Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 9 News List

When lifestyle and the climate collide

By Haroon Siddique  /  THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Food

The food chain contributes at least 20 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Fats and refined sugars are particularly carbon intensive. There is also a strong case for going vegetarian. In 2007 the UN Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined, and last year Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, urged people to scale down their consumption of meat.

Transport

Buses, subways and trains are three times more efficient than private cars, according to Greenpeace, and if you leave your car at home and take a bike to work you will cut your annual emission of carbon dioxide by half a tonne. Air traffic is top of the league of climate-killers.

Your home

For many, inefficient heating is the biggest debit on their climate account. Modern heating systems are more efficient and insulation on external walls, in attics and on cellar ceilings reduces energy requirements and therefore emissions — as does turning down your thermostat.

Waste

The UK produces enough rubbish to fill the Royal Albert Hall in London every two hours. Goods made from recycled products require less energy than goods made from virgin material and so result in fewer emissions. But the government has produced a “waste hierarchy” in which recycling is only the third best option. Above it are “reduce” [waste] and “reuse.”

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