What you can do to reduce carbon footprints

Beef is by far the biggest offender in greenhouse gas emissions, generating 60 kilogrammes of greenhouse gas emissions per kilogramme of meat produced.

Lately, there has been a lot of talk on climate change. It was therefore not surprising that the Council of Governors picked climate action as the theme for the seventh devolution conference, which was to be held in Makueni. The event has since been postponed. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a body of the UN tasked with providing scientific information on climate change – has released a new report, the most up-to-date understanding of climate change that has drawn mixed reactions.

So now that the climate change debate is getting hotter and the issue is getting the attention it deserves, an individual may wonder, what simple steps can I take to reduce my carbon footprints? I will share a few ideas that have been floated by climate change experts.

Eat less beef, lamb and dairy. Believe it or not beef is by far the biggest offender in greenhouse gas emissions, generating 60 kilogrammes of greenhouse gas emissions per kilogramme of meat produced. 

More studies show that global beef and dairy consumption is on the rise – alarmingly, it generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s cars, threatening long-term climate targets. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), cattle are responsible for nine per cent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. 

Go vegan?

Another way to reduce your carbon footprints is to set thermostats no higher than 19 degrees centigrade and water temperature in heating systems no higher than 55 degrees centigrade. Or better still invest in solar panels.

Another method to cut carbon footprints is to minimise flying if you can, especially long-haul. It is no secret that flights are energy-intensive and depends on fossil fuels, which are heavy polluters.

It has been noted that most consumers fail to see the true environmental costs of their air travel because low flight prices don’t reflect their environmental impact. Worryingly, emissions from flights stay in the atmosphere and will warm it for several centuries. More alarmingly, because aircraft emissions are released high in the atmosphere, they have a potent climate impact, triggering chemical reactions and atmospheric effects that heat the planet, leading to global warming.

Electric vehicles are also an excellent and effective way to reduce pollution from transportation and limit global warming.

Another simple strategy is to go for LED light bulbs and appliances with high efficiency ratings. According to a report by the International Energy Agency, low-energy light bulb and other efficient lighting systems could prevent a total of 16 billion tonnes of carbon from being added to the world's atmosphere over the next 25 years. Other simple strategies you can adopt are switching to a low-carbon heating system such as a heat pump. 

[The writer is an editor at The Standard]

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