Today, I want to talk about some of the things we, as global citizens, can do to tackle climate change. Often people tell me: “I am only one (I am too small)… how can I make an impact?”. We see the direction the world is headed, and we think we can’t do anything about it. This is not true. We have many of the tools needed to make a huge impact on climate change. We have an incredible opportunity to make history and co-create a better future for all humanity. This article will show you a list of ten impactful things you can do today to make an impact on climate change.
A growing demand for energy, food and water
In the most recent UN Population Division report, the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, and could peak at nearly 11 billion at the end of the century. The increasing population will result in the growing demand for energy, food & water (and more things for more people) and will exacerbate the negative impacts of human activities on our planet.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis: these are just a few of the challenges we are facing, consequences of our unsustainable use of natural resources.
We learned the hard way (with COVID-19) that we are all interconnected. We can’t isolate the air we breathe nor the extreme weather events and sea-level rise that will impact each region on Earth. And these events will increase in frequency and intensity if we continue emitting greenhouse gases (GHGs) with the present trajectory.
Our emissions of greenhouse gases
We know the GHGs are warming our planet with devastating effects on our climate. And yet, we could not commit to significant 2030 emissions cuts at the recent CoP26.
The hard reality. We (humans) emit around 50 billion t of CO2equivalent (same as GtCO2e) every year.
We know that the energy sector is the major contributor (see table below). However, acting on the energy sector alone will not be enough: to reduce our emissions and get to net-zero, we need to work on all the sectors: energy, agriculture, industrial processes, waste, land use.
The energy sector
When we see the energy sector, we think of something too big and too complex. However, if we look at the data with clarity, we can find the most effective ways to reduce those emissions. How do we do that? We start by understanding where that energy comes from (coal, oil & gas mainly) and where we use that energy.
We can see (pie chart above) that the residential and commercial sector (together) accounted for 29%, transportation for 29% and industrial another 29%. Therefore, (as anticipated earlier) there is no single solution or technology to address climate change, not even within one sector – the energy sector in this case.
If we look closely at all those sectors, we realize that we can do a lot to make an impact on climate change. We have a great opportunity for improvement. Let’s start working!
What can I do?
Here is a list of ten things you can do today to fight climate change and make a huge impact:
- Switch to renewable energy;
- Increase energy efficiency;
- Analyze your consumption & reduce your use of energy;
- Walk or use your bike more;
- Switch to a fully electric vehicle (and recharge it with renewable electricity);
- Use public transport (when you can) or share your ride (car sharing);
- Eat less meat (look for alternative sources of proteins);
- Buy local food and only what you eat (plan your meals so you will not waste precious food);
- Reuse what you have & buy fewer things (there is enormous satisfaction in showing your kids how you can repair & reuse stuff instead of sending them to landfills). Don’t forget to recycle;
- Offset what you can’t reduce (this will drive you to reduce your consumption – I offset the emissions from my car, and I try to use it less and less to pay less money in carbon offsets).
The list is not meant to be exhaustive; it gives you examples of what you can do today if you decide that you want to act rather than waiting for someone/or something to tackle climate change (it is not going to happen).
It is clear: The challenge is not only technological. We need a significant behavioral change.
Are we ready for it?
During CoP26, I watched the documentary “A good life for 2030“, which explored the link between consumption, climate change, and advertising.: it’s about how we can create a life filled with connection, not just consumption.
The video made me reflect on my behavior. The question is not just how many actions are we willing to take, but rather: do we want to co-create a good life, a sustainable future?
So, climate action it’s not only about the actions we can take. We also have a powerful instrument: our voices.
We might feel too small or alone but think about what we can achieve if we join our voices: a whisper can become very loud. Share an article, chat with your family or neighbors, call your MP. We can make a significant impact: there are billions of us!
Every reduction of emissions means less warming. And in the climate space, every fraction of a degree of extra warming makes a big difference.
Our actions count. Start today!
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