It’s Time to Tweak Yourself to Save the Planet
By Dawn McGregor 23 December, 2021
CWR's McGregor gives a sneak peek into CWR's upcoming report that shows how simple tweaks to our habits matter for the climate
It’s easy to feel low these days, the pandemic is dragging on for the second year, there is the new variant, Omicron (think it’s cosmic Santa telling us we’ve been bad?) and then there is COP26, which felt like the last hope for the world to get its s*** together. Well “we” didn’t, so our climate future is dire and instead of a 1.5°C – 2°C rise in temperatures by 2100 we are on track for best case 2.4-2.7°C.
It’s easy to feel low these days but we don’t have the time for that, instead we need to tweak our habits…
But despite all that, my greatest Christmas gift to myself is not to wallow but instead do my part, which is why I will be tweaking my habits, so they are better for the climate. CWR has been working on a new report to show the climate impacts of tweaks to our everyday habits and encouragingly we have found that indeed our habits do matter for the climate, especially when enough of us change them. And as we have written about many times, what is good for the climate is usually good for water, and since we will feel most climate impacts through water (floods, droughts, storm surges etc.) we must do more.
So, the main takeaway from this article and the December newsletter is it’s not the time to wallow or to give up but instead to double down and do more, take your climate footprint into your own hands, because if we as a collective do this – which is easy with the small habit tweaks we showcase in our upcoming report – we will reduce future climate impacts.
…we can save 2GtCO2e every year if we enough of us do
Just from tweaking habits across 8 areas in life from transport to food and shopping to streaming movies, we can save 2GtCO2e every year, which is the equivalent of the 2015 GHG emissions of Japan & South Korea, combined.
A little about the report that will help tweak your habits to help save our planet
Why did we write this report? To help you, help us, make positive climate impact
Many people want to take action, to do better for the climate but maybe aren’t sure where to start – why hasn’t there been an easy guide to follow? Or if they do, can be disheartened by thinking that it doesn’t matter as they are one of 7.9 billion people on the planet and there is still so much coal, oil and gas being burned and all the other horrible stuff? Fair enough. People want to know what they do matters, and our upcoming report shows that if enough of us make small changes to our habits we may stand a chance of staying below a 2°C rise.
And staying below 2°C matters incredibly. We need to limit the global temperature rise as much as possible – thinking “oh it’s just 0.5°C or 1°C” is absolutely the wrong mindset. A third World War may be unimaginable but the death toll from air pollution alone if our world warms by 2°C instead of 1.5°C by 2100 is estimated at 150 million people – twice the number of those who perished in World War II.
Using it as a “guide” – 8 lifestyle habit tweaks
The report can be used as a loose “guide” to help people make small habit changes or “tweaks” that can be done today. It is by no means exhaustive and while we have used science-based evidence there are still data gaps (that should be filled) and so we have had to make logical estimates.
Our upcoming report can be used as a loose “guide” to tweak your habits across 8 areas
We chose these 8 action areas as there is sufficient existing research on their impacts and they are relatively achievable. You can see the electricity action teaser below and other teasers on flying, streaming & social media and online shopping.
Habit tweak: Watch electricity bills
Our daily electricity use at home may seem insignificant (except when the electricity bill arrives) but the lights, air conditioning, shower, washing machine, dishwasher etc. all add to the climate crisis, especially if not powered by renewables. The residential sector represents 17% of global CO2 emissions.
Daily electricity use at home may seem insignificant…
…but the residential sector = 17% of global CO2 emissions..
…can have big saves from small habit tweaks
So, what can we do? A good place to start is to change household activities that use the most electricity – we have selected using air conditioning (more relevant in Asia) and taking showers (everyone does) in the report.
Below gives you a sneak peek at how tweaking your shower habit – if you shorten your shower from six to three minutes for a year-, you can save 135kg of CO2 emissions and 5.8m³ of water – see infographic below.
And that is just one person doing it. In the report we used surveys and other available data to determine if people are willing to make these habit tweaks – and just those willing to do so in the US, Europe and China could save almost 260 million tonnes of CO2 every year, which is the equivalent to the combined emissions of the United Arab Emirates in 2015 (which is just less than a third of Germany’s emissions that year).
What we do matters – stay tuned for the report in 1Q2022!
See, what you do and what we do as a collective matter. So, stay tuned by subscribing to our newsletter and lookout for our report on 8 habits tweaks to help us stay below 2°C to be released early next year!
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