Reaching Net Zero is possible
In September 2019 4 million people around the world joined the Global Climate Strike. By the start of 2020, 1,400 local governments in 28 countries had declared a climate emergency and by October 1,000 businesses had signed up to Science Based Targets.
What this highlights is that more and more people, companies and governments want to take action in order to avoid the worsening and accelerating climate crisis. Increasingly people also understand that cutting their personal carbon footprint is a key part of the role they have to play.
However, the challenge is that whilst many people want to do the right thing they are often unsure about what “right” looks like, or what exactly to do.
Using Giki Zero’s science-based carbon footprint model, our article describes a framework which helps individuals deal with this challenge and take effective action.
Following an emissions reductions framework of Reduce, Replace and Repair (the 3Rs) we construct a representative pathway for a typical UK individual which shows the tangible steps they can take to cut their carbon footprint. We find that, based on technologies available today, Reduce and Replace steps can achieve a carbon footprint that is aligned with the 1.5C Paris targets. With the inclusion of Repair steps the same individual can lead a Net Zero life.
As such we believe that the 3Rs framework is very encouraging in showing a practical pathway to Net Zero in the UK. Moreover, it could also be very impactful for individual behaviour change globally because many of the actions are applicable across other high-income, high-emitting countries.
Furthermore, we suggest a simple way for people to get started by “Cutting a tonne in ’21”. People find it easier to accomplish large challenges or tasks if they are broken down into a series of more manageable chunks and “cutting a tonne” within a year feels achievable as it can be done by taking a relatively small number of steps.
We also describe some of the key co-benefits of taking steps to reduce emissions and discuss the addition of emissions removal in future years. These co-benefits are crucial because they provide further motivation for behaviour change from both the perspective of the individual and communities.
Throughout the article we use as our example a person representative of a typical UK consumer. However, Giki Zero, on which our analysis is based, allows each person to find personalised steps to build their individual Net Zero plan.
James Hand, Co-Founder, Giki Social Enterprise
Dr Richard Carmichael, Co-Leader of the Behaviour Change in Energy and Environment Policy Research Network, Imperial College London. Author of the independent report for the Climate Change Committee, “Behaviour change, public engagement and Net Zero”