Climate Action Planning – Ridgeway Education Trust

Today I had my first action planning meeting with the Ridgeway Education Trust (RET) Climate Champions. Over the coming months we will be using the One Planet Living framework to develop an action plan for the schools within the trust which will help them towards realising their shared vision of a sustainable, climate and eco friendly community in which staff and pupils can thrive.

We will kick off with a series of visioning activities to find out what the pupils and staff imagine their one planet schools could look like. I cant wait to see what they come up with…

As we progress along our journey I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how we are getting on. In the meantime if you would like some support with helping your school to become more sustainable you can contact us for more information.

Climate Solutions – The next step…

In my first post of the Climate Solutions series I posed a question, asking about the nature of the challenges we face with tackling Climate Change. The biggest one, in my opinion, being that of knowing where to begin. Hopefully now that we have worked our way through the Climate Solutions from understanding our Carbon footprint, through the topics of energy use, transport, food, money and ending with what we buy, you now have a good idea of the options that are open to us and have taken your first steps on your Climate Journey. The trick now is to keep on that path, and to build momentum, to keep an eye on your goal and commit to reaching it.

What if you falter along the way? The negative narrative around us in the press and on social media can be a constant drain on our resolve to do better. We need to switch this narrative to a much more positive one and we can do that by each choosing to take a lead, to share what we are doing and encourage others to do the same. In parallel with preparing this series of posts I have been watching Climate Solutions 101 a set of lectures and resources developed by Jonathan Foley and colleagues at Project Drawdown. The last of these includes a short video in which Jonathan encourages us to “Make it happen” in which he calls for a bold vision of leadership, for us to dream big and to remember that the future is not written yet. There is a lovely phrase that he uses which I feel I must share here as it makes the point entirely.

Martin Luther King didn’t go around saying, “I have a nightmare…”, he talked about a dream… and that dream was beautiful and he invited all of us to join in and make it a reality…

Jonathan Foley, Project Drawdown

My dream is of a future in which we can thrive, a future which is better for all of us living in harmony with our planet, a future which our children can enjoy and pass on into the future to the generations beyond them. It is up to all of us to share our dreams and help each other to make them a reality, to write the collective future we choose and start writing it now, together.

I hope you have enjoyed the Climate Solutions series. If you would like your own copy of the infographics you can sign up to our mailing list by clicking here.

Contact us if you have some thoughts, a dream, or maybe a climate journey story you want to share. We’d love to hear how you are getting on.

Climate Solutions – What we Buy

Most of us live our lives immersed in a consumer culture that we are hardly aware of. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing we are bombarded with enticing messages urging us not to miss out on this or that latest deal. From Clothes to TVs to SUVs there is always something newer, better and if we buy it today we will save money by taking advantage of that limited special offer.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could press the pause button and give yourself a moment to think? To move beyond that in-built urge we all have for wanting colourful, sweet and shiny things; to flip our minds from marshmallow mode to a more objective way of thinking. If we can engage our acorn brains, as Roman Krznaric author of The Good Ancestor encourages us to do, then we are free to ask ourselves important questions like “Do I really need this?”, “How long will this product last me?”, “How easy will it be to repair?” or “What is the carbon footprint of this product?”.

The impact of the consumer culture on global warming is huge and yet it is almost invisible to most of us. We are starting to see some progress, the availability of products which are sustainably produced and better for the environment is increasing. We see new adverts everyday, some of them genuine and unfortunately some of them “greenwash”. We can easily get sucked in to agonising over which is the right thing to buy from an environmental and ethical perspective. But here is the rub, perhaps we should be asking ourselves whether we really need it all; you probably wont find an advert suggesting that!

To me consumption is possibly the most important piece in our Climate Solutions puzzle as it links together so many other things. The good news is there are several, simple things you can change to start reducing this part of your carbon footprint and most of them will end up saving you time and money. To find out more check out the latest Climate Solutions infographic on What we buy

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Climate Solutions Workshop at the Catalyse Change Summit

I really love having the opportunity to have Climate Conversations with young people. Yesterday I had the pleasure of running a workshop with a groups of really engaging young women at the Catalyse Change Summit. We used the En-Roads Climate Solutions Simulator to explore our visionary question and come up with our top 3 Climate Solutions.

What if we could find the best Climate Solutions that will limit global warming to +1.5°C and create a path to One Planet thriving by starting to put them into practice?

Our Visionary Question

Having created a scenario which could satisfy our vision’s goal of limiting warming to +1.5C by 2100 we shared our feelings of hope. There was a real air of optimism, a sense of possibility, a feeling that we need to be ready and a sense of urgency. The group felt energised.

We then got stuck in to thinking about positive, impactful actions that they could take to make their imagined future a reality. The Climate Solutions infographics provided a helpful way to translate the broader global solutions identified in En-Roads to more tangible actions that could be applied on a local scale.

We rounded off the session with the group members each pledging to start taking action by doing one new thing. For some this was to share the experience and what they have learned, for others this was to start reducing the amount of meat and dairy that they eat.

I hadn’t really appreciated the importance of reducing methane emissions before.

Ellie

Every time I run a workshop like this we generate a slightly different scenario but the common themes are always the same. What is even more important to me is the increased understanding and engagement that it brings and the motivation to take action that the participants feel. If they each take away one new positive action and start doing it then I consider it to be a success. So to the amazing young women I worked with yesterday I can only say – Thank you for you enthusiasm and commitment, keep doing what you are doing!

Climate Solutions – Money

When I was developing the set of Climate Solutions resources I did not at first appreciate the role that our money plays in the Climate Change drama. It is a complex one, one with two faces. It has the power to do good but it also has the power to do enormous harm. Most of us, when thinking about money, consider the choices we make in terms of what we purchase (so called consumption) but we don’t often think about the other things that we do with our money. It is these other things that I want to focus on here; I will leave the topic of consumption for another day.

If we want our money to be a force for good in the Climate Change drama what then do we need to pay attention to? Most of us will have a bank account, if we are lucky we might have a savings account too. Many of us have some sort of pension scheme that we contribute to either personally or through our employers. We also want to protect the assets that we own, our homes and their contents, our cars (if we have one) so we take out some sort of insurance policy. All of these things involve money, money which the institutions that provide these services use to invest in businesses of many shapes and sizes. It is the collective power of those investments that can have a huge impact on Climate Change. When I first looked into this I was horrified to learn that some of my choices were unwittingly contributing to investment in fossil fuels!

Yet it is not so difficult to flip this coin on its head and ensure that your money is a force for good. There are an increasing number of institutions which are moving investment away from fossil fuels and focusing on supporting green energy and sustainable businesses. There are also a growing number of organisations that can help you make informed choices. To find out more take a look at my latest infographic and find the next simple step to take on your Climate Journey.

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Climate Solutions – Food & Land use

Our relationship with the land, what we eat and how we grow it is perhaps the most challenging topic to explore when thinking about Climate Solutions. It reaches beyond the idea of a carbon footprints, woven into a complex web of considerations about natural resources, ecosystems, biodiversity, soil, water, the list goes on.

At a recent pre-COP26 Climate Summit organised by my local MP I was inspired by the speakers from The Earth Trust and Nature Friendly Farming Network who encouraged us to move beyond seeing farms as being just for food production; to also see them as assets for biodiversity, carbon capture and water management. Farmers working to increase the health of our soils, hedgerows, woodlands and water courses by reimagining the way we grow our food and raise our livestock.

The relationship between consumers, suppliers and farmers is complex and can be quite hidden from view. When we choose to buy a ready meal from our local supermarket on our way home after a long day at work we are typically unaware of what the exact ingredients are. Even if we take the time read the tiny print on the packaging it is not obvious where and how the ingredients were produced, what impact this had on the environment. Yet our food consumption habits, what we buy and how much we waste are a critical part of our carbon (and ecological) footprint.

There are some simple things that we can do to reduce our footprint and some of them have more impact than you might think. When I started researching the topic of Food & Land Use, I realised that there are some common misconceptions about what is most important. I have attempted to address this by using a simple pyramid representation, the larger the wedge the bigger the impact. Why not take a look at my latest infographic and find the next simple step to take on your Climate Journey.

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Climate Solutions – Transport & Travel

No matter where you live and what kind of lifestyle you lead it is likely that travel makes up a large proportion of your carbon footprint. It is estimated that around a quarter of UK emissions come from transporting either ourselves or the goods that we buy.

When I was researching the carbon footprint of different modes of transport it quickly became clear to me that how we choose to travel can have a huge impact. To illustrate this I decided to do a thought experiment creating two hypothetical people who did the same amount of travel in the course of a year but chose to use different modes of transport. One used their car a lot and chose to fly when travelling abroad, the other chose to walk whenever possible and use the train for longer journeys, even for their holiday abroad. The difference this made to their carbon footprints was huge; one was 10 times that of the other!

Of course this is an over simplification. We all lead complex lives with many different journeys filling out our year. However, once we understand the impact of the way we choose to travel we can make informed decisions. We can decide to travel smarter, using less polluting modes of transport, we can also decide to travel less often and be more efficient with our journeys.

In my latest Climate Solutions Resource on Transport and Travel I have set out the ways in which you can make simple changes that will help you to reduce your carbon footprint. Hopefully you will find something that fits for you and helps you take the next steps on your Climate Journey.

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Climate Solutions – Energy at Home

Whatever type of home you live in you are likely to use some form of energy to heat/cool the rooms, generate hot water and run appliances. Your home will also “leak” waste energy to the environment. This is true for all of us even Hobbits!

Having started exploring your Carbon Footprint and taken a Carbon Walk through your daily/weekly routine you have probably come to the conclusion that Energy in the Home makes a significant contribution to your footprint. In the UK it is estimated that this contributes as much as 22% to our annual carbon emissions.

So what are your options for reducing this part of your footprint? In essence there are 3 main aspects to consider:

  • How much energy you use
  • Where that energy comes from (i.e. how much CO2e is released when generating it)
  • How much energy is wasted

There are several ways in which you can tackle all 3 of these aspects to help reduce your carbon footprint. The amount of energy that is wasted is probably greater than you think. I was quite surprised to learn that this can be as high as 50% and much of it is down to poor insulation.

Often people think that addressing these aspects will be expensive but actually many of the things will cost you nothing and will in fact lead to reduced energy bills. Some things do require up front investment but even those will save you money in the long run. So tackling Energy in the Home really is a win win for you and the planet.

Take a look at our latest Climate Solution Infographic on Energy at Home to learn more and determine which solutions you can get started with straight away.

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Climate Solutions – Solving the Puzzle

What is the biggest barrier to solving the Climate Emergency? Is it understanding the causes of Climate change? Is it finding potential solutions to help reduce future warming? Is it appreciating the urgency of taking action? Is it a sense of futility, that the problem is too big for individual actions to matter?

I could go on listing reasons. The fact is that all of these things play a part but perhaps the biggest challenge is knowing where to begin. In all the Climate Conversations I have had both individually and as part of group workshops the ultimate question I get asked is – I want to know what actions I can take, could you give me some ideas? To help answer this question I have created a set of Climate Solutions resources which provide a structured approach for people to use.

We all have different lifestyles so there is no one size fits all solution. In fact there is no one magic solution, what is needed is a combination of things. We need to start by understanding the carbon footprint of our current lifestyle, which aspects are contributing the most, how much we need to reduce it by and how quickly? Once we understand the nature of our personal puzzle we can then select the Climate Solutions which will work best for our own situation. Selecting things which will have a big impact and can be done relatively easily are the best place to begin; remembering that we are embarking on a Climate Journey and it will take several years to reach our goal. The quicker we start the easier it will be.

In this series of posts I will be exploring the Climate Solutions resources. We will start with Carbon Footprints, how to calculate yours and setting your own goal to reduce it. Each week I will then work through each of the Five Climate Solutions Topics to help you select the ones which will work best for your situation. So I invite you to head over to the Climate Solutions page and get started on your Climate Journey.

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Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. I invite us all to take a moment to pause and reflect. To remind ourselves that we belong to this planet and not the other way around. It is an important distinction.

The verb to belong has two simple definitions:

  • To belong – be the property of…
  • To belong – be included in…

In belonging to this planet we recognise that we are part of it, and all the intertwined, mind bogglingly complex living systems that make up the whole.

Google Earth recently released a set of time-lapse images which provide a stark reminder of the pace with which our planet (our home) is changing.

I am grateful to all those around the world who are committed to finding ways to live better within the limits of our planet. For all your actions thank you; you bring me hope.

The one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. So instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come.

Greta Thunberg