How can I help to fight climate change? The causes of global warming explained and what I can do at home – iNews
Without action to rapidly slash emissions, 40°C days could become a regular occurrence, scientists warned this week.
The blistering heat should be a “wake-up call for humanity” to dramatically ramp up efforts to combat the climate crisis, climate scientists told i this week.
But what can the everyday person do to help? And can individual actions make any difference?
It turns out there are six key changes everyone can make to help the planet in their everyday lives, according to The Jump, a new campaign that launched in March this year.
It encourages people in rich nations such as the UK to sign up to six commitments to live a greener life, from eating a plant-based diet to buying fewer new clothes.
People can pledge to join the movement for one, three, or six months. “We invite people to jump into the future and try the six shifts,” says co-founder Tom Bailey.
These are not actions plucked from thin air – they are based on research by the University of Leeds, C40 Cities, and engineering consultancy Arup, which spent more than a year assessing sources of emissions in the global economy.
Together the six actions can deliver at least 27 per cent of the emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to 1.5C, the analysis found.
So what are the six key actions?
What: Eat a mostly plant-based diet and don’t waste food
For most people in the UK, food and drink accounts for around three tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, about a quarter of the average person’s carbon footprint.
That explains why the most impactful action promoted by The Jump is a shift to a plant-based diet. The campaign sets an ‘upper limit’ of 300g of meat a week and 1.7kg of dairy a week – which equates to around two chicken breasts and some cheese, butter, a few eggs and a pint of milk a week. But the goal is to eat less meat and dairy than this, and ideally to adopt a wholly vegan diet.
Eating green also means eating everything you buy. Plan meals before heading to the supermarket, and use food waste apps such as Olio to make sure no edible food goes to waste. Eating healthy amounts of food is also noted, so that means controlling portion sizes and not overeating.
What: Only buy three new items of clothing each year, excluding underwear and shoes.
The fast fashion industry is pushing shoppers – especially those in the UK – to buy more clothes than ever before, often at rock bottom prices. These clothes aren’t built to last, and evidence suggests clothes are being worn fewer times before they are thrown away.
This has a huge environmental impact. Estimates suggest the clothing and textiles industry now accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined.
Wearing the clothes already in circulation is the greener option, with new clothes limited to the occasional treat. The Jump suggests buying clothes from second-hand outlets, renting an outfit, or swapping clothes with friends and family for a low-carbon wardrobe refresh.
What: Ditch your car and cycle instead
While electric cars are definitely better for the environment than a petrol or diesel motor, the greenest option is to get rid of a private car entirely.
If your family has a second car, or you don’t really need a car for day-to-day life, consider ditching it and relying on public transport, cycling, and car clubs for getting around, The Jump suggests. If you do need a car, use it only when necessary.
Instead switch to walking, cycling or public transport. “The energy used in making a car is vast,” says Mr Bailey. “So the idea that we can all just shift to electric cars is not a reality. We need less cars. So if you have to have a car, an electric car is better. But avoid it if you can.”
What: Keep all technology for seven years
Anyone who has had a smartphone on contract knows how easy it is to get sucked into a seemingly endless cycle of upgrades. The phone battery dies, the person in the phone shop offers you an unbeatable deal on the latest iPhone, and before you know it you are walking away with a brand new phone and a two-year contract.
But every phone, laptop, e-reader, washing machine, and television takes a huge amount of raw materials to produce, so the longer they can be kept in use for, the lower their overall footprint. The Jump says people should aim to keep gadgets for at least seven years, and where possible, opt for items that are easily repairable so you can keep them going for longer.
What: Take one flight every three years
Flying is the highest carbon way to travel, and some high-profile environmentalists like Greta Thunberg have sworn off air travel completely in response to its carbon footprint.
The Jump says flying is OK, but only if you do it rarely. That means one short haul return flight every three years, and one long-haul flight every eight years.
“You can still see the world. You can still get to every continent. It doesn’t mean you are not free to engage in other cultures. It’s just about getting a balance,” says Mr Bailey.
Change the system
What: Take a step that will push governments and businesses to take action
From more renewable energy to a greener financial system, there are plenty of ways the UK’s infrastructure needs to change to reach net zero.
These so-called system changes will probably be pushed through by governments and businesses, but individuals can give it a nudge in the right direction.
Signatories to The Jump are asked to make one change in their lives that will help to transform the system. Ideas include switching to a green pension provider, changing to a green energy supplier, moving to an ethical bank, insulating your home and removing your gas boiler, or writing to your MP about climate change.
Mr Bailey believes there are millions of people in the UK who would not label themselves “environmentalists” but care deeply about the planet and want to do something to help. Within a decade, The Jump wants to mobilise these people into action and rewire the focus of modern economies.
“We plan to be around for 10 years,” he tells i. “And in that 10-year period to have moved us beyond consumer culture and consumer society to something that’s about not consumption but creativity, care, craft, camaraderie, comedy.”