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Special Bulletin for COP26
October 2021

'It All Depends on Us'


This is a 'Special' issue of our Bulletin supporting this key international event. The u3a is actually presenting two papers at the event. More information: climate-change or Trust u3a. But what can we do individually to support this event?

What WE Can Do to Help the Planet (and Ourselves)
Fundamentally, we humans are using too much of Earth’s natural resources for ourselves. We have done that for millennia so we have developed an ingrained sense that this is not only normal but viable and are finding it difficult to come to terms with the knowledge that this cannot continue. The challenge we face now is to find ways of maintaining human wellbeing (and improving it for the billions who have not been fortunate enough to share the benefits with us) while decreasing our use of nature’s resources. How can we make a positive impact?

We ourselves can undertake the following activities and we invite you to accept our COP26 Challenge: Will you, for the 14 days of the conference (31 October-12 November) change your own behaviour in these ways?

Buy less, a lot less: For example, climate activists in the fashion industry tell us we must reduce our fashion purchases by 75-95%. But it’s not just fashion: many of us are buying and wasting more than we need — of almost everything. So:

Challenge ONE — For the COP fortnight can you buy 75% less than you usually do? 75% fewer clothes, electronics and well, any material goods. How does that make you feel? How does that affect your life? Eat food that is good for the planet as well as for you. It is not an exaggeration to say that Earth is being turned into a ‘giant food lot’ for humans. On a massive scale our global food industry has taken land from nature and put it in service to us. 

Challenge TWO — For this fortnight can you eat a diet with a wide variety of vegetables, grains and pulses and only modest amounts of meat and fish? Can you enjoy that? What would help you enjoy it more? You can find out more about a planet friendly diet here: https://eatforum.org/learn-and-discover/the-planetary-health-diet/. What about waste? Buying more than we need means we throw away more than Earth can handle. The average European throws away ¼ ton of waste every year — that’s ¼ the weight of a small car. If you had to dispose of that yourself where and how would you do it?  So:

Challenge THREE — Try throwing away half of what you usually do. Yes half! And tell us how you achieve that. What about fossil fuels: for heating and cooling? We’re all old enough to remember waking to Jack Frost’s ice-art inside our bedroom windows; what a long way we’ve come since then. Can we return to those levels of energy use without that discomfort?

Challenge FOUR — Use the COP26 fortnight to find out as much as you can about how to insulate and draught proof your home while ensuring effective ventilation, how to switch to a (genuinely) green energy provider (once the market has settled down again!), get a smart meter installed, investigate solar panels and other technologies such as heat pumps to form a view on when may be the right time to invest in some of these. Here are two websites you may find helpful as a starter, but do take the challenge and share your research with us:
https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/hub/quick-tips-to-save-energy/
https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/advice/renewable-energy

Challenge FIVE — For this COP fortnight reduce your car-miles by half. Instead of a big weekly shop involving your car or a delivery van, how about walking to your local shops every 2-3 days, if physically possible? Consider walking there and getting the bus back, or using a wheeled trolley to carry food. Tried cycling recently? This could be the time to try a Sadiq Cycle, or an electric bicycle, in your local Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, rent a legal e-scooter in one of the central London trial locations, and give feedback to TfL. Is there a regular journey you find difficult by public transport? Would an additional local bus route make that easier? Think through the case and think through how you might lobby for it.

Challenge SIX — In this COP fortnight you could also daydream, and research your post- Covid dream holiday — without using any planes or private cars. What about your money? It’s not just about what you do, what your money does is important too. Does your bank have effective sustainability policies? Are your savings and pension invested in ESG companies (good Environmental, Social, Governance) or in climate endangering industries?

Challenge SEVEN - In this fortnight find out more about where your savings are invested and what alternatives there are. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56170726

SO, are you up for the challenge? We hope so, and we would love to hear how you get on. Do you have any questions? How does the challenge make you feel? How has it affected your life for this fortnight? Please do let us know by emailing the Green Issues Group: greenissue.iu3a@gmail.com.


General concerns or queries: Please call us on: 07784 336219 or email chair@islingtonu3a.org.

Bulletin compiled by Wil Ransome. For any contributions to Bulletin content please email them here.