Tony: my personal action can make a difference
Nibor: only government action will bring about change
In this debate, Tony Waterston presents the view that individual action to reduce climate emissions can make a difference while Nibor Niput ( a pseudonym) argues that only government action can tackle the threats we are facing.
NN: Whilst I appreciate the wish of individuals to practice what they preach, they must realise that small numbers of people reducing their emissions will make no impact on the huge problems we face. It’s countries that have to change with a major switch from burning fossil fuels for energy to renewable such as wind and solar, a major insulation programme to reduce heat loss from private housing, and measures to reduce car use together with the promotion of public transport, walking and cycling by huge investment. The corporate sector needs to change its expensive fossil fuel habits too and this will require government regulation.
TW: I understand that governmental action is needed and am pushing hard for this through political advocacy. However governments won’t change unless they know that there is support from the public, indeed pressure to reform the energy sector much more rapidly. There is nothing like the power of a good example and we know that in tackling the epidemic of smoking in the UK, doctors led by giving up and then were able to show the health benefits of non-smoking. There are two other powerful reasons for personal activism in reducing one’s carbon footprint. First it is good for health! Walking and cycling, a vegetarian diet and eating local grown food without fertiliser all have significant health benefits. Second, we are going to have to change our habits in the future anyway as a result of government action, so why not start now?
NN: The scale of the problem requires that only national action can make a difference to climate emissions and we are deluding ourselves if we think that personal action will contribute. My own carbon footprint can hardly be altered without government action to ensure home insulation, more food grown locally, better public transport and a massive shift to wind and solar energy. My role lies in helping to elect a government which will enable this transition to take place.
TW: I think that everyone needs to be involved in a way that suits them and I respect your wish for political action. However only a small number of people are prepared to go out and agitate (for example through Extinction Rebellion) and I strongly believe that change has to come from below. Once significant numbers of a local community are practicing a low carbon lifestyle this will convince others that it’s worth a try. Have a go – it’s not difficult and you will feel a lot better and live longer! Here is a short list of what you can do from the Huffington Post (I would add FLY LESS to their list)