A top Sri Lankan scientist has urged businesses and individuals to do their bit to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt without waiting for political leaders to act.
“Climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier. It will make all other threats (such as inequality) worse,” said Mohan Munasinghe, senior researcher and former Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“We need integrated solutions. We’re overusing our planetary resources,” he told a forum where companies from both Sri Lanka and France discussed solutions to climate change.
Poor political leadership globally was hindering action to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt to it, said Munasinghe, who when he was Vice Chair, IPCC, shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace for efforts to disseminate knowledge about climate change.
Mitigation measures include limiting emissions of green house gases that contribute to global warming while adaptation could mean building higher to cope with rising sea levels.
“We know what to do but not enough is being done on adaptation. We need do much more and spend more money. It’s the same with mitigation,” Munasinghe told the forum organized by the Embassy of France in partnership with the French Development Agency and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
What was needed was empowerment and action and to adopt what he called a “sustainable development triangle” approach that takes into account economic, social and environmental aspects.
“We cannot wait for world leaders to act. People can act – CEOs and mayors of cities are waiting to act. We have to mobilize. Just make small changes in your lifestyle – you can make a huge difference,” Munasinghe said, noting how he has adapted by using video conferencing instead of travelling when he has to give lectures.
“We have to change our values, lifestyles and consumption patterns and think in multi-disciplinary terms, on a global scale, not local, and in a time scale of centuries,” he said. “Increasingly, governments cannot do this by themselves.”
Munasinghe said businesses can do a lot with sustainable production business and more efficient use of resources.
“Production efficiency must be linked with sustainable consumption.”