Now you know what your carbon footprint is you can consider how to address the bigger contributions. The average person in the UK has a carbon footprint of around 12 tonnes of CO2e so there is plenty to reduce. Here are some actions you can take today as an individual. . .
Drive less – walk or cycle for short journeys, public transport for longer journeys emits a lot less CO2 than driving alone in a car. If you could go car-free you would save around 2 tonnes of CO2e per year and helps ease many other problems in Wells. If you need a car, switching to an electric one substantially reduces CO2 emissions and other pollution. Try and avoid travel if it’s not really necessary – could you video conference instead for some work meetings?
Avoid aeroplanes – flying releases large amounts of CO2, far more than other forms of transport. A single transatlantic round trip results in more emissions than the average person emits from housing and transportation in an entire year. Even a flight within Europe is 1/2 to 1 tonne of CO2 per person.
Review your diet – Eat less meat (especially beef and lamb – ruminants release a lot of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas) and dairy foods. If you can move to a plant based-diet that saves around 1 tonne per year. Eat more locally sourced seasonal food, and try not to waste any of it. An added benefit here is that a lower carbon diet is often healthier and cheaper too!
Use less energy – insulate your home more if you can, turn down the heating in winter, wash clothes in cold water and dry clothes outside instead of with a tumble dryer, turn off gadgets rather than leaving them on standby, look at the energy efficiency if you are buying appliances, LED bulbs use around 80% less than old style incandescent. Some of these are quite small effects but they all add up and if everybody did them . . . Switching to a green energy tariff encourages the development of renewables in the UK, but it doesn’t actually change the source of your electricity!
Buy less stuff – everything you buy takes energy to make, transport, display and the totals can be large. Reducing the number of things you buy and making better use can have a hugely positive effect. The emissions from “stuff” are often ignored from carbon footprint calculations but for many people are the largest source of emissions! See our tips on reducing and recycling.
Spread the word – Help other people reduce their carbon footprints. The more people that shrink their footprints the better. Use your vote to help elect leaders with effective policies to address climate change.
What else we need to do in Wells and beyond
An individual can do a huge amount to reduce their impact on the environment, but even the most well intentioned person can’t do it all. We need actions at the community, institutional, regional and national scales to enable everybody to live in a sustainable way. We need significant improvements in:
Energy – more of our electricity needs to come from renewable sources (currently around 25 % comes from renewables like solar and wind, around half still comes from burning natural gas).
Housing – new houses need to be zero carbon. It is quite possible to build houses that don’t require net input of energy for heating (no bills!). Government policy is required to force house builders to do this. We also need to improve the insulation on many existing homes.
Transport – the public transportation network needs to improve so it is a viable and affordable option for more journeys for more people. Cycling needs to be an option for more people with more traffic-segregated routes. Transitioning to electric vehicles at some point is essential to decarbonise our transportation, and this needs infrastructure and policy.
Government emissions – The emissions for government buildings and operations (NHS, schools etc) work out to be around 1 tonne of CO2 per person per year, this needs to reduce as part of a national decarbonisation.
Achieving these changes in Wells and beyond is a big focus of Sustainable Wells.