19 November 2009

Trying to do my bit to protect our environment...

We're now just days away from the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen where political leaders really need to make some big and bold commitments about cutting emissions and making money available to fund mitigation of, and adaptation to, the impacts of climate change in developing countries, where some of the world's poorest people are already experiencing changing weather patterns.

It's a big challenge and despite the tireless work of Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband (come on, give them a break - you really can't knock them on this one..) it seems that the summit might not deliver all it needs to - but I'll blog more on this later.

However, what can we as individuals do? After all domestic emissions count for about 40% of all UK CO2 emissions.

I'll blog more about my campaign to recycle and compost as much as possible, insulate the loft, the recent installation of an energy efficient boiler and perhaps even my make-do-and-mend living room which features some lovely freecycled furniture... but this blog is in preparation for my train trip to Germany this weekend.

Last November, I set myself the goal of giving up flying (for at least a year... maybe more, eek!). I think it's all too easy to sign this pledge or that but you've got to get on and make sure you take action!

I'm very proud to say that as of this weekend, I haven't flown for a year! In terms of holidays, I had a fabulous few days of honeymoon in Devon back in February and summer hols involved time at home in Peckham Rye and a visit to the in-laws in Wales. And, when I visit friends in Germany for some thanksgiving and birthday celebrations this weekend, I'll be taking the train.

Obviously this isn't a realistic option for everyone. It's costing me £150 to travel from London to Hamburg, Hamburg to Berlin and then Berlin back home. No doubt flying would have been cheaper and I'm lucky that I can afford a bit extra. Time-wise it's nine hours there and nine hours back - I'm sure that other people have more pressure on their time or perhaps get less holiday from work. And obviously there are limits to where you can get to on the train. If my American friends were back in the States, or if my family lived overseas, I wouldn't be able to visit them this way.

However, I think that alongside bold and imaginative action from the Government, which we absolutely should be demanding, each of us needs to try to do out bit. Our emissions must peak by 2015 if we are to avoid global temperatures rising more than 2°C (scientists largely agreed that above this level the impacts would begin to be catastrophic for many). We can't simply rely on technology being developed in the next few years that will solve everything - we have to change the way we live.

Anyway, rant over... There are loads of useful tips on reducing emissions at Act on CO2 and why not commit to cut your carbon emissions by 10% in 2010 at the 10:10 Campaign. You've got to do more than sign up mind! If you currently lead a jet-setting, gas-guzzling lifestyle, saving your 10% should be as easy as cutting out a couple of flights, however, if you're already making steps to do your bit, it may require a bit more thought. Good luck!

(The new boiler that was fitted in the Mills home this summer)

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