The evidence is that global emissions need to peak in the next decade and then decline to well below current levels to avoid dangerous climate change. This is possible, and can be achieved with technologies that are available now. Putting off action will make it more difficult and expensive to reduce emissions in the future, as well as creating higher risks of severe climate change.
Over 40 per cent of CO2 emissions in the UK come directly from what individuals do – for example, using electricity in the home and driving cars. That means we can all make a difference. If every home can install 270mm loft insulation, it would save 3.8 million tonnes of CO2 – the same as the annual emissions of around 650,000 homes.
The UK has challenging targets for reducing emissions by 2050, and it will only meet those targets if everybody – individuals, Government and businesses – take action together.
Because individuals are responsible for over 40 per cent of emissions, it’s only with your help that climate change will be tackled. No one group – the Government, businesses or individuals – can find a solution to climate change on their own. The Government has been working to put in place legislation to curb emissions, and to enable individuals and businesses to act.
Every reduction in emissions makes a difference by not adding to the risk. Countries like the UK are in a position to be a positive example to the rest of the world – if the UK can rise to the challenge successfully, others will follow. The UK is working hard with other countries to come to an international agreement on cutting emissions because we need to act now.
Moreover, there are good economic reasons to act now. The Stern report, the Treasury’s comprehensive analysis of the economics of climate change, estimates that not taking action could cost from five to 20 per cent of global GDP every year, now and in the future. In comparison, reducing emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change could cost around one per cent of global GDP each year.
The great thing about reducing your carbon footprint is that simple changes make big reductions to carbon emissions. Turning off the lights when you leave the room, switching appliances off at the mains or turning your thermostat down one degree are all actions you won’t notice doing until you get your lower fuel bill. Profound change to your carbon footprint will necessitate more stretching actions and, potentially, greater changes to your lifestyle. But for many people, acting on CO2 won’t mean significant change in the short term.
Cutting your carbon footprint doesn’t have to cost you a penny – on the contrary, it can save you money. For cost-free ideas on cutting your CO2 and your bills, read the article on easy ways to save money. Save money by cutting CO2
Many of the ways you can reduce your carbon footprint take seconds and are so easy, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do them earlier. Clicking the dial on your washing machine to 30 degrees: one second. Closing the curtains at dusk: five seconds. Only boiling as much water as you need: minus 10 seconds (you won’t spend so long filling the kettle to the brim).
In the past, green products were sometimes of lower quality. However, today’s eco-friendly products are of the same or even superior quality. They are often high quality, durable and reliable, with longer operating lives. They’re often easier to repair and upgrade too.
There are costs to any change, but study after study shows the net effect of conservation, efficiency and less-polluting energy will be more local jobs, cheaper power, and savings in health and local pollution control. The costs of severe climate change effects, like coastal erosion, are far greater than working to reduce them.
Significant ‘fixes’, like removing CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, are very unlikely because they are not available now and are not an alternative to reducing emissions, whereas many reductions in emissions, which we can all make now, will.
The threat to our country from dangerous heat waves, floods, wildfires and droughts are significantly increased by climate change
Every action we take to reduce greenhouse gases, no matter where it occurs, will make a difference.