GoClimate New Year’s Resolutions for 2021!

One year ago, the GoClimate team set our climate resolutions for 2020 – personal challenges, because for us saving the climate is more than a job, it’s a life mission. This is an overwhelming task, and therefore setting a specific goal to a specific time frame makes it all more approachable. Now we have another new year ahead of us to make better habits for the future!

CECILIA :star2:

One of my resolutions for 2020 was to participate in twice as many climate strikes compared to 2019. And then Covid19 happened. For 2021, my resolution will be “Spread the word” – to talk more about the climate crisis and the climate action I am taking via social media and with my friends in order to hopefully inspire others to take action.

ALEXANDRA:star2:

My new year’s resolution for this year was to stay on the ground and not travel by plane. It was easier than I had expected and it reduced my carbon footprint with 3.19 tonnes compared to 2019. For 2021, my climate commitment is to move one step closer to a vegan diet. I have been a vegetarian for 10+ years, and for next year my intention is to only eat egg/dairy products when they are served by someone else. That means, at home and at restaurants/cafes I will always choose vegan, but if I’m invited to a dinner I will accept vegetarian food. Curious to see what challenges this will bring me and how I can handle that!

Home made salad w quinoa, hummus, veggies and fruits!

TOVE :star2:

I wish all climate actions came as easy to me as sticking to a vegan diet and not driving a fossil-fuelled car, but staying on the ground is a huge challenge to me. It breaks my heart on a regular basis that catching a flight to London, which I consider my second home, is no longer an option for me as I simply can’t justify the harm it causes the planet. My resolution for 2021 is to look closer into climate friendly alternatives to flying, rather than giving long-distance traveling up altogether (which has been the situation in 2020, needless to say). I’m excited to look in to options by road and rail and aim to make the actual travelling a fun part of the experience too, making it an adventure rather than just a transfer.

STEFAN :star:

My new years resolution for 2021 is to think long-term with all of my purchases. I will only purchase brand-new products if I’m confident I will get at least 5 years of good use out of them.

KALLE :star:

For 2020, my new year’s resolution was to not buy any new clothes nor electronic devices. I aim to keep that going for the full year of 2021 as well.

EMMA :star:

I’ll continue sticking to my vegetarian diet, plus avoiding dairy. I will also make sure to cut out beef and lamb when feeding my dog (who’s moving in with Emma in January, welcome to the GoClimate family little one). Whenever I feel the need to buy new items, I make a list of what it is that I “need”. I then give it a week or two before asking myself if I still want or need it? If the answer is still a yes, I research if there are any other ways to achieve what it is that I crave other than making a purchase – perhaps renting or borrowing? Or can it at least be bought second hand? If buying a newly produced item is the only option, I compare alternatives and chose the one with the seemingly lowest climate impact.

The carbon footprint of a diet

We have a complex global system, where what we eat is often produced somewhere far away from our own kitchen. According to the OECD, agriculture is responsible for 17% of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and land use change accounts for another 7-14% (when we cut down forest to make more room for agriculture). Other sources offer even higher numbers. So if at least one fifth of our emissions come from the food that we eat, we have reasons to carefully consider what we put on our plates.

Land use change caused by expanding agriculture causes significant emissions

Our diets are a hard nut to crack, because there’s no one time fix that can set us on the right track for the long run. We need to continuously make good choices, and it can be very hard to know what is actually the right thing to eat. Should you go for the local produce from a greenhouse, or the organic that has grown in the sun, but been shipped here?

In this post, we aim to give a few good indications, which should serve as general guidelines.

Reduce the amount of red meat

The one, big adjustment that you can do that makes a significant change to the carbon footprint of your diet is to reduce the amount of red meat. The less meat, the better for the planet. If you are going to have a treat, make sure that the meat is high quality, and avoid meat from Brazil (where the rain forest is pillaged to make room for cattle).

A heavy meat diet (more than 100g per day) has a carbon footprint of 2,62 tonnes per year. By reducing to a low meat diet (less than 50g per day) where you can still enjoy your occasional treats, but restrict the everyday consumption, you can come down to 1,70 tonnes. This reduction is equivalent to driving over 6000 km in an average diesel car! Average mileage for a car in the EU is 12 000 km per year.

Big burgers – less often!

Fish is a better alternative

Cutting out meat completely but still eating fish is referred to as a pescetarian diet. This reduces the carbon footprint even further, to 1,42 tonnes per year. Given that fish and seafood has relatively low carbon footprint, the difference between this diet and a vegetarian one is actually not that big – vegetarians are 1,39 tonnes per year. It is worth noting that fisheries have other environmental side effects (over fishing and disruption of ecosystems), but specifically in terms of climate, fish is not the bad guy!

However, climate conscious vegetarians still want to be mindful about their dairy consumption – the difference between a vegetarian (no meat, fish) and a vegan (no meat, fish, dairy, eggs) is significant, and can take you from 1,39 to 1,05 tonnes. This is because the dairy cows emit greenhouse gases, especially methane.

Throwing food away is the most wasteful alternative

Last but not least – do not waste. If you happen to cook more than you want to eat – put it in the fridge for later. If a banana goes brown, put it in a smoothie. So much food is wasted, that the FAO estimated that a whopping whole third of all food produced is thrown away along the chain. Much of that happens before it reaches the consumer, but we can definitely be mindful not to contribute to the enormous amount of waste.

Too late – you should not eat mouldy food!

These are the main things to keep in mind to make your diet more climate-friendly. Other factors to consider is transport, but even so, the carbon footprint of 100g of protein from tofu is 2 kg, whereas 100g of beef protein is 50 kg. You can transport that tofu anywhere in the world and never reach the carbon footprint of beef. For those who are keen to look into details, we recommend the 2019 paper by Poore and Nemecek, Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers.

As an end note, we see that the climate impact from an average diet in the US is much higher than the average diet in India. Apart from ingredients, these differences also depend on portion size. Needless to say, no one should go to bed hungry. We encourage healthy diets, and emphasize that our caloric needs vary greatly from person to person. The climate can supply us all with the quantities we need. 

The carbon footprint values for the general diets come from a 2014 paper by Scarborough et al, Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. These are to be seen as general estimates, noting that there are variations within the diets. 

Curious to know more about your carbon footprint? Read the other posts in this series:

Me and my carbon footprint
What is a “carbon footprint”?
The carbon footprint of a home
The carbon footprint of a diet
The carbon footprint of our traveling
The carbon footprint of long distance traveling
The carbon footprint of shopping
The carbon footprint of public consumption

Or go to www.goclimate.com to calculate your carbon footprint now!

Methodology behind the carbon footprint calculator

There are different ways to calculate the carbon footprint of an individual. If you have tried out more than one calculator, you have probably noticed that the questions differ and so do the results. The quick answer to why this happens, is that it depends on which data the calculator is based off, and what assumptions are made. For the GoClimate calculator, we have explained the rationale between the choice of underlying data and the calculations that we base the tool on in the Methodology, which can be accessed HERE

If there is anything in the methodology that you find questionable, please reach out to us! Let us know if you disagree, have a better source of data for something, or how we could improve. The calculator will change over time because emission factors are updated regularly, which means that your result can change in the future. It could also change if we find better data or an even better way to calculate. These adjustments are however most likely minimal, and the biggest change is what you do yourself!

We calculate Food with general values from a UK study. Flights are calculated with our own API, and Car with emission factors provided by national sources (so that differs depending on where you are). Housing is using calculations based on national data on energy and electricity usage and national emission factors. Personal consumption, which is the clothes, furniture and other things you purchase, is based on a national average, weighted based on how much you purchase brand-new. To this we add a buffer for Public consumption which is infrastructure, hospitals, education etc.

Curious to know more about your carbon footprint? Read the other posts in this series:

Me and my carbon footprint
What is a “carbon footprint”?
The carbon footprint of a home
The carbon footprint of a diet
The carbon footprint of our traveling
The carbon footprint of long distance traveling
The carbon footprint of shopping
The carbon footprint of public consumption

Or go to www.goclimate.com to calculate your carbon footprint now!

Meat eater’s non-dogmatic guide to becoming more vegetarian

If you are a meat eater and you want to become more of a vegetarian (or at least eat more plant stuff and less meat stuff), and you kind of struggle with that because meat tastes good and you’re used to eating it, then this guide is for you! A short pragmatic guide for the aspirational vegetarian who still wants to enjoy good food. I’ve been on this journey (and struggling, I admit) for about a year and half. I’m nowhere near full vegetarian, but I’ve cut down meat consumption by more than half, and will keep trying to reduce it. The nice thing (and a bit of a surprise) is that it doesn’t feel like a personal sacrifice at all! Anyway here are some tips, if you want to join in. Continue reading “Meat eater’s non-dogmatic guide to becoming more vegetarian”