Unit 3: Net Zero & Me
Sometimes, it can feel like the climate crisis is bigger than us, and that our actions will not make a difference. However, that can’t be further from the truth! While the biggest responsibility to reduce carbon emissions lies with large polluters such as fossil fuel companies, change starts within, and if every person starts consciously making a change in their lifestyle, that can have a big impact on the environment. This is backed up by the IPCC report which found that individual actions to reduce carbon emissions is important, and will help reduce the amount of carbon needed to be removed from the atmosphere.
In this section, we will focus on where we are in our sustainability journey currently, and what steps we can take today to reach where we want to be.
Part 1: My Carbon Footprint
A starting point to understanding what changes you can make, is to first analyse your current lifestyle patterns through calculating your carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are released as a result of our individual actions. The average carbon footprint in the UK is around 10 to 13 tonnes per person per year, which is around double the global average.
Watch the following video and discuss what you think your carbon footprint is, and what part of your life might be causing the most carbon emissions.
Calculating my Carbon Footprint
It’s now your turn to calculate what your carbon footprint is. There are multiple websites that allow individuals to calculate their carbon footprint for free. The WWF or GikiZero ones are recommended as they are easy to use and clear to understand. Spend the next 10 minutes individually working out what your carbon footprint would be.
In pairs, discuss the following: How did you feel after seeing your results? Did anything surprise you? Remember that it is okay if your carbon footprint is higher than you expected. What matters is what you choose to do with that information and what changes you will make to your life.
Part 2: How Can I Make A Difference?
There are several ways to reduce your emissions, such as moving towards a plant-based diet, cutting down on flight trips, or using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. Read the tweet and pick one environmental change you would like to make. In your groups, discuss the following:
- Is there one you think you would be able to do?
- What are the barriers that stop us? (financial, social, cultural, time etc)
- Are there any other changes you think you can make to your current lifestyle?
- Come up with a positive action or change you are going to do that is linked to your chosen theme.
In the tube maps, add to the Green Line. For each stop, add a particular action you are committing to take.
Optional – To keep track of the changes you want to implement, you can download the ‘My Footprint’ App and complete the challenges to make a difference to your footprint.
Part 3: Sustainable Schools/Communities
Although we are faced with a challenge and some daunting information about our city, country and the world we live in, this is actually an exciting opportunity to make effective and life changing (literally!) differences.
In groups, think about how you can reduce the carbon footprint of your college/community. This can seem more challenging than reducing your individual carbon footprint, as it involves working with other people. However, it isn’t impossible! Consider the following questions to start thinking about what changes you can implement.
- How sustainable do you think your school is currently?
- What are some of the issues you notice? Think of energy consumption, wastage, food provided, etc.
- Consider where you would like your school to be. Create a SMART goal (picture below).
- What are some steps you can take to help you reach your goal? Using the help of the picture and template below, come up with an action plan to help you get your school to NetZero.
Part 4: Letter To Self
As we’ve seen in this course, while Portsmouth 2030 NetZero goal seems ambitious, it isn’t unachievable! We hope that by the time we reach 2030, the city will be in a much happier place. To end this course, spend the next 5 minutes thinking about what your life in 2030 will look like. What will you be doing? What will the world around you look like? Write a letter to your 2030 self, or draw out what you think it will look like, and a commitment you’re making today to get there.