The arrival of 2020 means that many people have been kicking off the decade with the usual parties and celebrations, in a spirited attempt to bring some holiday festivity into the brisk January ahead. With the new year comes resolutions, all made decisively yet, unfortunately, usually scarcely kept. However, this new year, one resolution to try and bear in mind is going green.


Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our future. With global temperatures and sea levels rising rapidly, the negative effects of climate change are evident worldwide. It is key that we do as much as possible to protect our future. A special report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that ‘Limiting global warming to 1.5°C instead of 2°C could result in around 420 million fewer people being frequently exposed to extreme heatwaves’.


Climate change impacts everybody. Ongoing bushfires in Australia are causing havoc, and according to a BBC report, have caused at least 24 deaths since September. Rising temperatures for the UK, meanwhile, means both more flooding and more heatwaves. Last November, major flooding occurred throughout Northern England, and the Environment Agency issued severe flood warnings on the River Don in Yorkshire, where the flooding was the worst.


While many people may think that there is not much they could to help at this point, this is incorrect. Going green just means altering your lifestyle in a few ways to significantly reduce your carbon footprint.


The classic examples are simple but effective in the long run; turning the lights off when you leave a room, not using plastic bottles or plastic bags, recycling and using public transport instead of driving are brilliant examples and both help you save money and help the environment.


However, some people suggest that more needs to be done. Slightly bigger lifestyle changes you can make are going vegan or reducing your meat consumption. This is because livestock farming has a huge impact on climate change. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), claim that livestock is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gases (particularly methane) which contribute to the atmosphere retaining thermal radiation and therefore, causing temperatures to rise.


Livestock farming also uses huge amounts of water. It takes 15,455 L of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef. Limiting water use is key in the fight against climate change. Meltwater from polar ice caps is a source of drinking water for many. Due to global warming, these polar ice caps are melting and the drinking water is being turned into unusable saltwater. According to the Environment Agency, this means even England could experience water shortages as soon as 2050 since there will not be enough water for the increasing population.


Late 2018, the IPCC warned that we had just 12 years to change our ways before we reached a point of no return regarding rising temperatures and to do this, global carbon emissions have to be cut by 45% by 2030. 


Now with just 10 years left, it is even more important for everyone to act, even on a local basis. Keen to do their part, last year Bromley Council approved a ten-year plan to reduce their carbon emissions to a net-zero by 2029. The official website stated that some of the ways they will do this are: ‘tree planting, an energy efficiency programme, expanding renewable energy and LED street lighting, and other initiatives’.


 Local initiatives such as these are essential in the fight against climate change and there are many ways to contribute. Making sure to separate your recycling from your general waste and perhaps switching to a green energy supplier are great ways to improve sustainability within your own house.


On the eve of 2020 while many people were out celebrating the new year, the prominent teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg, took to Twitter to remind people of the ten-year deadline we are faced with. In her post, she faced the situation with optimism, stating, ‘This coming decade humanity will decide it’s future. Let’s make it the best one we can.’


By Ipek Tsil Kara