12 Days of COP-mas: 12 positive actions you can do right now (Part 1):
As world leaders prepare for the COP 26 Glasgow climate summit that will set the agenda for the next 10 years and further into the future, this is a pivotal and critical time. Decisions made now will impact on the rate of carbon emissions and consequent climate outcomes. Worldwide the effects of the climate crisis are already apparent, with increased frequency, severity and impacts of extreme weather events such as storms, floods, fires, droughts, and sea level rise. Additionally, human health impacts are increasing, including deaths attributable to heat waves, rate of new zoonotic diseases and issues of water and food security. Sea level rises are threatening homes. Pressure on habitat and biodiversity is also increasing as temperature extremes push land and water ecosystems beyond their capacity to adapt fast enough to survive. The social, environmental and economic impacts of not acting are well beyond the cost of acting, and fast!
It all sounds depressing and hopeless (even with that very brief and incomplete summary), and yet world leaders continue to bicker over the need to act, let alone the details. In Australia, despite our advantages of peace, democracy, education, and relative wealth, alongside an abundance of solar, wind and natural resources, we are climate laggards instead of climate leaders.
It’s easy to feel frustrated and powerless, but there are actions that we can take right now to help turn the ship around. Here’s a list of individual actions you can do right now. These first six don’t even require you to leave the couch.
1. Take a moment, observe your surroundings and lifestyle, and be thankful for what you have. It doesn’t sound like much, but this is a great starting point for any change. If you are keen for a baseline complete an online carbon footprint calculator at https://www.wwf.org.au/get-involved/change-the-way-you-live/ecological-footprint-calculator#gs.ddnifr or https://fightforplaneta.abc.net.au/carboncounter/ which will also suggest some changes that you might like to make.
2. Energy: move your energy account to one that sources and advocates for renewable energy. If you are currently locked into a contract, find out what your existing supplier is doing to promote renewable energy and hassle them to do more. The more people demand the availability of renewable energy, the more companies will shift their business model to provide the service. While you’re at it, move to a carbon neutral internet and mobile provider. Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees with every search.
Electrify everything and improve efficiency. Gas is another fossil fuel (mostly methane) which contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, so plan to remove gas from your power supply (the supply charge may even be more than your usage!). Improving efficiency of appliances and increasing insulation will reduce your overall energy consumption.
Solar + battery installation is becoming more affordable for more people. If you can invest in your own power supply, now is a good time. Look into government subsidies in your state.
3. Walk, ride a bike or scooter, or catch public transport. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, but you will reduce pollution and improve your fitness.
Electric vehicles are becoming more widely available and affordable. By 2022 they are forecast to be a similar price to fossil fuel vehicles, so plan for your next purchase.
4. Banking: Set up a carbon neutral bank account. Many of us still have the bank accounts that we opened in primary school. Move to a bank that invests in a greener and more equitable future, and be sure to tell your existing bank why you’re leaving. Don’t forget to move automatic payments.
5. Superannuation: For many, this is the largest sum of money we will invest, so put it to work for the greater good as well as your financial future. More and more companies are improving and reporting on their sustainability performance, so jump online and check out where your money has been invested. If you’re not happy, then move to a company that is proud of their climate action.
6. Lobby your local Federal MP. Whether you elected them or not, they represent you, so make your voice heard. Send an email asking what they are doing to promote action on climate. While you’re at it, send the same email to your State and Local representatives.
So far, you haven’t even had to leave the couch, or even the bed if you’ve been hiding under the doona in despair. In the next post we will get a bit more active in our everyday choices.