And in latest news, the United States is rolling back efforts on climate change. This is a devastating blow to the global momentum addressing climate change. Since the announcement of this news, there has been a lot of discussion about whether the world will look back at moments in history like this, and prosecute those that were directly responsible for hindering global action. I hope we don't get to that stage because that mean that we've failed in doing something now.
“This is not the time for any country to change course on the very serious and very real threat of climate change,” said Erik Solheim, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program. “The science tells us that we need bolder, more ambitious commitments.”
And, worryingly, although Trump has not yet decided whether to formally withdraw from the Paris Agreement, experts have said that rolling back the policies needed to meet American commitments, essentially announces that the US will not comply with the Paris Agreement, whether the nation remains a signatory or not.
"One of the greatest concerns is what other key countries, including China, India and Brazil, will do when the U.S. reneges on the Paris agreement,” said Robert Stavins, a professor of environmental economics at Harvard, mentioning some of the world’s other largest carbon dioxide polluters.
“The worst-case scenario is that the Paris agreement will unravel,” Mr. Stavins said. “That would be a great tragedy.”
Now more than ever it's important that everyone does their bit to take action against climate change.
But, I'm just one person - what difference does that make? Isn't that the job of the government?
Yes policy issues are a huge part of this action, but so is public opinion. The less that the general public are willing to take action on climate change, the less likely that policy will change and the less likely that society will change it's attitudes towards the duty of care that we owe to the planet we all live on.
Starting today doesn't have to be hard.
Personally here are a 3 things that I've been doing that you may like to try out too:
1) Switch to environmentally friendly products.
This one has been a very gradual process for me, involving a lot of research and experimenting with different products to get the results that I'm looking for. Now, all my makeup and skincare products are environmentally friendly and not tested on animals. Recently I bought a bamboo toothbrush to try out - they're meant to be better for the environment (as it's not plastic); better for your teeth (I got a charcoal bamboo toothbrush); and, when I'm done with my toothbrush I can bury it in the back yard and it will take a month or two to decompose (can't wait to do this!). Anyway, the point is that you can start by just replacing products that you run out of with environmentally friendly alternatives. There are tonnes of options out there right now so you can even find them in your local supermarket.
2) Don't buy bottled water
For the past 2-3 years, I have tried my best not to buy any bottled water. Instead, I carry around my own re-usable water bottle and fill it up wherever I can. At first I was a bit embarrassed to ask cafes/ restaurants to fill up my bottle, but now I do it all the time, and they are generally very happy to do so. There are also lots of water stations popping up in public areas so it's getting easier to fill up while I'm out and about. Side benefit is that my daily water consumption has gone up!
3) Reduce meat consumption
It's widely acknowledged that meat consumption (in particular, beef) is one of main contributors to climate change. So, the best way you can take action is to modify your eating habits. A lot of people and organisations advocate for a completely meat-free and dairy-free diet, however I understand that it's really not feasible to expect everyone to do this and the switch from a meat-eating diet to a meat-free diet can be difficult. Although I'm not a big meat eater, I tried it myself and went vegetarian for about a month. And wow, I realised just how engrained the meat-eating culture is in our society. After that month, I decided to become a pescatarian which was a lot easier for me to sustain. I am now mainly a pescatarian but on occasion will eat meat, and if I do, it will usually be chicken. Simply reducing your portion size of meat every night, or reducing your meat consumption down to 1-2 times a week, OR even switching from beef to chicken (which has less impact on the environment) can make a huge difference.
Ready to get started? What commitment are you going to make today?
For further research on the issue I recommend checking out:
- 1 Million Women - a movement of women taking on climate change through the way we live.
- Watch: 'Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret' - groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary now streaming on Netflix.
- Read: Project Drawdown - Project Drawdown facilitates a broad coalition of researchers, scientists, graduate students, PhDs, post-docs, policy makers, business leaders and activists to assemble and present the best available information on climate solutions in order to describe their beneficial financial, social and environmental impact over the next thirty years. Book available 18th April 2017
- Watch: 'An Inconvenient Truth Sequel: Truth To Power', coming out July 28th 2017