Within the face of a continuing stream of dangerous information – the conflict in Ukraine, the local weather disaster, spiralling gas poverty and looming international meals shortages – constructive motion is one of the simplest ways to manage. And there’s a set of actions that we will all take to handle all these emergencies concurrently, with quick outcomes, and at no monetary price.
It’s time to speak about behaviour change – the lacking a part of the answer to so many issues, however largely ignored by policymakers who’re reluctant to threat alienating voters.
How can individuals in different international locations assist scale back the move of finance that sustains Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? By instantly slicing consumption of Russian oil and fuel. However merely turning to different sources of fossil fuels from regimes which are typically equally complicit in human rights abuses is just not the reply. Neither is utilizing this disaster as an excuse to provide extra home oil, fuel and coal, together with via fracking. We’ve identified for years that we’ve to depart most fossil fuels within the floor if we’re to avert catastrophic local weather change.
After all we additionally have to urgently speed up the roll out of renewable power and implement a large-scale power effectivity programme to equip houses with warmth pumps and higher insulation, however it will take time, and we have to act proper now. The UK authorities’s goal to cease importing oil from Russia by the top of 2022 (with no comparable goal for fuel) is just too late to avoid wasting Ukraine.
What you are able to do
As an alternative, let’s lastly pay some consideration to the facility that people have to chop consumption. Within the UK as an example, one examine discovered that saving power via easy measures equivalent to turning down thermostats and turning off lights and heating in empty rooms may save 23% of fuel consumption for family heating and energy technology. For example, setting the thermostat simply 1℃ decrease can save 10% of heating payments, with temperatures of 18℃ to 20℃ nonetheless being secure and comfy for all besides aged or susceptible individuals.
Although international locations like Germany are extra reliant on Russia, solely 8% of the UK’s oil and 4% of its fuel is imported from Russia – absolutely UK residents can discover a technique to scale back their consumption by that quantity? Any additional discount in demand will assist to ease provide constraints within the international market, making it simpler for different international locations to additionally scale back their dependence. This discount of demand, particularly if replicated in different international locations, would additionally contribute to decreasing gas costs in international markets, serving to the hundreds of thousands of individuals combating gas poverty each within the UK and elsewhere.
Meals for thought
Shifting to a extra plant-based food regimen is equally highly effective, given the dependence of worldwide meals provides on grain and fertilisers from Russia and Ukraine. Greater than half of the UK’s wheat manufacturing, two thirds of its barley and one third of its oats is used to feed livestock not people. Changing livestock merchandise with plant proteins equivalent to pulses, beans and nuts is way more environment friendly when it comes to land, water and greenhouse fuel emissions.
Though the UK is a internet exporter of grain, slicing its personal consumption may allow extra UK exports and would cut back strain on international meals costs. A few of the arable and grazing land freed up on this means might be restored to carbon-rich woodland, grassland and wetlands that assist nature restoration and assist us to adapt to local weather change. And extra funding in sustainable farming that builds up soil fertility can scale back reliance on imported fertilisers.
All of those measures have many further advantages. We have to lower fossil gas use way more shortly to keep away from local weather disaster. Though authorities coverage focuses on new infrastructure, slicing useful resource demand via behaviour change is a uncared for but on the spot resolution that can often lower your expenses and doesn’t require capital funding.
There are additionally advantages for well being – extra biking and strolling can deal with sedentary life, and plant-based diets have lately been proven to be related to decreased charges of some varieties of most cancers. And utilizing fewer assets will lower the air pollution and different environmental injury attributable to mining, logging, intensive agriculture and manufacturing.
Regardless of all these advantages, behaviour change will contain dedication and a few sacrifices – fewer flights to international holidays or conferences, slicing down on a few of our favorite meals, and braving the climate to cycle slightly than drive. That’s why the time to behave is now, with the determined want to finish a horrific conflict performing as highly effective further motivation for behaviour change that may additionally save humanity in the long term. Let’s redouble our efforts to vary our personal life, change our organisations and establishments, and unfold the message to encourage these round us to do the identical.