We are campaigning for political action, but we are also asking people to take action in their own lives to reduce their carbon (and greenhouse gas) footprint.
It is sometimes said that encouraging individuals to take carbon-reducing actions is a distraction from the campaigns and protests necessary to force political action. This is a false dichotomy: we can do both, and they will reinforce each other. Reducing your own carbon footprint is one of the best ways of building cultural energy around the issue, particularly if you talk to your friends and family about it, and influence them to do the same. Why not hold a coffee morning or wine evening to discuss the issue?
The more we feel we are ‘doing our bit’ in our own lives, the more we will feel empowered to demand the same from others, and from our governments. The more we make actively caring about climate change the social norm. If we can make that transition as a culture, change will follow much more quickly, at all levels.
But what about China?
It is not true that what we do makes no difference, because of the far greater emissions of the US, China, India, and so on, are so much greater. The US is culturally and politically close to Britain, and campaigns that work here have a good chance of working there too. The majority of Chinese pollution comes from production for export to Western countries, and Western countries have many ways of putting pressure on these countries to change their behaviour. Unlike Western countries, China and Indiea are currently on track to meet their Paris commitments. These commitments are inadequate, but what this does show is that China and India are capable of forming and responding to international agreements on these issues. If Western voters start requiring their leaders lead on this issue, it is likely China and India will be able to make more radical reductions to their greenhouse emissions. Talking about China is just another way of washing our hands of our responsibility to our children, and future generations.
How to begin?
Think about your life as a tissue of social interactions and relationships, with friends, family, colleagues, bosses, subordinates, neighbours, and even strangers. In some of these relationships you may feel very disempowered, as many of us do. But is there some relationship in which you feel you have some power or influence? Could you use that to take a lead in persuading others to take decarbonising measures?
Or think about what you are interested in? Are you interested in fashion, gardening, or mechanics? Is there some way you could develop that interest in a carbon-saving way? There may already be initiatives in place you can join. Alternatively, get in touch and we may be able to help you out.