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        The scientists have spoken: our personal actions are essential to stopping climate change.  70% of global greenhouse gas emissions originate from the daily choices that we make (Hertwich and Peters, 2009), which means that the power to make a change is in our hands. Even the smallest decisions can lead to great results when many of us make them.

        The IPCC just released its latest report on the effect of temperature rise on our planet, and the message from the scientists is crystal clear: the world needs to become carbon neutral by 2050. That way, we can reach the targets of the Paris Agreement and keep the temperature change at a maximum of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Even a 2 °C rise in temperature could have devastating effects on ecosystems, sea levels, and our society.

         

        By limiting temperature change to 1.5 °C instead of 2 °C, we can:

        • reduce global sea level rise by 0.1 m,
        • limit sea-ice-free Arctic summers to once per century instead of once per decade,
        • protect 10-30% of coral reefs instead of losing them almost completely,
        • improve availability of food and water in many regions,
        • and save several hundred millions of people from becoming exposed to climate-related risks (e.g. sea level rise or extreme weather) and vulnerable to poverty. (IPCC, 2018)

        The scientists behind the report point out that us individuals and personal climate action is essential to succeed in this.

         

        But what is a climate action?

        The Spark Dictionary definition is: “Anything you do that helps keep our planet cool.” In other words, it means choosing an alternative that causes lower greenhouse gas emissions than the one you would choose if you were not concerned about the climate at all. In addition, any choice that you do for different reasons than climate change can be called a climate action as long as it is more climate-friendly than other mainstream alternatives.

         

        It can be a single decision or something you do regularly.

        When you decided to have the vegan alternative for lunch that one day, you did a climate action. So you did when you decided to commute to work by bike all summer.

        Some things are easy to fit into your daily schedules, others are not. Every time you do something for the climate is worth a pat on the back!

        Your Carbon Donut if you drive as much as the average Finn (left), versus your Carbon Donut if you instead of driving cycle to work during the summer months, 5 km one-way (right).

         

        It can have a big or small impact.

        By doing a climate action you can save anything from a few kilograms of CO2-eq by sorting your trash, to a few hundreds of kilograms by omitting red meat from your diet.

        No matter the impact of the action, they all matter. All those small actions done by many people – they add up.

        Your Carbon Donut with a diet corresponding to the average Finn (left), versus your Carbon Donut if you were to become a pescetarian, eating vegetarian food and fish (right).

         

        It can be easy or difficult.

        Switching to a renewable electricity contract can be done by filling out a simple form on a website, and will save you hundreds of kilograms of CO2-eq. But try to find the perfect pair of jeans in a second hand store and you have got yourself a real challenge!

        Starting to live a more climate-friendly life is a stepwise process. Ease into it by beginning with the low-hanging fruit.

        Your Carbon Donut with the regular Finnish electricity mix (left), versus your Carbon Donut if you would change to a renewable electricity contract, for an apartment size of 40 m2 per person (right).

         

        It can be done alone or together.

        Some nights you just whip up a quick and easy seasonal vegetable soup for dinner. Other nights you invite all your friends feast on vegetarian spring rolls together.

        Climate actions are best served with friends and laughter. That is also when they are most impactful. Even the smallest actions can lead to great results when many people make them. Just look at the chart below – it shows the emissions saved for different climate actions if they were made by all people in Europe, and how they relate to national emissions of Finland, Sweden and the UK.

         

        This chart shows the impact of a few climate actions if all 513 million EU citizens would do them for one year, in comparison to the national greenhouse gas emissions of the UK, Finland and Sweden.

         

        Change a habit. Save the world.

         

         

        What will be your next climate action? Why not pick one or a few from the list below:

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