New U.N. Climate Report

The devastating impacts of climate change continue to mount around us, especially in vulnerable frontline communities like the ones SOIL serves in Haiti. The dread of climate change has become an indisputable reality, exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities, including the global sanitation crisis. Haiti is responsible for only 0.01% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but bears the impact of climate change more severely than most nations. Haiti’s increased climate vulnerability is due to multiple factors including geographic location, topographical features, population density, and lack of infrastructure. Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the United Nations responsible for assessing the science related to climate change, released its Sixth Assessment Report on climate change. This latest report addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, and offers an in-depth overview of the current climate crisis. The report provides a few key findings that are especially relevant to us at SOIL and our work in Haiti:

Continued global warming is projected to further intensify the global water cycle, including its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events.

As the climate crisis persists, we will continue to see an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters and other extreme weather events. The SOIL team is responding to current global challenges with characteristic resiliency and innovative determination. We are committed to providing a dignified sanitation service in Haiti that contributes to climate-adaptation efforts to  help protect communities against the impacts of extreme weather events.

Limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions. 

The sanitation sector is responsible for a significant amount of global methane emissions, but SOIL has shown that container-based services emit less methane, and compost offers potential for carbon sequestration. Our regenerative sanitation solution mitigates nearly 1 metric ton of greenhouse gases per household per year!

The difference in observed warming trends between cities and their surroundings can partly be attributed to urbanization. Future urbanization will amplify the projected air temperature change in cities regardless of the characteristics of the background climate.

As an organization that works in dense urban communities, we know that urbanization further exacerbates existing issues and vulnerabilities. As the world continues to urbanize rapidly, it will be increasingly important to implement urban development policies that prioritize the planet and marginalized communities. 

“Although climate change is a global phenomenon, its manifestations and consequences are different in different regions.” — IPCC

Low- and middle-income countries, which have a lesser influence on climate change than wealthier nations, often suffer the most from its effects. With this in mind, while we as a global community digest the findings of the Climate Report, we must begin to prioritize the protection and preservation of these vulnerable nations, now rather than later. As Haiti continues to respond and deal with the aftermath of the recent earthquake,  we are further reminded of the urgent need to invest in and  support resilient futures in the Global South. Without sustainable improvements in environmental resilience, the cycle of poverty and environmental vulnerability will persist in Haiti and around the world.

Graphic courtesy of IPCC

The decisions that economically powerful countries like the United States make about climate change will continue to disproportionately affect the most vulnerable global populations, as well as perpetuate the impacts of decades of economic exploitation of previously colonized countries like Haiti. These populations, whose history of exploitation has led them into the cycle of poverty and food insecurity will simply be unable to adapt to the new climate risks without significant global action.

Although this seems like a bleak prognosis right now, there are many ways that we as individuals can help offset the effects of climate change.

COMPOST: We  at SOIL obviously love composting! The application of compost is one of the most effective ways to combat climate change! By increasing soil’s ability to hold carbon, compost helps balance the huge carbon emissions from industry that contribute to climate change. You can start combating climate change right in your backyard by building your own compost pile today!

USE YOUR VOICE: Add your name to petitions and share with others to do so. Contact elected leaders and representatives to tell them this is an issue you care about.

UNDERSTAND YOUR FOOTPRINT. There is a lot you can do to reduce your household carbon emissions. Learn more about your emissions and better understand your impact  by using a quick online “carbon calculator.” See the one maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

We are proud to play a small part in Haiti’s fight against climate change, but we all need to do our part to help make a bigger impact. Let’s all do our part in protecting vulnerable communities around the world that are suffering disproportionately from the climate crisis; we owe it to them and to our planet. You can read the full Climate Report here.

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