It’s nearing the end of yet another year (and another decade), so it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s (and decade’s) resolutions. What are yours?
The next decade will be of vital significance in “possibly the most important struggle in the history of our species”1 and the next year is crucial in setting the direction that we take. So no pressure then!
At a time when our leaders are failing us, can we muster the courage and the love to take the necessary actions? How will we think of ourselves when we look back at our behaviour in the 2020s?
Remember that the light of optimism shines its brightest in the darkest times. We need a green revolution, and that starts with a green resolution.
A Green Resolution
After some discussion, my wife and I agreed on the following commitments. We hope that these aspirations will focus and guide our choices.
You can make your own at GreenResolution.org.
No more than two children
This is the biggest impact choice, as the emissions of a new person dwarf both food and transport, which is logical if you think about it (as it’s a superset of them). Population is the multiplier that amplifies all other actions, which is why it is an important solution sector in Project Drawdown.
It’s also an easy commitment to make, as it’s what we want anyway and is typical in much of the world (with the exception of Africa) “probably because we’ve discovered how incredibly expensive and inconvenient children are.”1
No more than two meals a week with meat
We very rarely have meat at home and I almost always choose the veg option when out. If there is no reasonable alternative or it’s served at a friend’s house then I’ll make an exception. Fortunately this is getting less of a problem as there is much more choice and many of our friends don’t eat meat.
At least two meals a week vegan (in addition to breakfasts)
Breakfast is easy to have vegan but cheese can be hard to avoid at other meals and yoghurt is common too. I’m not super strict about things like fish sauce, prawn crackers and honey if they’ve been added to dishes in small quantities.
Next vehicle fully electric (not just hybrid, even if plug-in)
EVs have so many benefits that it would be crazy not to get one when the time comes. We won’t be buying an Internal Combustion Engine vehicle ever again.
No ICE driving in local town (unless the load is too big to carry by foot/bike)
Not only does this reduce air pollution but walking is also good for your health and we live in a town where you can walk everywhere. It’s easier and cheaper.
Correlation is not causation but, I recently observed an obese person parking their large Land Rover (an SUV) on double yellow lines outside the local polling station while another idled their engine nearby. I wonder who they voted for?
No more than one flight each per year
We normally take the train or drive if that’s not an option. Long-haul flights are obviously worse than short-haul but this rule keeps things simple and I’m personally going to aim lower than one per year anyway.
I want to do more in all areas but these are just the (now codified) baseline that we are already comfortable with. It’s useful to write these down and put numbers to goals, as this makes them easier to remember and stick to.
Here’s One I Made Earlier
If you want to make your own green resolution then I’ve made it easy for you by collating these and others in a document that you can copy and edit. You can access it at GreenResolution.org.
Don’t feel guilty, “research shows that around the world, people taking action to reduce their emissions also tend to be happier”2 3 and “a growing body of work suggests it is possible to ‘live better by consuming less’.”2 4
Tell people what you’re doing but also acknowledge decision paralysis when that occurs. However, if you’re talking in person then don’t judge people but genuinely listen to them. Blame and shame don’t help, as “fear, guilt, shame and obligation compromise the quality of the connection between you”2.
Talk to people and you will find a support group of like-minded individuals that “…will challenge the perception that no-one cares about climate change and there is no-one to build community with”2. I’ve been encouraged by the wide diversity of people who I’ve talked to who support this issue.
Start a conversation and you’ll often be pleasantly surprised by the response. For example, you could open by asking people if they know that “Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it isn’t by more than a 4 to 1 ratio”5.
There is evidence that “discussing global warming with friends and family leads people to learn influential facts, such as the scientific consensus that human-caused global warming is happening”6. This is a great topic to bring up at your family Christmas and it neatly avoids having to talk about Brexit!
- The Race of our Lives Revisited (PDF, short version) ↩
- #TalkingClimate Handbook: How to have conversations about climate change (PDF) ↩
- McLoughlin, N, Corner, A., Clarke, J., Whitmarsh, L., Capstick, S. and Nash, N. (2019) Mainstreaming lowcarbon lifestyles. Oxford: Climate Outreach ↩
- Jackson T. (2005) Live better by consuming less?: is there a ‘double dividend’ in sustainable consumption? Journal of Industrial Ecology. 9: pp19–36 ↩
- Anthony Leiserowitz, Edward Maibach, Seth Rosenthal, John Kotcher, Parrish Bergquist, Matthew Ballew, Matthew Goldberg and Abel Gustafson Climate Change in the American Mind: April 2019 ↩
- Matthew H. Goldberg, Sander van der Linden, Edward Maibach, and Anthony Leiserowitz (2019) Discussing global warming leads to greater acceptance of climate science ↩