Personal Carbon Footprint - A bit more information
Not everyone can change everything immediately but we all need to work together to share a greener future.
We found that reducing our individual carbon footprint was fairly simple and straightforward, it just needed some commitment and consideration. Our efforts are also guilt driven. As an engineer I helped to build bridges to airports, systems to load coal trucks much faster and even quicker ways to produce plastic bottles. As travellers we have toured New Zealand, South Africa, Norway and a lot of other European countries. So we fully understand the benefits of travel.
My wife and I started by just trying to consider the carbon impact on our purchases and activities as we went along. Life did not become dull or boring, to the contrary it has become richer and more interesting. We have definitely saved money are fitter, healthier and happier. The money saved from 2 foreign holidays per year has payed for bike upgrades, a kayak and decent winter clothing. We have had some of our best holidays ever and our carbon footprint is getting lower as we make more informed decisions. Using the government Renewable Heating Incentive our purchase of an 11kW heat pump will be paid back within 7 years and is keeping us very warm using much less energy than our old gas boiler. When the car needed replacing we bought an electric van, partly because we got a £7,000 government discount and partly because tow bars cannot be fitted to small electric cars. So now we have loads of room for our bikes and Kayak, and are ready for more adventures, mostly local. It has not all been plain sailing though, we have had to taste almond milk and some frozen veggie burgers that were totally awful, but I think we are getting there. We are still not close to the target of 2 tonnes of CO2 and never will be without government, businesses and whole communities working together.
As consumers we have a massive influence on manufacturers, importers and Governments. If we really want to live in a low carbon high quality world we need to let everyone know that we will accept nothing less. If we reject the blueberries flown in from Peru in favour of frozen ones or locally grown apples. They will be replaced with a lower carbon alternative.
If we reject fossil fuel generated electricity, by going to a green supplier, there will be more windturbines.
If we only fly when it is essential, all of the expertise used in advertising and inducements will be focused on finding more environmentally acceptable fuels, very quickly, and we could have a carbon neutral aviation industry considerably sooner than the 2050 on offer.
That would be a good time to dig out the bucket list, imagine, guilt free flying.
Have a look at some of the fuels being manufactured in the good news section and imagine if each project was fully funded and pushed by anxious travel giants.
Food can be tricky as strawberries from Spain can have a much bigger footprint than banana's from Africa, dependent on the season. Nothing beats local organic or home grown, vegetables and fruit.
Beef is another one, local grass fed animals can have a carbon footprint of under one tenth of the South American beef that goes into the shop lasagne. Going local looks to be a very good idea.
How fast we act on climate change will mean the difference between life and death for millions of people, and for nature in every part of the planet. The International Panel on Climate Change have proposed plans to limit Global warming to under 2 degrees Celcius, this would hopefully avoid the worst aspects of climate change. Click on the button if you want to see what each country has agreed to.
The United Kingdom, along with almost every nation on earth, has signed up to this Paris agreement and has legally binding targets on greenhouse gas reduction. In addition the U.K. the Government has committed to be NET CARBON ZERO by 2050, the first major economy in the world to do so.
In 2018 our total emissions including imports and international services were around 16 tonnes CO2e per person, so we all have a great deal to do.
2018 Total emissions 16 tonnes per person CO2equivalent
2 tonnes per person can be offset
The large footprint shows the values of greenhouse gases per person from all sources ,including imports,at 2018 levels. The smaller ones represent the reductions that will be needed to meet our legally binding obligations.
Figures and diagrams from a Open University course called "Treading Lightly on the Earth".
The challenge to meet these targets is immense and it will be impossible for any Government to meet these commitments without the full support and encouragement of us, the voters.
When Mark Carney tells us to dis-invest in fossil fuels it’s time to check your Portfolio or investment company to ensure you are not investing in fossil fuels. No money or investment page fails to mention climate change and the enormous impact it will have. There are some environmentally friendly banks such as Triodos Bank , who have some very interesting options. We have opened an account with Triodos and transferred our ISA's to their investment accounts. We are also investing in the people who are working flat out to reduce the impacts to a minimum, Greenpeace are first on the list followed by Friends of the Earth, woodland trust and the wildlife trust, but there are many more very effective groups out there.
Investing in the home is a win / win, as the returns can be better than the bank and monthly outgoings are reduced.
Insulation and draught reduction must be first on the list.
Solar panels with heat stores or batteries could be a very good investment, with better returns than the bank. Heat pumps and more complex technologies need a survey, but might save money in the long term and make our grandkids proud.
So What Now ?
Please have a look at the other sections for more information and the section on Good News.
I know our actions alone will not solve the crisis, but we are joining a growing band who are inspiring others and we can then influence our governments, who can make a big difference world wide. Not only that, action makes you feel more connected and much less anxious about the scale of the problem.
To those who think it is too late, all of the evidence suggests that the impact of climate change will just get worse and worse until the planet is not fit for human existence. Start now and we have a real chance of a greener and less polluted world within 15 to 20 years. More importantly lets enjoy what we have around us and conserve as much as possible.
I am feeling even more hopeful having just read "The Future We Choose" by Christiana Figures and Tom Rivett-Carnac. Check out their website to be inspired