The science behind climate change can be overwhelming. You might even feel that your individual actions won’t make a big difference in the grand scheme of things anyway. But the United Nation’s Anatomy of Action report scientifically proves that’s not true. And understanding why your carbon footprint matters and working to reduce it will help mitigate the effects of climate change.
By definition, a carbon footprint is “the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community”. And everything we do has a carbon footprint attached to it. From sending emails and powering our homes, to your daily commute and even eating; every choice you make has an impact on the environment and our planet.
Why it matters
Under the Paris Agreements, a landmark environmental accord, almost every nation agreed to address the negative impact of climate change. It aims to do this primarily by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. What does that mean exactly? We need to reduce our carbon emissions and achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. And everyone plays a part, from governments and banks to corporations and individuals.
In Singapore, organisations like SP Group play a crucial role. The ambitions of the utility industry to generate clean energy is an essential piece of the puzzle. And as consumers, we should be looking at our energy providers to give us greener energy solutions. One way SP Group is doing this is by introducing a series of green initiatives in its offering to consumers – through GreenUP in the SP Utilities app, and its new carbon footprint tracker (more on that in a jiffy!).
All sounds good, but why should you care? Because the reality is, if we don’t act now there’s a heavy price to pay.
The impact of climate change in Singapore
The effects of climate change are currently being felt the world over. In 2020 alone we’ve seen forest fires in Australia, severe flooding in the UK, locust plagues across Africa, and of course, the COVID-19 global pandemic. And we’re not immune here in Singapore. Here are four ways we have already started to feel the impact of climate change. Think reducing your carbon footprint won’t make an impact? Think again…
1. Rising sea levels
As global temperatures rise, the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland continue to melt, which in turn causes sea levels to rise. A 2017 Guardian report identified that cities from Osaka to Miami and Shanghai to Rio de Janeiro would be underwater with 1m of sea-level rise. And according to the Second National Climate Change Study, Singapore may experience between 0.5 to 1m of sea-level rise by 2100.
It’s strange how normalised haze has become in Singapore. But here we are, and the dense, polluting smoke from Indonesia’s burning lands will continue to get worse if left unchecked. Forests and peatlands act as important carbon sinks for our planet. Without them, it’s harder for the earth to regulate the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Protecting them is, therefore, crucial in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Until then, Singapore will continue to feel the effects of this practice and will continue to battle the incoming haze.
3. Temperature increase
Singapore is hot and getting hotter. In fact, according to the National Meteorological Service, eight out of ten warmest years on record in Singapore have occurred in the 21st century and all ten warmest years are since 1997. And the mean annual temperature has increased by 0.5°C since 2004. According to a report from the Crowther Lab, a Switzerland based interdisciplinary climate research group, by 2050, Singapore may have a climate that no major city has experienced before.
4. Water Supply Issues
Singapore is considered to be one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. With no natural water resources, we’re heavily dependent on rainfall to provide a consistent H2O supply. But warmer temperatures and dry spells will make this increasingly challenging in future.
What can I do about it?
Taking responsibility for your carbon footprint is something we can all do to take action. The first step is to understand what your carbon footprint looks like. And that’s where the carbon footprint tracker quiz within the SP Utilities app comes in. Take the quiz to see how your lifestyle choices affect your carbon emissions. Once you have a starting point, you can then think about how you can reduce your emissions. The good news is it’s easier than you might think!
Download the SP Utilities app here to take the quiz (anyone can do it, you don’t need to have an SP account or be the bill payer). The quiz comprises five simple sections (home, food consumption, spending habits, commute, and holiday and travel) which collectively add up to provide your total carbon footprint. At the end of the quiz (it only takes a few minutes to complete), you’ll be presented with your carbon footprint summary. This identifies your emissions for each category and provides inspiration for where you can start reducing.
Set yourself a target and start making lifestyle adjustments to hit your sustainable goal. Once you start taking eco-friendly #LittleGreenSteps, update your responses in the app to see your carbon footprint reducing. And we bet that once you start thinking about your emissions, you’ll find that you start to make better decisions in all aspects of your life. Singapore has a population of approximately 5.8 million; imagine the impact if we all made a commitment to reduce our carbon footprints?
What are you waiting for? Download the app and take the quiz here.
You’ll find even more suggestions within the tracker, but here are some easy #LittleGreenSteps to get you started that will help reduce your carbon footprint:
Eat less meat
The production of red meat uses a lot of land, feed, and water, which isn’t great for the environment. Filling your plate with vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Cycle and walk more, and use public transportation
There are so many ways to get around Singapore who needs a car anyway? Even switching your daily commute a few times a week to public transport will make a difference.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has proven that we perhaps don’t need to fly as often for work as we previously thought. For many of us, not flying at all just isn’t practical, but taking fewer flights is something we could all consider.
Consume less energy
Think about ways you can go greener at home. Like turning off lights, taking shorter showers, cutting down on tumble drying, and using energy-efficient lightbulbs. Read this for more ways you can go green at home and save money while you’re at it.
Once you’ve reduced your carbon footprint as much as possible, you can then think about how to offset the remainder and reach carbon neutrality. The easiest way to do this is by planting trees! Do your research and ensure you engage a reputable organisation to help you (pssst…we like EcoMatcher and One Tree Planted).
It’s easy to believe that reducing carbon emissions lies solely on the shoulders of the biggest emitters (100 of the world’s largest organisations are responsible for 70% of global carbon emissions). While we as consumers must hold them accountable, lobby for change, and use our voting power to shift the needle, it will take time.
In the meantime, the one thing we can do is track, reduce, and offset our personal carbon footprint. Thanks to the SP Utilities app, that just got a little bit easier.
This article is brought to you in collaboration with SP Group.