What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint can be defined as the greenhouse gas emission you cause, based on the entire value chain of your actions. Greenhouse gas is in our atmosphere and makes our Earth warmer, in the same way a greenhouse keeps its inside temperature warmer. Without them, Earth’s surface would average about 33 °C colder (Greenhouse effect).
However humans now disturb this natural balance and increase the greenhouse gas leading to global warming of the earth.
Over the last 800,000 years carbon dioxide levels have never exceeded 300 ppm (parts per million). But in the last 200 years, they went from about 260 to 390 ppm; that is an incredibly fast increase, especially in geological terms.
With the rate it has been increasing over the last 200 years, organisms could not adapt. Actually, many are on the brink of extinction or have already gone extinct.
Effect of Global Warming
Ice is melting worldwide (eg. Earth’s poles and glaciers)
Rise of sea level (expected rise 18- 59 cm by the end of the century)
Increase of rain and snowfall
Floods and droughts will become more common
Hurricanes and other storms are likely to become stronger
This can lead to these effects
Less fresh water will be available
Some diseases will spread, such as malaria carried by mosquitoes
Some species will move further north or become more successful;
others won’t be able to move and could become extinct
Global Warming and the Netherlands
The Dutch government says, that they are prepared for these changes. They even see positive, such as global warming having a positive effect on agriculture and recreation in the Netherlands.
As the average temperature in the Netherlands has increased by 1.7 °C during the last century (twice as high as the global average), the annual number of summery days increased by nearly 20 and annual rainfall has increased by about 20% (But periods of heavy rainfall have become much more frequent).
Source: Report of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Unilever Sustainable Living Plan
Unilever has integrated the necessary decoupling of growth and environmental impact in their business strategy (the COMPAS strategy) and launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan with 3 overarching goals by 2020.
- Improve the health & well-being of 1 billion people
- Halve the environmental impact of her products throughout the value chain
- Source 100% of her agricultural raw materials sustainably