We’ve all heard the lists of things we can change in our lives to mitigate emissions, but how to get started, and how on Earth does one make it a part of one’s everyday life? Do you have to make climate action your number one priority, give things up and think about climate change every hour of the day? No, you don’t. When it comes to climate action, the easy way is worth just as much applause as the hard one.
In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its much talked about report stating, amongst other things, that citizen climate action is going to be part of the solution to climate change. That’s not just because it helps individuals to reduce their personal emissions, adds up to large emission savings when many are acting (van Vuuren et. al., 2018) and sends a strong message to businesses that cleaner goods and services are in demand, but because people taking action in their own lives is one of the best ways to get to a society that reaches the 1.5°C target set in the Paris Agreement.
So, our personal climate actions matter — but where should one start? The fact that globally, 72% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are related to household consumption (Hertwich and Peters, 2009) means that 72% of GHG emissions depend on consumption choices that we make. And they can all be made in a more or less climate-smart way.
The emissions you are in direct control of include how your home is heated and lighted, how many and what kinds of things you buy (there are always emissions when something is produced), what you eat and how you travel. In all of these contexts you can find a selection of services and products that can help you live a life with less emissions — right here and now. What's even more exciting is this:
Research shows we can reduce the emissions we directly control by 55%, using only solutions and technology that are already available to us (SYKE, 2017).
To make it as easy as possible for you to start taking climate action, we put together a list of climate-smart services and products that will help you take the first step:
Climate action doesn’t have to mean extra effort or giving up on things. What it does require is re-evaluating our existing habits from time to time: could I do this in a more climate-smart way? New services and products are appearing everywhere, making climate-friendly living easier — and cheaper. By choosing to switch to a more climate-smart service or product, you’re not only reducing your personal emissions and supporting the company providing it, but changing the social norms around you, moving climate-smart options to the mainstream.
Our final advice to you is to always start with considering whether you actually need to buy anything. If the answer is yes, see if you can find a suitable solution from the list above. Reusing and sharing is gold, but going for quality comes in at second place!
Linda holds a Master’s in Media and Communication and is passionate about science communication, dogs and vegan food.