Across the globe, the new year is often a time for new beginnings and better habits, and many people like to re-think parts of their life at this time of year. So we have put together a collection of steps that will help you help the planet and improve your carbon footprint.
The steps we’ve included in this article are based on cutting a tonne from your carbon footprint, as this is needed to see the scale of emissions cuts required to start to avert the climate crisis. You can start now and take the steps throughout the year, to Cut a Tonne in 2023.
Why Cut a Tonne?
The global target, agreed upon by the UN, is to halve emissions by 2030 and then hit Net Zero (where any carbon entering the atmosphere is removed by something else) by 2050.
To cut emissions by 50%, most individuals in the global North (generally the wealthier countries) need to cut a tonne from their carbon footprint every year. Globally personal carbon footprints are around five tonnes, so to halve emissions, we all need to get to 2.5 tonnes by 2030. However, individuals in wealthy countries tend to have much larger footprints, often around 8-10 tonnes in Europe and up to 15 tonnes in the USA, Canada, and Australia.
And there is real urgency. The 2022 UN Emissions Gap report, which details how the world is doing against the 50% target, highlighted that progress has been poor. We’re currently on track for dangerous 2.5C temperature rises (climate change starts to get out of hand after 1.5C), and we need “urgent system-wide transformation” starting today.
This means that the time for just taking small steps is over. We need to make bigger shifts, and, as an individual, that means cutting a tonne.
A collection of steps to cut a tonne
Many of the different ways to cut a tonne are about developing new habits, and what better time to start than at the beginning of the New Year?
Here are ten habits to build this year. In Giki Zero, some are 4 or 5-week challenges to get you started but to cut a tonne, keep these habits throughout the year. The steps are spread between the home, what you eat and how you get around.
Finally, always make sure you turn the lights off in unused rooms for small electricity savings, but one that will keep you thinking about when you really need to be using power.
What you eat
Eating with the seasons helps to reduce your food carbon footprint as in-season food is more likely to be grown using nature’s help (instead of fossil fuel generated power), and closer to home (so fewer food miles). It may well taste better too.
For an even bigger saving, cut back on red meat because beef and lamb have very high carbon footprints compared to other foods.
You can also avoid palm oil or look out for the sustainable version, which will help protect the rainforests as these are often cut down to make way for this productive, but destructive crop. Many foods that contain palm oil are unhealthy too.
Getting public transport means lower carbon because you are sharing emissions with others. Trains are low carbon, especially if electric, allowing you to travel long distances quickly.
Walking short distances is good for your health, with most journeys under one mile (1.6 km), meaning there are plenty of opportunities to do it. If you drive, drive more efficiently to save up to 20% off your fuel bills.
As a final bonus step, try the before-you-buy checklist as often as you can. The amount of carbon and cash you save will be how often it helps you make a better decision, but it’ll ensure you’re thinking about all your purchases with the planet in mind.
Individually these steps help, but building all these habits together will help you cut up to a tonne from your carbon footprint, and that is one of the keys for all of us to play our part to help protect the planet this year.
If you want to find out more about what you can do for the planet, check out Giki Zero now.