Be a climate mitigator
“It doesn’t need one person doing things perfectly but millions doing things imperfectly.” (Corina GysslerWWF, Swiss Overshoot Day, 2022)
Don’t become paralysed by thinking in terms of all or nothing. It’s not going to be a linear journey – we can but try. Simply decide where it makes sense for you to start within your financial, emotional and physical capacities.
And then take the next step, and then the next, and so on. Living sustainably creates its own dynamic and has a strong positive feedback loop.
The following high-impact actions can be taken easily and quickly:
1. Voting and other citizen actions
- Vote in every election for serious green policies that protect the climate future of your loved one. Governments will only decouple from the fossil fuel industry and put people above profits if their citizens make them.
- A livable future goes beyond identity politics and the left vs. the right. The party you vote for needs to commit to transparent, implementable, budgeted policies to meet your country’s COP27 commitments to the 1.5C target and to fund mitigation & adaptation efforts and loss & damage in developing countries, as well as the COP15 commitments to protect of 30% of land by 2030. If it doesn’t, become a member and demand policy changes – or vote for another party.
- Don’t shy away from increases in taxes on income, wealth and financial transactions for those who can afford it that are aimed at financing climate mitigation and adaptation. Disaster response, insurance, security and the living costs of doing nothing will be far higher in your retirement and for your children.
- If you have time, join a local environmental group or political party with serious environmental credentials.
2. Responsible banking & investing
Check what your bank and / or financial institution is doing with your money. Use your customer power to demand they invest in renewable energies, take concrete steps to de-invest in the fossil fuel industry and join the UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner, Banking and/or Insurance Alliance.
Some useful online tools:
UN Net-zero banking alliance – check if your bank is a member
Draft letter to your bank demanding their action on climate-responsible financing
Fossil Banks, no thanks – up-to-date information on campaigns and successes in climate-responsible financing.
3. Reduce consumption
Your consumption choices are essential to a livable climate future: the more you consume, the bigger your footprint. American presidents know it – Nixon and Carter told Americans in the 1970s to reduce their oil consumption, Bush told Americans in 2003 to go shopping. COVID-19 rewarded our reduced consumption with blue skies and bird song. If you believe your individual actions don’t matter, remember that Trump understood the value of just 11,780 individual votes in 2019.
Reducing your consumption is also a political action against the unsustainability of our current economic model. “The sea is made up of drops of water. What you do is of significance.” (Desmond Tutu)
Regardless of the extent to which you believe in the global impact of your individual action, taking action is a powerful antidote to our own fears and those of our loved ones.
Good places to start include:
- reduce your energy consumption through your transport decisions, heating / cooling choices and shopping. The Covid-19 pandemic and the global energy crisis of 2022 made us do things differently. Keep doing them.
- reduce your meat intake and then shift towards a sensible plant-based diet – don’t survive on avocados and almonds when you live in northern Europe. Are your kids going to thank you in future for the emissions of that steak? Get over your annoyance about vegetarians and vegans – it’s not about identity. It’s about a livable future for your kids. It IS possible to vegetarian and still have a great dinner with friends and family.
- rethink your mobility. Every trip by public transport, bike or by foot is a win for the climate future of your loved ones. Do you have to fly?
- think twice – and once again – before you buy something. Keep, enjoy and repair the current models of your phone, skis, bike, sports clothes, normal clothes, furniture, house and personal accessories, car …. the list is endless.
- if you can afford it, install clean energy systems and green energy machines at home – and then use them less.
4. Feel, read and talk about it
We can now all see and feel climate change happening around us; recognising our reaction to it may be one of the most powerful tools we have to motivate ourselves to act. Like so many of life’s difficulties, facing it and taking action is the only responsible way forward.
Talk about your fears and share your stories of action and change with your family, friends, colleagues, and fellow members of groups and associations.
And then get on and enjoy life with your loved ones, safe in the knowledge that you are doing all you can to protect their future.