Published on LinkedIn on March 2, 2020 by Alvira Fisher
Talking about anything with environmental or social undertones often comes with the risk of appearing holier-than-though. But with drivers like the sharing and trust economies, there’s no mistaking the concurrent shift in the way we do business and need to live our lives. In fact, trust has become an economic super-power, with promising prospects for whoever dares to embody it.
The said shift can also be seen in these examples of emerging workplace trends amongst LinkedIn’s “50 Big Ideas” in 2019: leaders pursuing inclusivity; integrity trumping growth; and “Chief Ethics Officer” becoming the new C-suite title. Though, what’s causing more of a shake-up, with self-inflicted consequences is climate change. We constantly have to rethink our impact on the environment. Failing that, we’ll simply have to continue to suffer the rapidly intensifying effects of our actions. Not to mention what we will leave behind for our children. The statement, “Your generation will die of old age; ours will die of climate change,” has resonated with me more and more.
But all is not lost. As the saying goes, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Let’s look at automotive transport, our main means of getting around. Since the invention of the first diesel and petrol powered combustion engines in the 1800s, cars seem set on completing a full circle. They’ve gone from being a status symbol to a necessity, and now facing a possible future of being an on-demand service, with only motor enthusiasts and the rich owning personal cars for leisure, rather than transportation. This and other enlightening projections are shared by Naked co-founder Alex Thomson, in his Skyeways article, “Changing of the (car) guard”. He also cites US research, forecasting an 80% decline in private car ownership by 2030 (and electric car ride-shares being four to 10 times cheaper than buying a new car, by 2021).
We cannot get away from the fact that reducing the country’s carbon footprint has become all of our business. And, if nothing else, the unreasonably heavy burden that climate change is placing on the poor should be a certain motivator for change. My longstanding connection with environmental and social awareness has been gnawing for a while. I’ve wanted to do something that genuinely feels like I’m putting my money where my mouth is, and ride-sharing (which integrates both the sharing and trust economies) just makes sense to me. So, selling my car was the first rational step. Though, each person seeking to make a change should find what best suits their individual situation.
Through ride-sharing, the prospect of actively reducing carbon emissions whilst connecting with friends, colleagues or family has brought double value for me. And I can’t say that I’m not super-inspired by the immediate cost-saving, and is a proud contributor to environmentally friendly commuting. Using technology to leverage the sharing and trust economies, the growing trend of ride-sharing allows commuters full control over whom they ride with, as well as when and where to. And with safety being a priority in South Africa, and on the African continent at large, ride-sharing ticks the right boxes. Though, like anything, it is an adjustment at first.
Beyond policy, the onus is on us
In his recent State of the Nation Address (Sona) the president confirmed that the Presidential Commission on Climate Change is set to finalise the Climate Change Bill. But our indebtedness to the next generation is best underscored in a direct request to the president by Ayakha Melithafa, to ensure that “no African child is left behind in the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable society”. Ayakha is a young climate activist from Eerste River in Cape Town, who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.
Encouragingly, South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 states these amongst its “environmental sustainability and resilience objectives”: to achieve the peak, plateau and decline trajectory for greenhouse gas emissions (with the peak being reached around 2025); have zero-emission building standards by 2030, and have at least 20 000 MW of renewable energy contracted by 2030. Also, the UN General Assembly’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out in 2015, including good health and well-being; climate action; and partnerships for goals. The latter probably resonates with me the most, because, without solid partnerships amongst ordinary citizens, the lofty environmental goals set by governments and organisations around the world remain pipe dreams.
So, while policies have their place, it is the action on the ground that will move the needle in the right direction, in the end. The call is certainly not for everyone to start selling their cars in a frenzy, but I’m keen to hear your thoughts on ride-sharing, and why/why not you think it could make the lives of working professionals that little bit easier?
Alvira Fisher Founder of ThinkPolicy