In June last year, an expedition was established to document the recession of the world's 25 equatorial glaciers. The 25zero team, led by Kathmandu's Global Ambassador Tim Jarvis AM, set out to find out what effect warming temperatures were having on these glaciers, many of which were vital for surrounding communities' water resources. As part of the expedition, a feature documentary was filmed to highlight the issue.
"[The documentary] focuses on tropical glaciers because they are the most susceptible to climate change, clear to see visually and situated in countries least capable of adapting to climate change," says Tim Jarvis. "Furthermore, over half of the world's population will live in the tropics by 2050."
25zero: Kilimanjaro Expedition
What does this have to do with your New Year's resolutions?
This year, take the focus off your fitness goals and turn your attention to those things you can do to improve your carbon footprint.
The mountains in which the world's 25 equatorial glaciers sit can be found in just six countries. For that reason, the team at 25zero has put together six achievable goals you can look towards this year to immediately reduce your carbon footprint.
Electricity is the largest contributor to your carbon footprint. In fact almost 40% of a country’s carbon emissions come from the electricity used to heat, cool and light buildings. The key things you can do are:
Use less electricity
Reduce your power usage and you save both money and the planet. This includes turning off lights, installing LED bulbs, better insulating your home and setting your air conditioner at between 20-22°C (68-71°F). When shopping for appliances look for the Energy Star rating. It will tell you which are the most efficient. Fridges use the most power in your home followed by things left on standby.
Choose green power
Contact your electricity provider to arrange for all of the electricity you consume to come from renewables. It’s easy and only takes a phone call.
Generate your own
Install solar panels and rainwater tanks on your home if finances allow. The return on investment for solar panels is surprisingly quick (as little as 2 years in some places).
You might even make a head start in becoming a leader in a global shift in how we produce energy. Microgrids and the sharing of power within communities has been heralded as the future of how power is produced. In Jeremy Rifkin's 2011 book The Third Industrial Revolution, the economic theorist touts this new form of energy production as an inevitable result of the union between new power generation (renewable energy) and a new form of communications: the internet. Through generating your own energy, you may soon find yourself a part of an interlinked community where power effectively becomes free.
Use less water
This not only helps our rivers but reduces carbon pollution, too. That’s because it takes a lot of energy to pump, heat, and treat your water. So take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and, if finances allow, switch to water-efficient fixtures and appliances.
Cycle or walk to work, take public transport, car-share, try to fly less for work and where you do have to fly get carbon offsets for all your flights (they only add a tiny amount to the cost) and try taking holidays locally. In the US, 27% of all energy used is for transport, with almost all of this from petrol. Reduce your transport footprint and you’ll make a big difference to your carbon emissions. Every day you don’t drive the car to work you get fitter and reduce your carbon footprint.
The more you make your diet plant-based, the healthier it is for you, animals and the planet. Converting forests to pasture land for cows or sheep to graze on reduces the planet’s ability to absorb CO2. Grazing animals also produce a lot of methane, which is 24 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than CO2. In fact, methane made up 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, according to the IPCC.
“Cows belching less methane may not be as eye-catching as wind turbines and solar panels, but they are just as vital for addressing climate change.” (Prof. Dave Reay, the University of Edinburgh)
If you eat meat every day, try reducing your meat intake. Each day you do will make a huge difference. A vegan diet produces the equivalent of 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions each year while a vegetarian diet produces 1.7 tons. An average omnivorous diet (eating everything including meat), comes in at 2.5 tons annually so think about eating less meat.
• Buy locally produced food and drinks that haven’t journeyed hundreds or sometimes thousands of miles to reach your plate; and
• Approximately 10% of U.S. energy use goes into growing, processing, packaging, and shipping food (about 40% of this ends up in landfill). Waste less food and you cut down on energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Think about where you put your money or your pension/Super. Put some, or better still, all of your super or your investments into an ethical fund that doesn’t invest in environmentally damaging activities. They are some of the top-performing funds these days as they invest in growth areas like technology and renewables – a trend that is set to continue. Now you can earn a better return on your investment whilst saving the planet. A win-win.
Australians have US$1.5trn invested in their superannuation plans. That’s 150 times more than the UN’s Green Climate Fund set up to tackle climate change!
Reuse and recycle everything you can. Reducing what we consume means less power and raw materials being needed to produce new things as well as reducing what gets thrown away. It takes 2,600 litres of water (almost 700 gallons) to make a t-shirt (and a lot of power) and Australians throw away 6 tonnes of clothes every 10 minutes to landfill, which is another source of methane gas buildup and release.
Avoid Palm Oil where you can. Many everyday things like biscuits, soap, bread and shampoo contain palm oil and rainforests are being destroyed to plant it. Look for products that assure no palm oil in their production.
Pick a local sustainability project that you can get involved in. There are many great initiatives that need your help and the sense of satisfaction you get can be huge. Think global, act local as the saying goes. Or here’s another oldie but a goodie: “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today”
Check out these websites for opportunities to get involved wherever you are: