Are individual behaviours making a bigger impact than Governments?

To date, we have looked to Government initiatives and agreements to drive the sustainability agenda, with multinational talks and agreements to set targets.  However, these don’t seem to have been very successful, as despite Heads of State signing up to limit global warming to 20C by 2050, it looks as though we will have trouble achieving a limit of 30C.

On top of this, we have the President of the USA refusing to accept the Paris Climate Agreement and openly championing fossil fuel, and Australia investing more in coal mining to export to Asia.  At the same time, cities like Delhi are suffocating under a thick smog of pollution causing up to 30,000 deaths every year.

A light in the gloom

However, all is not lost.  Where governments and states are struggling to address sustainability, it appears that business and individual communities are stepping in, and this cultural change at grass roots levels looks as though it will have greater impact than legislation and tax breaks or incentives.

Despite a lack of infrastructure to support charging them, electric vehicle ownership rose from around 3,500 in 2013 to just over 121,000 electric and hybrid cars by the end of October 2017.  Drivers are increasingly undertaking long journeys with their electric vehicles, mapping charging stations and planning their route accordingly.  This demand has led to increasing pressure for more charging stations, with garage forecourts seeing potential in the additional opportunities to sell coffees and snacks whilst recharging is in progress.  Councils are looking at using street lights as charging points with drivers paying for the electricity – an additional source of income for cash strapped bodies.

More people are switching to energy suppliers with green options, rejecting power coming from fossil fuels, and the protests around fracking demonstrate that this is seen as a very unpopular method of obtaining gas – it seems only the fracking companies and government feel this is a good idea!

Local communities are coming together to eradicate single use plastic.  The #ReFill campaign to eliminate single use plastic bottles is gathering momentum all over the country, and a new scheme to get rid of plastic straws is also having an impact.

Blue Planet 2

However, the biggest message is likely to be from Blue Planet 2, with its massive global viewing figures.  The picture of the dead baby pilot whale, poisoned by the plastic its mother consumed and fed to her baby in her milk was moving, as have been footage of albatross chicks who starved to death having been fed plastic that its parents thought was food, and other birds and fish caught in ropes and human rubbish.

These issues are more important than territorial disputes, racial or religious disagreements or the pursuit of wealth.  Unless we can find solutions to prevent rising temperatures, stop polluting land and sea and find a way to live within our environmental means, then our species, and many others besides will become extinct in the same way that the dinosaurs did.

So, whilst governments and leaders struggle to agree on how to tackle climate change, individuals, communities and organisations are just getting on with addressing the issues and trying to find solutions before its too late.

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