment Day. It is, like Earth Day, celebrated every year, engaging governments, businesses and citizens in an all-encompassing effort to address pressing environmental issues the world over.

For too long, we have been exploiting and destroying Planet Earth’s ecosystems. As the UN says, every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and over the last century we have destroyed half of our wetlands. As much as 50 percent of our coral reefs have already been lost and up to 90 percent of coral reefs could be lost by 2050, even if global warming is limited to an increase of 1.5degC.

Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it. This World Environment Day will kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea.

Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact (Image: UN & CIFOR). 

Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity.

Remember, Environment Day is every day, and anywhere you are. And in a time of climate change, it's the last call for a healthier planet – it's the only one we have.

UN Secretary General: "Let's achieve net zero emissions by 2050."
In his address to the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting held in Chile on June 2, Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, said: “I thank the Government of Chile for hosting the sixth Mission Innovation Ministerial and for launching Mission Innovation 2.0. Mission Innovation plays a crucial role in accelerating solutions to address climate disruption. We agree on our common goal -- cut global emissions by 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.”

He added, “To do that, we must act fast. First, by building a global coalition for net-zero emissions by mid-century. Every country, every city, and every industry must come on board. Second, all countries – starting with major emitters – should submit more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions for mitigation, adaptation and finance. Third, these plans need to be backed with concrete actions and policies for the next 10 years that are aligned with net zero emissions by 2050.”

“The energy sector is at the heart of this. Phasing out coal is the single most important step to get in line with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement. I commend the commitment of the G7 to phase out domestic and international coal finance. We must now see the G20 follow suit.

This decade must also be when renewable energy overtakes fossil fuels. Countries must shift fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy. Net-zero emissions electricity systems must be the norm in advanced economies by 2035 and globally by 2040. The technology and the economics are on our side.”

How to s-t-r-e-t-c-h every litre of fuel or plug in to EVs
Now, 47 years after Environment Day first came into being, the automotive and other industries are seized of the immensity of the environmental issue. Vehicle and component manufacturers are taking to new materials, technologies and processes to lightweight vehicles to s-t-r-e-t-c-h every litre of fuel to the maximum, motorists still tanking up on fossil fuel can also their bit to conserve petrol and diesel. Or shift their motoring focus to electrified vehicles. All in a bid to stave off pollution and save Planet Earth.

As is known, India Auto Inc remarkably, in a span of just three years, made the technological upgrade to BS VI, which kicked in from April 1, 2020. Since then, vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and the entire eco-system are continually working towards reducing emissions. Autocar Professional’s recent virtual conclave on ‘Meeting Emission Challenges’, held on April 28-29, saw over 20 top industry experts debate and discuss the greener path ahead, need for stable policy and adoption of the latest technologies.

Do your bit for Planet Earth . . . slash emissions
Meanwhile, the cost of fossil-fuelled motoring is going only one way – up. The price of petrol and diesel , already at record highs across India, continues to rise every other day. While we can’t do anything about the price of fuel, we can offer you a few pointers on how to increase your car's fuel economy. Follow these 10 handy tips to improve motoring efficiency and get the best kilometres per litre from your car.

Tip 1: Remove weight
Remove excess weight. Take unnecessary bulky items out of the car, such as that golf bag you carry for the weekend and forget to take out for the rest of the week. Also, if the kids are staying at home, so can their teddy bears.

Tip 2: Reduce drag
Remove external carrying kit such as roof boxes whenever they aren’t being used. The car has to work harder to cut through the air due to the extra wind resistance such items create.

Tip 3: Basic maintenance
Keep your car well maintained and serviced regularly. Pump up your tyres to reduce resistance and get the car serviced regularly.

Tip 4: Plan journeys
Plan your journey. Avoid traffic black spots and busy times if possible, and get the map or sat-nav out to avoid getting lost and driving farther than necessary.

Tip 5: Turn off air-conditioning
Unless it’s really cold or uncomfortably warm in the car, leave the air-con turned off. Using it can put a strain on the engine and burn more fuel, especially at low speeds. The same goes for heated windscreens, demisters and other electrical appliances.

Tip 6: Change up early
Be gentle and change gear early. Accelerate and brake gently, and change to a higher gear as soon as possible. As a general guide, change up before 2000rpm in a diesel and 2500rpm in a petrol, without letting the engine struggle at low revs.

Tip 7: Use engine stop/start
Lots of modern cars are fitted with engine stop-start technology, which can be great if you let it work properly. Sit with your foot on the clutch and the engine will continue to burn fuel; take it off and you’ll save money and fuel.

Tip 8: Obey speed limits
Stick to the speed limits – it helps conserve fuel. Where it is appropriate, driving at a steady speed of 80 kilometres per hour (kph) instead of 110kph can improve fuel economy by 25 percent.

Tip 9: Read the road
Use gravity to your advantage and build up momentum when going downhill to help you then get uphill, rather than accelerating more to get up the incline. The best way to do this is to read the road as if you were on a pushbike and accelerate accordingly.

Tip 10: Use gravity
Look far ahead while driving and keep moving where possible by anticipating obstacles. Easing off the throttle and keeping momentum is better than speeding up, braking and then starting all over again.

Tip 11: Go electric 
If you really want to make a difference, both to your conscience as well as to your wallet, then think electric vehicle (EV). While the initial cost of an EV (whether on four or two wheels) is on the higher side, EV manufacturers and the government are working on strategies to reduce this. But in terms of greener motoring, this is a smart way to reduce fossil fuel consumption and also reduce CO2 levels.

Yes, there are challenges in the form of an inadequate charging infrastructure in India, few EVs on offer but this is set to change in the future. A greener one.

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