Skip to main content
Menu

Climate change   |   Meat   |   Environment & ethics

A New Year's carbon resolution

What if, this year, we could all commit to just one New Year’s resolution? What if everyone across the world got involved? Imagine if every single one of us decided to cut a tonne off our carbon footprint in 2021. That is millions, potentially billions of tonnes of carbon we could save, helping to reduce the climate crisis.

That’s why at Giki, we are working with many different organisations to help people, across the UK and beyond to Cut a Tonne in ’21.  

On a global basis, individuals account for almost three quarters of greenhouse gas emissions so people play a major role, along with policy and business transformation, in reaching national and international net zero targets. And as much as we can all make changes, the role of policy in enabling a transition to net zero is crucial, both at national and international level. We also need mainstream businesses to change and provide products and services that are sustainable (and affordable).

In the UK, we have an average carbon footprint of nine tonnes per person per annum. This covers individual carbon emissions cover homes, transport, food, goods and services, based on our own consumption-based analysis, and compares to five tonnes globally.  

The encouraging news it is possible to win the race and we’ve just written a report with Dr Richard Carmichael from Imperial College London to show you how. We can all reduce emissions by cutting back and cutting out, replace emissions by switching to lower carbon alternatives and repair the damage we’ve done by restoring ecosystems and removing carbon with projects like tree planting and, or course, improving soil quality.

airplane
Giving up long-haul flying will have a significant impact on your carbon footprint. 

As many believe, this will be a mass, community effort.

Professor Tim O’Riordan, of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, says: “The lead up to the opening of COP 26 gives us all the time to find the most suitable ways to cut a tonne of our carbon equivalent emissions by its 1 November 2021 opening in Glasgow.

“The cutting of a tonne is a communal task, shared with everyone and leading to a better world for everyone. If the whole of the United Kingdom can do this through joint but variable contributions, what a wonderful contribution that would be for the healthy future of this planet and its peoples.”

So here are five ideas from Giki Zero to help get you started:

1. Switch to renewable energy

2. Turn your thermostat down by 1C and see how it feels

3. Choose a bank or building society that does not support fossil fuel companies

4. Eat animal products just once a day

5. Give up flying long haul

Good luck and don’t feel shy to encourage others to join you in 'Cutting a Tonne in ’21'. The more of us, the better it is for everyone, across the world.

    Comments

    Walrus

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    Referring to GiKi's ideas can we look at my small efforts for a moment - #1 I have already done so, about 2019. #2 I don't have a thermostat - no central heating, I warm up the room I'm in to roughly 8 degrees above ambient (the joys of being a Pensioner - eat or heat basically). # 3 I'll stick with the bank I'm with, all this jumping around helps no one #4 I eat "animal products"normally every other day but normally no more than 4 times a week (the Pensioner thing again - can't afford it other wise) and finally #5 I don't fly; except in emergency situations - once so far this century (for my fathers funeral). Without sounding too pompous I am sure there are many others in much the same situation - I guess we've done "our bit" in my case yet again! So what else would you like us to do to justify your existence? Thank you!

    2 Replies

    view replies

    SuzanneRosemary

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    You sound resentful. I take it you don’t have children or grandchildren for whom you are concerned. Or maybe you feel you personally didn’t contribute to the sickness of our planet.
    My view is that our generation is responsible. Since the 70’s we have known the damage we were causing & we allowed it to escalate. Few of us protested & few of us modified our lifestyles during the 20th century. Even in the 21st century we have had to be forced to recycle & encouraged to ‘do our bit’ for the planet.
    It’s not everyone else’s responsibility, it’s ours, each one of us.
    To paraphrase Greta’s words, when your house is on fire, you try to save it, as much as possible.
    Realistically, hopefully, we have 10 years now to turn this around or our planet & all life on it will die. It’s that bad.

    2 Replies

    PeaceLily

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    I agree with SuzanneRosemary, Some (but not enough) of us did try to modify our lifestyles but there was no incentive to do so. We were encouraged to consume and spend as much as possible. Greed was good.
    Sadly I know several people now in their 70s & 80s who don’ t give the proverbial about the planet even though they have grandchildren ! Or else it’s someone else’s problem. ‘They’ should do something.
    But for those wanting to take action themselves I can recommend Natalie Fee’s book ‘How to save the world for free’. It’s well written and full of practical ideas.

    2 Replies

    Ludd

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    The problem I see with people "acting responsibly" to save the world is that that is a luxury that many people cannot afford .If you are on a subsistence wage as the majority are ,you have nothing that you can cut back .To bring about change ,the actions must bring about an immediate improvement to peoples standard of living . The trouble with that is centralised power ,it would reduce the wealth of the rich .

    0 Reply

    Walrus

    6 Months

    PeaceLily with reference to your comment on knowing people in their 70's and 80's who don't give a proverbial about the state of the world - have you considered that being older they have seen all this "do good" stuff before in different forms and each time they either have come to night or worse - when you've seen that often you become cynical, very cynical, please give them the benefit of the doubt and don't go blaming then - or try walking in their shoes for a few days and see what they see! Remember over the years many of these older people may have done terrible things so that you may live the way you do now - do not insult them for doing those things they were done for the best possible reasons at the time.

    0 Reply

    Walrus

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    Resentful? Yes I am, why, because we didn't do recycling in my day - OK we got our milk in bottles - daily - and reused the bottles for the next load. we reused hand me down clothes because that's all we had, we were too poor not to. I fought hard for what little bit I had and fought hard so that others could have those rights too - the rights to whinge and complain that it was somebody elses fault and not theirs whilst doing nothing for it. We did not have those rights, we went where we were told and did the job we were told to do so that so called experts who have done precious little but sit on their backsides tell us what to do.

    As for using others words to cover for your lack of action is beyond me - as is this strange idea that having done nothing we now all have ten years to save the world - why ten years? Because some silly little hippy who travelled in by air in comfort and will move on to the next lecture using the same mode tells you that you must?

    0 Reply

    JoHand

    6 Months

    Hi Walrus, congratulations, as it sounds as if you are way ahead of in managing your carbon footprint than most people. As the average UK footprint per person based on consumption is around 9 tonnes and we need to reach 2.5 tonnes per person across the globe by 2030, to be aligned with the 1.5 degree Paris agreement lifestyle. There is a huge amount to be done for most people. That's why we are encouraging everybody to cut a tonne in '21, (or 10% of their footprint if it is above the UK average.) These are just 5 of the 130 steps we include in Giki Zero - a free tool for everyone to use. As you highlight, it is so personal: everyone has a different situation and our aim with Giki Zero is to help people find the right path to reduce their footprint for their budget and lifestyle. If we can all reach net zero in our lifestyles in the next decade or so, that would have a hugely positive impact on preventing further climate change.

    1 Reply

    Walrus

    6 Months

    Thank you for your kind words JoHand, one tries to do the best one can, back along some bad things have been done by many but at the time they were not bad for the general good of both people and the world at the time. I will say no more on that subject other than to state that at time those things were done they enabled the many now to live the way they do. Thank you.

    0 Reply

    Ludd

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    Really Jo is that the best advice you have
    How about bicycle as much as possible instead of using a car or public transport, or walk if your destination is close enough . If you must use a car to get to the shops ,then make a list of what you need and travel less often .When you do go ask your neighbours if they need anything from the shops and maybe they can return the favour when they need to go .
    Grow some of your own food , if all you have is a window box then some herbs .
    Refuse to accept plastic packaging ,send a message leave it in the shop .
    Holiday in your own country or if abroad travel by ship and plane .
    Buy used where possible . Buy locally support your community .
    Turn off electric items don't leave them on standby .
    Put in more Insulation if you can ,use thick curtains to keep heat in .
    A hot water bottle saves on heating at night .
    Wicked Leeks !
    you need articles which have more practical ideas than the one above ,though to be fair anytime I read an article in any publication on the subject they have very little practical advice .
    I am sure that people have more ideas than the ones I have listed .
    How about creating a page for people to list ideas they have and use
    Thankyou for your work

    2 Replies

    view replies

    Walrus

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    Ludd? Short for Luddite? I like it!

    I also like the idea of a page for listing ideas to help and the outcome of those ideas if used! A far better idea than many who seem to want to blame others for not doing anything to help - even if they do not know why . . . . . how . . . . . or when seems a sensible way to start the ball rolling - not so much who didn't but more what can we all do now!

    1 Reply

    Ludd

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    ha ha Mr Walrus no flies on you
    Change comes from below but those in positions of power need to enable that change .
    Exactly how was the average person supposed to save the planet while they had barely enough to make ends meet .The actions that need to be implemented must make poorer peoples lives more comfortable .When that happens there will be a queue to save the planet

    1 Reply

    Walrus

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    Exactly so - we all wish to give our children the things we did not have when we were that age and if the poor see that the rich have something that they do not have they will go all out to have it - nothing shall be done to help those with both main course and pudding on the table by those who have neither but are struggling to put at least a meal (if of only one course) on the table a couple of times a day. As you say once everybody, especially the poor has the same amount then things will start to happen - in the same vein why should the rich become poor by giving up what they already have?

    The mythical "level playing field" is a must for all concerned and the quickest way towards this is to ensure everybody has their say on the process - and all those requirements if considered worth it must be acted on, no ifs, buts or maybes! Sadly there are those who want more than their fair share - whilst that happens we shall head full tilt into obvilion

    0 Reply

    JoHand

    6 Months

    Hi Ludd, I love your suggestions - there are so many steps that people can take to reduce their environmental impact and it's about finding the right steps for the as everyone's lifestyle and situation is different. In Giki Zero, we suggest over 130 steps, and we then suggest personalised ones depending on the info you have out into your footprint. Each of the steps in Giki Zero have all been rated on ease and impact, so it's easy to weigh up which ones you wish to do. We also always look to improve to and add to steps in Giki Zero - https://zero.giki.earth. We cover most of your suggestions above, - although we don't suggest a hot water bottle - I like that one!. Thanks for sharing your ideas

    1 Reply

    Ludd

    6 Months

    Hi Jo
    thanks for your response ,130 steps ! But they cannot be seen without singing up to your site which a fairly large percentage of visitors to your site will probably not do . Good for you for trying to do something , I still think your above article could have included many more practical ideas
    all the best
    Ludd

    0 Reply

    Ludd

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    TRAIN not plane ..ha ha

    0 Reply

    Beth

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    How do we find out which banks do not support fossil fuel?

    2 Replies

    view replies

    Comments Editor

    6 Months 2 Weeks

    Hi Beth, Ethical Consumer is a great guide for goods, products and services - their finance pages have lots of info that will help you choose https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/money-finance

    1 Reply

    Beth

    6 Months

    Thank you

    0 Reply

    JoHand

    6 Months

    Hi Beth, we have written an article on this
    https://giki.earth/is-your-bank-account-funding-fossil-fuel-companies/

    It's also worth checking out Make My Money Matter, a campaign led by Film director Richard Curtis.

    Also worth looking at this site which is really good: https://good-with-money.com/

    1 Reply

    Beth

    6 Months

    Thank you

    0 Reply

    Gill G

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    Ethical Consumer magazine has recently done a very comprehensive report on banks from all points of view, including ethics and who does not support fossil fuels. Very enlightening publication, although some grim reading about who really owns what.

    0 Reply

    Acer

    6 Months 3 Weeks

    Let me get this straight, we are facing the biggest crisis this species has ever faced, and you're promoting taking only a small amount of action?

    If we all do a little bit, it adds up only to a little bit. We need to make huge changes to govts, policies, agriculture, transport, racial justice, social justice. Eating meat just once a day is not going to cut it.

    The most comprehensive study in agriculture ever conducted concluded that the most sustainable way to eat and the biggest thing we can do as individuals to reduce our environmental footprint is to go vegan. So why are you promoting us to continue eating animals?

    After following Wicked Leeks for a while now, I'm starting to get the feeling that there are vested interests behind the articles written. I know it's incredibly difficult, but animal farmers need to face up to the fact that we cannot continue to farm animals and not have a climate and ecological crisis. Not to mention, zoonotic diseases, antibiotic crises and heart disease, diabetes and cancers. When we continue to exploit animals for things we do not need, we cannot expect it not to come back to us.

    You need to start promoting a 'Just Transition' away from animal farming and into plant based veganic farming and permaculture. We need to use the vast animal agriculture subsidies to provide animal farmers a decent wage and to transition into plant agriculture, or to rewild their land and reintroduce native species. We must put people and planet at the forefront of the change that needs to come. We cannot blindly continue promoting a way of life that is killing us and the natural world.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/veganism-environmental-impact-planet-reduced-plant-based-diet-humans-study-a8378631.html

    1 Reply

    view replies

    Comments Editor

    6 Months 2 Weeks

    Thanks for your comments Acer - some are already very active around climate change issues, others less so, and this article shows some simple starting points for those wanting to make changes themselves; every journey starts with the first step as they say! It is great if others want to contribute more suggestions and ideas - all are welcome.
    We hope there is a good balance of features in Wicked Leeks exploring different aspects of sustainability, and encompassing different opinions. The main common thread is that whatever diet people choose, it needs to be from the most sustainable source - the vegan vs meat debate goes on, but regenerative and organic agriculture offer ways forward with more planet-friendly farming that can include all.

    1 Reply

    Acer

    6 Months 2 Weeks

    This doesn't follow the science. The science is deadly clear that even the most "sustainable" meat releases 6 times as much greenhouse gases and uses 36 times as much land as plant-based protein like peas (source: the study quoted above).

    To promote meat and dairy as part of a sustainable way to live is like promoting "clean coal" as part of sustainable energy production.

    The debate goes on and science just gets stronger in favour of plant based agriculture and against animal exploitation.

    Please start keeping up with the science and stop promoting the needless exploitation and murder of animals.

    0 Reply

    Beth

    6 Months 2 Weeks

    Thanks

    0 Reply

    AJW

    6 Months 2 Weeks

    Wouldn’t giving up short flights also make sense, especially as there are alternatives.

    0 Reply

    Wicked Leeks is out now

    Cover star, Jyoti Fernandes, tells of the small producers standing up for their rights, while elsewhere we explore climate-friendly eating and how to eat seasonal in spring.

    Read now

    Choose food that hasn't flown.

    Riverford organic veg boxes are delivered directly to your door. Choose your box now.

    Go to Riverford

    The net zero counter narrative

    Read our coverage of the new trend for net zero and see beyond the headlines.

    Read more

    Grow Your Own

    Our monthly gardening advice column offers timely advice for your organic patch, whether you're an expert grower or just starting out.

    Explore
    LETTERBOXRiverford-organic-veg-boxes.png

    Boom in organic unmatched by farming

    Sales of organic boomed during 2020 as the pandemic boosted interest in food quality but growth will be met by imports as UK farmers hold back.

    Read more
    Spread the word

    The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

    Here at Wicked Leeks, our mission is to help inform and inspire positive change. Our journalism is free to all because of this, but we want to reach as many people as possible who share our desire for a better world. We know our readers are some of the biggest advocates of sustainable living, and you can help us grow this movement by sharing this article widely, with your friends and on social media. Now is the time to act.