As discussed in a recent BBC podcast, we (British/Europeans and other high carbon users) are all hypocrites in some form. And we are likely to stay that way until we have low cost clean energy, low cost non-meat food to eat, fossil free vehicles and low carbon holidays to warmer places.
Eating, staying warm, moving, travelling and entertaining ourselves is what makes up life. Industry is bringing new ways of living, having friends and new gadgets to us, and then on other hand we are being asked us to cut these out and to cut carbon. Does that sound like we are being asked to give up everything that is normal, safe and fun? That is for us all to think about.
I recently took carbon literacy training which asks you to know your footprint. I must admit I’d taken the test before but didn’t keep retaking it as the figures can tell you that you are ‘bad’.
I decided to take my carbon footprint from the last few years to compare them all. One at my height of excess/carbon burning – and this may be underestimated. I also took one at my lowest. I generally think I have managed to halve my footprint but as I’ve taken a long haul flight to visit friends in another continent this year, my first since 2018, and I live away from family, my footprint is above average again.
Up to 90% of the population have never flown so the average carbon per person is 6.5 tonnes although to stay within safe carbon levels we are said to need to stay around 2.3 tonnes per person per year. I’m definitely not there yet as most aren’t. But everyone’s better than nothing collectively turns into something.
We are said to emit at least double the amount we should for planetary safety and safe health levels, and the US emits 15 times more than we need to.
As the stats says 1% of the population creates 50% of global emissions which is a shocking realisation. We know it’s not a fair game and levelling is difficult and complex because many have got used to certain standards, but if we cause it, should we just cough up and pay the price, at least as a start?
For example in Colombia 25% of the population have cars, in the UK 85% have 1 – 3. Most families get around by bus in Colombia and planes are priced so high it really is just for the rich.
Here are some examples of my footprint but of course the calculator doesn’t take everything into account.
(It doesn’t take into account any work you might have done outside of your own life to work on global reduction or the spreading of news/ education or if you work in science or clean tech. But for these purposes that is not the point, it is about taking responsibility for yourself first and then others – put your face mask on before you help others)
My footprint in 2018 and years previous to this was at least:
2019-2022 I was less than average being mostly in NL, UK and Belgium by train or bus, and we were mostly not travelling far during the pandemic years:
2023 estimate so far:
If you have gone from lots of travel, maybe finally having the money to do this, opportunities with work, family abroad or a long distance relationship etc then your footprint will be above average.
So how do you begin to be ok with that? To take on the responsibility but not the shame.
It’s about overall reduction up to 2030, this doesn’t happen over night and although research shows 27% of reduction can be from citizens it shows 63% is from governments and industry changing systems, so yes, we do need reduce carbon ourselves and we shouldn’t sit back and do nothing, but it is also about the bigger picture. Can you influence your circle, your workplace or are you even a in position to influence your whole company, a government, a country or the WORLD?
There is a lot of ‘Eat the rich‘ popular culture right now with documentaries and shows coming up like ‘Glass onion‘ and others. The ‘eat the rich’ phrase originally coined by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was part of the progress of the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe and the French Revolution. Maybe our green revolution is going to follow some of his teachings.
Did you know the recommendation for 2030 is?
It is surprisingly low. So is the answer the train? We created www.carbonfasting.com to think about things. Everyone will have their own approach as a citizen, what is yours?
You can start by calculating your carbon here, even if it’s not what you want to see.
Do you want to speak to us about how to carry out education, strategy or systems change in your organisation then get in touch with FGA by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is written by our founder.