Leading a discussion platform with Indonesian university students, putting social and environmental issues up for debate. When riding their motorbikes, nearly half of my students wear respiratory protection masks to filter Bandung’s smog-tainted air.
My name is Julius Kup and I am a second-year Lancaster University Management School student pursuing a British-German double degree in European Management. I am delighted and thankful to represent my university together with 10 more students as part of the “OWT230 Management and the Natural Environment: Ethics and Sustainability” module led by lecturer Alison Stowell at this year’s World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in Chennai.
Ironically, it was during hikes throughout the Black Forest’s untouched wilderness that I realised for the first time how emissions from factories and motor vehicles destroy the environment. Some parts of the forest are heavily affected by acid rain. It is a global phenomenon caused by emissions and evinced by trees loosing their needles and leaves not only in autumn but throughout the year. However, it was only until moving to Cairo by the age of 16, attending an Egyptian high school for a year, that I realised emissions might even become life-threatening for us at certain degrees. Being Africa’s greatest megalopolis with an estimated 25 million inhabitants and a steadily increasing population and consuming class, the city suffers from a staggering level of air pollution.
While respiratory diseases and lung cancer are illnesses normally associated with smoking, this is not necessarily the case in Cairo – as breathing the city’s air for 24 hours is roughly the equivalent of smoking a package of cigarettes, according to a report issued by the WHO.
I loved this place because of its bustling bazaars, its impressive architecture and its people’s distinctive humour. However, Cairo’s dark smog quickly made me ponder my decision to move there.
This experience has impacted my lifestyle with a gradual change in eating, clothing and traveling habits in order to reduce my personal carbon footprint. For instance, when getting back to Lancaster University from Germany, I often opt for the Eurostar instead of airlines. With the financial cost being equivalent, the high-speed train comes at a significantly lower environmental cost.
In this context, I am looking forward to seeing which approach businesses at the WBCSD take in combating climate change at scale.
In order to attend this year’s WBCSD Member Meeting in India, students were asked to submit a researched essay dealing with a business solution that aims at tackling global warming. Please do have a look at the winning entries of my fellow students, discussing highly interesting topics. You will also find my competition entry in an upcoming blog post.