Through considering 10 key areas of our daily lives, there emerges many simple methods to reduce individual environmental impact, which add up to make a real impact on our planet. We need to take these steps to address the present unprecedented rapid rate of climate change. Many agreements and policies hope to tackle the impacts of our changing climate, aiming to limit warming to a 2°C rise since pre-industrial levels, but the only way to achieve this is through reducing carbon emissions to zero. Taking these steps as New Year’s Resolutions will push us in the right direction towards this goal.
1. Recycle Christmas Cards
It is estimated that 1 billion cards are thrown away in the UK every year and so an easy way to reduce your waste over Christmas could simply be to recycle. You could even have a positive impact by taking your cards to be recycled at M&S, who plant a tree for every 1000 cards that are returned to them.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last month released a white paper setting out their industrial strategy. This document claims to contain a plan which is “building a Britain fit for the future”, as such, it is important to see how environmentally friendly that future appears.
The first notable thing is that the government identifies four “grand challenges” which are to be tackled to put the UK at the forefront of the world economy; the ageing society, future of mobility and AI & data economy are three of them. But the final challenge the government has identified is clean growth, which appears to be a strong environmental commitment. The government states it “will maximise the advantages for UK industry from the shift to clean growth.”
So what does the government mean by this? And more importantly, what do they plan to do? Let’s begin by going through the “early priority areas” identified in the strategy.
Today marks the six-month anniversary of Michael Gove’s appointment as Environment Secretary. In the past, Gove had shown a fairly poor voting record on environmental issues, voting against a ban on “unconventional petroleum exploitation” and alongside that voted against a motion explicitly requiring environmental permits for natural gas fracking operations. The MP also had no previous experience in agricultural or environmental roles, previous roles being Justice and Education secretary, so his promotion sparked outcry from many. Ed Davey, the former Environment secretary, described the appointment as ‘an act of environmental vandalism’, and said it would be ‘like putting a wolf in charge of the chicken coop’.
The looming prospect of Brexit makes for uncertain times in the realm of UK environmental policy, and so in many ways Gove’s tenure takes place at a truly pivotal moment. So, what has he achieved since June?
Using the latest scientific research, many governments provide official guidance on how best to eat in order to stay healthy. In the UK, for example, the recommended daily allowance for a woman aged 19 to 64 years includes 2000 calories, 45g of protein and 78g of fat. Few people know these figures off by heart or how they correspond to the food they actually eat, and fewer still use them as an actual benchmark for their own diet. For most of us, there just isn’t the time. At best, you might look at the traffic-light coded information on food packaging, but if you’re like me you’ll probably still buy your pack of biscuits. Nonetheless, most people still consider following recommended guidelines to be an excellent, if ambitious, way to keep fit and healthy.
OCS Media and Research Team
The latest in climate science and policy from the OCS team.