Last week we published a long article, by Ian Douglas, called Climate Change: Mitigation, Adaptation, Resilience. The well received post looked at the three pillars on how to respond to global warming and climate change: mitigation, adaptation and resilience. This post looks to focus on the first of those three pillars, mitigating climate change, in more specific detail and forms the first part in a trilogy of posts that will look at each one in turn.
What is climate change mitigation?
The dictionary definition of mitigation states that it is “the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something.” This is quite easy to relay back to climate change in that mitigating climate change is simply to reduce its severity, seriousness or painfulness. More specifically, climate change mitigation involves reducing greenhouse gasses that are being released into the atmosphere as this is a major driver of a warming climate.
While that explanation may be easy to understand, we all know that this is not an easy task. Climate change affects individuals, families, communities, cities and countries. No one can hide from its impacts. Rising sea levels, increased global temperatures, more powerful hurricanes, dryer droughts and forest fires are just some of the impacts already being felt through the effects of a warming climate. So what can we do to mitigate climate change?
How do we mitigate climate change?
There is a growing body of work that looks at how we can mitigate climate change. The UN Environment Programme, NASA and the BBC are just some well known organisation who have written their own guides on mitigating climate change. Steps that are used throughout climate change mitigation include the use of new technologies, utilising clean energy sources, phasing out dirty energy sources or making them more efficient and changing people’s awareness and perceptions.
There are many new technologies being developed that will look to help fight the climate crisis. These range from the more commonly known technologies such as renewable solar and wind energy production to the less well known such as carbon capture and storage. The amount of different technologies that could help is endless.
Clean energy sources are often defined by the fact they produce zero carbon emissions. This is certainly needed in any battle to reduce greenhouse gasses. The aforementioned solar and wind energy production systems usually fall into this category. However, it should be noted that while they are cleaner than the use of fossil fuels, they do rely on the use of lithium-ion batteries for storage which is not clean in itself, as it relies on extensive mining.
The phasing out of dirty energy sources is something that has been in the public conscious for a long time. It is well known that the use of oil, diesel and petrol in cars and planes contributes significantly to the climate crisis. A switch to cleaner energy sources can help. Governments are starting to ensure this becomes reality and are starting to ban such fuels in new cars. However, bans like this take time, and even the UK’s ban, which has been moved forward to 2035, may be too little, too late.
Despite the conclusive evidence based on scientific fact that the climate crisis is upon us, there is still a huge divide and many deny this science. This makes it more difficult for positive change to take hold and slows down the mitigation process. This is why public awareness and education is imperative to mitigating climate change.
What can I do?
There is an age-old saying that “one person can’t make a different” but this is not true. When it comes to mitigating climate change it is going to take am almighty effort from everyone. There are hundreds of different ways that you can contribute to mitigating climate change and to help you get started we have listed just a few of them below:
- Fly less – Reducing your flights is a great way to contribute. Trains from country to country are becoming more popular and are a better way to travel for the environment.
- If you have to drive, switch to an electric car – The next time you look at purchasing a vehicle, check out electric and hybrid vehicles. They are cleaner options.
- Ditch fast fashion – Buy sustainable clothing that does not harm the environment.
- Change your eating habits – Changing your eating habits only very slightly can have a big impact on your carbon emissions. Try going meat-free at weekends to get started. You’ll learn new ways to cook and help the environment at the same time.
- Go plastic free – Only buy products that are packaged in sustainable materials and use refillable containers and head to your local zero-waste shop. Plastic production and pollution is devastating for the environment.
Remember that beginning any of these steps is a great start and it takes time to adjust your lifestyle to them but it will be worth it. We only have one planet and the damage we are causing to it means it may not survive much longer. Mitigating climate change is an important step and one that we can all be part of!