Low Carbon Fest
Low Carbon Fest 10/10/10
Do your part, reduce your impact
On October 10, 2010 the Low Carbon Fest took place in Plaza Bicentenario in the centre of La Paz, organized by Reacción Climática and 350 Bolivia with the support of PRODESIN. The festival was part of 350.org’s international "Global Work Party" campaign, in which a total of 7347 events were organized in 188 countries on one day, all with the common goal to demonstrate to political leaders that people have the willingness as part of civil society to curb global warming through hundreds of different approaches including the use of alternative energies such as solar power and mechanical energy.
The event was organized to raise awareness amongst the population and especially in young people about the reality of climate change and the need to increasingly move towards a low carbon society, which requires a commitment to change behaviors in order to maximize all kinds of energy and prevent waste, as well as to raise awareness about the future water problem which Bolivia faces due in part to the melting glaciers and other environmental problems.
350 Bolivia Campaign
The campaign 350 Bolivia, part of the global campaign 350.org, aims to raise public awareness about the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Over the last two centuries the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has presented a dramatic increase: it has gone from about 280 ppm (parts per million) in the preindustrial era to about 390 ppm in 2009, which corresponds to an overall concentration in the atmosphere of 0.039%. It may seem a low concentration but the magnitude of the increase (almost 40%) is alarming.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the UN, this increase contributes to global climate change, given that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas (GHG). GHGs, which also include methane and nitrous oxide amongst others, are gases that trap the heat received from the sun inside the atmosphere, such that an increase in their concentration causes an increase in average temperature of the atmosphere and therefore of the planet. The overwhelming majority of scientists in the world recognize that this process has been crucial in the warming of the planet’s surface that records have shown over the last 100 years (average of 0.6 degrees Celsius).
Mainly as a result of this effect, significant changes in the climate system are already being experienced both globally and locally. In Bolivia, there has been an increase in frequency of El Niño (82-83, 97-98, 07-08 and 09-10), which has been attributed to climate change given that it is statistically significant. On the other hand, the melting of Andean glaciers is threatening the water supply to the cities of El Alto and La Paz, a phenomenon that has been demonstrated in the total disappearance of the Chacaltaya glacier, which used to be home to the world’s highest ski resort.
In this regard, the 350 Bolivia campaign aims to inform people about these facts and the need to take on the concentration of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide as the goal of this generation, given that limiting the concentration of carbon dioxide at this level would minimize the likelihood of catastrophic climate impacts across the country.
Concert with solar energy
The festival held on 10/10/10 was called "low carbon" in order to show that you can carry out activities while generating minimal carbon dioxide emissions. In order to achieve this, Reacción Climática volunteers coordinated with the NGO ENERGETICA to connect a solar panel of 2.7 kW to the National Grid in the city of Cochabamba.
The National Interconnected System (SIN) is the power grid linking the main cities, which provides electricity to major urban centers and represents 83% of installed capacity. The SIN operates in the departments of La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Oruro, Potosi and Chuquisaca, and extends over 1,900 kilometers (UDAPE, 2004), covering the central and south territory of the country.
A solar panel consists of photovoltaic modules and photovoltaic solar collectors in this case formed by a group of cells (photovoltaic cells) that produce electricity from the light that strikes them (solar electricity).
ENERGETICAS´s solar panel installed in the city of Cochabamba provided the network with a total of 13.3 kWh on 10/10/10, of which about 5 kWh were used to power the concert in La Paz, leaving 8.3 kWh of energy within the SIN. The solar energy generated replaced the corresponding amount of thermal electricity in the SIN and thus avoided approximately 8 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
Energy Generators human effort
Another initiative that could be seen at the festival was electricity generation powered by human energy through a design set up by students of the EMI (Military Engineering School) for a person to charge the battery of their cell phone or mp3 player with the energy generated pedaling a conventional bicycle. Attendees were able to charge their phones through this innovative approach, proving another alternative to fossil fuel energy while exercising.
Eating habits healthy for the planet
The Inti Illimani foundation promoted the use of solar ovens for food preparation and made pastries and cookies using solar energy for attendees to taste. An alternative food option was offered by the Resistance Community who promote vegetarianism as a way of life. Worldwide, cows emit 115 Tg / yr of methane which is 19% of total yearly methane emissions; methane is a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a period of 100 years.
Disposing energy saving bulbs
PROCLIMA showed that even though compact fluorescent lamps or so-called energy saving light bulbs have a positive impact on energy savings, inside they contain mercury, a heavy metal used as a gas to produce radiation, which then turns into visible light as a fluorescent powder. Conventional fluorescent tubes contain between 15 and 25 mg of this substance, while energy saving lamps standardly contain 5 mg. Mercury is a highly toxic metal which in case of breakage requires proper waste management to avoid affecting users.
The importance of recycling
Organizations such as FUNDARE and Recicla Ahora (Recycle Now) were promoting the recycling of solid waste through the reuse of materials, mostly plastics, to fully exploit these resource. Likewise a number of other organizations promoted cloth bags as an alternative to plastic bags. The production of plastic bags is based on oil and their disposal causes environmental problems because they take hundreds of years to decompose unless they are burned, in which case they generate a series of greenhouse gases which remain in the atmosphere contributing to global warming.
Playing is learning
Organizations like the Municipal Government, UTASAWA Ecological School, CUNA Foundation, ESVIDA foundation and the Green Brigade set up a series of areas with activities for children of all ages to teach and learn the importance of protecting resources, not wasting energy and helping save the planet, through creative interactive games, designed especially for teaching purposes in line with the theme of the activity.
Absorbing carbon emitted
The Green Brigade of the Environmental Quality Unit of La Paz Municipal Government promoted the adoption of trees and gave away 100 saplings under the commitment to plant it and care for it until it grows, these trees are meant to absorb carbon dioxide and transform it into oxygen. This activity is linked to the reforestation campaign that will de led by students of the Military Academy of Engineering (EMI) in their campus at Alto Irpavi, where they will plant and take care of 350 trees. Depending on the species, a tree can absorb at least 0.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year.
We are not alone on this planet
The Bolivian Love of Animals Association (APLAB) and Association of Conservation Biology (ACB) explained that the problem of global warming affects not only humanity but animals too. There are thousands of species under threat of disappearing in the next 100 years and many animal populations have declined dramatically over the past 10 years.
Our Protected Areas take care of our climate
Save the Madidi Campaign, the Campaign to Defend TIPNIS and Protected Areas Project (PIAP) of the EMEGECE Foundation undertook the task of showing the importance of protected areas due to the different ecosystems services they provide and especially due to their role as climate regulators and water sources: a series of Bolivian river basins begin in protected areas which when damaged threaten access to water for the people who depend on them.
One hectare of forest can absorb the emissions of 10,000 cars a year, so it is important to maximize the forested areas in Bolivia. For this reason it is necessary to preserve the greatest amount of forest possible within the national territory for the good of the planet. Currently several protected areas are threatened by megaprojects like dams and fossil fuel power plants within our Protected Areas.
Calculate your carbon footprint?
All human beings play their part when it comes to rising carbon emissions, however the impact of each person depends on various aspects of their lifestyle such as means of transportation used, power consumed at home and diet. To demonstrate this, Servicios Ambientales S.A. (Environmental Services) offered to measure the carbon footprint of participants who were then given a certificate in which they agreed to a series of actions that will help them reduce their carbon footprint in a positive way for the planet.
The National Service of Meteorology and Hydrology (SENAMHI) also attended the event and explained how the weather forecasting system works through links to a number of international networks that are responsible for managing historical data and the prediction of future climatic phenomena. In this way they can predict the behavior of short-term weather based on the data collected, but in any prediction there is a margin of error that must be considered.
It is important to mention that at 10 am on October 10 in the city of La Paz it began to rain, resulting in more rainfall in one hour than in the cumulative eight months before the event. This rain on the one hand was a good sign because it put an end to the long period of drought which has prevailed in the region but on the other hand everyone had to seek shelter so the number of people at the event was reduced considerably. However, you could feel the support of the population for the event despite the unfortunate weather conditions.
Supporting organizations and social movements
We specially invited the Civil Society Platform on Climate Change which was supported by Agua Sustentable and the Solon Foundation who carry out important work in monitoring the climate change negotiations and supporting Bolivia's position by encouraging the participation of Social Movements like CSUTCB, the CCBS and CONAMAQ in decision-making related to climate change.
It is important that the activity does not remain simply an isolated event; the various institutions, organizations and movements involved clearly aim to continue working together because we believe it is necessary that the public is informed in order to begin to prepare themselves to face the tough challenge posed by climate change for our country. In November this year the 16th COP (Conference of the Parties) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC will be held in Cancun, where it is hoped that the discussions and results will take into account the most vulnerable sectors and those most at risk of being directly impacted by dramatic changes in the climate. Here in Bolivia we will continue our work to monitor the negotiations and work on proposals.
Reacción Climática, 350 Bolivia and PRODESIN appreciate the incredible support from the public and civil society of La Paz during the event of October 10, 2010.