2020: A Critical Year for Our Future & The Planet
Our top ten ideas to help fight climate change as indivduals. The authoritative new report by the IPCC sets the world a clear target: we must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C. 2020 is a critical year for global, collective climate action, says UN; unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.
Our 10 top tips for individuals to reduce their own climate emissions have been influenced by Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. Many of the ideas may not be feasible for you and I urge you not to feel overwhelmed...tackle each one at a time and try to stick with it, most of the time!
1. Fly less
In my opinion, giving up flying altogether is not achievable and the biggest solutions are out of our hands. Adopting the latest and most fuel-efficient aircraft, retrofitting existing aircraft, retiring older aircraft early; and operating existing aircraft with fuel-saving practices for example, however we can all try to reduce how many flights we take per year. A single return flight from London to New York – including the complicated effects on the high atmosphere – contributes to almost a quarter of the average person’s annual emissions so any reduction made will reduce your personal emissions enormously.
2. Go Vegan
A vegan diet might make as much as a 20% difference to an individuals overall carbon impact and January is the perfect time to make a change. Not to mention reduce the suffering of farmed animals! Check out Veganuary and our own blog where we have lots of top tips for anyone trying Veganuary.
Did you know, livestock accounts for around 14.5 perfect of the world's greenhouse gases each year. That’s roughly the same amount as the emissions from all the cars, trucks, airplanes and ships combined in the world today.
3. At home
There are many changes you can make at home. Switch to a renewable energy supplier (such as Bulb or Ecotricity), upgrade insulation to prevent heat loss, replace old gas and oil boilers (if c.15+ years old), upgrade fridges and freezers with old refrigerants, switch to LED bulbs and can you afford to invest in your own sources of renewable energy?
4. Public transport
If you reduce your mileage from 15,000 to 10,000 miles a year, you will save more than a tonne of CO2, about 15% of the average person’s footprint.
5. Buy less and buy better
One of our own business mottos. Every time you go to buy something, just question whether you really need it first and also search to see if there is an eco alternative. Once you get into the habit, it will become second nature!
When you do buy something, choose to shop with a company or brand who has the same principles as you too and an item which is made to last!
6. Eat local, seasonal and organic and reduce food waste
It's estimated one thrid of all food grown goes to waste (throughout the entire supply chain) and about 11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food. Plan ahead, store fresh food correctly, use your freezer, be creative with leftovers and learn to love baking, blending and boiling overripe fruit and veg.
Choose organic, local and seasonal too. Riverford's have an organic, seasonal, UK only veg box and two great recipe books based on seasonal veg too!
7. Speak Up
We need to actively communicate our concerns and priorities to our MP's. Write them letters, sign petitions, attend drop-in sessions or even join a local campaigning group. Your local MP has tens of thousands of constituents, and many political issues competing for their attention so we need to ensure that urgent action on climate action remains high on their priorities.
Write to brands and companies too that are not doing things the right way. Whether you are not happy with their over-use of plastic packaging or requesting details on the sustainability policy, get in touch with them by email or social media.
8. Rewilding and Reforestation
Rewilding is large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and keystone species.
As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions from human activities.
Trees for Life - Plant a tree in the Scottish Highlands @ £6 per tree
Community Carbon Trees - Unlike other (cheap) tree planting companies, Community Carbon Trees connect local farmers with people all over the world. Local men and women are paid to plant and maintain saplings for four years, ensuring the establishment and longevity of the tree. A women's group is paid to prepare the fertile soil needed to grow vibrant trees. The local people are also rewarded for maintaining trees long term because valuable rainforest products are produced and sold. With sustainable incomes grown out of direct forest conservation and regeneration, all of us can solve some of the most challenging environmental and social issues of our time
9. Compost at home
Composting reduces methane production (a major source of greenhouse gas) which occurs when food waste is sent to landfill. Methane is 26 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.
If you have a garden, I urge you to buy a composter. you can buy discounted compost bins on your local council website starting at £10.
10. The 3 R's
Don't forget the overriding principle of Reduce, Reuse then Recycle. A lower waste will result in less emissions.