OPINION: Work together to help save our planet - MP Andrew Jones
Over the last month we have moved closer to “normal life” than we have been for nearly 18 months.
We have seen the return of crowds at sporting events, the re-opening of night clubs, and the re-emergence of festivals among many other things.
While this has been a positive step towards the way things were, it has given us time to think about other issues and remind ourselves that there are long-term challenges that we cannot ignore. They left the headlines at the height of the pandemic, but they were not resolved.
The devastating floods across northern Europe, and the wildfires tearing across Greece and California are some of the many extreme indications that our impact on this planet has consequences.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently reported that the world could be exceeding 1.5 degrees centigrade of warming within decades, highlighting that action must indeed be taken now.
Much like the fight against Covid-19, combating climate change requires action at all levels; international, government, council and individual.
It may not seem that as individuals we can have a huge impact on the climate crisis, but it is the accumulation of all our decisions and choices that will make the difference.
We don’t need to wait for legislation to force us to modify our lifestyle.
There are small changes we can all make right now to limit our own impact on the planet.
We can make sure we recycle as much as possible – using recycled waste significantly reduces the energy needed to make a new product.
We can reduce the amount of energy we use in our homes through insulation or better use of heating.
We can decide to walk on shorter journeys instead of getting in the car.
If we do use the car we can turn the engine off when it is stationary, or try and pre-plan our journey so that we can share our car and journey with a friend or neighbour.
We can change our eating habits slightly by having at least one meat-free meal a week, by buying more seasonal vegetables or by buying food that is produced more locally.
These are some examples of how we can reduce our footprint on the world – and there are many, many more.
There are key groups in Harrogate and Knaresborough who work to move our day-to-day behaviours to ones which reduce our carbon footprint.
One of these is Zero Carbon Harrogate which aims to help our area move toward being a sustainable zero-carbon economy, and has been encouraging people to change their lifestyles to move toward this goal.
There are also groups which take an active role in planting trees and conservation.
Judging from my inbox, interest in this area has never been higher.
It can appear daunting or over complex, and reducing our carbon footprint on the world is going to be a challenge.
We cannot, though, simply continue our lives as they are and expect someone else will do what needs to be done to limit global warming; some aspects of the change that is required will be inconvenient to us.
But we can only be successful and prevent the environmental impacts heading our way in the next 50 years if we work as individuals as part of a massive collective effort.
The IPCC report is a call for action that cannot be ignored, and individual actions done by millions of people and families can make a significant and positive impact.