It’s started…The ‘New Year, New You’ slogans are out in full force.
For 2020, some resolution lists, courtesy of media outlets and corporations, are taking on a sustainability tinge, letting us know about all the tiny changes and swaps we can make in 2021 or else encouraging us to buy our way to saving the planet… I am not here for it, and you shouldn’t be either.
In 2020 we learnt a few things about who is responsible for carbon emissions.
- 100 fossil fuel companies are responsible for 71% of the greenhouse gases emitted since 1988. (Carbon Majors Report)
- 20 fossil fuel companies are responsible for one-third of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1965. (Climate Accountability Institute / The Guardian)
- The world’s wealthiest 1% (those earning over $100k/£74k) are responsible for more than twice as much CO2 emissions as the poorer 50%, and the richest 10% (those earning over $35k/£27k) are responsible for 52% of global emissions from 1990 to 2015. (The Carbon Inequality Era)
Companies and media that push you to be more sustainable WITHOUT identifying the world’s top polluters and carbon emitters are gaslighting you into believing you are the main cause for climate change. They are sending a message that YOU alone need to change to save the planet. SPOILER: It’s not just you.
While it is true that we all have room to be more sustainable and buy less, ESPECIALLY if we live in the global north and/or are part of the 10% of the world’s richest. The global social construct is built upon extraction and oppression, until that changes, we will, by default, always have room to improve our personal emissions and buying choices. But it’s ALSO important not to carry the weight of emissions on your shoulders. You are not the sole emitter. In fact, your emissions are a small fraction of the 1% and an even smaller fraction of what fossil fuel companies emit. You are a small fish in a very big pond filled with slimy gaseous monsters who are polluting said pond. Individual change is important but is more important to pressure the monsters to change their way of wreaking havoc on the world.
If you want resolutions that can help save the planet, then yes, make changes, but try out these 4 changes that could positively benefit communities.
1. Buy less and make what you buy local, instead of global. Buying local products not only reduces the amount of carbon emitted in transportation, but it also puts money into YOUR community, which creates or saves jobs! Seek out businesses owned by marginalized people, for whom there are more barriers to creating and sustaining a business
2. Move your money. Insurance providers, retirement funds, banks, and energy providers are some of the biggest investors in fossil fuels. In case you didn’t know, fossil fuels not only pollute our air but also our soil and waters too. Some of this pollution happens near to communities, often communities of colour. Moving your money to ethical accounts means your money will not go towards the destruction of the planet or communities.
3. Pressure local and national governments to commit to climate targets and the protection of people. Let your MP and other political officials know what you want to see more of or less of. Pressure works, and every voice, tweet, email, and letter counts.
4. Join a climate and/or a social justice group. Grassroots organizations are integral to creating local, national, and global change for people and the planet. If you have time or money, give it.