There were more greenhouse gases in our atmosphere in 2017 than ever before [1].

If we continue at this pace, Earth could warm between two and six degrees Celsius over the next century – resulting in catastrophic consequences for humans and planet [2].

Consuming less by taking personal action is a major, but under-valued solution to preventing climate change. People have a growing appetite for things whose production, transportation, use and wastage create greenhouse gas emissions, are driving the climate breakdown [3].

To keep global warming to 1.5 degrees – the global temperature threshold before many major world cities like Miami go under water [4], coral reefs and ice sheets disappear, crops start failing and other big issues [2]- everyone in the UK would need to reduce their personal carbon footprint by approximately 15 tonnes of CO2 per year [5]. 

To reduce it by that much, we'd probably need to eat a local, seasonal, plant-based diet, forgo flying and live car-free, walk and cycle everywhere. We'd also need to use renewable energy to power our homes, recycle all waste, and not buy any new clothes or gadgets. We'd need to share our homes with people (not live on our own), and share gadgets and clothes with our housemates [6].

HOW TO FIX IT: Save great cities like Miami from disappearing by the end of the century.

If we all take action to use less stuff, we can have a major impact. Acquiring few, but useful and long-lasting possessions, eating meat-free, and ensuring little to nothing gets wasted and ends up in landfill are all impactful ways to shrink our footprint.

[1] WMO, 2016

[2] IPCC, 2013

[3] Barrett and Scott, 2012

[4] Wdowinski et al., 2016 

[5] Chancel and Piketty, 2015; WRAP, 2009

[6] Moore, J. (2015). Ecological Footprints and Lifestyle Archetypes: Exploring Dimensions of Consumption and the Transformation Needed to Achieve Urban Sustainability. Sustainability 2015, 7(4), 4747-4763;

For full citations, check out our References page.