Friday, December 3, 2021
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Nothing can ever remain the same in Southwark

Four weeks ago, the UN Secretary General issued an unprecedented alarm call to humanity: Start slashing carbon emissions radically in next 23 months, or humanity faces extinction from runaway climate breakdown, writes Donnachadh McCarthy…

Scientists have said we may have already passed the emergency tipping point. It is now not enough to stop all fossil-fuel emissions. To get back to a safe level of carbon, we need to also remove billions of tons of carbon in the air from the oil, gas & coal we burnt in the last 100 years.

I thought it would be useful to let people in Southwark know how much carbon roughly each of us emits, from different aspects of our lives. This will enable us to take the most effective steps to cut our own emissions (see table opposite).

We can afford at most about 1 ton per person for everything, as long as we are planting billions of trees. To remove the carbon we have already emitted, we need to plant 15 trees for each year we have lived.

The good news is that it is possible to reduce nearly all of the above to zero or close to zero, as I have done in Camberwell. We need Southwark’s media, civil society, council and local businesses to help enable ALL of us to do likewise almost immediately.

If we don’t, we are helping condemn our kids to a life filled with more droughts, wildfires, floods, famines and as the UN Gen Sec has warned, literally human extinction. But if we and the rest of humanity do the above, we may have happier, healthier lives and Southwark might not end up under rising seas.


Cost of carbon emissions?

  1. Having a baby                                              1,200 tons (over its lifetime)
  2. Buying a new house                                  100 tons
  3. Buying a new car (Electric or oil)           6 to 40 tons
  4. Consumer Products  /Packaging etc    5 tons to 1,000s of tons
  5. Meat diet                                                      3 tons  (veggie 1.5 / vegan 1.1)
  6. Gas central heating                                    2.25 tons
  7. Long haul flight                                             1.5 to 3 tons
  8. Car                                                                     1.2 tons
  9. Dog                                                                    1 ton
  10. Mains non-green electricity                 0.75 tons
  11. Short haul flight                                         0.15 tons

Donnachadh McCarthy has been an environmental campaigner in Southwark since 1992 and is author of “The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought” . He is also an independent environmental consultant @DonnachadhMc


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