Actions to Solutions
There is no doubt that actions must be taken to reduce our environmental impacts and keep this earth comfortably inhabitable. These actions can be taken in many forms, on many different levels, all with different impacts. Figuring out where to take these actions may be difficult, and finding the path with the least resistance but most efficiency is a truly challenging balancing game.
Climate Interactive worked with the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative to develop a simulator for different actions related to sustainability to try and predict the outcomes each of them would have. The simulator is called En-Road and allows you to simulate policies around subsidies, bans, carbon pricing, transportation reform, and much more.
Using this, it is interesting to see what has the most impact, a lot of it being carbon pricing and carbon removal, at least when it comes to keeping the Earth’s temperature down. As seen in the simulation, carbon pricing will likely lead to a large reduction in oil and coal usage and therefore the emissions from them. However, the carbon already emitted would stay in the air, requiring different carbon removal techniques to allow our Earth to stay at a comfortable and high-functioning temperature.
Other techniques like limiting new construction to be environmentally friendly, including no new oil or coal plants and similar, seem to have big impacts as well. This especially applies to transportation and heating in buildings. These are important things to remember on the way to a more sustainable globe.
Lastly, it is important to consider the indirect consequences of each action. Many policies may affect different people in different ways, and it is important to consider equity, especially in the focus on sustainability. A sustainable world means an equitable world.
Consider all the different pathways to achieving our goals of a comfortably inhabitable globe. We need to find ways that are both easy and longstanding, and that affects everyone in an equitable way. Playing around with simulators can help us get an idea of how to move forward and when action is crucial, so consider using En-Road and other simulators for that, and find the best way to create a sustainable world for us to live in.
Written by Zein Tynon, Class of 2024.