Reduce Your Carbon Footprint11/01/2021 11:45AM ● By Rachel Miller
Climate change is the greatest risk facing us all. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.
This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO – It was a summer filled with intense wildfires and skies dense with smoke. Checking the air quality every morning became as normal as checking the daily weather. Unfortunately, it appears to be just the beginning in terms of climate change, as global temperatures are on the rise and gas emissions are “putting the planet on a catastrophic pathway,” according to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
As the world waits for November’s COP26 (26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties) global climate summit, scheduled to take place October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, humanity must take action now to limit future global temperature rise and preserve civilization as we know it.
The COP26 is the follow-up to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21), at which the Paris Agreement was signed, setting a goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Hitting that goal is still possible, according to scientists, if the world were to slash all greenhouse gas emissions immediately.
In a recent interview conducted by Covering Climate Now partners NBC News, Reuters and The Nation, Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist who is known for challenging world leaders on climate action, believes it is up to us as humans to do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint and make an actual change.
“In such an emergency as we are in right now, everyone needs to take their moral responsibility, at least I think so, and use whatever power they have, whatever platform they have, to try to influence and push in the right direction, to make a change,” Thunberg said. “I think that’s our duty as human beings.”
With all the climate chaos happening in the world right now, Thunberg says this should be a wakeup call to our world leaders and everyone as a whole. “Listen to the science and do what it requires,” she says, “The science says our planetary house is literally on fire, and world leaders and everyone else should act like it.”
So, what can you do to reduce your carbon footprint and minimize your contribution to climate change? There are many easy, simple changes to make to reduce personal greenhouse gas emissions. Whether at home, work, school or while you travel, making these small changes will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our fight against climate change.
Carbon dioxide emissions from transportation are some of the top sources of greenhouse gases. So, what can you do? It’s simple: drive less. Fly less. Walk, ride a bike or take public transportation to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Opting not to take the car is not always the easiest option, so while you are using the car, make sure you’re being climate-friendly.
- Never leave a car idling – always turn it off. Why emit more carbon dioxide into the air when the car isn’t in drive?
- Go easy on the gas and breaks – driving efficiently can help to reduce excessive emissions.
- Regularly service your car – efficient cars are better for the environment.
- Use cruise control – helps with going easy on the gas.
What You Eat
While it’s not set in stone what the most climate-friendly diet is, experts say that reducing meat consumption – especially red meat – is most efficient for the environment. Not only does the production of meat use a lot of resources, cows also give off high methane emissions that are harmful to the environment.
The most secure way to reduce your carbon footprint in the food you eat is by eating locally and low on the food chain. Most greenhouse gas emissions occur during production so reducing foods like meat and dairy to replace with vegetables, fruits and grains is a sure way to reduce greenhouse gases from your footprint.
Also, the less your food has to travel, the more climate-friendly it is. When you can, shop local.
Shopping – Buy Less. Waste Less.
Step one: buy less! Ask yourself the honest truth the next time you’re out shopping, “Do I really need it?” Whether you’re shopping for groceries, clothes or electronics, sustainability should be taken into account. Try avoiding items with excessive plastic packaging. And investing in high quality products, energy-efficient appliances or electronics can help reduce your carbon footprint.
Tip: Buy used or recycled items whenever possible, and always recycle/donate old clothing, toys and other household items.
Save Your Energy
Become energy efficient and environmentally friendly right in your own home. The simple switch of incandescent light bulbs to LED bulbs will use a fraction of the energy and last longer. Make sure to switch those lights off and unplug all electronics while not in use – it is the most energy efficient thing you can do in your home.
Try using less water, or better yet, turn your water heater down a degree or two. This alone can save hundreds of pounds of CO2 a year. Lowering your thermostat in the winter and using less air conditioning in the summer – fans use less electricity anyway – are a few minor changes you can make in your own home to reduce your personal carbon footprint.
No matter where you live, these simple actions can really add up in the fight against climate change. Doing your part today makes for a greener tomorrow.
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