How to tackle the climate emergency from home

It’s a subject that’s often played down by many of the world’s biggest economies, but two-thirds of people across the planet now consider climate change to be a ‘global emergency’.

Those are the findings of The People’s Climate Vote – the biggest ever opinion poll on climate change.

*Between 1 July and 31 December 2020, people who have switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with Uswitch saved an average of £216

blue thermostat dial set to 63 degrees on white wall

Conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Oxford University, the study was carried out between October and December last year and gathered the thoughts of 1.2 million people across 50 countries.

And the findings flew in the face of anyone who suggests there’s no appetite among the public for action on climate change.

What were the key findings of The People’s Climate Vote?

In total, two-thirds (64%) of all participants saw climate change as a global emergency that needed an immediate response from all countries.

More than half (54%) of respondents agreed that forest and land conservation should be the main priority for tackling climate change, closely followed by the more widespread use of solar, wind and renewable energy (53%).

Climate friendly farming techniques (52%) and greater investment in green businesses and jobs (50%) were also cited as effective ways to tackle climate change.

Switching to a plant-based diet was the least popular solution, with less than a third (30%) of the votes, but it did have stronger support in Germany (44%) and the UK (43%).

Pakistan was the country with that showed the least backing for action, with 5% of people not favouring any policy at all, closely followed by the United States, with 4%. But before we start rolling out the gas-guzzling American stereotypes, it’s worth noting that about two-thirds (65%) of those in the US taking part now view climate change as an emergency.

Cassie Flynn, strategic adviser to the UNDP, said of the findings: "People are scared, they are seeing the wildfires in Australia and California, they're seeing the category five storms in the Caribbean, they are seeing flooding in in Southeast Asia, and they're looking around them and they're saying, this is a real problem. We have to do something about this."

Differences of opinion

As you’d expect with such a widespread survey, there were some big differences between countries and age groups.

For instance, while 81% of respondents in Italy agreed climate change is a global emergency, this dropped to 50% in Moldova. And while 69% of respondents aged 14 to 18 agreed climate change is a global emergency, this dropped to 58% in the 60+ age group.

Cassie Flynn added: “The voice of the people is clear – they want action on climate change. If 64% of the world’s people are believing in a climate emergency, then it helps governments to respond to the climate crisis as an emergency.

“The key message is that, as governments are making these high-stakes decisions, the people are with them.”

How to fight climate change from home

In the UK alone, emissions from households’ fossil fuel and electricity use are forecast to rise by 11% by 2035, compared to 2015 levels. This global climate emergency needs to be tackled on both a macro and micro scale, which means we all need to do our bit, no matter how small or inconsequential it might seem.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to save energy and save money.

  • Upgrade your insulation – Poorly insulated homes lose heat through walls, roofs, windows, and even floors, and improving insulation can not only help cut your energy bills, but it’ll also help make your home feel a lot cosier, and help you do your bit for the environment. Although an initial outlay will be needed to install better insulation, figures from the Committee on Climate Change estimate that fitting double glazing could save you up to £90 a year, cavity wall insulation £115 a year, and loft insulation £100 a year. If your home doesn't have cavity walls, here's how solid wall insulation could help.
  • Turn the thermostat down – Do you crank the thermostat right up, hoping that it’ll heat things up a little quicker? Or insist on having nothing less than a tropical climate in your living room? If so, you’re needlessly using too much energy. Try to set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature, which is usually between 18°C and 21°C – if you’re still not warm enough, try putting on some extra layers to keep cosy. And bear in mind that knocking the heating down by just one degree will not only save energy but could also knock as much as £50 off your annual energy bills.
  • Fit energy efficient bulbs – Replace any standard light bulbs with more energy efficient ones, such as LEDs. Simply fitting energy efficient bulbs could save you up to £50 a year in energy and replacement costs.
  • Replace your old boiler and appliances – If your boiler is more than 15 years old, it’s time to upgrade to a new one. Replacement of old boilers with energy efficient alternatives could cut your energy bill by up to £115. And replacing old fridges, washing machines and other appliances with more energy efficient models could see you make even more savings.
  • Switch to a green energy tariff - Switch energy supplier to knock hundreds of pounds off your annual energy bills. And switching to a renewable energy supplier will help save then environment while you save money.

101 ways to save energy and money #1 - Switch to a better deal

We could all do with using a little less energy around the home, but the temptation to turn the thermostat up always rises as the temperature falls.Switch energy to save money

For more useful energy saving tips, check out Energy Saving Advice guide.

For more information on boiler replacement, home insulation, or solar panel installation – a way to both save energy and make money – check out energy efficiency pages.

And to see how small business owners across the UK view their role in tackling climate change, check out The future of environmental sustainability for SMEs over at Bionic.

Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

If you’ve got an issue with your energy supplier, our consumer champion Les is on hand to help. A decade in consumer affairs means Les understands how confusing energy tariffs can be, so he'll cut through the jargon to help make sure you get the best deal.