Shifting from pledging to implementation

Each year the UN holds the COP climate conference, where countries, companies, and citizens come together to assess progress on fighting climate change and work out what to do next. 

Much of the COP process to date has been about setting targets to reduce emissions, working out how to measure progress against those targets, and making pledges. Country targets are called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). However, there’s been insufficient action to move beyond pledging, and in a decade when we need to halve global emissions, they are still rising. 

That’s why plenty of countries have 2050 Net Zero intentions but far fewer are making progress in cutting carbon in line with halving emissions this decade, which is so critically required. You can see how every country in the world is progressing on the Climate Action Tracker.

At COP27, the aim is for countries to ensure the implementation of the Glasgow pact, agreed last year at COP26 and for countries to come back and raise their ambitions for the cuts they will make while also showing what real progress they are making. 

What’s your number?

While countries are required to cut emissions, as citizens, we will also play a crucial role. There are ways for everyone to get involved, and we find at Giki, it all starts with ‘What’s Your Number?’ You can get an easy-to-understand score to keep track of everything you’re doing for the planet. 

Once you know your number on Giki Zero (a combination of your carbon footprint and all the steps you are taking to improve it), there’s always something you can do, and many of the steps that we need to take to cut carbon can save money too.

Here we look at the main parts of the average personal carbon footprint and cover actions, not pledges, that we can take from quick wins to steps that will have a significant impact. 

As a background, the average per capita carbon footprint in wealthy nations is 10 tonnes per person per year. This needs to reduce to 2.5 tonnes per person globally by 2030, to achieve halving global emissions. Think of this as your own NDC, or target, and then think about how you can track everything you are doing to get there. 

The largest components of personal carbon footprints tend to be diets, home, and transport. In this section, we detail some big impact steps we can make in these three key areas, starting with food. 

Completing steps will ensure you’ve moved from pledges to action. 

Take a bite out of your food footprint

Food typically makes up one-quarter of the average carbon footprint and switching to a plant-based diet can cut your food footprint in half. This is because the production of meat, dairy, and fish has a higher carbon footprint than the production of plant-based foods. 

A three-step process to get more plants into your diet

  1. Try a few plant-based products.
  2. Try a period without red meat, for example, one month. 
  3. Try animal products once a day.

There are two great things about taking a bite out of your food footprint. Firstly, you can start at the next meal, so the impact is immediate. Secondly, you can save money by eating more plants. 

Find greener transport: Switch to Electric Vehicles

In wealthier nations transport can be one of the largest parts of personal carbon footprints. Transitioning away from fossil fuels in transport is crucial to keeping below 1.5 °C. Electric cars are one of the fastest growing solutions in the transport sector, but buying an EV requires a big upfront investment. There are ways to reduce the amount of petrol or diesel used right now, which will save money on fuel bills. 

Breakdown of a typical transport carbon footprint (Source: Giki Zero)

Cut emissions and pollution from cars immediately

  1. Accelerate gently: Acceleration gobbles fuel, so the smoother it is, the more fuel you’ll save. 
  2. Drive more slowly. 50mph is 25% more efficient than 70mph. 
  3. Drive less: when the engine is off, it isn’t burning fuel. 

Save costs and carbon at home

With the price of gas soaring, many people are looking for ways to immediately reduce the number of fossil fuels needed for home heating and hot water.  These account for around 75% of household energy requirements so there’s lots of scope to cut carbon emissions and costs. 

  1. Turn thermostats down and turn radiators off in unused rooms. Turning your thermostats down by just 1 °C can save a big chunk and reduce energy bills. 
  2. Complete Giki’s work-from-home checklist. Whether you work from home or not, this can help save on electricity and gas bills. 
  3. Insulate your home
  4. Switch to renewable electricity: You can cut your electricity carbon footprint by over 90% if you use 100% renewable electricity. 

We’ve put together the ultimate guide on how everyday choices made by ordinary people hold the key to our efforts to reduce emissions and find more sustainable solutions.

As the Egyptian Minster for the Environment has put it, “COP27 is the COP for action”. 

Let’s do this