Key Pledges

keypledges

Here are some ideas of important pledges you can take, in no particular order. (Click on each of them for more info.)

1. Become more politically engaged

I Pledge to Become More Politically Engaged

Why

It is clear that we need greater political resolve in order to keep the globe within a safe level of warming (IPCC 5th report). But politics as ‘the art of the possible’ means that governments are forever offsetting policies that might serve the greater good, with those that will avoid short-term unrest or secure reallocation. Climate policy lies at the heart of this bind.

There are numerous examples of policies towards adaption and mitigation that need to be scrutinised, to assure that they truly represent the interests of our planet and its inhabitants. In doing so, we can also change the face of public will, and reassure governments that the public can tolerate farther-reaching strategies – something that a vote alone cannot do. The individual voices of the public need to be heard, and one way to do this is in writing – requesting clarity from our MP’s, and trying to initiate policy change based on what we learn.

ideas

Some key topics for scrutiny are:

Some tips and ideas for writing:

  1. Use the ‘write to them’ website to write to your local MP or MEP– easy to use, and will help make sure that it gets a response: www.writetothem.com
  2. Ask questions – questions lead to answers, and once you are informed, it might become obvious what to do next.
  3. Get informed – there are many questions to ask. Write letters with clear and informed questions, and your local MP will forward them to Department Ministers or Secretaries of State. Give it a try!
  4. Don’t limit your view – people have gained conference with the Prime Minister simply by putting pen to paper.
  5. Be encouraged – it can and does have an effect.
  6. Be creative –think outside the box to see what is possible towards being heard. Try different things. Organisations such as 38degrees (Campaigns by you) and Avaaz can help enable you to take a lead.

Good luck!

Resources

www.avaaz.org/en/
www.38degrees.org.uk
www.writetothem.com
www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/contacting-your-mp/
www.theyworkforyou.com

An example:

Consider this concern about ‘cap and trade’, the politically favoured approach to limiting green house emissions globally.

Leading climate scientist James Hansen says that whilst ‘cap and trade’ is in place, many of the personal choices we make to reduce our own contribution will have limited benefit. Why is this – surely that shouldn’t be the case? Well, the carbon caps are taxes that relate to carbon budgets set by governments / unions – amounts of contributing gases that countries are able to emit over a particular time period. As with all budgets, a little saved here usually means a little more spent elsewhere – and much of our day-to-day choices fall within this scheme. The budgets set a ceiling, but there is no clear political incentive to fall below this ceiling: if we choose not to fly by plane within the UK, industry will use what we don’t for economic gain.

Furthermore, these ceilings are not robust guaranteed due to the things that aren’t included – such as international plane travel – and the complexity of trading budgets between countries that has the effect of offsetting the meeting of these budgets into the future– possibly to a time when it will be too late. Far from combating climate change, such a mechanism might do more harm than good? Questions clearly need to be asked.

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 17

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2. Stop flying

I Pledge to Stop Flying
… for 1 year / 3 years / 5 years / forever / you choose

Why

High carbon emissions are killing the world we love, and airplanes spew far more greenhouse gases per passenger than any other mode of transport. What’s more, at their high altitudes the ill effects of their emissions are magnified.

By flying we can very quickly exceed our fair personal carbon quota: A return flight from London to New York emits an equivalent of more than 2.8 tonnes of CO2, London to Berlin return – 0.5 tonnes, London to Sydney return – 8 tonnes. But to hope to keep global warming within reasonably safe levels, scientists estimate that each human being needs to limit their total CO2 emissions per year to a maximum of 2.3 tonnes.

Often, taking a flight is really unnecessary. Business and work meetings can be held through skype or call-conferencing – it’s a lot less stressful.

The UK is full of beautiful places to visit. And the whole of Europe (and lots of sun!) is now easily accessible by train via the Eurostar. Booking can be as easy as booking a flight, and travelling more slowly is often more enjoyable.
You’ll soon find you don’t need to fly to feel happy or fulfilled.

It feels good ♥

Resources

See www.seat61.com for advice and excellent information on train journeys, boat journeys and easy booking.
www.loco2.com are on a mission to make booking a train to Europe as simple as booking a flight.

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 34

3. Not use my car if I can bus, train or cycle somewhere

I Pledge Not to Use My Car If I Can Take the Train / Bus or Cycle / Walk Instead
… for 1 year / 3 years / 5 years / forever / you choose

Why

Road transport is one of the biggest sources of pollution in the UK, contributing to poor air quality, noise disturbance, congestion and of course climate change. Of the 34 million vehicles on our roads, 28 million are cars. Road transport accounts for 22% of total UK emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). (Environmental Protection UK)

Sometimes travelling by car can seem like the only option; car-based lifestyles have been encouraged and patterns of work, housing and shopping have grown up around the car. Public transport is becoming more expensive not less. It’s easy to argue that the only thing that will really make a difference is wholesale policy change in this area, but while we’re waiting (or campaigning…) for that to happen, we can get creative in reducing the number of car journeys we make. We need to unsubscribe from the notion that cars equate with freedom, and wean ourselves off the need for ‘convenience’ and ‘comfort’. The daily reality of driving is jams, the frustration and expense of parking, and road rage. Stress all round, and stress for our beautiful planet.

So, consider the alternatives before reaching for the car keys. Embracing low-carbon travel brings a new sense of community and adventure among many other good things.

ideas

  • Think local – The closer things are (shopping, classes, schools etc.) the more likely you are to walk, cycle or use the bus.
  • Start a ‘walking bus’ – Ditch the car for the school run, join with other parents and walk the kids to school. This is much more fun for all concerned. They get to know their neighbourhood and some social time before school starts, and you save money (and the environment).
  • Cycle to work – Join the government scheme in which you and your employer sign up, and you get a discount of up to 48% on a new bike and equipment. It’s a nationwide initiative and there are at least 500 partner shops so you don’t forfeit choice.
  • Join a cycling club – Now you have a spanking new bike, cycle for fun too; the more you cycle the more you’ll want to.
  • Find a bike maintenance course – The more intimate you are with every cog and sprocket in your machine the more you’ll want to use it. And the cheaper it gets.
  • Buy local and national bus and railcards – They make a considerable difference to ticket prices, and once you’ve invested in one you’ll naturally have an incentive for using public transport instead of the car.
  • Plan ahead – Train tickets are cheaper the earlier you buy.

Walking, cycling, bus and train all connect you with the amazing world outside the lonely bubble of your car. You see more, notice more, read more, get fitter, get happier and often get there faster than you would in the car.

But ……. sometimes you will need to use the car. If you do there are plenty of things you can do to minimize the effects:

  • Join a Car Club.
  • Car share, either through local or national online schemes, or just coordinate with your friends and colleagues to give lifts.
  • Drive slower and more efficiently. Reducing speed cuts the amount of CO2 you produce. As do shutting off the engine at lights or while waiting, driving smoothly and learning to use gears properly.
  • If you can, change your car for a hybrid, there are now many on the market.

Resources

www.carbonconversations.org – website for six-week courses on how to lower your carbon footprint, invaluable and life changing
www.bike2workscheme.co.uk
www.cyclesolutions.co.uk – more about cycle to work scheme
www.goskyride.com – how to find national bike maintenance courses
www.livingstreets.org.uk – inspiring national campaign to get kids walking to school
www.blablacar.com – find / offer a lift website
www.carplus.org.uk – lists all car clubs nationwide
www.seat61.com – exciting and practical website on all aspects of train and boat travel
www.thetrainline.com – for booking train travel in advance and accessing cheaper fares

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 28

4. Make an energy-saving change to my home

I Pledge to Make an Energy-Saving
Change to My Home

Why

As well as saving you money in the long run, this is an important way we can reduce carbon emissions: In 2011, household energy use in the UK alone accounted for about 123.12 million tonnes of carbon emissions*, which was 27% of the UK’s overall emissions that year.

Not only does our planet benefit, insulation measures also make your home more comfortable and will reduce your bills.

Luckily, there are grants and schemes to incentivise these sorts of changes. See the Energy Saving Trust’s website, or the Green Deal website, both below.

It feels good ♥

* www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Reduce-your-carbon-footprint

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Energy saving measures can include:

  • Replacing light bulbs with energy saving bulbs.
  • Fitting solar panels to produce electricity and/or hot water.
  • Installing a biomass boiler/ground source heat pump.
  • Installing insulation for the walls, floor, loft.
  • Installing double/triple glazing.
  • Draught-proofing.
  • Replacing appliances with energy efficient models when the time comes.

Resources

www.energysavingtrust.org.uk is an excellent resource for finding out all about saving energy in your home (as well as when travelling), including grants available.
The government offers incentives for making energy-saving changes to your home under the Green Deal scheme. See www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures/overview for information.
Save Water Save Money! – www.savewatersavemoney.co.uk/southwest/free-water-saving-products – Water-saving products from South West Water.

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 16

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5. Become a fee-paying, active member of a charity which works to address climate change

I Pledge to Become a Fee-paying,
Active Member of a Charity
That Works to Address Climate Change

… for 1 year / 3 years / 5 years / forever / you choose

Why

There are many organisations out there doing amazing work on our behalf. They have to deal with often very powerful interest groups with immense financial backing. All depend on our ongoing support to continue their much-needed work.

To give energy to something that feels important, precious and dear to you empowers and enriches you, and enables the on-going work of the charity. Without supporters, the work doesn’t happen.

Charities can achieve big things. See the following pages for examples of what two of the largest charities, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, have respectively achieved: www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/victories/ and www.foe.org/about-us/achievements/.

It feels good ♥

Resources

Some charities doing excellent work to address climate change include www.350.org, www.greenpeace.org, www.foe.org, www.worldlandtrust.org, www.biofuelwatch.org.uk, www.rainforest-alliance.org, www.treeaid.org.uk and www.campaigncc.org to mention just a few.

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 29

6. Change my diet and eat low-carbon food

I Pledge to Change my Diet
and Eat Low-Carbon Food

… for 1 year / 3 years / 5 years / forever / you choose

Why

The food we eat has an impact on the climate. There are types of food that heavily increase the greenhouse effect, and there are other types that are more sustainable and reduce the impact on global warming. The choices we make around food have an environmental effect.

Food is related to climate change is different ways. Some food, like meat, requires huge amounts of energy and water to produce. Other foods increase the atmospheric CO2 because they are transported long distances from the place they were produced to where they are consumed. Others use much energy in their processing, their packaging or their conservation. Sometimes the impact comes just from the wastage, as wasted food is a waste of water and energy and a source of methane (a greenhouse gas) when it decomposes.

It feels good ♥

ideas

  • Reduce meat consumption / become a vegetarian – Meat production is highly costly to our environment. Apart from the energy used in production, in many countries rainforest is destroyed to create land to raise livestock. If you find it difficult to become a vegetarian, you could give up beef, as this is the most high-carbon meat, and eat poultry or fish instead.
  • Become a vegan – The least carbon-intensive diet of all!
  • Reduce food wastage – When we waste food we are wasting the energy that goes into growing, processing and transporting that food. Moreover, wasted food ends up in landfills where it slowly decomposes releasing methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 to 25 times more powerful than CO2.
  • Make an effort to consume more seasonal and regional food – This way the food has to travel less to come to your mouth.
  • Eat less processed and packaged food – The less the food has been processed the lower the carbon footprint. Much energy goes into the actual processing (cutting, cooking, packaging, etc.), but also processed food usually contains additional sweeteners and preservatives that add to the total energy used.

Resources

www.eatlowcarbon.org
www.vegsoc.org for information, support and recipes for vegetarians
www.vegansociety.com for information, support and recipes for vegans
For further reading see: shrinkthatfootprint.com/food-carbon-footprint-diet#IzuOj6cs5YWmDFFE.99 and www.lowcarbondiet.ca/low_carbon_diet_options.html

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 34

7. Initiate a project which addresses climate change in my community

I Pledge to Initiate a Project Which
Addresses Climate Change in My Community

Why

Get inspired with those around you to create positive change in your community. By starting local and small, and with neighbours, family and friends, the benefit will be seen and felt by you all, inspiring more climate change initiatives.

It feels good ♥

ideas

  • Join your local Transition Town, or get ideas from the Transition Town Handbook or the Transition Town website (www.transitionnetwork.org) in order to start something similar in your area, if there isn’t already a Transition Town near you.
  • Discuss with a group you already belong to (for example a sporting group, or a book club, or a spiritual/religious group, etc.) about together initiating a project, which addresses climate change.
  • If you are a parent or work with children, get together with others, and form a group where the children can become involved, learn about what they can do to help, and see the benefit themselves of their actions as a group. For example growing their own food, learning how to cook and store what they grow (e.g. learning to make fermented food that will last without refrigeration at www.wildfermentation.com).
  • Use any skills you already have which are energy-saving or light on resources to start a skillshare group, encouraging others in turn to teach a skill in their homes or available spaces to the group.

Resources

This is a good website to help you get started in your community, with the tried and tested Transition Initiative as a useful model: www.transitionnetwork.org/support/what-transition-initiative

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 15

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8. Make my voice heard through demonstration / petition

I Pledge to Make My Voice Heard Through Demonstration / Petition

Why

Some of the biggest achievements with regards to environmental issues have been made by charities that employ petition as a way of making change happen. See the following pages for examples of what two of the largest environmental charities, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, have respectively achieved: www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/victories/ and www.foe.org/about-us/achievements/.

Anyone can start a petition and if you achieve 100,000 signatures, it is likely that your petition will be debated in the House of Commons. See the ‘E-Petitions’ website, a government website especially created for the public to create such petitions: www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/how-it-works.

Throughout history, people have also staged demonstrations as a way of initiating change. See examples of 10 historically significant demonstrations at www.livescience.com/16153-10-significant-political-protests.html. It seems that although tangible ‘results’ don’t result immediately, protests are instrumental in turning the tide of public opinion and therefore influencing governments.

And lastly, it feels good!

Resources

One of the major organisations organizing petitions to empower people “with online tools to help realize the world most people want” is Avaaz. Website is www.avaaz.org/en.

The website to create an e-petition that will be checked by a government department and debated if you reach 100,000 signatures is www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk.

Here are some of the charities working to address climate change that regularly petition MPs and business leaders, often with great success. If you sign up they will regularly email you about petitions and it usually takes a just a minute to sign. Some also are involved with organizing demonstrations and protests:
www.350.org
www.greenpeace.org
www.foe.org
www.campaigncc.org
www.oxfam.org.uk

Other websites where you can start a petition include www.thepetitionsite.com/UK and www.change.org/en-GB/petitions.

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 25

9. Make low-carbon consumer choices

I Pledge to Make Low-Carbon Consumer Choices
… for 1 year / 3 years / 5 years / forever / you choose

Why

Every single time you purchase anything you are affecting the environment in some way, either directly or indirectly. It’s overwhelming to consider what we humans collectively and individually consume, and throw away, every day. It’s also mind-boggling how the huge profits made by many large companies are then spent directing policy and affecting the environment.

What you do with your money, who you invest in, which shops you buy from, the brands you buy, how far you travel to go shopping, and how far your shopping has travelled to get to you, what products and resources you rely on for your day-to-day living as well as your business needs: this all has a carbon implication. Your money, energy and support can be channelled into directions that support community and the planet.

Consumer pressure really does work. Businesses care what their customers think, and particularly care about what sells. Every day we can be making a difference and taking a stand against climate change in small but significant ways by thinking about how we spend our money. By spending wisely we can invest in companies that care and divest in those that don’t. And of course the less we buy, the less energy and resources are being consumed, and therefore our carbon footprint is reduced, in a very real and direct way.

It feels good ♥

ideas

  • Shop local – choose small local businesses rather than large multi-national companies. Supporting your local community helps develop sustainable climate resilience as well as reduce carbon emissions. Check out your local area for Community Supported Agriculture / veg box schemes, farmers markets, and whenever possible go direct to producers!
  • Shop ethical – boycott businesses that invest in oil companies, destroy rainforest, or disrespect the planet and its precious resources. Choose to buy from companies that have a strong environmental / ethical policy and work towards being carbon-neutral. Visit www.ethicalconsumer.org for more ideas and to check out the worst and best companies to support with your money
  • Shop wise – check out where your food has come from, buy organic, avoid plastic products in favour of natural materials, carry your own re-usable shopping bags and don’t accept plastic bags or unnecessary packaging
  • Shop once – buy quality goods which will last longer. Challenge the throw away culture by fixing rather than replacing.
  • Shop secondhand – Buy secondhand goods and reuse wherever possible. Check out your local area for recycle warehouses / tip shops / charity shops. Join your local freecycle (www.uk.freecycle.org). Clothes swaps with friends can be lots of fun!
  • Don’t shop! – Grow / make your own, or just go without! Connection to the land, creativity and simplicity of lifestyle is often far more satisfying than anything your money can buy. Challenge our consumer culture at its root…

Resources

www.ethicalconsumer.org
The Good Shopping Guide – an excellent book with easy-to-use references for making decisions about everything from jeans to medicine, food to electrical goods. The associated website is www.ethical-company-organisation.org.
www.freecycle.org for exchanging secondhand goods for free.
Good websites for buying secondhand include www.preloved.co.uk, www.gumtree.com and of course www.ebay.co.uk.

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 24

10. Take a pledge of my own making

I Will Take a Pledge of My Own Making

Why

Well, why not? Choosing something that feels relevant and inspiring to you makes perfect sense. Tell us about it on our Facebook page.

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Number of people to have taken this pledge: 20

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