Climate Change 101 (Part 3: How can we stop it?)
Miranda Chubb takes us through everything you ever wanted to know about climate change, but were afraid to ask.
How can we stop Climate Change?
The main way to reduce the effects of further climate change is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. There are many different ways to achieve this, including:
Switching to renewable energy
Stop burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas and switch to using 100% renewable energy using technology like heat pumps, solar panels and wind turbines. All remaining fossil fuels need to be left in the ground and not burnt.
Stop cutting down forests and planting more trees
Stop cutting down trees and rain forests. Instead plant more trees so that there are more to absorb the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using photosynthesis.
Change the way homes and buildings are built
New buildings can be built to Passivhaus standards so that they are very well insulated and very energy efficient. Buildings built to these standards need very little energy to heat them. Existing buildings can be refurbished so that they use less energy.
Change the way homes and buildings are heated and powered
New buildings can now be built to use renewable energy for heating and power. Existing buildings can be converted to use renewable energy. For example, using solar panels and heat pumps.
Active transport (like walking or cycling), taking public transport and travelling less
Cycling, walking and using public transport instead of driving also helps reduce carbon emissions. Travelling less also helps, for example, using video meetings or video chat apps to work or stay in touch with people.
If you have to use a vehicle then using one that runs on renewable energy, like electric cars, rather than using petrol or diesel cars and vans can also help to reduce carbon emissions.
Reducing energy use
Reducing your energy use is a great way to reduce carbon emissions. This can be done in so many ways including: insulating your house, swapping old light bulbs to energy efficient ones and washing clothes at lower temperatures.
Support the circular economy instead of buying new items
Buy second hand or swap items with others rather than always buying new items or clothes. Buying things second hand helps to reduce the demand for new items, which means less carbon is generated as well as saving you money.
Buying food, items and clothing that have been made locally means less carbon has been emitted to transport them around. Buy food that is in season and has been produced locally rather than flown in from far away countries.
Switch to recycled
Switch to recycled options wherever you can, such as recycled paper, kitchen roll and, toilet paper. Recycling helps protect the environment because it reduces the need for extracting, refining and processing raw materials. As recycling saves energy it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to tackle climate change and it also reduces levels of pollution.
Re-use items rather than buying disposable ones
Everything that you buy has a carbon footprint, as energy will have been used to make it and transport it. This is why it is so important to reduce the number of new items we buy. Switching from using something like a disposable coffee cup to using a re-usable coffee cup instead saves carbon emissions.
Minimise waste and avoid plastic
Minimising waste by being careful what we buy and what packaging we buy it in can also help the environment. It’s good to avoid plastic as it’s made from oil or natural gas which are fossil fuels. Additionally, plastic causes problems to human and animal health when it ends up as a waste in the sea or in woodlands. Plastic can only be recycled one or two times and it never biodegrades; it just breaks down into smaller pieces. Other materials are preferable, for example, aluminium drinks cans can be recycled an unlimited number of times.
Change your diet to eat less meat and dairy
Scientists say that to avoid climate breakdown we need to significantly reduce the amount of meat and dairy we’re eating. How exactly does eating less meat and drinking less milk help to stop climate change? This is because all meat and dairy products have a higher climate, land and water footprint than the same quantity of plant-based foods. Meat from animals like beef and lamb can have 10–100 times greater carbon footprint than plant-based foods. The best foods by far, from an environmental perspective, are plant-based. One of the main reasons for this is because to grow the food to feed the animals we eat means the destruction of large amounts of forests and disruption to the natural ecosystems. Scientists advise that we follow a diet called the planetary health diet which includes reducing the amount of meat and dairy we eat, or change to a totally plant based diet.
This is the third of a series of posts by Miranda Chubb. Thank you Miranda!