[2022] How to make a big difference to your carbon emissions this year By Stefania Chica-Jacome

There’s nothing like the New Year to start setting your goals and ambitions for the next 12 months.  As it’s the time to reflect on what we could do better and, given the climate emergency we are facing right now, here is a reminder of what we could do better for the planet: reducing our own carbon emissions.

In 2020, an average British citizen emitted approximately 4.85 tonnes of carbon, slightly above the   global average (4.7 tonnes). The good news is that over time Britain’s CO2 per capita has declined considerably; 20 years ago, for example, an average Briton was emitting double the amount of carbon compared to today. But, how did we manage to half our emissions?

Energy efficiency and a shift to cleaner fuels are the short answer – a big scale change at policy level. Does this mean that only government policies can make a difference? Of course not! Personal action is also important. The things we do, the stuff we buy, how we move around and how we live our daily lives have a lasting impact on climate change and carbon. So, it’s time to take responsibility and set our own carbon resolutions for 2022!

I know that, more often than not, resolutions are forgotten in the first weeks of the year. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to stay on track when we don’t even know where to start off. So, if this is your first attempt at reducing your carbon footprint, remember that little changes can go a long way and consistency is the key:

Look at your energy consumption.

Reducing the thermostat temperature at home or at work by just one degree can save thousands of KWh per year. Need to replace appliances or lightbulbs? Look for more energy efficient options. Willing to go a bit further? Switch to Green energy suppliers.

Less driving, more walking.

How we move around accounts for a big part of our footprint. So whenever possible, try walking or cycling. This is good for the planet, and also good for you.

If driving is absolutely necessary, have you considered an electric vehicle? Remember that low emission vehicles are eligible for a plug-in grant in the UK. You can find out more here.

Do you really need it?

The things we buy take a lot of energy to produce, transport, and then dispose of. Next time you intend to buy something new, be it clothes, technology, or anything, ask yourself: Do I really need it? Think about the impact of your purchasing decisions, this is not only a carbon crisis, it’s a consumption crisis as well.

The truth is that there are countless things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, some more complex than others. Consider the above as a beginner’s guide to start your journey. Will this be enough? Certainly not, but it’s a good place to start and to motivate you to take action in your daily lives. What if motivation fades out throughout the year? That’s normal, motivation not always lasts, it’s just there to get you started. So, when this happens (because it will), reflect on WHY you are doing it in the first place, recognize that these changes are under your control…and start again.

For more information

Stefania Chica-Jacome
Consultant Researcher

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