Climate change is real and we each play a part. This article is packed full with key actionable insights from four change makers in Singapore and a list of actions we as individuals can take to reduce our own carbon footprint today.
I fell in love for the first time when I was 9 years old. His name was Leonardo. I can still remember the first time I saw him, he was completely mesmerising, his eyes pierced my soul. Over the years I have admired him from a distance, sharing with anyone who would listen how incredible he is. Of course, he has no idea who I am, and my obsession has always been from behind a screen. Yes, I am talking about Mr Di Caprio himself.
After 37 years acting, 38 roles and 6 nominations, he finally received a golden statue. Having patiently waited for over 3 decades, he found a way to make it one of the most memorable acceptance speeches ever by reminding the world of that: “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating… Let us not take this planet for granted.” And thus solidifying a place for in my heart for all eternity.
Yep, I’m a #fangirl and proud of it. But what has this got to do with anything? Well, when Liv Lo came to me, saying that she had watched the Nat Geo documentary ‘Before The Flood’ with Leo (which if you haven’t watched you need to and can do so easily on iTunes or Amazon) and shared how it too had changed her life – I knew we needed to do an event about it in Singapore. Which is exactly what we did. A screening of the film followed by a panel discussion with Ben & Jerry’s, WWF-Singapore and Up2Degrees.
Climate change in a nutshell
Our planet is heating up fast, which is scientifically proven to be from pollution and not some natural phenomena. Approximately 2/3 of the pollution that is driving climate change is from the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – with another big part coming from deforestation and agriculture. By burning fossil fuels we are heating up the planet and melting the arctic – which is ‘the aircon’ of the world. By cutting down our forests, we are effectively killing ‘the lungs’ of the planet, as they produce much of the oxygen we breathe. Combined – this means more extreme weather globally, more floods, more droughts.
Watch this 2-minute clip to understand more from Nat Geo Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, “We can not pretend that is something somebody else in the future will have to deal with. We have to take action right now if we are to preserve our beautiful and wonderful planet.”
So what can I do? Suggestions from our panel of changemakers
We had four power women who each represents a different part of the industry – from environmental lobbing to consumer goods to conservation to outreach – share with us what they are doing and their top tips for what we can do. Here is a summary:
1. Pick your fight
Individuals and communities are very powerful tools to influence change makers. Sarah Cragg, Social Mission Activism Manager for Ben & Jerry’s says “Find the aspiring activist within you. Firstly, educate yourself on the issues that interest you – renewable energy, zero-waste, women’s empowerment – whatever inspires you. Then find NGOS and other organisations that share these values. Identify the change you want to see and find ways to make it happen. Finally, inspire others to join the movement.”
Sandra Marichal is a living, breathing example of this. She founded Up2Degrees, a movement to save the Antarctic aircon. Singapore’s commitment at COP21 is to reduce its carbon intensity by 35% by 2030, and ironically our air cons are a major contributor representing 35% of our home and buildings’ total energy consumption. Sandra and the team took this on by focusing their energy on changing the regulations in Singapore and after 12 months they made it happen! Now as part of the BCA’s Green Mark Award Regulations, they have a ‘thermal comfort’ where the air cons must be set between 23-25 degrees. She shared that “The Singapore government is very willing to listen and they are willing to support you. Think of it as a partnership rather than a fight. It is easier than it sounds.”
The more you aware you are, the more you conscious and awake you are. Remove the blindfold and pick your fight.
2. Use your own sphere of influence
During our conversation, Liv Lo (presenter, yoga instructor and eco-ambassador) stressed the importance of using your own sphere of influence: “This has to be spoken about loudly. I made a list of people I had to contact, people I had to talk to and started taking steps. On an individual basis, you can immediately impact your family, be brave to speak about it. Try to take it to the office space. You’ll be surprised at the reactions that come back.”
Aanchal Mehta, campaign’s manager for WWF-Singapore, said “A lot of the campaigning work that we do in Asia is to educate people on issues that they may not be aware of and to get them to influence change on policies that impact climate change. I think our Earth Hour campaign is a great example, where in the last 10 years it has evolved into the world’s most popular grassroots movement. We’ve started to use the power of crowd to drive action that is more than just symbolic, through education and simple actions to transform major stakeholders.”
There is power in numbers. Rally and influence in your own network around the issues you are passionate about.
3. You are not alone
There are growing voices and communities in Singapore where you can visit, join and understand more. Sarah talked about linked prosperity, “Ben and Jerry’s has always been an activist company, where everyone that comes in contact with our product benefits. We want people to stand up for what they believe in by working with NGOs and want to help consumers find ways to make an impact.”
Here are a few suggestions:
Support Sandra and the Up2Degrees team and turning up your aircon by 2 degrees.
Follow along with us at Green Is The New Black – as we give bite size wedges of wisdom and actionable insights for you to make real change.
Visit Earth Fest on the 12th of February – a sustainable, fun, and inspirational festival with a food fair, a Farmer’s Market of local businesses with sustainable products, an eco-carnival of engaging low carbon games and more.
Volunteer at Climate for Change a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to increase the number of people concerned about, and prepared to act on, climate change.
Be connected to each other and together, it’s possible.
Easy ways to reduce your own carbon footprint
We’ve put together a list of simple actions you can take today to reduce your carbon footprint.
Send the world a message – put your hand up for and pay a voluntary carbon tax to help protect key forests and coastal landscapes. For those in Singapore it is just $5.95.
Skip that burger – according to Nat Geo, every pound of beef served is equivalent to releasing about nineteen pounds of greenhouse gases, so consuming less beef can reduce your carbon footprint.
Say no to plastic – reduce your consumption of bottled water and other packaged drinks, as demand for plastic increases so does the use of fossil fuels.
Light it up – with efficient LED light bulbs. They generally use up to 80% less energy than traditional bulbs and they last longer.
The 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle – be recycling glass, aluminum, plastic and paper you are saving CO2.
Join the solar revolution – if you are a business make the switch to solar power (this is coming soon for individuals in Singapore).
Support change makers – Other than being conscious of your own lifestyle choices, you can support brands that are doing the right things. Take the initiative to be informed about what you are buying and labels as this information is available more and more.
As Leo said, climate change is real. From melting ice caps to forest fires to flash floods – we can no longer deny that we are destroying our fragile planet. The question now is not if, but when. What are you going to do about it?