Pledging to ‘turn the heating down,' ‘eat less meat' or ‘fly less' in the name of cutting carbon emissions can sometimes feel like a drop in the ocean. Will actions like this really make a difference in the fight against climate change?
Not unless they are part of a mass movement.
Enter the 10:10 campaign. Yesterday the team that made the film The Age of Stupid launched this new campaign with a catchy name which aims for a 10 per cent cut in the UK's greenhouse gas emissions during 2010.
In the hours following its launch at the Tate Modern in London the campaign had attracted 5,000 signatures including scientists, companies, celebrities and organisations. Groups range from Tottenham Hotspur football club and the Women's Institute to dozens of schools, universities and NHS trusts.
What's more significant than the numbers of signatures, however, is that some of these organisations represent hundreds, even thousands of people. Take Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals with its 10,000 employees and vast buildings. A 10 per cent cut on this scale can have a wide reaching impact.
The campaign is the brainchild of Franny Armstrong, director of The Age of Stupid. ‘The last 100 or so Stupid screenings have been enormously frustrating as I've been forced to answer the inevitable "But what can we do?" question with the most unsatisfying generalities,' she says. ‘Oh how it hurts, seeing the disappointment on all those faces, whilst knowing we have the killer - or perhaps opposite of killer - answer up our sleeves.'
By signing up to 10:10, you will commit yourself, your school, your hospital, your church or your business to cut 10 per cent of your emissions next year, which should be easy. It's at the level of changing lightbulbs, turning down heating, driving a bit less and maybe sticking in some insulation. The campaign is supported by the Energy Saving Trust, the Carbon Trust and many other online resources.
As well as being achieveable for the vast majority of the population, 10 per cent in one year is the kind of cut the science tells us we need. ‘Forget those long-term put-it-off targets of 80 per cent by 2050 - we need to start cutting right now,' says Armstrong.
Once a sizeable chunk of the UK is signed up, the next step is to challenge the Government to follow suit: to commit to reduce the whole country's emissions by 10 per cent in 2010.
As George Monbiot writes in the Guardian ‘10:10 is the best shot we have left. It may not be enough, it may not work, but at least it's relevant.'
You can sign up and take the pledge on the 10:10 website at any time - just visit www.1010uk.org.
How to cut your emissions by 10 per cent
The simplest way to tackle your 10 per cent cut is to use the 10:10 Ten point 'family checklist'. Below is an edited version. For the full list with further advice and useful organisations click here
1 Fly less, holiday more
Swap plane for train, holiday nearer to home and take fewer but longer trips - same tanning time, dramatically less climate change emissions.
2 Save 10% on heating
Turn down your thermostat, turn off radiators in hallways and more jumpers all round. Then apply for a grant to insulate your loft & walls. Use your bill to see whether you cut 10 per cent in 2010 and tick if you succeeded.
3 Save 10% on electricity
Save big cash by changing lightbulbs, replacing old fridges & freezers and always turning stuff off. Use your bill to compare 2009 usage to 2010.
4 Drive less
Leave your car at home one day a week. Walk, cycle or take public transport. Join a car-club rather than owning your own and share your ride to work with a colleague or two.
5 Eat better
Local, in-season fruit & veg produce the least emissions - and the less processed the better. Have one meat-free day per week - but don't replace with just-as-bad cheese.
6 Buy good stuff
Less stuff made = less emissions = less climate damage. So buy high-quality things that last, repair broken stuff rather than chucking, buy & sell second-hand and borrow your neighbour's mower.
7 Dump less
Avoid excess packaging and buying pointless stuff that goes straight in the bin, recycle everything possible and compost your food waste. No garden or scared of worms? Let you off the composting.
8 Don't waste food...
The average British family throws away £50 worth of food every month. So don't buy or cook more than you need and eat up those tasty leftovers. With a smile on your face.
9 ... or water
Your tap water uses lots of energy - and then heating it in your home uses loads more - so take showers rather than baths, be careful when watering plants and only run full dishwashers & washing machines.
10 Feel happier
It's Dec 2010... you're healthier for walking & cycling, you've made new friends from swapping stuff & car-pooling, you've saved a big chunk of cash... and you know that you're part of the global effort to prevent castastrophic climate change...
Laura Sevier is the Ecologist's Green Living Editor
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