I wasn’t sure what I had let myself into when I started attending the Carbon Conversation series of meetings, though I knew there was going to be cake involved! I was not disappointed, the cake was lovely and the meetings thought-provoking.
An initial meeting with Kaska to complete a carbon footprint was really interesting to see how different lifestyle choices made for a different footprint. I thought I was fairly aware of how my own choices impacted my carbon footprint, but had no idea how carbon intensive frozen food was, and that while I thought I was doing quite well as far as living a low carbon lifestyle goes, my footprint is much larger than the Scottish Government Climate Change target needed to reach the 90% reduction (from 1990 levels) by 2050 (It is thought that this kind or reduction across the world will keep global temperature increases to below 2C).
The first session started with an icebreaker, as we didn’t know each other, it was interesting to hear why each person had chosen the item from the tray that had most caught their eye, though I may now be known by my rather dull choice of an eraser rather than my name (I can never find one when I need one).
As the meetings take place every 2 weeks there is time to reflect on the previous session and focus on a different aspect of our lives for the next which contributes to our overall carbon footprint. Making travel and food diaries was particularly interesting. My idea of my travel did not quite match the reality, and a few fairly minor tweeks to one of my regular journeys will reduce my mileage, saving both carbon and cash. And one of the more memorable statistics from the food session was that carbon emissions of agriculture worldwide are about equal to that of all transport worldwide. This means everyday decisions about what we choose to eat can have major impacts on our own carbon emissions. Out of season strawberries (flown from abroad) result in higher emissions than a banana (transported by boat).
At the beginning of October there was the publication of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stating that we need to limit temperature rise to 1.5C and it needs to be done in the next 12 years. One of the nice results of joining Carbon Conversations, with the background of raising awareness of our need to act NOW, has been that not only am I able to take positive steps to limit my own carbon emissions, I have opened up a number of conversations with friends in real life and on Facebook and found support, interesting conversations, and courage to speak up a little louder. It can feel a little daunting to start a conversation about climate change/carbon emissions with friends, but having done so, the results have all been positive. If someone has not been keen to take the conversation further, that’s fine, we can change the subject, but where they have, the information gained from the carbon conversations meetings and background reading have informed my knowledge of the subject, and finding that there are many people out there who are concerned and would like to act or are already acting to reduce their own carbon footprint reinforces my own determination to continue to do what I can.
One thing that is becoming obvious through the Carbon Conversations meetings is that nothing is clear cut! There is no one size fits all quick fix. There are so many different factors influencing each part of our lifestyles that what works for one person may be untenable for another. There are lots of things we can all do though, and fairly minor changes, like reducing your meat and dairy intake or changing the way you travel on some journeys, can make big changes to your carbon emissions.
What I feel is clearer than ever is that we will not be able to continue burning through resources the way we are doing, and the sooner we can all limit our own emissions the less extreme the climate breakdown will ultimately be. We are already seeing the effects of global temperature increases, making storms more extreme, summers drier, winters wetter. The top 10 hottest years on record have all been since 1998.
It’s our environment, we all need to look after it.
If you would like to find out more about Carbon Conversations or join the next conversation series in the new year, get in touch with Kaska at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07446231073.