If you’ve seen the news lately, then you’re probably across some of the devastating impacts of climate change gripping the planet…today. No longer a faraway concept that future generations will have to deal with – climate change is here and now.
Take the recent heat wave in Antarctica that saw temperatures reach 40°C above average and the associated collapse of an ice sheet the size of New York. The torrential rains and flooding on the east coast and now the heat wave hitting India and Pakistan. These are not average weather events. As forecast by climate scientists, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is increasing, caused by human-induced climate change.
So what can we do to help?
While it’s easy to get caught up in the enormity of climate change, our energy is better spent on taking action and focusing on the positive things we can do as individuals and as communities, to make a real difference.
Here are 10 ways you can be a climate ‘actionist’:
Action #1: Share information
Addressing climate change will require all of us to work together. It helps to stay informed about the issue and know your credible sources of information from your not-so-credible. When you’re informed, you can help those around you better understand the climate crisis and what action needs to be taken. And since humans are predisposed to trusting information from family and friends more than experts and scientists, it makes sense for you to start important conversations on climate change in your circle.
Stay informed and share information from United Nations (UN) Climate Change, UN Environment Programme, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and news sources like the ABC, SBS and The Conversation.
Action #2: Calculate your carbon footprint
A good starting point in any climate ‘actionism’ journey is to calculate your carbon footprint. That is, how many greenhouse gas emissions your current lifestyle produces. Some carbon calculators even use the number of planet earths it would take to sustain your lifestyle. Calculating your footprint can be confronting, however it will reveal what actions you can take to have the most positive impact on climate change.
Carbon Positive Australia’s Carbon Footprint Calculator calculates your household’s footprint, showing you what big and small changes you can make to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. You can even offset your carbon footprint through donating to their native tree planting projects.
Action #3: Swap your travel
Swapping your car for more sustainable transport will significantly cut your carbon footprint. Transport is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia (second to energy) and is increasing. Over 62% of these emissions are from private vehicles, representing a major opportunity to make an impact.
Consider taking your bike, e-scooter or public transport for your morning commute or get in the habit of walking the kids to school instead of driving. If you’re looking to purchase a new car, consider an EV or hybrid. And if you can charge your EV with solar – even better! Read our recent blog on how to charge your EV with solar.
Action #4: Go renewable
Energy is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. This means that we can make the biggest impact by transforming this sector. Renewables are a no-brainer. In Australia, we have a bounty of renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydro and wave power, that can replace fossil fuels like coal and gas. In fact, rooftop solar has already made a huge impact reducing emissions from the energy sector. By 2030, national grid electricity emissions are predicted to be less than half of what they were in 2005. This is testament to the collective effort of millions of Australian households shifting to renewables.
Installing a Plico solar + battery system will allow you to drastically cut your household’s carbon emissions and have an immediate positive impact. With Plico’s affordable weekly rate (with no big upfront installation cost, plus servicing and maintenance for 10 years), it’s more accessible than ever. In fact, Australia’s plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050 includes a significant emphasis on solar technologies.
Action #5: Buy less
It’s easy to get caught up in the constant consumerism that we’ve come to accept as part of modern life. We live in a throwaway society where anything can be easily, and cheaply, replaced by the next on-trend piece of furniture, tech or clothing. However, nothing is really “throw away” because it ends up somewhere. And the emissions from the processing, manufacturing, packaging, transport and decomposition of our throwaway items starts all over again.
As consumers, we have a lot of power to change our economy. Choosing to buy less will create less waste and will have a positive flow-on effect through the supply chain. Commercial trucks, for example, account for six percent of the world’s emissions – if we can cut back on the transport of goods then we can make a big difference. We’ve all heard the mantra Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – well we can add “Refuse” to that as well.
And there is another mantra we love at Plico – On a scale of 1 to 500 years, how much do I really need that?
Everything we buy sticks around for a lot longer than we have use for it. So if you can do without, buy secondhand or repair what you have – the planet will thank you for it!
Action #6: Amend your diet
All of us can make a conscious effort to eat more climate friendly. Being aware of where our food comes from, its food miles and the impact of its production will help to create a more sustainable food system.
Our current agricultural system is like a double-edged sword when it comes to climate change. As we clear more land to grow crops and graze cattle, the more carbon sequestering forests we lose – forests that are vitally important to tackling the climate change problem. Eating more meat-free and dairy-free meals, buying local and organic produce and reducing food waste will help abate the unsustainable expansion of agriculture and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Go one step further and grow your own food – no food miles or packaging required!
Action #7: Compost
Composting is a fantastic way to reduce food waste, cut methane emissions and have an amazing garden! It’s super easy to do, even in small spaces, with indoor and outdoor composting systems available.
Food waste and other organics that are not composted produce methane when they break down in landfill. Composting is an aerobic process - the presence of oxygen prevents methane-releasing microbes to do their thing. And preventing methane from being produced is really important for climate action because methane is 26 times more potent than carbon dioxide. When food scraps and other organic material is sent to landfill, it ferments in anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions. And yep, you guessed it - that's when you get harmful methane emissions.
Action #8: Plant trees
Planting trees is another tool in the climate action arsenal. Unfortunately, around 12 million hectares of forests are destroyed globally each year. WWF estimates that in Australia, around 50 million trees are cleared or damaged each year, as well as tens of millions of smaller saplings and shrubs. This not only releases carbon back into the atmosphere, but it also prevents these forests and woodlands from combatting climate change through sequestering or ‘capturing’ further carbon.
You can help by planting trees where- and when-ever you can. In your own garden or property, or as part of a collective. Get involved in local tree planting days with your Landcare or catchment group, or donate to tree planting projects through groups like Carbon Positive Australia, Greening Australia or global efforts like the Plant for the Planet initiative.
Action #9: Invest in sustainability
If you value sustainability and climate action then it makes sense to put your money where your mouth is. And you wouldn’t be alone. Trillions of dollars has been divested from the fossil fuel industry in recent years. Divesting means taking your money out of institutions that fund fossil fuel expansion – this could be through your bank, superannuation or shares.
Find out if your bank, workplace or super account invests in fossil fuels – and if they do you can start a divestment campaign. If they won’t budge, then you can take your money elsewhere.
Action #10: Vote climate
If you want Australia to take action on climate change and make good on its commitment to net zero emissions, then you can exercise your democratic power and vote. Ensure you are enrolled correctly and do your own research into which local candidate best represents your views. You can also use the ABC’s Vote Compass to explore how your views align with the major parties.
Everyone should feel empowered to take action on climate change. Collectively, the changes we make will have a huge impact. And as more people adopt a climate conscious lifestyle, the more this will become the norm.
Changing your household energy to solar is a concrete, doable action you can take. If you’d like to learn more about finding the solar + battery solution that is right for you, talk to one of our switched on team by calling 1300 175 426.