Most people are trying to do their bit to help cut some carbon, for example, turning unused appliances off, recycling plastic bottles or using energy-saving light bulbs. These actions do have an impact but are relatively low compared to these four things we can do to drastically curb climate change.
In research published by Seth Wynes and Kimberly A Nicholas in Environmental Research Letters 2017, four high impact actions were identified that can cut carbon substantially. The results were based on 148 scenarios from 39 sources and focussed on developed nations; Australia, Canada, The US and European Union. Emissions need to be down per capita to 2 tonnes per year by 2050 if we are to avoid climate catastrophe and the European Union figure alone currently sits at 6.7 tonnes per year.
Urgent action is needed but the steps to get there might be out of our comfort zone. This blog lists what is needed, are you willing to make a change?
1. Have one fewer child
The best way to cut carbon is to have one fewer child with a reduction of 58.6 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. Some people aren’t at the point of thinking about children or are already parents but for those who would like to have a family or more children, we need to think about the size and what our planet can sustain. Maybe Charlie doesn’t need a little sister after all? I think the answer is to be sensible; I know a few people who are considering not having kids due to the environment, so maybe one less wouldn’t be such a sacrifice? Family is so important but the future for the children we already have needs to be a bright one.
2. Living car-free
Next up is living car-free and this reduces carbon output at a rate of 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. A car-free existence is possible, maybe it’s time to start thinking outside the box? Or make some modifications to your bike for the food shopping and add a basket? You could perhaps research those new bus routes serving your area, or make the extra time to walk your kids to school rather than that last-minute dash for the school gates?
3. Avoid flying
Avoiding aeroplane travel saves 1.6 tonnes CO2 equivalent per round trip transatlantic flight. This does not mean an end to going on all holidays, but maybe you could try a different route or travel at a slower pace? Maybe your holiday could be about the journey as much as it is about the destination? Travelling by train is great for sightseeing and it can be a real adventure to take the scenic route across borders. For our British readers, consider holidays in the UK too; we have plenty of beautiful forests, beaches and mountains to explore; all without the air miles.
4. Eating a plant-based diet
Finally, eating a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year and this might be the easiest of all the steps to take. With many plant-based alternatives now readily available, it’s easier than ever to cut down on meat and dairy. The grow your own movement is also on the rise as people look to eat healthier food with fewer pesticides and chemicals on their plate and it also saves money in the long run.
Where will you start?
Maybe for a start, choose one of the big impact actions to take alongside the smaller everyday choices you already make to curb climate change. Log this in future with The Climate App and you will see the exact difference you are making.
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