Today, (22 November 2018), the World Meteorological Organization announced that ‘Levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another record high‘.
- CO2 concentrations reached 405.5 parts per million in 2017.
- 2016 levels were of 403.3 ppm and in 2015 they are of 400.1 ppm.
- Concentrations of CH4 (methane) and N20 (nitrous oxide) rose.
- Levels of CFC-11 significantly increased.
In light of this news, here are a few ways to reduce your carbon emissions.
1. Switch to a renewable energy supplier at home or reduce your electricity usage
Electricity is generated through converting sources of energy, for example:
- Non-renewable sources: coal, natural gas, oil
- Renewable sources: geothermal, wind, solar
Burning non-renewable sources for energy/electricity, otherwise known as fossil fuels, is the largest source of CO2 emissions. CO2 is the important anthropogenic greenhouse gas in the atmosphere because it contributes around 66% of the radiative forcing by long lived greenhouse gases.
Renewable energy is the most sustainable option, because it is energy from a source that replenishes naturally without depleting – like solar power.
Depending on where you live switching to a renewable energy provider may not be possible, so reducing you electricity usage would help and cost less.
2. Minimise your driving
In 2017 in the UK, an estimated 34% of CO2 emissions were from the transport sector. Road transport is the most significant source of emissions in this sector, in particular passenger cars. So yes, whether you drive somewhere or not does make a difference.
If the distance is too far, prioritise public transport, then carpooling if you must drive.
Some countries also have low-emission vehicle grants and varying degrees of tax bands depending on how much fuel you consume and therefore your amount of emissions.
3. Fly less
Direct carbon emissions from aviation are estimated to be around 3% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions and more than 2% of global emissions.
If global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.
Sometimes air travel cannot be avoided, so if you do, do not forget to offset your emissions here. Don’t forget that purchasing carbon offsets are not a license to pollute – it does not mean that one can travel by plane as much as possible as long as offsets are purchased.
4. Reduce your meat consumption
Producing animal-based foods has higher greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based foods. This has been concluded by numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies and supported by organisations like the UNEP, Greenpeace and WWF.
A 2014 study published in the Climatic Change peer-reviewed journal concluded that greenhouse gas emissions in meat-eaters are approximately twice as high as those in vegans.
5. Eat local and seasonal
Eating locally simply means eating food that has been grown or reared in your region or area. Rather than purchasing asparagus that has been shipped all the way from Peru in a refrigerated container which is very carbon intensive, purchase the ones grown in the fields nearby.
Eating seasonally is eating food that is grown outdoors/produced during the natural growing period, in the same region and climatic zone. Thus eliminating the need of heated glasshouses to produce fruit and vegetables which do not grow naturally at specific times of the year – climate modification consumes a lot of energy.
Eating seasonally and locally work hand in hand and since the produce is fresher, it has more nutrients and is tastier.