What can we do about climate change?

Solar power is an important option for reducing CO2 emissions that you can exploit by choosing electricity companies that use it, installing your own panels, or encouraging governments to support. Credit: First Solar

Solar power is an important option for reducing CO2 emissions that you can exploit by choosing electricity companies that use it, installing your own panels, or encouraging governments to support. Credit: First Solar

As nations continue to argue over CO2 emissions limits at the ongoing climate talks in Mexico, you might ask: what difference can each of us make? Compared to the pledges being traded by our countries, our own efforts can seem insignificant. But they’re not – they’re the first small steps in a long journey, as the scientists I’ve been asking to explain climate change this year have highlighted.

And, as we seek to move nearer to a safe climate, one option is to alter our behaviour to reduce our individual carbon footprints. Barry Sinervo suggests we cycle instead of driving, and Jessica Blois says we could drive more fuel efficient cars and drive less, and reduce how much petrol we burn. As well as how far we travel, the distance the goods we buy travel has an impact on CO2 emissions. Consequently some of my interviewees recommend buying locally-grown food, for example, although this is not necessarily the greenest option if it involves growing food in climate-controlled buildings.

Some, like Louis Codispoti, question whether we need to buy as much as we do at all, and hence whether the energy needed to produce what we buy is well used. How we get our electricity is also important, so Walter Immerzeel recommends we try and choose suppliers that use as much renewable energy as possible. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has put solar panels on his roof for the same reason. Read the rest of this entry »