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Section 1 – What does this mean?
Much of the COP process to date has been about setting targets to reduce emissions, working out how to measure progress against those targets, and making pledges. Country targets are called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). However, there’s been insufficient action to move beyond pledging, and in a decade when we need to halve global emissions, they are still rising.
That’s why there are plenty of countries with 2050 Net Zero intentions but far fewer who are making progress in cutting carbon in line with halving emissions this decade, which is what is so critically required. You can see how every country in the world is progressing on the Climate Action Tracker.
At COP27, the aim is for countries to ensure the implementation of the Glasgow pact and countries coming back and raising their ambitions for the cuts they will make while also showing what real progress they are making.
A good outcome will be lots of countries coming up with tougher targets and evidence of what they are doing today. A bad outcome would be everyone explaining why their long-term goals are sufficient.
Section 2 – What’s your number?
While countries are required to cut emissions, as citizens, we will also play a crucial role, as highlighted in the recent IPCC report of April 2022. While many of us want to play our part, busy lives, or other important priorities, such as the 2022 cost of living crisis, mean sustainability and the planet can understandably go to the bottom of the list.
But there are ways for everyone to get involved, and we find at Giki, it all starts with ‘What’s Your Number?’ You can get an easy-to-understand score to keep track of everything you’re doing for the planet.
Once you know your number on Giki Zero (a combination of your carbon footprint and all the steps you are taking to improve it), there’s always something you can do to improve it, and many of the steps that we need to take to cut carbon can save money too. Here we look at the main parts of someone’s carbon footprint and cover actions, not pledges, that we can take from quick wins to steps that will have a significant impact.
As a background, the average per capita carbon footprint in wealthy nations is 10 tonnes per person per year. This needs to reduce to 2.5 tonnes per person globally by 2030, to achieve a halving of global emissions. Think of this as your own NDC, or target, and then think about how you can track everything you are doing to get there.
The largest components of personal carbon footprints tend to be diets, home, and transport. In this section, we detail some big impact steps we can make in these three key areas, starting with food. Taking steps will ensure you’ve moved from pledges to action.
Section 3 – Take a bite out of your food footprint
Try plant-based products
Food typically makes up one-quarter of the average carbon footprint and switching to a plant-based diet can cut your food footprint in half. This is because the production of meat, dairy, and fish has a higher carbon footprint than the production of plant-based foods. There are several reasons for this:
A three-step process to get more plants into your diet
It is projected that by 2025, one quarter of British people will be vegetarian, and half will be flexitarian (predominantly plant-based with occasional meat or dairy). As numbers grow, the supply of plant-based options will grow.
There are two great things about taking a bite out of your food footprint. Firstly, you can start at the next meal, so the impact is immediate. Secondly, you can save money by eating more plants.
Section 4 – Find greener transport
Switch to Electric Vehicles
In wealthier nations transport can be one of the largest parts of personal carbon footprints. Transitioning away from fossil fuels in transport is crucial to keeping below 1.5 °C. Electric cars are one of the fastest growing solutions in the transport sector.
Figure 1 shows how petrol and diesel cars are one of the biggest contributors to individual carbon footprints. They are also slowly being banned. Electric vehicles (EVs) typically emit zero emissions, do not emit other harmful pollutants, and are also cheaper to run. This is due to lower fuel costs and even the ability to charge at times of day when electricity can be cheaper. Every year the price of electric cars versus their fossil fuel predecessors gets closer and closer.
EVs look to be one of the most promising technologies for the future but most vehicles on the road today are still powered by fossil fuels.
Buying an EV requires a big upfront investment, but there are ways to reduce the amount of petrol or diesel used right now that will save money on fuel bills.
Three step process to cut emissions and pollution from petrol and diesel cars immediately
Section 5 – Save costs and carbon at home
Four steps and big savings
With the price of gas soaring around the world many people are looking for ways to immediately reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to heat our homes and provide hot water.
Heating and domestic hot water account for around 75% of household energy requirements so there’s lots of scope to cut carbon emissions and costs.
Thank you to our partner Giki for their contribution to this guide to COP27 Goal 1.