This summer’s forest fires and flooding in Europe – from Germany to Greece and in Turkey – have brought climate anxiety to the fore and left many with feelings of despair.
A recent stark warning from the IPCC report makes sobering reading. Without action, it says, temperatures are expected to rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels within the next two decades, triggering widespread devastation and extreme weather. The report also found human activity was ‘unequivocally’ the cause of rapid changes to the climate, including sea level rises, melting of polar ice and glaciers, heatwaves, floods and droughts.
World leaders need to find a way to shift economies to a low-carbon footing as quickly as possible to slow global heating. Yet while governments need to make seismic changes, as individuals we can take action. Here are some suggestions:
• Ethical banking has gone mainstream and knowing what your money is used for is one of the easiest ways to ensure you are supporting a sustainable future. Triodos and Starling Bank avoid investing in oil, arms, tobacco and mining. Most of the main pension providers now also have ethical funds.
• Buy less, buy second hand and pass on. Reduce day-to-day consumption by thinking twice before each purchase. Do we really need the item, how far has it travelled, have the makers been paid a fair wage, is there unnecessary packaging, is the item bio-degradable? Small changes made by large numbers have a knock-on effect.
• What can you do locally to support and protect the eco system in your area? Simple things like litter picking with friends along the river or planting bee-friendly wildflowers to protect and nurture the local urban environment. The Twickenham based charity Habitats & Heritage cares for the natural and historic environment in south and west London. There are many different ways to get involved. For info visit habitatsandheritage.org.uk.
Finally, speak up and get involved! The more conversations about the climate emergency, be it on social media or to family and friends, the more we learn, understand and pass on.
Kate Chesshyre is the owner of The Refill Larder in Teddington