Earth Day 2020

The slowdown of human activity due to the pandemic forces us to rethink concepts of development. And there is no better time to do that than on Earth Day.

The world is a fantastic place – and now we have the chance to appreciate it. The surreal slowdown of human activity due to the pandemic has allowed nature to demonstrate its strength and beauty. We have seen how the earth seems to be trying to take back proper ownership of the land. In Paris, for example, deer had a relaxing walk in the deserted streets. The air in cities is clean, and crystal-clear water flows in the rivers.

Much of what is not beautiful in the world comes from human activity, which forces us to rethink our concept of development. And there is no better time to do that than on Earth Day 2020.

An old tradition based on an even older awareness

This year’s Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 2020 is especially important because it is the 50th anniversary. What this means is that today’s wide concern about the environment is not the latest “radical chic” trend. Already 50 years ago, there were movements built on the need to respect the place where we live and the place that sustains us. And if we want to go even further back in time, we realize that the concept is in fact very old.

According to Aristotle, what is “good” is an act that complies with nature. Leibniz considered nature as something “very high” – a “perfect system of spiritual forces”. Goethe refused to consider any art if it was not aligned with nature. Pythagoras and Plutarch encouraged the respect of all animals, as did Voltaire and Rousseau. The first evidence of the anthropic (human) effects on nature were observed by the Greeks in 600 BC, when the impact of over-grazing pastures was denounced by Plato. We are reminded of the similar sensibilities and views of many other illustrious figures, including Saint Francis of Assisi, Darwin, Haeckel and Gandhi.

Action for our planet

It is basically the nature of humankind to observe the world, see how fantastic it is and think about how many benefits and services it can provide – but not to reduce consumption of the earth’s resources. We at ABB would like to stand with those who recognize the need for a drastic change in how we consume what our planet is offering, because it is hurting the planet. This is why we have a strong environmental team and programs in place to ensure use of the right materials, resource efficiency, the design of products that prevent negative environmental impact, and manufacturing processes that progressively reduce CO2 and other emissions.

We have made great achievements so far, such as:

  • Reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases by 41%
  • Lowering the withdrawal of water in water-stressed areas by almost 20%
  • Increasing the recycling rate of waste
  • Manufacturing products that help our customers meet their environmental goals, with 57% of our revenues coming from our ecoefficiency portfolio

More information about our environmental performance – according to qualitative and quantitative measures – can be found in our Sustainability Report 2019, issued last month. You can also learn more about the action ABB is taking to meet UN sustainability targets.

What you can do now

Everybody can do something for our earth. Earth Day 2020 encourages us to focus on different topics: Plastic Pollution, Climate Change, Biodiversity Loss, Food Sustainability, Air Quality and Water Quality.

And we can still appreciate the beauty of our planet and the power of nature. It is fair to say that in spite of all our activities, the world continues to be wonderful.

Please share your comments and help us spread ideas that will have a positive effect on the earth.

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About the author

Antonio Giacomucci

Antonio Giacomucci has been Head of Environment, in the Health Safety and Environment (HSE) & Sustainability function, since 2019. Antonio joined ABB in 1992 as Researcher at the Corporate Research Center in Daetwil and in Milano. He led projects on solid insulating materials, computer simulation for predictive maintenance, toxicological aspects of dielectric gases and environmental impact of products in their lifecycle. Antonio has more than 10 years’ experience as HSE manager. His last role was Region Europe HSE Manager and during season five of ABB Formula E, he was appointed as ABB HSE expert for this project. Antonio holds a PhD in Physics with specialization in high energy physics from the University of Perugia, Italy.
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