Environmental protection: You can do that personally against climate change

Environmentally conscious people buy bio, heat eco and eat little meat. But the bottom line they emit much more CO2 than average citizens. How do you do it right?



Are you wondering about endless summers, worried about breaking icebergs and think that white Christmas is now out of the question? Do you only eat fish and meat with a guilty conscience? You are flirting with your own beehive on the roof and a Fairphone under the Christmas tree?

Then you are part of the group of urban, environmentally conscious people in Germany. They also do something to protect our planet - and therefore buy organic products, even if they are more expensive. They abstain more and more often from meat, eat as regional, seasonal and organic as possible. Refrigerators and freezers are highly efficient appliances powered by green electricity. Instead of getting into the car, they even deliberately swing on their bikes in winter. But: The flight to the south, the small city break to Lisbon, they do not want to do without. And certainly not on the spacious old apartment or the poorly insulated home.

"Umweltbundesamt (UBA) calls this type" climate-conscious climate offender "or" environmentally conscious with high resource consumption ". That's a contradiction, do you think? Quite, but: "Since these people are unfortunately a self-deception," says Michael Bilharz from the UBA: "While people buy 'bio', eat less meat and cycling, they underestimate the CO2 emissions through their long-distance travel, their poorly insulated apartment and their car, and unfortunately these are the big points in terms of climate technology. " Bilharz knows what he is talking about, he is responsible for the CO2 calculator and sustainable areas of life at UBA.

The higher the income, the higher the environmental consumption

In fact, the higher the income, the higher the environmental consumption. And: The particularly environmentally aware people consume also above average CO2, as a UBA study found out.

Why is that? Ultimately the income, level of education and life horizon of this group. Because among the environmentally conscious are especially many academics who earn more and are especially cosmopolitan. If you have more money, you live in a larger apartment. And those who have lived abroad as a student often want to continue traveling and visiting friends around the world.

Expressed in figures, anyone who flies to New York and back, emits four tons of CO2. Whoever heats a 130 square meter, poorly insulated old apartment, gets 4.6 tons of CO2 per year. This means that this person is already a ton above the German average, which is around eleven tonnes of CO2 annually. For comparison: One (one!) Tonne of CO2, we Germans according to UBA emit, in order to keep global warming below two degrees.

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Climate change: We pass sinners

Do we have to move into small passive house apartments, cycle to work even at freezing temperatures and never fly back to foreign countries? Or, in other words, how does it work to translate our environmental awareness into environmental protection without renouncing the spacious old building? Is that possible? Bilharz has thought about that a lot - and suggests a kind of more sustainable lifestyle for the masses. Or at least for the environmentally conscious crowd.

The three components: to be political, to compensate and to implement so-called "key points" - thus intervene in the areas of mobility and housing, where particularly much CO2 is generated:

Point 1 - Be Political: Because without dedicated citizens and public pressure there are no environmental protection laws. Therefore: Get off the sofa, into local politics, start green referendums or bicycle demos. That's not for you, no time, not the demo type? No big problem, thinks Bilharz, engagement is also passive: Join, for example, an environmental organization. The more members, the more influence they have. Cost: freely selectable, depending on your wallet. You can also put pressure on the good cause with petitions. Are you looking for a portal that actually has the goal of bringing petitions to the parliaments, for example Openpetition.de or the Petitionsportal of the Bundestag.

Point 2 - Compensate: With a reputable supplier like Atmosfair or myclimate, not just the flight, but your own annual CO2 emissions. At eleven tons that costs around 250 euros, tax deductible. So 68 cents a day. Climate protection can be so cheap! The money is used to actually reduce CO2 emissions elsewhere, so it flows into clean technologies such as solar cookers in Rwanda, which replace climate-damaging charcoal fireplaces. "It works and has nothing to do with indulgence," says Bilharz. In fact, reputable providers scrutinize minutely and publicly how and where they invest the money and how much greenhouse gas they save. Another advantage: you do not postpone climate protection to tomorrow. And of course, compensation is not a free ticket for unchecked CO2 consumption.

Item 3 - Go to the big posts: This applies above all to living space, insulation standard, long-distance travel and car. And here it gets problematic: "Even BUND members do not want to move to a smaller apartment or forgo the vacation flight," says Bilharz. But how then? Bilharz has come up with a trick: "It's not just about you, it's about the others as well: push climate protection in their environment." The lever is often bigger. Specifically: Even who is a tenant can animate his landlord to energetic renovation, there is support on the net at co2online.de. Those who do not have a passive energy house can invest in renewable energies: 10,000 euros for wind power saves the environment around eleven tons of CO2 - exactly the company's own annual output. "And the money can deliver a good return," says Bilharz. Whoever has less money, opens a savings account with an eco-bank: 1000 euros avoid around 0.2 tons of CO2 compared to conventional banks.

That sounds relatively feasible. But what about your own car? Does this have to go? Share, no longer own, is Bilharz 'motto. So car sharing, preferably not private, but with an organization like Cambio, car2go or DriveNow. This eliminates unnecessary trips. After all, if you only have to go to the bakery fast, but the car2go is two corners and five clicks away, go on foot or swing on the bike. But that only works if you really abolish your own cart - which, despite rising car sharing members unfortunately so far not the case.

"Air travel completely dissects the carbon footprint"

And the air travel? Unfortunately, no. "They completely dismantle the CO2 balance," says Bilharz. So, looking for holiday destinations nearby - Germany is more diverse than the permanent Globetrotter commonly thinks. For destinations abroad: leave car and plane - and train. This also consumes CO2, but much less. With ICE and night train one creates it also from northern Germany overnight to northern Italy. And if you really want to fulfill your New York dream: compensate - "and initiate climate-friendly trends". See above, items 1 and 2.

But what about the meat? With the organic food? Eco-clothing? Wash cold? A degree down with the heater? Amazon or retail? Everything right and important, says Bilharz. Unfortunately, the climate effect of these individual actions is unfortunately often limited in practice. To separate the wheat from the chaff, Bilharz suggests:

  • First, ask about the effect of organic food and cold wash on the CO2 calculator - and focus on the heavyweights.
  • Second, ask: how long can I keep this up? Because: changing habits is extremely difficult. A passive house saves tons of energy, for decades.
  • And thirdly, the question: is this triggering a trend, political pressure? Membership of a climate protection organization works beyond me - and is therefore more effective than the cold-washed laundry.

So, environmentally conscious climate sinners, gather you up: get involved, compensate for your CO2 emissions, insulate your homes and sell your car!

REF: http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/klimawandel-das-koennen-sie-persoenlich-dagegen-tun-a-1240539.html