Like many of you, we at The Carbon Literacy Project are watching the unprovoked attack on Ukraine by Russia, and wondering what exactly we can do to help the people of Ukraine and to bring this needless war to an end.
As with climate change, this seemingly impossible task might not be something we as individuals can do in isolation, but by all working together, our contributions can add up to make a difference. Though we may not be diplomats or world leaders, there are steps we can take to play our part, and some of these can also help to reduce the impacts of climate change at the same time.
Some of the quickest and easiest ways to help involve donating money, items or time to support those fleeing the war. We’ve also seen governments and businesses introducing sanctions on Russia, Russian-owned businesses and individuals, and boycotting Russian products. In our personal lives, we can implement similar actions of our own…
Russia is the 3rd largest producer globally, and the main EU supplier, of crude oil, natural gas and solid fossil fuels. Though Europe is currently heavily reliant upon Russian fossil fuels, Russia is likewise reliant on that revenue which forms a significant part of their national income. This emphasises the need to accelerate the rollout of clean energy technologies to sooner benefit from the compounding co-benefits of reducing our use of carbon-intensive energy sources, withdrawing funding from dictator regimes, and increasing our energy security.
Here we take a quick dive into 10 actions we can take to support both Ukraine and the planet, by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and shifting to a renewables-based energy system.
- Swap to a renewable energy supplier
Swapping to a renewable energy provider is one of the best actions you can take to reduce your home carbon footprint. Sites like Big Clean Switch make the process really easy too by comparing different energy and gas providers, both by price and how ‘green’ they are.
- Use electricity conscientiously
At peak times, our energy supply is more ‘dirty’ as it contained a higher percentage of fossil fuels to meet demand. By turning on appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers, or charging electric vehicles, during the day we use electricity with a higher renewables mix.
- Draft-proof your home
Drafts come from uncovered gaps and openings to the outside, such as around windows and doors. Whether you own or rent your home, ‘draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy – and money – in any type of building.’ Find out what steps you could take here
- Insulate your home
There are many types of insulation – loft, cavity wall, solid wall, external wall, underfloor. Although it’ll cost a little up-front, it’ll save you money on your bills in the long run. You may be able to get a grant from your local authority or government to help cover the initial costs, so do keep an eye out and do some digging!
- Change your boiler
If you have a gas boiler, it’s worth a look into swapping to an electric one. There are no emissions from the boiler itself, it’s more efficient than gas, and if paired with swapping to a renewable energy supplier, your heating will be emission-free!
- Invest in a ground or air source heat pump
Though a more expensive option than an electric boiler, investing in an air source or ground source heat pump is the most fuel-efficient way to heat your home, (especially for larger homes). There are multiple factors to consider when deciding between the two, so it’s worth doing some research.
- Generate your own electricity
Adding solar panels to your home is one of the best steps you can take towards energy independence. Coupled with actions like using energy-intensive items such as the washing machine during the day, you also help to reduce demand from the grid at peak times whilst maximising your electricity generated.
- Store your electricity
If you’re able to generate your own electricity, you’ll want to store it! Having battery storage enable you to conserve your energy generated so you can use it when you most need it. This is often not when it’s being generated – solar generates electricity in the day when we’re most likely to be out the home.
- Divest your money
Divesting your money is another of the big-ticket items you can take to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Whether it’s your bank account, savings, mortgage or pension, all of these can either fund the destruction of our environment or support projects looking to restore and protect it.
- Change your vehicle
We know that walking and cycling are the most carbon-friendly ways to travel but, if you need your own vehicle, did you know you can use less fuel and reduce your transport emissions by choosing a more fuel-efficient vehicle? You can swap from an SUV to a smaller car. From diesel to petrol. Or go for a hybrid or EV.