Research shows individuals can make a huge impact on reducing emissions outburst in six steps

Research shows individuals can make a huge impact on reducing emissions outburst in six steps

The threat of climate change has made us think ‌it is up to Big Tech companies, such as Google, Amazon, Apple, etc., as well as car manufacturing giants and world-large economies, to save our planet, as only governments and industry can have a significant impact on averting the climate crisis. 

However, the latest research carried out by scientists at Leeds University in collaboration with experts from the global engineering firm Arup and C40 Group shows that people in well-developed countries can substantially contribute to deterring climate change by incorporating some grassroots movements into their lives. 

The results of the study came down to six specific commitments a person should stick to, so that it could make a tangible difference. As experts say, implementing these “Shifts” could account for a quarter of the required emissions reductions needed to slow down global warming.

Stop the runaway consumption of electrical products

Keep your smartphones, personal computers, smartwatches, TVs, etc. for at least seven years, which is the optimum lifetime of a gadget. Stop your addiction to buying new electrical devices when your old ones are in good condition. 

By keeping electronic goods and household appliances longer and optimizing their lifespan, a total emissions reduction of 33% can be achieved by 2050, the study finds. 

According to scientists, people need to fight the urge to buy things they don’t need. Getting another iPhone every other year, just because a new model has come out, while your current mobile device is working just fine, is not reasonable. Runaway consumption of electrical items contributes to carbon emissions. 

Besides that, people should not give up on things so easily once they get broken. Try repairing them first. If the damage is irreparable, rent or buy second hand. 

Get rid of private vehicle

Car ownership contributes largely to carbon emissions, research shows. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s data, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. In a broader sense, an average car handles about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, the latest study finds. 

Therefore, experts and academics urge people to stop using private vehicles, unless their lives and work depend on owning one. 

For some, giving up their private vehicle could be a challenge. But try to consider the alternatives. For example, you could join a car-sharing system or move to public transport to "share" the emissions. 

To move around the city, you could use bicycles, for example, or E-scooters, which became popular among big city residents. You won’t have to deal with finding a parking place anymore, not to mention your body shape could benefit from that. Some experts suggest car ownership will become extinct in the future:

“Private vehicle will become a remnant of a bygone era for the future society, which will exercise wise and responsible consumption as well as sustainable lifestyles. This, at least, is the model of the future society we are moving towards to step by step by implementing cutting-edge green energy technologies and developing electric car segment within the automotive industry,” says ESG Corporate Standard Expert Andrey Zaruev.

According to the results of the study, if people in top 100 world-leading cities embrace this lifestyle change, "emissions from the private transport category could be cut by 23%" by 2050. 

Wear vintageAs for the clothing industry, every item you buy represents a certain amount of carbon dioxide thrown into the atmosphere, as the production and transportation of goods generate emissions along every link of the global supply chain that brought it to the end-consumer.

Relentless consumption is trashing the planet. The clothing and textiles industry handles more gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined, according to the study. 

Tom Bailey, energy and climate expert, who analyzed the data for the research, thinks the rise of fast fashion is the main contributing factor here:

"Lower prices often mean poorer quality clothes that don’t last as long. These low prices have also resulted from unseen human and environmental costs, such as pollution of rivers, poor working conditions, low wages and exploitation of workers in factories."

Therefore, scientists urge people to buy less clothing, reducing their consumption to three new items a year. 

You might also consider giving a second chance to the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Try upcycling. If you want to update your wardrobe, you can use your creativity and design unique looks out of your own stuff. After all, fashion tends to work in cycles, old hits come back around eventually.

 You could check out second hand and charity shops, where you could find a rare piece of vintage clothing, which is regaining its glory lately. When buying new items, prioritize quality and durability. 

"These clothes might be more expensive, but it is worth considering the cost per wear. If it will last three times as long, but is only double the price, that’s a financial saving over the lifetime of the item and better for the environment too," Tom Bailey says.

Adopting the rule of 3 new items per year could save you an average of $15,500 over 20 years, a study finds. 

Fly only once every three years

Aviation contributes around 2% of global emissions, and this figure is increasing more than any other form of transport. To reverse this trend, experts strongly recommend committing one short-haul flight every three years and one long-haul flight once in 8 years. This measure would substantially reduce aviation emissions. The adoption of alternative sustainable fuels could also change the situation, the report states: 

"Reducing flights and adopting sustainable aviation fuels could collectively avoid $70 million in damages from air pollution that would affect human health, buildings, infrastructure and agricultural production."

Therefore, the report suggests choosing holiday destinations closer to home that you can access by train, ferry or bus. 

Eat Green

Evidence shows that a third of all planet-heating gas emitted by human activity arises from the food industry. Animal-based foods, in particular red meat, handle 57% of all food production emissions, which is twice the pollution of producing plant-based foods. 

One of the reasons is that grazing animals require a lot of land, which is often cleared through forest cutting. Meanwhile, trees are an important carbon “sink” that takes up CO2 from the atmosphere. When forests are cleared, it adds up to global warming.

Another reason is that most of the world’s cropland is used to feed livestock, which produce large quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

The difference in emissions between meat and plant production is as follows:

To produce 1kg of wheat, 2.5kg of greenhouse gases are emitted, while a single kilo of beef creates 70kg of emissions.

The Leeds University research shows there are three changes to diet that would dramatically reduce the impact of the food we eat:

  1. Eat in line with health recommendations, kick the habit of overeating
  2. Switch to plant-based diet, lower meat and dairy consumption
  3. Eat everything you buy and try to reduce food waste 

According to Eat Lancet Commission’s report, sticking to a recommended calorie intake of 2,500 kcal per day supports both human health and sustainable use of planetary resources. 

Back up green energy oriented companies and organizations

However, all the shifts mentioned above won’t work until the current global economy makes a U-turn on the climate change issue. To help transform the system, scientists are calling for people to make at least one life-altering change

  • Change to a green energy supplier
  • Change your pension to a green investor
  • Use ethical and green banks
  • Use your energy at home efficiently, or install energy efficiency measures
  • Push for change through activism, peaceful protest, or writing to your MP

It was a widespread belief that individual action is like a drop in the ocean to change the way the global economy operates, but research has proven otherwise, as Ben Smith, director of climate change at Arup, who worked on the research, notes:

"Our research shows that all of us, from politicians, city and business leaders to individual citizens, have important roles to play. And it's clear there’s lots we can do as individuals, and that this is one of the easiest and quickest places to start."

Another outcome of the study is that these 6 steps can reduce global emissions by between 25% and 27%. Personal shifts to our own lives can collectively have a massive impact.

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