What are the most efficient ways for a layman to prevent climate change with everyday actions?
Here is answer by Johanna Kentala-Lehtonen from the Ministry of Environment:
1. Climate friendly consumption choices of everyday life:
The most important consumption choices in everyday life are made in housing, mobility and food, which cause around 70-75 percent of the GHG emissions of the consumers, all other consumption (goods and services) causes 20-25 percent.
Usually the biggest share of consumer’s GHG emissions come from housing. However, in housing the consumer makes the big and most influential choices rarely. The biggest source of GHG is usually heating (if done with fossil fuels). If you live in a detached house, you can usually make the choice of heating more easily than if you live in an apartment building. Important issues to consider when moving is the size of the apartment/house (i.e. the space that needs to be heated) and the distance from the work place, which affects the emissions from everyday mobility: choosing a home close to work place can reduce GHG emissions markedly. Choices that the consumer can make more often in housing are choosing green electricity, making all possible energy efficiency improvements in the apartment/house, saving energy in house appliances, and using less hot water.
In mobility, the most efficient ways to avoid or reduce GHG emissions is to avoid car use and flying as much as possible. For short distances, the best option is to walk or bike and use public transport when these are not an option. For longer distance travel, choosing train is usually the most climate friendly option. If car use is necessary for everyday mobility, consider changing into an electric car or a car powered by biogas or 100% renewable biofuel. It is also possible to convert old cars into vehicles using biogas or ethanol. Ridesharing with neighbors and combining car journeys are also efficient ways to avoid emissions in everyday mobility.
Every one of us makes food choices daily so they are the fastest and most regular way to influence our daily GHG emissions. Choosing more plant-based diet and avoiding meat (particularly red meat) products and cheese makes the biggest effect on our food carbon footprint. It is also important to eat everything we buy, as avoiding food waste is another important way to reduce the GHG emissions from food.
In other consumption choices, the most important advice is to consider all purchases carefully, choose recycled products when possible and consider the possibility to share and loan goods that are needed rarely.
2. Be an example for your friends and acquaintances.
To be even more influential in your climate friendly consumption, start telling about your choices to your friends and sharing them in your networks (e.g. in social media). People like to make similar choices that their peers make and being an example of climate friendly living to your friends can make them to think more about their choices as well. Changing norms (what is considered “normal”) is an important way to change how things are down and scale up the change. Remember not to be too judgmental to your friends, usually blaming does not work very well in these issues. Be more of an example that your friends would like to follow for positive reasons.
3. The most influential decisions in climate politics are taken in politics.
Be sure to vote in all elections! Consider you candidate carefully and make sure she/he is taking climate change seriously and wants to promote climate change mitigation if elected! Nowadays most political parties have candidates with good knowledge in climate change issues, so be active and find the one who is knowledgeable and supports values that are important for you.
Johanna Kentala-Lehtonen, Ministry of Environment