Individual or Systemic Change, What’s Best for the Climate?

Can you make a difference to climate change with your individual actions? Or are you much too small to make a difference?  Do we need systematic action to fundamentally change things on a big scale?

To put it into context, the average annual carbon footprint of a person is approximately 5 tonnes. That figure is a global average. The figure increases to approximately 15 tonnes for developed countries. In comparison, the world’s annual global footprint is 51 billion tonnes. So even if you make a big reduction in your carbon footprint, will you really make a difference to the world? Not really.

Systemic change

Systemic change is required to make a big difference. I mean change from the fundamental use of fossil fuels for everything from energy generation, transport systems, making things, cement, steel and glass production and so on.

So who do you think is pushing the idea that it is individual changes that are required? Well, no surprises when I say it is the fossil fuel companies themselves that are trying to push the focus onto individual action, as it is their best interest to continue fossil fuel use.

Do you know BP published a personal carbon footprint calculator in 2019 so you, the individual, could calculate your carbon footprint and see what damage you as an individual were doing to the planet?! Hang on BP, perhaps look closer to home?! This is classic climate deflectionism at its best! (Climate deflectionism = deflecting the blame away from the real guilty parties)

Individual change

So systemic change is most certainly needed, but let us not overlook individual action. We as consumers are only a very small splash in the ocean. But if we all splash, then we make ripples, and if we keep doing this, the ripples turn into waves and tsunamis.

So, individually, we need to talk about climate change, engage people about it, influence people, and this will eventually influence the large corporations and political policy makers into the systemic change that is urgently needed.

By Dan Smith, Director of Energy Services

Dan Smith, Director of Energy Services for ClearVUE.Business, is responsible for a wide ranging energy management portfolio, helping Northern Gas and Power’s customers improve their energy efficiency and reduce their energy bills.

He is a successful Head of Energy and Chartered Energy Engineer with a wide range of experience working for and with a variety of clients, including major blue-chip corporations such as IKEA, Rolls Royce Aerospace and Siemens. Dan has operated internationally (Europe, Africa and Asia) in FMCG and manufacturing sectors, and has a proven track-record of delivering and managing projects, developing and delivering operational strategies, and managing energy and influencing large corporates with respect to energy and sustainability. He is responsible for annual energy budgets up to £20m, and single value projects up to £3m.

His depth of experience brings to Northern Gas and Power an extensive specialist knowledge gained from nearly 30 years energy engineering, energy services and energy management experience in many different sectors all over the world, from China to Zambia.

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