Time is at the heart of everything we do at Ben & Jerry’s HQ. Our Flavour Gurus spend many days and nights tasting the best food in the world to come up with unmatched batches of pure ice cream euphoria, and our ice cream flavours only take minutes to melt when you take them out of the freezer.
We like to say, “if it’s melted, it’s ruined”. This is something that is true not only for ice cream full of chunks and swirls, but also for our planet. When we hear people talking about climate change and our environment in 2017, it all seems to boil down to time and numbers with an increasing sense of urgency. 2020 and 2050 deadlines reel off the experts’ lips, but what does it all mean? The destruction of our environment is a little bit like melting ice cream; once it’s begun, it’s difficult to control, and it’s never quite going to be the same again.
We went to the Environment Ireland conference last month to get the lowdown on what’s happening to our environment, and here are 5 big lessons we learned:
- We need to think globally. Climate justice is a common cause. While in Ireland our greenhouse gas emissions peaked in 2001, it’s projected currently that we are only going to reduce emissions by 4.6% by 2020 (not great, with a target of a 20% reduction). Locally, we have to think globally in order to live well within the limitations of our planet. To overcome our failures, we can take inspiration from how other countries are doing it well. Though we were disheartened to see the US pull out of the 2015 Paris agreement, the next 5-15 years will demand smart action toward climate justice from countries big and small all over the world. For the best results, cooperation and information sharing are key.
- It’s important to learn from our mistakes, AND our success stories. We currently live on an island where annual rainfall has increased by about 5% and where everywhere has warmed by 0.50C over the past 30 years. Creative, effective, ideas need to be implemented quickly, and we can take inspiration on this from the lessons we have learnt to date. In areas that we know are causing harm to our air and our water, it’s our job to encourage those in positions of power take action now. For example, in Ireland, we are subsidising peat to the tune of over 120 million a year. Experts have said the trigger needs to be pulled to stop peat production sooner rather than later.
- Climate justice is a collective problem, not just an issue for policy makers. In a recent EU study 88% of Irish people agreed that Ireland was generating too much waste as a whole, but only 49% of people agreed that their own household was generating too much waste. The effects of human behaviour on our climate are increasingly apparent and it’s up to us to start taking steps to counter this. Not only are we in danger of losing some of our favourite ingredients like cocoa and nuts, but we are already seeing effects on our climate here in Ireland with extreme weather. This calls for a new momentum for sustainable development and engagement; it is up to each and every one of us to become climate leaders and realise our EU targets for climate justice together.
- Sharing is caring. As much as this statement rings true for those of us with liberal ice cream eating habits, the sharing economy provides benefits for our environment. Our current ‘take, make, dispose’ approach to living is not sustainable. Less than 5% of the goods that we currently handle are currently being reused. Instead of thinking about the world as a commodity and about ownership of things, we have to remember that our time here is temporary, and view an item’s worth in terms of durability and longevity.
- Taking action on climate will make you feel good. Our friends at Food Cloud, a company that provide solutions to food waste, said that they’d never spoken to anyone who has said that they’d rather waste food than give it to someone else who wanted it. Although tackling climate change may be overwhelming, we’re big believers in our fans and their attitude towards making the world a better place... Less global warming and more great ice cream flavours! Personal motivations (big or small) to make positive steps toward a more sustainable world come hand in hand with contributing to a greater good on a national or even international level. Smiles all around.
Hopeful steps toward positive action on key issues kicked off with a Citizen’s Assembly on climate in late September, with a vision for Ireland to become climate change champions at a global level. While there is a long way to go for Ireland to put right what we are currently doing wrong, we are stronger when we stand together.
To learn more about Ireland’s environment and read about steps you can be taking NOW to join the fight for climate justice, visit the Stop Climate Chaos coalition.
You can read more about Ben & Jerry’s and climate justice here.