How To Not COP It - Summary and Tips

This is a short summary of my positive stories on how you can take action and do your bit to be more eco-friendly. If you simply want some quick actions you can take then this is for you but you can read everything in more detail in the other posts:

Cash Over Planet

COP26 is over and is widely regarded as not great, not terrible.1 It looks like the top-down approach isn’t working out so well. Maybe we need some more bottom-up (or middle-out) action.

We can act locally and get involved in civic society. Local authorities can make changes such as mandating that their licensed taxi fleets are fully-electric by a certain date. They can help with infrastructure too, such as chargers at taxi ranks (perhaps open to other EVs as well). You could propose these measures and support councillors that are in favour of them, or even stand yourself.

We need to think holistically about systems as a whole rather than getting too focussed. We are not going to consume our way out of this problem. We need to act more like citizens and less like customers (or products).

We have to tip the odds in our favour and move to systems that encourage people to do the right thing. We need to align individual interests with those of the commons so that everyone is pushing in the right direction (because it is the simplest, most obvious and lowest friction one).

The reality is a lot of people simply don’t have the time or inclination to care, so the system must make the right choice the easiest and default one. We need to price in the externalities, stop subsidising harmful industries (such as fossil fuels and animal farming) and increase taxation on harmful products.

A consumer can only change demand yet as a citizen you can demand change

How do we alter societal perceptions about what is not acceptable when it comes to polluting our air, like we did with smoking? How do we persuade people to take the fifteen minute walk to school rather than the three minute drive? What are the barriers putting them off making the better choice? Would something as simple as a walking bus scheme help?

It’s not an all-or-nothing approach and we can be flexible with behaviour changes. It’s results that matter, not ethos or ideology. For example, the old-fashioned binary distinction that people are either vegetarian or not is a very antiquated (and thankfully dying) view that misses the point that it’s reducing total meat consumption that matters.

Perfection is not possible. People that criticise insignificant transgressions are usually trying to distract you from their own failings and excuse their own lack of action. Call them out on it.

It is time to resume building momentum and applying pressure after the pause of the pandemic. A lot of this is just changing attitudes. Talk to people and demonstrate what can be done, not in a preachy way but just to show what is possible and how easy it can be.

Tips and Actions

  • Transport
    • Walk or cycle if you can and improve your health
    • Consider an EV if you need a car (ideally second-hand)
  • Energy
    • Reduce your energy consumption and insulate
    • Switch your energy supplier to a renewable one2
    • Shift your remaining consumption to off-peak hours
    • Investigate getting solar panels or other micro-generation installed
    • Consider a home battery energy storage system3
  • Heat
    • Turn down your heating
    • Stop using your wood-burner
    • Invest in a heat pump (grants available)
  • Fly very infrequently
  • Reduce meat and dairy consumption
    • This can be cheaper and healthier too
  • Compost at home
  • Reduce water usage (e.g. smaller toilet flushes)
  • Cut down on unnecessary packaging
  • Plant trees (in person or with funding)
  • Money
    • Switch your bank
    • Check what funds your pension is in and change to ethical ones
    • Look for positive places to invest for the future
      • I’ve been recommended Abundance but haven’t used it
  • Buy less stuff
  • Get as much as possible second-hand
  • Block ads and avoid advertising companies (e.g. Facebook/Instagram)
  • Choose a job that is doing good
  • Tell people about what you’re doing and what system change we need

Low Coal Host

If your job involves tech, as it may well do if you read this blog, then there are additional things you can do too. There’s no place like ::1 (or if you’re old school5) but a lot of the time you will want to put things on the cloud internet so that others can look at them.

I’ve written about this before but it’s worth repeating that the companies and regions you choose have an impact due to where the power comes from to run the servers. For example, while Azure seems to be going in the right direction AWS is lagging and only four public regions even use Renewable Energy Credits and Guarantees of Origin (e.g. Dublin). You can find a big list of green hosts at The Green Web Foundation.

  1. I’d give it 3.6 R, others have various opinions.
  2. If you would like to do your bit by switching to 100% green electricity and get £50 credit from Octopus Energy then you can use our referral link. It might even be cheaper than your current supplier. Other green suppliers are available too, e.g. bulb (edit: bulb is now in “special administration”).
  3. I didn’t go into too much technical detail on home batteries in that post so I may write a follow-up. For example, how there is potential for limited off-grid backup power or how the low-voltage DC and cobalt-free LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery chemistry makes it better for static use (not as energy dense but safer etc.).
  4. If you want to switch to Starling Bank then you can use my referral link. I don’t get anything but they’ll plant a tree for us.
  5. The entire block is actually reserved for localhost/home in IPv4. That’s 127.x.x.x for those not familiar with CIDR notation.

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