New year, same old (slightly more urgent) climate challenges.
If you’ve been getting off-screen rest over the winter holidays, let me fill you in on all things climate ICYMI: Netflix released a very divisive film called Don’t Look Up that had people fired up about the climate crisis, the WWF announced that we could be heading towards a mass extinction event in the next decade and the UK experienced its hottest New Year’s Eve and Day ever.
Reassuringly (slightly), there was also some good news, like the announcement of the world’s largest coal plant moving to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2040. It’s not perfect, but we’ll take it for now.
Evidently, the climate crisis is still crisis-ing. But there are things you can do to make a difference. Read on for the lowdown on nine climate resolutions to set yourself in 2022.
1. Get involved with local activist groups
When the whole world seems to be falling apart, it’s hard to feel like you can do anything to help at all.
However, small-scale, local action is the best way to make sure you are doing something. Maybe there’s a historic tree that’s about to get cut down in your area to make space for a new development, or perhaps there are local rewilding efforts.
Getting involved with people in your vicinity is also a great way to meet like-minded individuals and create a community. In the UK, you can join a Greenpeace volunteer group, find your closest Extinction Rebellion community or even your local Green Party supporters.
And that’s just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. There are, of course, many more groups to get involved with. Get green-Googling.
2. Read, listen, watch and learn
It’s hard to know how to deal with our collective climate problems if we don’t understand them. Picking up basic knowledge of the bigger picture through reading, listening to podcasts and watching documentaries is a great place to start. And if you’re extra keen, there are lots of free online courses you can sign up for.
3. Stay political
The climate crisis is a political crisis. As I wrote in my last column, it’s a crisis of resources, food chain supplies, wealth distribution and gender inequality. So if you’re politically active in any of these spheres, that’s already helping to tackle parts of the wider climate crisis picture.
4. Spend more time in green spaces
It’s been proven that the more time you spend in nature, the more likely you are to want to cherish it and conserve green spaces. Sounds like even more reason to be getting away from our devices and going outside this year, right?
5. Change your bank
Did you know that 60 of the largest banks in the world have invested $3.8 trillion in fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement? Switching to an ethical bank, one that doesn’t invest our money directly into the pockets of big polluters, is a great move for the planet. In the UK, Co-op, Monzo or Triodos are all great alternatives.
6. Go plant-based
Sure, changing our diets isn’t the only thing we can do. But the meat and dairy industry is responsible for 60 per cent of greenhouse gases emitted by the agricultural sector. With that in mind, the single biggest and fastest way to reduce our environmental impact is to switch to a vegan or plant-based diet. Why not give Veganuary a go – and, if it goes well, maybe even stick it out for the whole year?
7. Divest from Amazon (and other big, bad corps)
I divested from Amazon in 2021 and it made me feel very aware of all the things I buy that I don’t actually need. It also made me consider the fact that things like same-day-delivery are very exploitative practices for workers. Amazon’s carbon emissions rose by 19 per cent in 2020, becoming, in total, the equivalent of 60.64 million metric tons of CO2, which is more than countries like Denmark, Sweden and Jordan. It’s also great to support businesses that don’t make their employees piss in bottles.
8. Explore alternative ways of finding clothes
Fashion, specifically fast-fashion, is a well-known contributor to the climate crisis. Not only does the process of making clothes consume a vast amount of energy and freshwater, but the waste it creates is even worse, because the vast majority of the clothes release microfibres, choking fish and other sea life.
It turns out the UK is one of the worst offenders of fast fashion in Europe, with each Briton buying an estimated 26.7kg of clothing every year, compared to an average 15.6kg for people across Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Why not reverse this trend by pursuing alternative ways of finding new clothes? Making more considered investment purchases, buying second-hand, making your own clothes – or even not buying anything at all – are all great options.
9. Vote for people who will make a change
It’s all well and good making these individual changes to save the planet. But some of the most important actions should come from the top. If people are continuously electing political parties and leaders who aren’t taking the climate crisis seriously, then why even bother?
Maybe 2022 is the perfect time to join the Green Party. If not, apply the pressure within your own political party. After all, every little helps.