The big actions are: travel less distance, but travel by train or in small (or full) electric cars and stop flying; use the heating less and electrify the boiler when next upgrading; lobby for construction with half the material for twice as long; stop eating beef and lamb. Each action we take to reduce emissions, at home or at work, creates a positive ripple effect.
As individuals we can all work towards Absolute Zero through our purchasing and our influence. Each positive action we take has a double effect: it reduces emissions directly and encourages governments and businesses to be bolder in response. Where we cause emissions directly we can have a big effect by purchasing differently. Where they are released by organisations rather than individuals, we can lobby for change.
The actions stated as absolutes below are those which will be illegal in 2050 due to the Climate Change Act.
The activities we most enjoy, according to the UK’s comprehensive time-use survey, are sports, social-life, eating, hobbies, games, computing, reading, tv, music, radio, volunteering (and sleeping!) We can all do more of these without any impact on emissions.
The impact of our travelling depends on how far we travel and how we do it. The most efficient way to travel is with a large number of people travelling in a vehicle with a small front and we can all reduce our total annual mileage.
- Stop using aeroplanes
- Take the train not the car when possible.
- Use all the seats in the car or get a smaller one
- Choose an electric car next time, if possible, which will become easier as prices fall and charging infrastructure expands.
- Lobby for more trains, no new roads, airport closure and more renewable electricity.
Heating and appliances:
Our energy bills are mainly driven by our heating and hot water.
- Use the boiler for less time, if possible, staying warm by only heating rooms if people are sitting in them, sealing up air gaps and adding insulation.
- Wear warmer clothes in winter.
- Next time you replace the boiler, choose an electric air or ground-source heat pump if possible
- Buy smaller more efficient appliances that last longer
- Lobby for zero-carbon building standards, means-tested support for housing retrofit and more renewable electricity
Most industrial emissions relate to producing materials, which are made efficiently but used wastefully so we need to reduce the weight of material made. The highest volumes of material are used not by households, but to make commercial and public buildings and infrastructure, industrial equipment and vehicles.
- Lobby businesses and the government to create buildings and infrastructure with half the material guaranteed for twice as long.
- When extending or modifying your home, try to choose recycled or re-used materials and avoid cement.
- Aim to reduce the total weight of material you purchase each year.
- Lobby for border controls on emissions in materials (like we have with food standards) to allow businesses fit for Absolute Zero to grow and prosper in the UK
Small changes in diet can have a big effect.
- Reduce consumption of beef and lamb as these have far higher emissions than any other common food.
- Choose more locally sourced food if possible, to reduce food miles, particularly aiming to cut out air-freighted foods.
- Aim to use less frozen and processed meals as these dominate the energy use of food manufacturers.
- Lobby supermarkets to support farmers in using less fertiliser – it has a high impact, but much of it is wasted as it’s spread too far away from the plants.