What’s my own part in this climate change mess?
As COP26 launches in Glasgow (on Monday as I write, cavalcades of fancy cars are transporting world leaders from their private jets to the conference venue) I thought I’d better face the music. I can’t sit in my centrally heated home watching the news on my imported telly, with a beef casserole in the slow cooker and an Amazon delivery on the way (ink for my Chinese-made printer) and not worry about my own part in this mess we’ve got the world into.
So, I hopped onto the WWF website (they’ve come a long way since we were collecting money to save the panda in primary school) and filled in their carbon footprint calculator. And although there were some questions that made me cringe, the result wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.
42% of my personal carbon footprint comes from our home – mainly because it’s heated by gas. And I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but we’ve just invested in a brand new gas boiler, bought because there was no practical alternative for our Victorian semi-detached house. Yes, we’ve insulated the loft and added draught excluders, but with single glazing and stone walls, there’s a practical limit to what renewables can achieve.
Our only option was to sell the house
Our new gas boiler has a ten year guarantee. Which is great for peace of mind, but also means that until at least 2030, and like over 80% of the UK population, we’ll be burning fossil fuels to heat our home. Our only option for switching to renewables was, we were told, to move to a house that’s more energy efficient. Which would just pass the problem of this draughty old beast onto the new owner. It might ease our conscience, but it doesn’t help with the bigger picture.
We’ve all read the articles and heard the advice. The small things we do as individuals – active travel instead of using cars, rejecting single use plastic, using low-energy lights bulbs, switching off appliances, and watching how much we fly – will all contribute a little to easing this global crisis.
But it’s tiny steps. It feels like an inconsequential sacrifice to be shivering at my laptop in a chilly house in Inverness, when the leaders of some of the world’s greatest producers of CO2, China and Russia, won’t even be around the table in Glasgow.
Bold and inspiring words are cheap.
If we believe the activists, the scientists, David Attenborough, and even Boris Johnston, the world is at “one minute to midnight”, having run down the clock on waiting to combat climate change. And while we might not feel directly impacted here in the north, look at the flooding we’ve suffered in recent years.
Bold and inspiring words are cheap. Solutions that will make a difference are more challenging. We need global investment in renewables, enhanced public transport, real protection for our oceans and massive reductions in our levels of consumption.
Can we really believe anything worthwhile will happen, and in time? We can only each do our bit. And lobby. And hope.
Not a runner… yet…
My Couch to 5K journey is not unique. Millions have downloaded the free app which helps beginner runners get going, and helps lapsed runners, like me, manage a slow return to fitness. It’s a combination of walking and jogging, with the encouragement of a coach in your ear.
My coach of choice is Olympian Denise Lewis. I like to think that she knows a bit or two about running, but I don’t believe a word when she tells me how brilliantly I’m doing. I bet she says that to all the beginners.
In my head it’s going well, but I’m clearly no athlete. I was in full stride the other day, loving the feeling of air between the pavement and my feet, when my neighbour doubled back to offer me a lift. Apparently, I looked as though I was ‘in a bit of a hurry’. Cheers, Andy…
Time to give a little back
It’s that time of year again, time to put a few extra items of shopping into your basket, if you can, and donate it to Highland Food Bank or Moray Food Crisis + to make sure others in our communities don’t go hungry this Christmas.
Blythswood’s annual Reverse Advent Calendar is an easy way to help. There’s a list on their website. The items are non-perishable and are based on what is really needed.
I’ve printed off my list for the next time I’m shopping. But if you can’t get out, a cash donation is welcome too.
Keep in touch – comments, ideas and constructive feedback always welcome.