News & Updates

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.

To receive your own, high quality copies of the Climate Solutions resources Subscribe here

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.

To receive your own, high quality copies of the Climate Solutions resources Subscribe here

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

Catalyse Change Masterclass on Climate Action

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hosting a Catalyse Change Masterclass with a group of young women who are interested in pursuing careers in sustainability and are committed to taking meaningful Climate Action. We used the En-ROADS simulator to explore which climate solutions would have the most impact on global greenhouse gas emissions and limit warming as much as possible.

Together we created a scenario that could limit warming to +1.7degC above pre-industrial levels. The discussion was wide ranging, considering not just the impacts on warming but also the equity issues and potential co-benefits associated with some of the solutions.

The group shared reflections on what they had seen, how it made them feel and what local actions they could take on their path to Net-Zero. We all felt a renewed sense of hope that if we act together we can create a better future for our planet.

LetsgoZero

I am proud to be supporting the LetsgoZero campaign organised by the Climate Action Charity Ashden. Over the next few months I will be working with them to encourage local schools to sign up to the campaign ahead of COP26 in November. But it doesn’t stop there; over the next few years we will also be helping those schools to develop their Climate Action plans and turn their commitment to NetZero into a reality.

Climate Journey Video

How many kg of CO2 make up your daily carbon footprint? It is probably more than you think, I was certainly surprised when I calculated mine.

In my new Climate Journey video I use buckets of water to visualise the size of a typical daily carbon footprint and map out my current path towards Net Zero.

When I set about making this video I had not appreciated how large my carbon footprint was at the beginning of my Climate Journey in 2017. I needed more buckets than we owned! Luckily my friend Jenny was able to lend me a couple of hers.

Since 2017 I have made quite a few changes which have enabled me to significantly reduce my carbon footprint. Some of these are mentioned in the video, others can be found in my Climate Journey pages.

What will the path to Net Zero look like and how long will it take to get there? This very much depends on the level of commitment that we all make and how we choose to work together to adapt the system to support a more sustainable future.

If you haven’t done so already, why not start your Climate Journey today!

En-Roads Workshop with DGS Science Club

Over the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of running En-ROADS workshops with the girls from the Didcot Girls School Science Club. We spent a couple of hours exploring the various Climate solutions sliders and their impact on green house gas emissions and global temperature rise over the rest of the century. The girls then made suggestions of how we could combine potential solutions to create a scenario which limited warming to +1.5degC by 2100, fantastic!

We closed out the workshop with sharing reflections on what it would feel like to make this scenario happen and discussing follow up actions based on what we had discovered. The girls made lots of great suggestions of what they were going to next from changing to a more plant based diet to buying an electric car. It was a real pleasure to guide them through the exercise and share in their enthusiasm!