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Reaching For New Horizons

Written by on December 31, 2021

At the start of a new year, hopes are always high, with thoughts of new beginnings, new adventures and the promise of better things to come. But of course, it doesn’t take long to realise that things don’t just suddenly happen overnight. If we truly want to see major changes for the better in our lives, we need to plan for them, put in place the preparations that lead to them being realised and of course avoid giving up at the first hurdle.

Tackling climate change is no different and like many of those New Year resolutions it will need the support of those around us if we are to be successful. Just as the coronavirus pandemic has shown us that we must act together to defeat it, so must we use the same approach to limiting global warming.

Whilst the solutions to controlling coronavirus are now clear, through a combination of vaccination, government-imposed restrictions and controlled personal activity, we are still very much at the New Year Resolution stage of solving the climate crisis. That is, we have many good intentions and hopes but as yet insufficient firm plans, actions or commitment to turn them into reality.

The solution to man-made climate change is very simple – stop burning fossil fuels and start capturing more carbon from the atmosphere to offset those emissions we cannot completely avoid. Of course, that is easier said than done because both actions have consequences that our developed societies are not yet willing to accept, in terms of financial stability, comfort and convenience.

Although we have seen some major technological advances and changes in attitudes, over the last few years, which have helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, their levels are still increasing at a rate that will see the rise in global average temperatures reach the 1.5°C mark by 2030, beyond which our chances of halting it are much reduced.

Whilst there is no doubt that we need to continue reducing our emissions to help slow the rate of global warming and buy some more time for the further development of low carbon technologies, we must ultimately eliminate the majority of them completely. This is the only way we will achieve the net zero carbon emissions required, where we achieve a balance between the amount of carbon we emit and the amount we capture. What that might look like in terms of the way we live are lives will depend on individual circumstances.

So, how do we know what actions to take and by when? Well, the faster we can reduce our emissions the longer we potentially have to reach net zero, but each action we take needs to be a step in the right direction, helping us to reach our destination. What the right steps are can be rather confusing as there are different routes that can be taken and it is not always clear which might be the best path to follow. Some are obvious and can be taken quickly, whilst others may need more time to consider but before taking those bigger steps, we need to make sure we know where they will take us.

Take for example the way we choose to heat our homes, one of the biggest challenges we face. Turning down the thermostat and improving insulation are straightforward steps we can all take to help reduce the amount of energy we use and hence emissions, but choosing a heating system that eliminates emissions completely needs considerably more thought, investigation and advice. It needs a vision of what the future might look like and a roadmap of how to get there and the same applies to all areas of emissions.

So, at the start of this new year, you might want to reach for new horizons and if you haven’t already done so, consider what your net zero lifestyle might look like when you arrive and what the best way of getting there might be.

There may not be a pot of gold at the end of the journey but it will still be worth it.

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