Taking stock on United Nations Day: Georgia’s path to reducing carbon emissions

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Coming soon: As climatic temperatures rise, two planners offer thoughts on the Atlanta metro

By David Pendered

Georgian sustainable development leaders recognized the achievements and presented their aspirations during their celebration on October 28, 76e anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Truly Living Well has implemented a community composting program that could reduce methane from landfills and provide a soil amendment for growers. (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

Luckily, the event came as world leaders gather in Scotland for a climate conference which kicked off on Sunday. The main objective of COP26, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, is to affirm targets for reducing global warming. President Biden unveiled a $ 1.75 trillion budget on Oct. 28, which he says could pass Congress and provide $ 555 billion for clean energy and climate programs.

Laura Turner Seydel, board member of the United Nations Foundation, delivered a note of hope on October 28 during a prerecorded opening remarks on United Nations Association Day in Atlanta, dedicated to Drawdown Georgia.

“Georgia will be the first Drawdown state to put in place solutions on the ground, right here in our backyard, to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Seydel.

Drawdown Georgia is based on a national model, Project Drawdown. The Ray C. Anderson Foundation is providing significant support to the Georgia initiative. The organization started in October 2020 with university partners looking for scalable projects to reduce carbon emissions in Georgia. Since then, influencers have joined the group, including the Reverend Gerald Durley; Roy Richards, of Southwire; Nathaniel Smith, from Partnership for Southern Equity; and Katharine Wilkinson, from the All We Can Save project. Four business partners shared their views on sustainability on October 21 during an inaugural webinar.

The three keynote speakers from the United Nations Association of Atlanta highlighted the achievements and goals of the sustainability efforts. (Photos courtesy of una.atl; collage by David Pendered)

Seydel cited six ideas that caught his attention, among the 20 created by Drawdown Georgia. Topics include societal issues in addition to climate change:

  • Reduce food waste;
  • Diets rich in plants;
  • Family planning;
  • Educate girls;
  • Promote regenerative agriculture;
  • Manage livestock grazing.

John Lanier, executive director of the Anderson Foundation, said academics working with Drawdown Georgia have provided useful results. Lanier is the grandson of Ray Anderson, who founded the Interface flooring company and used the resulting wealth to support environmental efforts.

Lanier noted that the success of the Drawdown scientists includes their identification of ideas that are not as viable in Georgia as in other states.

Offshore wind turbines do not perform well in the southeast, he said. The preservation and reforestation of tropical forests is not viable because tropical forests do not exist in the South East.

Drawdown Georgia has identified 20 solutions that 11 scientists believe could help Georgia significantly reduce its carbon emissions by 2030. (Image from drawdownga.org)

“Drawdown Georgia is our response to that,” Lanier said of efforts to find measures that work in Georgia. “Our foundation has been honored to fund research at the best academic institutions in our state. In one year, they showed which climate solutions work best in Georgia – 20 high impact ideas. “

Drawdown Georgia published its first study on August 3 in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”. The 11 scientists involved represent Emory University, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. The report argues that the 20 solutions identified could be implemented in states other than Georgia. These solutions have the potential to “reduce Georgia’s carbon footprint by 35% in 2030 from business as usual and 50% from Georgia’s emissions in 2005”.

The challenge is to implement these kinds of ideas, according to Mariyam Midhfa Naeem, deputy head of the president of the United Nations General Assembly. Naeem began her remarks as a keynote speaker at the UN event in Atlanta by noting the concerns about rising sea levels facing the Maldives, Naeem’s home island nation. and the President of the United Nations.

Naeem closed his comments by looking at the post-COP26 era:

  • “Yes, we are going to Glasgow with a lot of hopes, high ambitions. But it’s what we do after Glasgow that translates the decisions we make into action. It’s up to us to keep the action high and action taken. Let’s work together for the all-blue planet and all the life on it.

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