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How can you combat climate change?

Written by Science

As the climate crisis looms closer and closer, it’s easy to feel powerless under the current political climate. Here are some tips as to how you can do your bit in protecting the planet.
1. Shop selectively.

At the end of the day, we are living on a tiny island and our carbon footprint is minuscule in comparison to countries which are undergoing their industrial revolution. It’s countries such as India and China we are holding the cards in this game, but we are not blameless. It’s becoming increasingly cheaper for us to export our labour to these countries, rather than produce products ourselves and, as a result, domestic companies in some areas of trade are struggling.

Buy locally if you can. It means the product doesn’t have to be shipped across the entire country or across the entire world. It also means that you are giving money to companies who have more environmental regulations, if they are a UK based company. Head to Grainger Market or use a local charity shop, rather than Primark – who export their production to Bangladesh. Buy meat from local farmers, if you can. You’ll be supporting your local economy and saving the planet at once.

2. Get involved in politics.

An EcoA study found that 85% of FTSE100 companies do not have sufficient regulations on limiting greenhouse gas emissions. These same companies are responsible for over 71% of all emissions. You can live as a hermit, not using any electricity and it won’t make a single difference. Top down change is required, as the climate crisis is showing that non-interventionist capitalism struggles to regulate itself in the face of long-term disasters. If a big company was to willingly take a hit to protect the planet, they would be undercut by another company immediately. If you care about climate change, you need to be looking to the government for answers. In his 2020 budger, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a plastic tax for companies using plastic in packaging. It’s an exciting step, but we need more steps.

This is not a partisan issue, every major political party in the UK acknowledges the approaching climate crisis, but there doesn’t seem to be much willingness to actually act. At the bare minimum, you can write to your local MP and encourage them to make the crisis a priority for them. You could even just let them know that it’s an important issue to you, if they want to win your vote. If you’re serious about it, join a political group or party and make the change yourself. In 2019, a fringe environmentalist faction within the Labour party managed to get a 2030 zero-emissions deadline in to the Labour manifesto, through passing it at conference. There’s no reason that other parties, including the Conservatives, can’t be pushed to similar targets.

3. Be a leader.

We can only solve climate change if we work together. Decades of individualist policies such as turning off the lights, using a washing line and using public transport have not helped us avoid the impending disaster. It still lingers ever closer. That’s not to say these ideas aren’t helpful. We should be trying to reduce our carbon footprint, we should be recycling and we should be trying to cut down on our dependence of meat products.

That’s not enough, however. Educate yourself on how real of a threat the climate crisis poses and lead by example in ways in which you can help minimise your own output. If you can convince one of your friends to join you, then you’ve doubled your impact. Convince your boss to recycle more at work, and you’ve increased it by a factor of ten. It’s no longer enough to passively do small things and believe that we are making a difference, because the science shows we are not. The time-bomb is still ticking, and we’re stuck on a loop with the same advice as we were given decades ago.

Last modified: 23rd March 2020

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