5 tips: Easily reduce your climate footprint
If you eat vegetarian, can you fly more than if you eat meat? And how can you easily reduce your own climate impact?
First, a brief reminder: In the Paris Agreement, the world’s countries agreed that global warming must stay well below two degrees. Most preferably below 1.5 degrees. To achieve this, the world’s global carbon dioxide emissions must be halved every decade until we reach emissions near zero in 2050.
What needs to happen globally to withstand 1.5-degree warming by 2050?
To meet that goal, we must halve carbon dioxide emissions every decade until 2050 globally. And the goal then is to have a global net emissions close to zero. But when we calculate it, we must until then also create negative emissions, that is, in different ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, because we need to compensate for the fact that some sectors of society have very difficult to get down to zero. One such, for example, is the cement industry where you have to burn limestone to make cement and then inevitably carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere. Therefore, you need to work on being able to collect and store carbon dioxide, remove it from the atmosphere or invest in forest planting and bioenergy in combination with carbon dioxide storage as compensation.
The main responsibility here lies, of course, with the politicians and what needs to be done broadly is that the energy sector globally must change from fossil fuels, that is, coal, oil and natural gas, to alternative methods that do not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In concrete terms, we need to remove coal power, for example. But we also need to work with the transport sector: the vehicles used must be more efficient and climate-smart, the fuel must be changed to focus on electricity and biofuels and we must reduce the number of transport in general.
Then we must also change the global food sector to a climate-smart production. If we reduce meat production, the earth’s resources will last longer because less energy is needed to produce vegetarian products. However, there can still be meat production when, for example, natural beet meat is involved and contributes to biodiversity.
How likely are we to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement?
From a purely technical and economic point of view, there are good chances to do so and to have a good life on earth. The challenge we face is that we have never before had such a large, global change that will be solved in such a short time. The European Commission has calculated a net zero target for the EU by 2050 and they can see that if we can do this we will have better GDP growth than if we continue with the fossil fuels, good economy and good welfare. But then money must be invested now in order for us to be able to change time.
Some highlight China and India as a cloud of concern in this as they are now moving forward strongly and to some extent increasing their emissions. However, the thing is that they have great opportunities to build green alternatives from the start and in a way it is easier than for us in the Western world to have fully developed industrial systems and energy sectors that need to be completely redone.
It is important to remember, however, that nobody, not even us, works at the required rate. So we have to keep fighting.
What can be done at an individual level to reduce their climate footprint?
What affects your climate footprint are five different things:
This includes both aircraft and cars that use fossil fuels. Simply put, we can say that we need to reduce both air travel and car travel. Take the bike, go collectively, take the train instead of the flight if possible or reduce the number of flights you make.
The electricity we have in is certainly climate-smart and we have a heating sector that is largely entirely without fossil fuels. However, since the industry and transport sector will need more electricity when the fossil fuels are phased out, it is good to reduce their energy consumption. Save electricity with LED lamps and appliances with the best energy class. You can also seal windows and doors, lower the temperature at home and save on the hot water. If you have the opportunity, also produce your own solar energy on the roof at home.
The most important thing to do here is to reduce your meat consumption and reduce your food waste. Producing meat requires a lot of energy and cattle are the worst climate cure as they also emit a large amount of methane gases. Eat more vegetarian and once you eat meat choose good meat that has taken into account animal care, environment and sustainability! A large part of the food produced does not reach your stomach and households account for most of the waste. By planning to buy better and not throw away edible food, the waste can be reduced.
Everything that is produced requires energy and much of the emissions of fossil fuels happen when we produce goods to consume. If you can reduce your consumption or make climate-smart choices, it is good.
5. The Exchange
What is your money working for the bank for? This is not as easy but ask your bank to report what your money has for the climate impact. The entire financial sector needs to work on reporting it and if you ask, they may begin to put in place measures on that front.
There is a lot of talk about staying on the ground and skipping the flight – but how much does it really have on the climate?
It depends on how you fly, the more hours you fly the greater the emissions – so it is the long flights that lead to the greatest emissions per trip. When compared, five one-hour journeys are better for the climate than a five-hour trip because long journeys produce an extra climatic effect called the high altitude effect. But in return, the startup that requires extra fuel is a major part of the journey if you fly many short trips. In addition, if there are short journeys you do, it is possible, for example, to expand the train traffic so that there is night trains to Europe. It is difficult today to take the train to Thailand and then it is better to forgo that trip and invest in something that is closer.