Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, we have been reminded time and again this year of the urgency of dealing with the climate crisis.
In the last half of 2020 alone, we continued to witness the destruction of our natural world and an increased threat to life, as wildfires ravage California, heavy rains and flooding submerge a third of Bangladesh under water, and the ice sheets keep getting thinner.
To some, the public speeches by teenage activists, the antics of Extinction Rebellion, and the proselytising of vegans and other eco-warriors on social media, has turned environmentalism into a young person’s game, aimed mainly at attracting the attention of those who govern.
But, when the younger generation’s main resource in the fight for the planet is their voice, what other choice do they have?
Without the dedication of young environmental campaigners, far fewer of us would know half as much as we do about the climate crisis, and even fewer politicians would pay it as much heed as they should. The media exposure that followed the school strikes was instrumental in raising the urgency of climate action on most political agendas and resulted in sustained and more mainstream discussions of environmental action. These discussions are an important step on the way to halting the climate crisis, but they will not be enough unless more action is taken.
What we need is a ‘grown-up’ brand of environmentalism, which doesn’t applaud itself for mirroring a less powerful generation of campaigners, nor make excuses about a lack of green governmental policies. The potential of adults to achieve environmental change is grossly unfulfilled by endless yet empty enthusiasm for green thinking in board rooms, by posting about eco crash-diets on Twitter, and by worrying about the unusual weather in the school carpark. Grown-up environmentalism should recognise that even without political mandates, those of us who are enmeshed in the world of work, who run households and businesses where decisions are made about what energy suppliers are used, who make investments and have pensions, have responsibilities which come with a power to create positive change. Picking up the green baton and exercising grown-up environmentalism can be as simple as taking three actions.
The current consensus is that an energy transition to mass electrification and total reliance on renewable fuel sources will be the future’s solution to the climate crisis. But while we wait for the necessary scientific developments to be made, there are already existing bridging technologies such as alternative fuels, alternative meat and milk options, and sustainable practices which will extend the lifespan of our current resources and ease the strain on the environment. If you started today, how many of these could you be using in a year?
Make it easy
The most effective way to create lasting change is to make it a habit. Most of us already have ingrained practices and habits at work and at home; making environmentally friendly replacements is the easiest way to make those habits positive climate actions. Are all of your suppliers for raw materials, fuels, machinery, guaranteeing the lowest environmental footprint possible? Is your energy supplier at home offering you the greenest and cleanest energy sources? Are the brands you regularly purchase sustainable or offsetting their carbon?
Do your bit
There is something each of us can do to create a little more positive environmental impact. We cannot speed up the electrification transition, but we can reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases emission now with alternative fuels. We cannot restore the loss of biodiversity in our forests and oceans, but we can invest in pension funds which contribute to the conservation of what we have left. We’re all responsible for the environment, but we’re all also capable of making a change.
William Tebbit, CEO, Green Biofuels