If everyone in the developed world rung in these changes, emissions would fall by a quarter, research suggests
The sheer magnitude and complexity of the climate crisis can leave many people feeling helpless and apathetic. Why bother giving up beef if BP is drilling for more oil? What’s the point in cutting back on air travel when airlines run empty flights just to keep their airport slots?
Anyone asking themselves such questions following the UN’s latest warning about the climate crisis may be cheered by research published earlier this year. Commissioned by The Jump, a grassroots environmental group, it found that citizens have direct influence over 25-27 per cent of the emissions savings needed by 2030 to avoid climate chaos. In other words, people have more agency over the global heating than they might think.
That’s not to absolve governments and corporations of their responsibilities, far from it. Without greater ambition from the public and private sectors, the climate crisis will intensify. This week’s UN report – the most alarming to date – underscores the need for immediate and radical action to avoid the worst consequences of global heating. The window in which to act, it warned, is slamming shut.
The Jump’s research was carried out by academics at Leeds University, in collaboration with the global engineering firm Arup and the C40 group of world cities. It found that making dietary changes is the single biggest thing people can do to reduce emissions, followed by giving up fast fashion.
“Citizen action really does add up,” said Rachel Huxley, director of knowledge and learning at C40 Cities. “This analysis shows the collective impact that individuals, and individual choices and action, can contribute to combating climate change.”
The Jump was launched to help people in developed countries make lifestyle changes for the sake of the climate.
“The Jump is a fun grassroots movement of people leading the way to less stuff and more joy,” explained Tom Bailey, the movement’s co-founder. “Coming together to make practical changes, support and inspire each other, celebrate success and drive a shift in society’s mindsets and cultures.”
The organisation has identified six lifestyle changes that people can make to directly reduce emissions. Those looking to take it further should check out the Positive News guide to taking climate action.
Six ways you can slash emissions, according to The Jump
A shift to a mostly plant-based diet, combined with eliminating household food waste, would deliver 12 per cent of the total savings needed by North American and European countries.
Image: Tangerine Newt
Limiting yourself to buying three or fewer new items a year would deliver six per cent of the total savings needed. That means rummaging around in vintage shops more, and getting garments repaired, which you can do on most high streets or through apps like Sojo.
Image: Ellie Cooper
Embracing low-carbon transport when going on holiday can reduce emissions by around two per cent. The Jump’s research allows for a maximum of one short-haul flight every three years, and one long-haul every eight years.
- Read more: The low-cost rail firms taking on Europe’s airlines
- Read more: Night trains are making a comeback amid concern about the climate
Image: Daniel Abadia
Reducing vehicle ownership (or, if possible, moving away from vehicle ownership altogether), would deliver two per cent of the total savings needed by 2030.
- Read more: Why we should all go Dutch
Extending the lifetime of electronics so they are used for at least seven years would deliver three per cent of the total savings needed. Helping people do that is the Restart Project, a charity that repairs broken electronics on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis. It has plans to open repair factories on every UK high street, and this week cut the ribbon on one such facility in London.
Image: Kilian Seiler
To influence the remaining 73 per cent of emissions that are out of their direct control, citizens could take action that encourages and supports industry and government to make the high impact societal changes that are urgently needed.
For instance swapping to a green energy supplier, changing to a green pension, retrofitting our homes, or taking political action. For more on that, read our 14-step guide to taking positive climate action.
Image: Li-an Lim
Main image: JK
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