As you’ve probably heard by now the UK will be hosting the UN climate change conference COP26 in November. Over 190 world leaders will come together to discuss urgent action on climate change. And urgent really is the keyword here. We are in a position where we cannot fail to see climate change now happening in real-time, and it is time to take action.
What’s Going On?
The recent record-breaking heat in America, parts of Europe and Russia, causing devastating fires. With those in Siberia releasing as much carbon as Germany does in a year and sending plumes of smoke across the North Pole.
The unprecedented flooding in Germany and Belgium earlier in the year. And, more recently in New York as a result of a hurricane that started far in the south of the states.
The weather was so cold in Texas at the beginning of this year that left millions without power and consequently without heat.
These life-threatening, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more widespread.
We are living in a climate emergency – but, what can we do about it?
The biggest and most effective change that can be made now needs to come from the biggest polluters. But, who are they and how can we, as ordinary people, insist on change?
Who Are The Biggest Polluters?
Undoubtedly the biggest cause of climate affecting pollution is the continued use of fossil fuels. Whether we look at that by industry or by country the use of oil, gas and coal is our biggest issue.
Our consumption of energy in whatever form is ever increasing with our reliance on transport and technology. That’s not to mention our use of heating and air-conditioning as the weather becomes ever more unpredictable.
Industry and economic growth also consume a huge amount of this energy. Countries like China and the United States produce vast amounts of CO2 as a result of this, and the size of their populations.
Both countries have made ambitious pledges to slash their carbon footprint over the next few decades. China has said it aims to be carbon neutral by 2060 and the United States wants to cut emissions by 50% within the next ten years! We are excited about that.
We can only hope the recent extreme weather events have been a strong enough call to action to reach these targets faster.
Another of the biggest polluters is, of course, the aviation industry. Carbon emissions from this sector have grown year on year as our love of travel has. This was drastically cut while we were all in lockdown in 2020 along with other transport emissions. Although lockdown felt like it went on for at least 20 years, those few months were a drop in the ocean of climate change.
So, how do we make those kinds of reductions in emissions a more permanent, and sustainable, thing?
How Can We Change Things?
We’ve spoken a lot before about the small changes we as individuals can make. Like swapping out single-use plastics for reusables and making more sustainable choices when shopping. These are all fantastic steps towards a truly sustainable future and the more people we can get on board with these lifestyle changes the better. But, there now needs to be more than just individual change!
It is now time that we as a society insist on big, landmark changes from both government and industry.
The UK government has made some ambitious promises when it comes to climate and carbon emissions recently. However, we are yet to see these results in policy change and real action. Let’s hold them accountable.
The Climate Change Act 2008 commits the UK government, by law, to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. But we currently find ourselves in a position where the opening of a new coal mine in West Cumbria is being considered.
These kinds of governmental decisions will certainly make it hard for the UK to be taken seriously as a leader in climate change policy at COP26.
How do we make the government take this commitment seriously?
There is of course action and protest to make your voice heard but if that isn’t something you are able to do or feel comfortable with there are other things you can do.
Your local MP is your first point of contact when it comes to the government and letting them know how you feel about the lack of climate action is a great start. You can find your local MP and their contact information on the UK Parliament website.
Writing them an email takes five minutes but it lets them know how their constituents feel about the things they are voting on in parliament. Remember, they are supposed to be representing you and the things that are important to your community, it never hurts to remind them of this!
When it comes to big businesses and the industries that are responsible for a large percentage of carbon emissions similar tactics can be used. You can let them know that you expect them to take climate change seriously. But an even better way to get these companies to pay attention is by voting with your wallet.
Choosing to shop with companies that have a strong focus on sustainability sends a clear message to those that lose business because they don’t!
There is now an increasing number of green energy suppliers out there for example. And there are also other ways to travel that don’t produce as much CO2 as flying such as by boat or train.
We’re not going to pretend that making these kinds of big swaps will be easy, convenient or necessarily cheap. But, they will make a big difference, especially as it lets those polluting industries know we don’t want to buy what they’re selling anymore.
Is There Any Hope For The Future?
Absolutely! And it is vital that we don’t lose that hope, as it’s what will keep us fighting for change. There have already been some great steps made to help reduce the human impact on the planet.
The plastic bag charge here in the UK for example has reduced the number of plastic carrier bags leaving supermarkets by around 95%. The ban on smaller disposable plastics like straws, cotton buds and stirrers has also been another great step in the right direction.
However, both of these initiatives, as great as they are and as much as we support them, are no longer enough on their own.
We now need to push for those bigger changes. We need the government to step up and act to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and eliminate other pollutants in the environment. We need every business to do all they can to limit their impact on our planet.
As you probably know by now, here at Huskup we do everything we can to reduce our impact on the environment, we’ve built our ethos around it. We now invite other businesses to join us in moving towards a more sustainable way of doing things. And we invite you as consumers and members of society to demand better from both government and industry.
Now is the time for real, tangible change. The future is in our hands.