Whether a fan of New Year resolutions or not recent news about our climate predicament might make you think again.
I love our local area, with its beautiful countryside, urban landscapes and dynamic, caring people. Whether it’s farmscapes in the Vale of York, the cathedral city of Ripon, historic Boroughbridge and Knaresborough, the Dales and Pateley or Victorian spa Harrogate, there’s so much to be proud of and grateful for.
But as our climate shifts, we are hearing that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are needed, to keep the places that we love protected, so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy them. According to Professor Piers Foster, Harrogate resident and coordinating lead author of the 2018 IPCC Climate Change Report, “we have to cut our emissions by 50% over the next 10 years”.
That’s a big ask, but societies can change very fast if they choose to. Consider the 1956 Clean Air Act, which led the shift away from coal to urban gas and electricity, in both homes and industry, and do you remember ditching CFCs in spray cans and fridges to save the ozone layer?
Over the last decade, most of us have embraced a massive societal revolution, the internet, and with it jobs and opportunities we did not perhaps foresee.
So perhaps now is the time to make a New Year’s resolution that will help us achieve our carbon emissions targets over the next decade!
Make a carbon budget
Like money carbon is better managed when you have a budget to work to. Just as you know that an extra cup of tea a day is unlikely blow your financial budget but a new car might, you need to know the impact of each of your lifestyle activities on your carbon emissions budget. Is your carbon footprint above or below the UK average of 12 tonnes of carbon emissions per person per year?
Pledge to reduce one tonne each year. www.footprint.wwf.org.uk
Choose a greener diet
A kilogramme of beef or lamb comes with a 25kg greenhouse gas emission tag, compared to chicken at 13kg and beans and pulses at about 2kg. Commit to dropping one meat meal per week and learn to cook a new vegetarian or vegan meal each month – or even better, each week.
Stay closer to home for the holidays
A return long-haul flight emits a whopping five tonnes of carbon and even a short trip, such as Leeds Bradford to Tenerife, “costs” one tonne of your year’s carbon budget. Book a staycation to enjoy Yorkshire and explore the many gems of the UK or consider travelling by train or coach to the continent.
Get more value for your money
Do you support companies that reflect your values? If not, resolve to switch your savings and/or pension to providers who invest in companies that are committed to low carbon policies, rather than those still investing in fossil fuel-based industries. www.ethicalconsumer.org
Invest in the future
Donate to charities that are combating climate change to give to a better future. A brilliant, local example is the Rotary Club’s local tree planting and carbon offsetting scheme, which has already planted over 17,000 trees in Nidderdale.
Walk the talk, and talk the talk
Talk about the changes that will come in food and farming, energy generation and travel over the next 10 years across the District. Share how these changes can provide opportunities, whilst addressing climate change.
And of course join Zero Carbon Harrogate. Become a member, come along to our events and perhaps offer your services as a volunteer!