Continuing their legal and scientific approaches to abate carbon footprint, the EFL held its newest instalment of Green Conversations recently in Colombo.
A line-up of speakers from diverse disciplines enlightened the audience on aspects of the issue of Climate Change which despite being a trending topic, still lacks enough action taken to stop it. Despite the constant news reports on catastrophes in nature, record-breaking climate conditions and other environmental abnormalities, society still views climate change as a problem for the future-all the while the surroundings we grew up with are slowly and progressively deteriorating.
Putting into perspective, these alterations that miss the oblivious mind, Ranga Pallawala, the CEO of Janathakshan shared with the audience a mental image of the Nuwara Eliya of his childhood versus its reality today.
This chilly town, which was once the only place in Sri Lanka where coconut oil was sold in kilograms of wrapped pieces, can no longer boast of this unique feature.
He added that refrigerators and fans, which were alien objects during his childhood in Nuwara Eliya, are now becoming a commodity even there.
“This is because the average temperature has gone higher. We don’t feel it, but this is the reality,” Pallawala expressed.
On the topic of the Impact of climate change on extreme weather patterns, Shiromani Jayawardena of the Department of Meteorology explained how the climate changes through the interactions between its components (the atmosphere the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, land surface, and the biosphere) with external factors such as volcanic eruptions or solar variations, and human-induced factors such as changes to the atmosphere and changes in land use.
With the now unpredictable and irregular weather patterns, Sri Lanka has left communities vulnerable in the face of a multitude of natural hazards including droughts, landslides and floods.
As a result, Climate Resilience built up through ecological infrastructure and disaster risk management were described as a most necessary mechanism by Chamila Weerathunghe of the International Labour Organisation. Land use, policy planning, and natural and water resource management are key areas in disaster risk management, but in the occurrence of a said disaster, policies to protect the fauna, the economy and community need attention and implementation as well.
In response to the crisis, Captain Duminda Samarawickrama of the Sri Lanka Navy discussed the preventive measures taken by the Navy amidst rising seawater levels, increased coastal inundation, irregularities in rainfall and temperature and Sri Lanka’s consequent position as a vulnerable island nation.
He revealed that in 2018 the Navy completed the plantation of 100,000 mangrove saplings. Furthering their bid to conserve the marine environment, they also replanted corals in the Northern and Eastern seas.
In addition to the welfare organizations and the environment, the corporate giants and industries, that usually are labelled as culprits, are also retracing their steps it seems.
Representing them and proving that such massive carbon footprints are reversible and restorable in multi-fold, Sharika Senanayake, the Director of Environmental Sustainability at MAS shared how greener policies even make business sense.
“Through simple changes, we made in terms of lighting, air conditioning efficiency etc, we have had a 20% savings since 2010,” she stated. Apart from that, MAS has also value-enhanced and upcycled waste as a raw material or new resource, invested in renewable energy, and are working to achieve zero-toxicity in their products, processes and supply chains.
Urging that the young generation of Sri Lanka wields their Greta Thunberg’s and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortezes to join the global fight for the home planet, Dr Eric Wikramanayake (Chairperson, EFL/ Director, WWF), stressed on the importance of stirring up bigger responses. The government, he continued has made pledges and promises for which they must be held accountable within a legal framework.
“20 years or more ago I could’ve said that small things like turning off light switches, taking mass transportation, conserving energy and other individual actions would contribute significantly as a global advocate, but not anymore.
“I think it’s far too late for us to fixate on the small things. Climate change is here…and the trajectories are far exceeding those projected by climate models…We have to start a climate revolution…a movement to convince society, policymakers and the business community about the impending dangers,” he stated.