Taking Simple Positive Actions Against Climate Change!
In many conversations I have with people about taking positive action against climate change, I often get responses such as ‘we just can’t afford solar’ or ‘a battery’ or an ‘electric car’. These responses are completely understandable particularly from people working in low paying jobs or with a family or older citizens who are watching their shrinking retirement funds.
However, you don’t have to take these actions to still be a ‘Climate Action Champion’!
Here are five much less expensive sets of actions that can be taken fairly easily – without much drain on the budget, even helping it! – and if everyone in Australia took these actions the impact against factors contributing to climate change would be pretty significant!
ACTION 1: BANKING!
- Is the bank that you are currently using continuing to support/back/invest in fossil fuel companies? If you don’t know, ask and find out; Look at annual reports, inquire from crikey.com or other agencies/sites that monitor bank investments.
- If your bank is still investing in fossil fuels and their discovery and extraction CHANGE your bank AND make sure you tell them why – write a letter to your branch manager or the CEO/Board members of the bank!
- Take your custom to a bank that is investing in renewables and renewable energy: Maybe a community bank.
- If every customer of a bank that is still investing/supporting the fossil fuel industry took this action there would be a fairly quick change to investment practice!
- A number of fossil fuel projects [e.g., Adani] have had funds refused because of community pressure on banks.
- ‘Zero Emissions Sydney North’ website has some excellent advice on banking.
ACTION 2: SUPERANNUATION & INVESTMENT FUNDS!
- Similar actions to ACTION 1.
- Make sure that none of your superannuation or investment funds are financingfossil fuel projects.
- Again it is not difficult to find this out. Most superannuation funds now have an option for only investing your money in non-fossil-‘green’- companies.
- You need to ask the question and then act on the response.
- Again, make sure that if you do have to make a change in your investment portfolio that the CEO/Board know what you have done.
- If all superannuation fund holders in Australia took this action there would be a significant decrease in the amount superannuation funds are investing in fossil fuel projects and an important strike against emissions generated from fossil fuels.
- Investors- note well -the reputed $10 billion dollars that investors in AGL [one of the biggest polluters] have lost because of poor and tardy decision making regarding movement to renewably generated electricity.
- ‘Zero Emissions Sydney North’ website has some very useful advice.
ACTION 3: BUYING YOUR ELECTRICITY!
- Is the electricity supplier that you are currently using getting their electricity from renewables or fossil fuels?
- It is possible to find this out by asking or by some research into annual reports etc. For example look at Greenpeace's 'Green Energy Guide'.
- Establishing whether an electricity supplier who claims to be ‘green’ or suggests that you switch to a ‘green plan’ actually is FULLY ‘green’- is buying all of their electricity from renewable generation 24 hours every day is much harder! There are certainly electricity suppliers who claim to be ‘green’ suppliers who have been found to be only ‘partially’/’sometimes green’- maybe only buying renewably generated power for several of the 24 hours! So, at the moment it is ‘buyer beware’! Again, look at Greenpeace's 'Green Energy Guide'.
- Buying with others! There are examples where all residents in an apartment block or in a street/neighbourhood have ‘embedded’ themselves with one electricity supply company.
- The bigger the number of accounts you are ‘embedding’ with a supplier, the better your bargaining power. The result is a negotiated better price for your electricity!! Just make sure the supplier is a ‘green’ supplier!
ACTION 4: USING ELECTRICITY! [see Saul Griffith, ‘The Big Shift’, Black Inc (2022)]
- One of the important factors in getting rid of fossil fuel generated energy is the amount of electricity we use: the demand side of the energy equation which is directly related to supply requirement: if we can reduce our demand for electricity and use it more wisely we have a much better chance of moving to renewably generated energy more easily and with less disruption.
- Currently a simple observation shows that we do use more electricity than is necessary. For example, any walk or drive through our city or shopping centre or community of an evening shows massive use of electricity for lighting in empty offices, shops, schools and other buildings. Do we really need to have this?
- There are numerous examples of towns and cities in the world that have had/have ‘turn off the lights’ days/nights to reduce the amount of electricity used.
- But we can do simple things in our homes to reduce our demand for electricity – and reduce our bill:
*Don’t leave lights switched on when they are not required! I find very often it is the young people who are often the culprits! Adults need to model good ‘light switch’ behaviour and be persistent! I resorted to a sign on the wall or back-of-door of rooms for my adolescents – ‘Have you turned off the lights?’- which sometimes changed to ‘TURN off the light!’ It’s worth a try!
*If you haven’t already done so change all your globes to LEDs. Maybe bit more costly initially but last much much longer, are good for the environment, use less electricity and reduce your power bill.
*If possible, only use your washing machine, dishwasher and dryer in ‘off- peak’[usually later evenings] or ‘shoulder’ periods [not ‘peak’]. This reduces both your demand for electricity and your bill! – and don’t have them operating all at the same time.
*Heating and cooling – try not to have your systems on constantly for long periods:Turn them on until the space is warm or cool and then turn them off: this is particularly important when we have days or nights when everybody needs to stay warm or cool and demand for electricity increases significantly.
*If you have high ceilings and you also have a ceiling fan, when you are heating the room put the fan on low speed – this will help to keep the warm air down lower rather than having it all escape into the ceiling. We also seem to not pull on a jumper when it’s cold anymore and turn on the heater instead.
*Cooking- if possible, buy an induction cooktop. An induction cooktop costs around $1500.00 currently but is very good value. It has instant control over the amoun of heat you are using at any time, the heat is much more efficient than gas – [a fossil fuel where up to 70% of the energy goes into the air around the stove –and certainly can cause problems with anyone who has asthmatic typ conditions].
*Many of our top restaurants [Neil Perry’s for example] all use induction cooking. Best of all your electricity bill will be less! *Energy
* Audit – energy audits show you what and how you are using energy in your house, apartment, business. They help you to use your energy more efficiently – and so reduce your energy demand and your electricity bill. Many local councils offer this service. Check with yours!
* Swap your fossil-fuel burning barbecue for an electric one - much more efficient, easier to clean and lots more ways to barbecue!
* Don't buy any products that use non-recyclable packaging and get your coffee in glass - not takeaway cups! In Australia we still throw away millions of non-recyclable coffee cups every year!
* Don't use a blower to blow your leaves and grass cuttings into the street so they get washed into the street drains.
* Use a compost bin - small or large- to reduce the green waste you throw away - and fertilise your garden!
ACTION 5:ELECTRIC CARS
- There are lots of myths about electric cars- ‘high price’, ’can’t go very far’,’charging costs too much’ etc – all these are WRONG!
- I drove a hybrid petrol/electric car for 13 years and 250,000 kms without one difficulty all over NSW. I now drive a fully electric car, which also does country trips with no difficulty in battery charging in any location I have been in.
- Charging my car overnight from a 240 volt powerpoint is a bit like having an extra liquor fridge running in my garage!
- My electric car for normal Sydney driving costs $10-12.00/week - $70-80.00 less than a petrol car of similar size.
- Subsidies now available from the government [refunds on purchase price and sales tax] means I bought my electric car for the same price or less than any similar sized petrol vehicle would cost.
- Anton, from ‘The Good Car Company’, Tasmania, can organise and sell you a second hand Nissan Leaf, the electric car that has been available for many years, for under $20,000.00!
- Service charges on my electric car are much less than a petrol car-less moving parts!
- It has next to no road noise and has much better and faster acceleration than any geared vehicle.
- The possibility of driving an electric car using energy generated from roof fitted solar panels and that also charge your electric battery, and then coming home and running your house from the stored electricity in your car battery is not very far away: as Saul Griffith says ‘when you buy an electric car you are also buying a storage battery for your home’!
So, These are just a few simple actions you can take that are not as costly as installing solar panels or a home battery but will definitely reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, reduce the amount of energy used in our communities, help our environment, lessen the emissions you create – and save you money! I hope you find the suggestions useful – they all come from personal experience.
[David Smith for ‘Electrifying Bradfield’].