Climate action for greatest impact
Do you know what climate action to take for a safer future?
It can be difficult to know what action to take to help tackle climate change as an individual or household. Here we explore what actions people can consider taking in their lives that will have the greatest impact. Whilst not everyone will be able to make these changes, for a variety of reasons, it is worth reflecting on what is achievable so that our combined efforts can make a real difference. Many of these changes also have co-benefits – that’s to say they might also reduce costs, improve air quality or have a positive impact on health and wellbeing.
Whilst a large proportion of UK adults rarely or never fly, for those that do, taking one fewer long-haul flight a year can make a significant impact on your carbon footprint.
A much larger proportion of people have access to a car or van, with only 22% of UK households without a car. When buying a car, switching from a petrol/diesel vehicle to an electric one will reduce carbon emissions and be cheaper to run. Whilst they can be more expensive to buy, in many cases they have a lower cost over four years. Find out more in this article from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles which debunks some of the myths around electric vehicles.
The food we eat and the food we throw away is responsible for a notable proportion of our individual carbon footprint, so changing what we eat and reducing food waste can help lower this.
The Climate Change Committee recommends a 20% reduction in meat and dairy consumption by 2030 and the UK Government’s Eatwell Guide includes some suggestions of alternative protein sources, many of which are cheaper than meat. You can find out how to reduce your food waste at Love Food Hate Waste, which will save you money as well as reduce pressure on land use. Wrap calculate that waste food in the UK would make over 15 billion meals a year.
According to the Sixth Carbon Budget on buildings from the Climate Change Committee, direct greenhouse gas emissions from buildings were around 17% of the UK total in 2019. Lowering demand for heating homes can help reduce this through insulation and smart heating controls.
A bigger shift, however, is required in terms of the fuels used to heat homes. Approximately 74% of the UK’s heating and hot water demand in buildings is met by natural gas, and the Government’s Net Zero Strategy indicates the need to move to heat pumps (air- and ground-source) and hydrogen boilers to decarbonise buildings. Whilst these are expensive options, grants are available towards the cost of heat pumps. You can find out more about saving energy in your home at GOV.UK.
Small actions also count! We have focussed here on some of the most important changes people can consider making to their lives in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but even the small actions can make a difference. Take a look at our everyday actions webpage for some suggestions of ‘quick wins’ – many of these come at little or no cost.