Difference between revisions of "What can I do to stop climate change?"
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What can I do to stop climate change?
Collective action is better than changing your lifestyle. But personal carbon-cutting is still important. It’s a powerful way to show other people that there is a climate emergency, to help policy changes, and to start bigger cultural changes. Mike Berners-Lee has a nine-step carbon-cutting programme.
1. Change your diet. Stop eating meat and dairy, especially beef and lamb. And make sure you eat everything that you buy. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says food waste makes about eight per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Don’t buy food which comes by air, such as vegetables like berries, mange-tout or asparagus, when they are out of season.
2. Travel with less or no carbon. Transport’s biggest emissions come from planes and then cars. For a family of four, a return trip from the UK to Australia makes 12 times more carbon than a car for a year. So if you fly a lot, this will be the biggest part of your carbon footprint. Fly less or, better still, stop. To cut your car emissions, try walking, cycling, public transport, car shares, working from home. You can sell your car or get a smaller one and drive it carefully. At 95 kilometres per hour (60 miles/hr) you use 30 per cent less fuel per kilometre than at 128 kilometres (80 miles/hr). If you need a new car, buy an electric or plug-in hybrid, if you can. But remember the industrial production of the car itself makes about a third of the footprint of driving so it is also a good idea to keep old, efficient cars on the road.
3. Buy less, and carefully. Buy less junk, buy local. Understand the supply chain of everything in your weekly shop, check for carbon responsibility, fair livelihoods, and all the other sustainability ideas. Buy good quality things and make them last. Buy things that it is possible to repair and make sure that they are repaired. When you finish with them, sell them or give them away. Choose the most energy-efficient white goods – like fridges and dish washers. Always take a reusable cup with you. and understand that this shows how you are making less junk.
4. Cut home energy use. Turn lights off, hang your washing out to dry. Wash at a lower temperature and have short showers. In a cool climate, wear a jumper, turn the thermostat down, and turn radiators off in empty rooms. If you have money for your home, the best for carbon cutting are in order: insulation (starting with drafts, then the loft, windows and walls), smart heating (efficient boilers, remote controls that include radiators), solar panels, or heat pumps (a renewable energy technology that changes energy in the ground or air into heat). In a hot climate, take a shower to stay cool. If you can, choose the most climate-friendly air conditioner and don’t use it very often. Buy electricity from a green energy company if they can show that your money all goes towards extra renewable power.
5. Clean up investments. Use any money you have for the future you want to see. Use pension and saving plans that don’t use fossil fuel companies. Invest instead in the things we urgently need, such as renewables and reforestation.
6. Talk about it. Cutting carbon won’t show there is a climate emergency if no-one knows you are doing it. Take your low-carbon ideas to work, to the pub, and into your own home. Be friendly but be clear. All of us can help make a culture in which it is embarrassing to ignore climate change – in the same way we don’t ignore other bad behaviours like smoking or drink-driving.
7. Be kind to yourself. Very few of us are very clean in carbon terms. You don’t have to change immediately but most of us need to make serious changes in the next few years. It’s important to move in the right direction and enjoy cutting carbon. Don’t be angry with yourself but don’t take it too easy.
8. Use your power. All our politicians need to hear long before elections that we want strong climate policies. And because there is so little progress, we need to think about how and where to take to the streets.
9. Do all of these things. It’s an emergency. Make a plan and follow it.
Mike Berners-Lee is the author of There is No Planet B – a handbook for the make or break years (Cambridge University Press, 2019). He is a professor at Lancaster University and the director of Small World Consulting.
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