Literally in every new report on the climate situation on the planet, scientists seriously warn: our current actions to prevent global warming are not enough. More effort is needed.
It is no longer a secret that climate change is real and we are beginning to feel its impact on our lives. There is no more time to wonder what causes climate change. Instead, you need to ask yourself the question: “what could I do?”
So, if you’re interested in joining the fight against climate change, here’s a checklist of the most effective ways!
1. What is the most important thing for humanity to do in the coming years?
First of all, it is necessary to limit the use of fossil fuels and actively replace them with cleaner sources while improving energy efficiency. Within a decade, we need to nearly halve our carbon dioxide emissions, by 45%, the researchers say.
Everyone can contribute to reducing emissions, such as driving and flying less, switching to a greener energy supplier, and rethinking what you buy and eat.
Of course, the problem will not be solved simply by buying eco-friendly things or giving up your personal car – although many experts believe that these steps are important and can influence those around you, making them want to make changes in their lives too. But other changes are needed that can only be made on a broader system-wide basis, such as modernizing the system of subsidies provided to various industries, as it continues to encourage the use of fossil fuels, or developing updated rules and incentives for the agriculture, deforestation sectors. and waste management.
2. Managing and subsidizing industries is not an area that I can influence … or can I?
You can. People can exercise their rights both as citizens and as consumers by putting pressure on governments and companies to make the necessary system-wide changes.
3. What is the most effective daily action I can take?
One study evaluated 148 different mitigation actions. Giving up your personal car has been recognized as the most effective action an individual can take (with the exception of the absence of children – but more on that later). To reduce your contribution to environmental pollution, try to use affordable means of transportation such as walking, cycling or public transport.
4. Renewable energy is very expensive, isn’t it?
Currently, renewable energy is gradually becoming cheaper, although prices depend, among other things, on local conditions. Some of the most commonly used forms of renewable energy are estimated to cost as much as fossil fuels by 2020, and some forms of renewable energy have already become more cost-effective.
5. Do I need to change my diet?
This is also a very important step. In fact, the food industry – and especially the meat and dairy sectors – is the second most important contributor to climate change.
The meat industry has three main problems. First, cows emit a lot of methane, a greenhouse gas. Second, we feed livestock other potential food sources such as crops, which makes the process very inefficient. And finally, the meat industry requires a lot of water, fertilizer and land.
By cutting your animal protein intake by at least half, you can already reduce your dietary carbon footprint by more than 40%.
6. How negative is the impact of air travel?
Fossil fuels are essential to the operation of aircraft engines, and there is no alternative. However, some attempts to use solar energy for flights have been successful, but it will take humanity another decades to develop the technology for such flights.
A typical transatlantic round-trip flight can emit about 1,6 tons of carbon dioxide, an amount almost equal to the average annual carbon footprint of a single Indian.
Thus, it is worth considering holding virtual meetings with partners, relaxing in local cities and resorts, or at least using trains instead of planes.
7. Should I rethink my shopping experience?
Most likely. In fact, all the goods we buy have a certain carbon footprint left by the way they are produced or the way they are transported. For example, the clothing sector is responsible for about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, mainly due to the energy used for production.
International shipping also has an impact. Food shipped across the ocean has more food miles and tends to have a larger carbon footprint than locally grown food. But this is not always the case, because some countries grow non-seasonal crops in energy-intensive greenhouses. Therefore, the best approach is to eat seasonal local products.
8. Does it matter how many children I have?
Studies have shown that having fewer children is the best way to reduce your contribution to climate change.
But the question arises: if you are responsible for your children’s emissions, are your parents responsible for yours? And if not, how should we take into account that the more people, the greater the carbon footprint? This is a difficult philosophical question that is difficult to answer.
What can be said for sure is that there are no two people with the same carbon footprints. On average, about 5 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year, but in different parts of the world the circumstances are very different: in developed countries, national averages are much higher than in developing countries. And even in one state, the footprint of richer people is higher than that of people with less access to goods and services.
9. Let’s say I don’t eat meat or fly. But how much can one person make a difference?
In fact, you are not alone! As sociological studies have shown, when a person makes a decision focused on sustainability, the people around him often follow his example.
Here are four examples:
· When visitors to an American cafe were told that 30% of Americans began to eat less meat, they were twice as likely to order lunch without meat.
· Many participants in one online survey reported that they have become less likely to fly due to the influence of their acquaintances, who refused to use air travel due to climate change.
· In California, households were more likely to install solar panels in regions where they already had them.
· Community organizers who tried to convince people to use solar panels had a 62% chance of success if they also had solar panels in their home.
Sociologists believe this happens because we constantly evaluate what the people around us are doing and adjust our beliefs and actions accordingly. When people see their neighbors taking action to protect the environment, they feel compelled to take action.
10. What if I just don’t have the opportunity to use transport and air travel less frequently?
If you can’t make all the changes you need in your life, try offsetting your emissions with some sustainable environmental project. There are hundreds of projects around the world that you can contribute to.
Whether you are a farm owner or an ordinary city dweller, climate change will also affect your life. But the opposite is also true: your daily actions will affect the planet, for better or for worse.