When enough of us act on climate, we get to set the new rules

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. If everyone takes that approach, we can do anything.”
~ Zali Steggall, independent member of the Australian Parliament

Citizens wait for their governments to do something – while the governments are waiting for the citizens. Meanwhile, the contration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere just keeps rising every year – and the planet keeps heating up. And oil, gas and coal companies laugh all the way to the bank. How do we break this vicious cycle of inaction?

The answer is simple: by individuals taking action in large enough numbers. Taking to the streets and getting organised can be powerful, but changing our behaviour is an even more powerful catalyst for deep change in the way our society runs.

There’s obviously not much an individual can do in order to have an effect on the global climate patterns. Consequently, lots of us have been convinced that our individual action on climate change isn’t worth the effort and the cost.

Even if an entire country, like Australia, were to reduce its carbon emissions to zero overnight, it would only have a disappointingly insignificant effect on that ever-rising CO2-curve at the global level. So why should we bother? This has been the Australian government’s key argument for doing nothing about carbon-reduction for years. Influential Australian politicians like Barnaby Joice has advocated for this view over and over, again and again.

Jeff Soulen formulated his frustration in this way:

“It felt important to do what I could. Insulate my house. Change light bulbs. Buy 100% renewable electricity. Get a plug-in hybrid car, so at least some of my driving is wind-powered. Eat a plant-based diet. Give a presentation at my Quaker Meeting on carbon footprints. Replace the light bulbs there too. While appreciating that every little bit matters, I knew it wasn’t enough. It would take hundreds or even thousands of years for atmospheric CO2 to return to pre-industrial levels even if we magically switched the whole planet to 100% renewable energy today; how could I feel hope that humanity would avoid climate disaster?”

For a long tine, this sort of “hen-and-egg” discussion about what should come first – whether it will be individual actions by the millions that eventually will push the business community, media, politicians and governments into action, or whether it is already much too late for the tiny, fragmented efforts we can do as individuals, and we need some sort of a political revolution to get our governments to do what it is necessary because only centralised regulation and society-wide top-down emergency plans can save us now…. this has become a discussion which in itself has been stigmatising.

And after 50 years of governmental procrastination and endless discussions about the issue, we have now run out of time. 

The discussion needs to stop, because the truth of the matter is that we need both. As individuals, we need to take action on so many different levels as we can, and at the same time, we need to vote in a new breed of politicians, who will eventually do what needs to get done at the legislative level. As Greta Thunberg has wisely stated it, “One can’t do without the other”.


When you are ready

On this page, we have compiled a selection of recommendations and to-do lists for what individuals can do. Compare them, pick what you like from them, and compose your own.

What does the United Nations’ climate panel of experts tell us we have to do? Their report from 2018 tells us we must halve our emissions by 2030 and completely cease them in less than 30 years if we want to save the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the coming decades.

So are we ready to do that? Yes. Of course we are.

For instance, a survey has shown that 82 per cent of us – in 13 countries – believe it is important to create a world fully powered by renewable energy. It was the largest ever such study, where 26,000 people were surveyed by Edelman for the Danish energy company Ørsted.

When the researchers call out, they find that more than four out five of us say we are ready. Ready to invest, and to act.

Then why aren’t our politicians? Why haven’t they been busy implementing the laws that will help reduce carbon emissions – and punish those who don’t?

They’ve had 30 years get going on this, since the first international summits were organised about the issue and the first action plans were agreed upon.

Today, a few countries in northern Europe, and more recently New Zealand, have taken initiative to make at least some of the necessary changes at legislative level – but overall, the only thing the world’s governments have done during three entire decades is talk. The laws have not changed. Polluting the atmosphere and wrecking the climate is still as free today as it was 30 years ago. Fossil fuels continue to be subsidised. Governments have put no real money and no will behind the words.

In the few cases where there was a change of law, like the so-called ‘carbon tax’ in Australia – which instantly reduced emissions – it was obstructed by politicians with close ties in the energy and mining industries. As Jeffrey Sachs, an American professor of economics, said in Q&A on ABC: “Our politicians are not on our side.”

The elected leaders we thought were there to protect us can’t be trusted. There is only one thing to do about that: when you get the chance at the next election, use your vote to kick the climate-wreckers out, and the solution-seekers in.

Two tonnes of CO2 per person per year. How?

Peter Kalmus – who wrote a book on the topic – gives us this advice:

1) Vote on climate. Talk to others to increase their sense of urgency (so they vote on climate)

2) Join Geelong Sustainability, Geelong Climate Emergency, CitizensClimateLobby, Climate For Change, or a similar group

3) Quantify your emissions and (probably): fly less (or not at all), become vegetarian, drive less.

Quantify your emissions. Take responsibility for them. Find out how many tonnes you emit per year, and then make your priorities.

Overall, we need to go from being individually responsible for between 15 and 25 tonnes of carbon per year, depending on your life style and consumption, to around two tonnes per year.

Every one of us is able to quickly reduce our non-basic carbon footprint – our “climate pressure” – to five tonnes of carbon-equivalent emissions per year, and when we do that, we will be in line with the Paris agreement. On top of that, we can move our pension funds over to a fossil-free super fund, so our retirement money isn’t part of the problem any longer.

On top of that again, use all your spare time to push for the big and necessary political decisions. Zero carbon by 2025 is a big one, which Extinction Rebellion movement is pushing for.

Which quicly leads us to ask whether you have read the highly recommended book ‘Low Carbon and Loving It’? It is available for free online.

…and also, there’s this one…

» DW – 20 December 2018:
How hard is a low-carbon lifestyle? A Berlin family tells all
“For the past year, Karin Beese and her family have been on a low-carbon diet in an effort to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and head off the worst effects of climate change. And it’s changed their lives.”

→ Pip Magazine – 26 February 2020:
Climate activism: 5 ways you can help heal the planet
“Not all climate activism involves taking to the streets. Here are five ways you can help heal the planet.”

→ New York Times – 10 January 2020:
How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change
“Here’s a five-step plan to deal with the stress and become part of the solution.”

Newsletter excerpt:

“Change starts with action”

January 15, 2019
It’s not too late to fight climate change. Change starts with action.
Change starts with individuals like you. The world’s most powerful movements like the fight to end slavery, achieved lofty goals because groups of determined individuals were willing to climb a nearly insurmountable goal.
We are at a critical pivot point. The IPCC climate paper by the United Nations lays out key solutions:  
  • Shift to low- or zero-emission power generation
  • Electrify transportation
  • Green infrastructure
Technology exists today to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change! We cannot delay.
Going beyond your own community is critical to everyone’s future.  Make a pledge to partner with us in 2019 to bring the choice to use renewable energy to our entire state.

Together we’ll rise to the challenges and meet the following goals:
  • Spread renewable energy through Community Choice
  • Pass EV legislation in the State
  • Support solar solutions
  • Support and train the next climate leaders in our schools
Thank you to those of you who’ve been and continue to be our partners in this critical endeavor!


JTD tweeted:

“So what should I do?”

Helena Simmons‏ replied:
If you aren’t already:
1. Talk about climate breakdown with your peers
2. Change your electricity supply to a renewable tariff
3. Reduce the meat and dairy in your diet
4. Walk/cycle where possible instead of driving
5. Don’t fly
There’s more but that’s a good start. 🙂

Liz Schiller‏ added:
6. Do absolutely everything you can to elect people who acknowledge the urgency of action & who resist fossil fuel interests
7. Talk about it even though other people get annoyed
8. Support your favourite items named by @ProjectDrawdown with your time & money

» Medium – Age of Awareness – 2 January 2020:
21 Things You Can Do in a Climate Emergency (#1 is SO Easy)

World Economic Forum listed these five of the main tried and tested solutions:

1. Investing in nature-based solutions
2. Pricing carbon
3. Utilizing the full potential of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies
4. Transitioning to a circular economy
5. Accelerating low carbon energy for all

» World Economic Forum – 15 October 2018:
5 ways to fast-track the transition to a carbon neutral world

1. Change your energy provider
2. Eat less meat
3. Waste less food
4. Take a train instead of flying
5. Just consume less
6. Take collective action

» DW – 9 October 2018:
6 things you can do to avoid climate catastrophe
“The UN has issued its starkest warning yet over climate change, but says it’s not too late to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Political will is required — but there are also things you can do.”

“Here’s the five-part formula”:

1. Cut global greenhouse-gas emissions in half every decade, starting in 2020
2. Increase food chain system efficiency, from soil to table, by 1% every year
3. Fundamentally shift the way we create new wealth and prosperity
4. Ensure the richest 10% of people on Earth don’t hold on to more than 40% of its wealth
5. Investing more in education, health, and family planning

» Business Insider Australia – 19 October 2018:
A scientist who predicted a ‘Hothouse Earth’ says the world’s billionaires need to give up their money to save us
“It’s a straightforward, five-part plan that Johan Rockström says could eliminate poverty and hunger while helping the planet at the same time. But the plan requires unprecedented shifts in the way we do everything, from powering our lives to redistributing wealth.”

» TED – September 2018:
5 transformational policies for a prosperous and sustainable world
In a talk about how we can build a robust future without wrecking the planet, sustainability expert Johan Rockström debuts the Earth3 model — a new methodology that combines the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the nine planetary boundaries, beyond which earth’s vital systems could become unstable. Learn more about five transformational policies that could help us achieve inclusive and prosperous world development while keeping the earth stable and resilient.
This talk was presented at “We the Future,” a special event in partnership with the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.

Green new deal: “21st century New Deal legislation”


“For me this is an existential issue. We need wartime mobilization around climate change, and that level of economic mobilization is gonna be required. And, the same way that we have an urgency, where we mobilize entire economies around existential war crises or threats, I don’t see any larger threat to our existence than climate change, and it’s going to take a really full economic mobilization in order for us to address it…. For me I think that it deserves all of the resources possible that we have. When we think about what government is useful for, it should be used to improve the lives of everyday people and I really don’t think that there is a price tag on our survival when it comes to global warming and climate change.”
~ Alexandria Ocasio Cortez about her plans of prioritising “wartime-like mobilisation” around climate change in the US Congress

» More on www.ocasio2018.com


» Slate – 26 October 2018:
Actually, Your Personal Choices Do Make a Difference in Climate Change
“Reducing your carbon footprint still matters. In fact, getting politicians and industry to address climate change may start at home.”

» DW – 8 October 2018:
Opinion: 1.5 degrees — do we want climate catastrophe or not?
“A new global warming report shows it’s still not too late to avert the worst impacts of climate change. It just boils down to whether we can muster the will to do so, thinks DW’s Sonya Diehn.”

» Grist – 10 October 2018:
There are more ways to fight climate change than giving up meat

» The Guardian – 14 October 2018:
Don’t despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is
“After the panicky IPCC report on climate change, it’s easy for pessimism to set in – but that would be conceding defeat.”


Report: How we can limit rise in global temperatures

CIDSE – an international family of Catholic social justice organisations working together with others in an “International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity” – has published a report that explores how we can limit rise in global temperatures through “a deep and rapid shift in our food and energy systems, supported by structural lifestyle changes.”

CIDSE’s arguments and vision for a new paradigm are based on values such as integral ecology, justice, and good governance, as also defined by Catholic Social Teaching and in the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si’.

» CIDSE – 19 September 2018:
The Climate Urgency: Setting Sail for a New Paradigm

» Download report


How can I make a difference? Top five picks to start you off

One of the things I love most about my job is chatting with passionate people, just like you, about climate change and its solutions.

Throughout these conversations, one question pops up time and time again:
What can I do in my everyday life to tackle climate change and make a difference?

So we’ve designed a Climate Action Toolkit to help answer this very question and provide ways you can make an impact in your everyday life – starting today.

With the lack of leadership from our federal politicians on climate policy, now is our time to continue pushing for climate action by focusing on local, grassroots leadership.

We know the collective power that we have as individuals. And so much of that power comes from our diversity. That’s why we’ve come up with a range of actions you can take, whatever situation or stage of life you’re at.

Here are our top five picks to start you off:

1) Call your MP to share your support for strong policies that support renewable energy solutions and ask them their position on climate change (see pg 13).

2) Install rooftop solar and join the 1.8 million Australian households who are already taking back control of their power bills (see pg 44). If you’re renting or unable to install solar panels, you can still make the switch to green power (see pg 45).

3) Change the way you travel and think about opportunities to catch public transport, cycle or walk instead (see pg 50).

4) Move your money so it doesn’t support the fossil fuel industry (see pg 48).

5) Time poor? Chip in and power our work as we equip and train individuals to take action and correct climate misinformation (see pg 58).

Want to find out more? Download the Climate Action Toolkit, which is jam-packed with suggestions about how you can make a difference in your everyday life.

I can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve as we stand together, taking one action at a time, powering climate action in Australia from the bottom up. The future is ours if we seize it,

~ Professor Lesley Hughes, Climate Councillor

P.S. Want to demonstrate your support? Take the #climateactionpledge today and join a groundswell of people fighting for a better planet.


Five Fun Tips

“Is there a way out of all the doom and gloom? What can we, as concerned citizens, do to pitch in and save the planet? As a species notoriously terrible at thinking on planetary timelines, is there anyplace that will give us the immediate gratification for saving the planet like giving us a sticker?”

» Futurism – 7 November 2018:
Five Fun Tips To Help Delay Climate Catastrophe
“Here are our tips for how YOU can reduce emissions and slow climate change.”


Top 5 things you can personally do

5. Go veggie
CO2 saving: up to 1.6 tonnes

4. Buy green energy
CO2 saving: up to 2.5 tonnes

3. Skip just one long flight
CO2 saving: up to 2.8 tonnes (depending on length)

2. Go car-free
CO2 saving: 1 to 5.3 tonnes

1. Stop having kids
CO2 saving: 24 to 117 tonnes

» Asian Correspondent – 8 November 2018:
Top 5 things you can personally do about climate change
Researchers at Lund University examined all of the information we have on preventing climate change and determined the most effective and efficient ways for individuals to make a difference. These are the top ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

“Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a gulag for his work with Soviet dissident Andrei Sarkovsky, recalls his mentor saying, “They want us to believe there’s no chance of success. But whether or not there’s hope for change is not the question. If you want to be a free person, you don’t stand up for human rights because it will work, but because it is right. We must continue living as decent people.” Right now living as decent people means every one of us with resources taking serious climate action, or stepping up what we’re already doing.”
~ Rebecca Solnit


Courage and action

Newsletter from ACF, Australian Conservation Foundation

“I’ve found this email hard to write. Too much bad news and I fear you’ll switch off. Too much optimism and I’m not being honest.

But sugarcoating won’t solve this.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world’s most authoritative climate body – has just released a report calling for urgent action to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. Based on 6000 scientific references, the report says the situation is now dire.

We must stop burning coal – urgently. As the world’s biggest exporter of coal, what Australia does matters. For everyone. That’s why we’re determined to make the next Australian election the climate election.

I’m a millennial. My generation will never know a time before climate damage. We are all in this together, living in an era that demands courage and action.

Right now, coal is literally cooking our planet. Fuelling bushfires in winter. Wildfires in the Arctic Circle, Greenland and Siberia. Blistering heatwaves in Tasmania, Tokyo and Montreal. Serious droughts and supercharged storms.

And it’s devastating our beautiful Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs are home to turtles, whales, dugongs and fish. Half a billion people globally depend on them for food and coastal protection.

This is ecosystem collapse, happening right before our eyes. A wakeup call for humanity, if ever there was one.

But climate catastrophe is not our destiny. We know how to stop this – we have the solutions, here, now.
We have clever people and the technology to quickly phase out coal and replace it with 100% clean energy from the sun and wind. We can create a country of flourishing, resilient communities and thriving nature. What we need is political courage and action.

You know what gives me courage? The dedicated and organised young people who introduced me to climate activism. Seeing millions of people across Australia – some active for decades and some just getting started – working together to change the status quo. The human capacity for creativity, ingenuity and cooperation. The impossible alternative.

Courage and action. Let’s get on with it.

Here are four things you can do right now:

1. Talk to people about climate damage
Conversations are the most powerful way to break down barriers and motivate others to get involved. That’s why we’re aiming to have a million conversations about stopping climate damage before the next election. Together, we can make this the climate election so no Australian government can ever again delay, wreck or dismiss this issue.
If you don’t start the conversation, there might not be one. So talk to your friends and relatives over dinner. Talk to fellow commuters while you’re waiting for a bus. Talk to citizens in key electorates about why you’re concerned and ask them to be climate voters.
To scale up the number of people we can talk to, we’ve built a whizz-bang dialler so you can have conversations with voters across the country from your own mobile phone.

2. Donate, donate, donate
The next few years will define our fate – so now’s the time for commitment, determination and generosity.
We must keep holding our elected representatives to account. Keep pushing for big, urgent, systemic change. Organise even more people into powerful communities to rebuild our world so it’s good for everyone.
We will only succeed when people everywhere step up and get involved. Campaigning to stop climate damage is a long-term effort. Will you commit to make a monthly gift of $15 to power this movement for the coming months?

3. Call PM Scott Morrison
This week, the Morrison Government is under enormous global pressure to act. As Ban Ki-moon just said, “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act.” All leaders.
With an election looming, Prime Minister Morrison also needs to feel enormous pressure from the Australian people. His government has dismissed the work of the world’s best scientists. They seem not to understand what climate damage means.
Our leaders have a moral imperative to stop being part of the problem – and rapidly phase out coal, stop Adani’s mine, support communities and ramp up renewables.
Like it or not, this transition is inevitable. We can do this in a planned and orderly manner, or it will be fast, chaotic and challenging. Ask our PM to get on with it.

4. Look after yourself
Most importantly – look after yourself. As this scale of this crisis becomes clearer, grief and anger can be overwhelming. So take care.
Connect with nature. Connect with others. Connect with yourself. Not only will this make you happier and healthier, it’s also vital to sustaining yourself for the long haul of building a better world. We’ve pulled together some resources to help.

This is, as they say, the challenge of our times.

The changes we must make are radical, in the true sense of the term: radical means ‘getting to the root’. At this moment in our history, now is the time for courage and radical action.

People power saved the Franklin. Gave women the vote. Won civil rights and ended apartheid. These things happened because people showed up to make them happen.

Now we must rise up right across Australia and all over the world to stop climate damage – and save ourselves and the beautiful planet we call home.

Thanks for everything you do.”

~ Phoebe Rountree
Assistant Climate Change and Clean Energy Campaigner


Cultivating a post-carbon vision

“Take the plunge: Get Involved. That’s the critical first step to cultivating a post-carbon vision.”

Push beyond “seeking knowledge about a problem” to asking – and acting upon – a more important question: “How can I contribute to solving this problem?”

The simple act of asking ourselves this question ignites a spark that is difficult to extinguish by those who would otherwise prefer to make us feel helpless in the face of global challenges. Instead of passive bystanders, we become active parts of the solution.

And the beautiful thing we learn in the process is that many of the solutions to some of our greatest challenges already exist. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we do need all hands on deck.”

» Artists & Climate Change – 19 November 2018:
Cultivating a Post-Carbon Vision


How to cut your greenhouse gas emissions 56%: this one lifestyle change

If we all swapped beef burgers and bacon sandwiches for vegetarian alternatives most of the week, we could cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half.

» World Economic Forum – 26 November 2018:
The unbelievably simple way to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half

» Less Meat Less Heat​

Transition towards climate-friendly energy AND diet


“A hefty meat tax would save 220,000 lives a year globally, and cut about $US41 billion ($56.66 billion) from the world’s annual healthcare costs. The move would also lead to a drastic reduction in greenhouse gases.”

» The New Daily – 24 November 2018:
Not much chop: Scientists say a tax on red meat will save lives and the planet
“Oxford University researchers have found that Australia would be among the countries hardest hit by a meat tax – with steaks and chops costing up to a third more, and the price of bacon almost doubling. But we would also benefit most in terms of lives saved and reduced costs to the healthcare system.”


Dietary changes can do more to mitigate climate change than driving or flying less

“How connected are climate and cardiovascular health? A recent analysis of global food production suggests that dietary changes, like substituting vegetable-based alternatives for animal-based food products, can do more to mitigate climate change than driving or flying less. There’s even research suggesting a causal link between the two, given that stress-inducing fluctuations in temperature and precipitation patterns may increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.”

» The Hill – 25 November 2018:
What if there’s no climate change ‘pill’ to save us?

“In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and pulses. The research also finds that enormous changes to farming are needed to avoid destroying the planet’s ability to feed the 10 billion people expected to be on the planet in a few decades.
Food production already causes great damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming, and vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution. But without action, its impact will get far worse as the world population rises by 2.3 billion people by 2050 and global income triples, enabling more people to eat meat-rich western diets.”

» The Guardian – 11 October 2018:
Huge reduction in meat-eating ‘essential’ to avoid climate breakdown
“Major study also finds huge changes to farming are needed to avoid destroying Earth’s ability to feed its population.”


Carbon conscious labelling

When we buy a fridge, we want to know how much energy it uses. It took a while to get the system in place, but by now we are already used to this. So why shouldn’t it be the same way with food? We should be able to know how much a specific food item has polluted our atmosphere!

If you ask the average person, they will likely tell you that they want to do the right thing when it comes to the environment. The problem is that the average person has little information to guide them to a wise choice. Just as we have with the health concerns of smoking, we need to provide the facts to consumers and help them make the right choices in day-to-day life. One simple change that can be made is the labeling of the things we buy with their carbon footprint.

» The Local – 8 October 2018:
Denmark to label food according to effect on climate
“New labelling on food packaging will enable consumers in Denmark to see the effect of their shopping on the environment.”

» Global Citizen – 9 October 2018:
Labeling Food Based on Its Environmental Impact Could Change the Way We Grocery Shop
“Denmark plans to label food according to its effect on climate change.”


“It’s time to end the growth dependency”

» Research & Degrowth – 6 September 2018
Post-Growth Open Letter to EU institutions signed by over 200 scientists

“As a group of concerned social and natural scientists representing all Europe, we call on the European Union, its institutions, and member states to:

1) Constitute a special commission on Post-Growth Futures in the EU Parliament. This commission should actively debate the future of growth, devise policy alternatives for post-growth futures, and reconsider the pursuit of growth as an overarching policy goal.

2) Incorporate alternative indicators into the macroeconomic framework of the EU and its member states. Economic policies should be evaluated in terms of their impact on human wellbeing, resource use, inequality, and the provision of decent work. These indicators should be given higher priority than GDP in decision-making.

3) Turn the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) into a Stability and Wellbeing Pact. The SGP is a set of rules aimed at limiting government deficits and national debt. It should be revised to ensure member states meet the basic needs of their citizens, while reducing resource use and waste emissions to a sustainable level.

4) Establish a Ministry for Economic Transition in each member state. A new economy that focuses directly on human and ecological wellbeing could offer a much better future than one that is structurally dependent on economic growth.”

» www.degrowth.org


World taken hostage

Our entire society is built and runs on polluting and non-sustainable technologies, and it was seemingly all going well until we exceeded the safety limits and ignored the consequences.

What will climate-friendly cookbooks, bicycles and a tomato plant in the back yard do in the bigger scheme of things, when at the same time we observe our society being taken hostage by powerful industrial forces?

Behind the scenes, it is the billionaeres – in particular those people who control the extraction of resources for the daily operations of our society – who run the show. They are able to use their wealth to influence elections and sponsor those politicians who serve their financial interests.

Their short-term selfishness and their indifference to the well-being of future generations represent a threat to us all. But do they care about that? They obviously don’t. They laugh at the warnings from scientists who tell us we are heading towards a catastrophe.

From an overall society-point-of-view, it would cost less to do get rid of coal, oil and gas than to persist with business as usual. But from a coal, oil and gas industry executive’s point of view, it would mean the end of an extraordinary income-stream and a life in luxury.

We feel powerless as individuals. So we do nothing. Why be kidding or comforting ourselves with a belief that “at least we can each try and do something to reduce our carbon footprint at the individual level” – like, changing how we use transport, which food we buy, and so on – when the rich people, who have a much larger carbon footprint, are not reducing theirs?

But here’s the thing: the transformative power of individual behaviour change lies somewhere else. It lies in its value as a political signal. When a lot of people make personal changes, it becomes a community rebellion. And if there ever was a political signal to be reckoned with, then a community rebellion is one. It changes who will put their hand up to run for election, and it changes who we vote for. All of which is what soon after changes politics and legislation in Parliament. 

This process can happen very fast. A peaceful rebellion that starts in the streets and with activists making phone calls, changes how people put their preferences in the voting booth. Denmark experienced this at its election in May 2019, after the hot summer in 2018 became a climate shock to many.

Changing your behaviour is actually a powerful way of voting, when it happens in alignment with others. When citizens show their leaders they are willing to change their behaviour, it is proof they are serious about it. As a method for change, it fills the leadership-vacuum and provides the popular mandate, which is important in all types of political decisions because it tells the decisionmakers that the citizens, their voters, stand behind them even if they try out something that is new and daring.

In Australia, there is a push to bring three fossil free demands home:

1) No new fossil fuel projects,
2) not a penny more in financial support for the industry, and
3) an accelerated shift to a 100% renewable energy economy that works for everyone.

…but the change we need to see, must go a lot deeper than that.

In a country like Denmark, the discussion about whether or not to switch to renewables is over. Both left and right sides of politics are working towards the goal of becoming carbon neutral as a country, starting with implementing a law which demands a 70 per cent reduction of emissions by 2030. The Danes now focus on how to decarbonise their transport, food and agricultural sectors. Businesses are engaged, and so is the media.

Following here: a scientist’s suggestion to a more overall solution to the climate emergency.

Overall solution

What would an effective solution to climate change look like?

Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D. Atmospheric Sciences at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US, says we need climate solutions that will:

  1. Generate energy from clean sources that don’t produce carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases – because fossil fuel extraction and combustion is the number one cause of climate change, responsible for about two-thirds of the problem.
  2. Reduce heat-trapping gas emissions from other important sectors, like agriculture, land use change, industrial processes, wastewater treatment and more – because these are responsible for the remaining third of the problem.
  3. Help us use our resources more efficiently – because did you know that the average US household, for instance, wastes $165 per year for a total of $19B on “vampire” power, and one-third of all the food grown world-wide is wasted?
  4. Suck some of the carbon dioxide we’ve produced back out of the atmosphere and put it into the soil, where it helps restore the land, or turn it into fuel, or stone, or other useful products.

“There’s no one silver bullet that will fix it for us: but there is a lot of silver buckshot,” says Katharine Hayhoe. As for how to implement these solutions, her answer is simply: at all levels. Simple solutions we implement in our own lives, our homes, our communities and our organisations. Regional solutions implemented across a business, an industry, a city, a state or a province. And yes, national and international solutions as well.

When it comes to fixing climate change, we need all options on the table and all hands on deck.

» Read more on www.forbes.com



A pearl of a speech: Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, flew to New York to say this:

The style of leadership Jacinda Ardern displays in this speech makes the ‘boys club’ circus in Canberra look like a disgrace and an international embarrassment to any modern thinking and properly educated Australian.

Jacinda Ardern addressed the general debate of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly of the UN in New York on 25 September 2018.

I sense they will get a surprise at the next federal election. Australian’s want to see some proper and responsible leadership now. Three decades of climate crime in the dark has to end. The time has come to follow New Zealand’s footsteps.


A collection of advice
A quickstarter to residents of Geelong, Victoria, Australia