Impact of climate change on household behaviour

ended 01. November 2021

At 09:30 this morning, the Office for National Statistics published a report entitled: Impact of climate change on household behaviour in the UK. You can read it here but the main points are below. 

  • Households were the highest user of fossil fuels in the UK in 2019; this is compared with the energy, manufacturing and transport sectors.
  • Household recycling rates have increased by 5 percentage points from 40 to 45% between 2010 and 2019 in the UK, with the highest rates currently in Wales.
  • The biggest contributor to food waste in the UK is households, making up 70% of the overall total; overall food waste produced by the UK fell by around 15% between 2007 and 2018.
  • International aviation emissions have risen sharply since the early 1990s, while domestic aviation emissions have remained at a similar level.
  • The level of concern about climate change has increased by 11 percentage points from 2012; around three-quarters of people (76%) in the UK said they were concerned about climate change in March 2020.

Any snap reaction is all we're looking for. No need for an essay. Just comment on the bits that interest you!

11 responses from the Newspage community

"In the property and mortgage market, this is one of the biggest topics of conversation at present, with pressure on lenders to ensure that, in the future, their property stock is energy efficient. At present we have just seen tinkering round the edges with so-called "green mortgages" nothing more than a very slight cost-saving for those who have more efficient homes. There needs to be some serious banging of heads together to come up with a solution and the onus should very be on a sizeable Green Government Grant to help those who will not be able to borrow more funds to improve their homes."
It's encouraging to see that general awareness and concern regarding climate change is increasing. Hopefully this will now start to translate into changes in behaviour. But to be effective, people need to understand which changes will have the biggest impact. For example, studies show that investing your pension in sustainable funds is far more efficient for reducing your carbon footprint than eating less meat. Relatively modest lifestyle adjustments are all well and good, but to make a real difference, people need to put their money where their mouth is.
Anything that makes a positive impact on the climate is commendable but personally I believe that the ratio between genuine benefit and corporate publicity is largely skewed and anyone who knows the true facts and figures behind the the problems we face will be frustrated by phoney marketing seen across the industry. Lot's more needs to be done and more drastic measures need to be taken!
As a parent, climate change is something I am extremely concerned about and looking after our planet is at the core of my mission as a business owner. We became vegetarian in January 2019 as a move towards trying to live a more low impact life. We also meal plan in order to waste less food and we are moving to a hybrid car as a stepping stone to full electric. We'd never accept a coffee if it was in a takeaway cup and you won't catch us with a plastic bag in the supermarket. It doesn't need everyone to live a perfect sustainable life to make a difference, it needs all of us to make lots of little changes that will add up to a big impact. Behavioural change takes a long time but we as a society need to believe our individual actions can facilitate positive outcome for our planet.
It's not the easiest to sit and say this, but for far too long, we have sat and expected government and business leaders to make things happen with their various summits, targets and pacts. The honest truth is, it's never been prioritised in the way it should have been. While full-scale change requires both governments and businesses to forge a changing culture, there is so much we as individuals can do to become our very own Chief Sustainability Officer. When we can't rely on ministers and leaders, it falls to us as a collective to make the empowered choices that won't always be comfortable, but will finally get real traction on an issue we can't ignore any longer.
Living sustainably is our prominent focus here at Bespoke Wealth and it’s reassuring to see this topic gaining more coverage and awareness in the press. We hope to see this lead to changes in household behaviour. However, as important as making changes at home is (and it really is!), studies have shown that switching your pension and investments to invest in ESG funds (that is investment funds that focus on making environmental, social and governance impacts) is 21 times* more powerful in reducing emissions than going vegetarian or switching to a green energy supplier, for example. *Make My Money Matter, October 2021
So Households were the highest user of fossil fuels in the UK in 2019.. Can you imagine how much higher that will be for 2020 with the majority of us being at home due to the Pandemic?? The more we say work from home, the more we will be heating our homes.
To a large extent pressure on us as individuals is often over stated. Colossal corporations and greedy governments continue to use fossil fuel and allow continuous deforestation. We as individuals of course have a responsibility, though without the support from hugely powerful organisations we simply cannot beat climate change. I do my best, Birds Can Fly is my small business and is focused on eco-friendly nature themed products with little impact on the environment. In the past I have flown internationally, but I will seriously consider doing this in the future, but I don’t drive and I have no children and eat meat rarely. We are all complicit and we must all try harder but governments have the power to change our behaviour more broadly.
We all have to do our bit to try and avert the climate catastrophe we are facing; however, let's be honest we're not going to manage it as people won't want to radically change their lives. Whilst UK households do account for a vast majority of emissions, our nation as a whole account for just 1.1% of total global emissions, and it's true to say that when we add in the emissions that we create by purchasing things from overseas this rises to approximately 4% of global emissions. However, per capita we do produce quite a lot - 5.5 tonnes per capita which is only slightly lower than China at 7.38 tonnes per capita. when we look at it on this basis, it's actually the USA, Canada, Australia & UAE counties that need to get a grip. That said, we can't ignore the fact that China is by far and away the largest emmiter simply due t the size of it's population. We can't point and wag the finger though, as China is the workshop of the world, and us in the west have created a rod for our own backs.
"We have seen growing localism and increasing interest in eco and zero waste shops on the ShopAppy platform. Shopping local is often the first step towards more environmental behaviour, now we are seeing consumers want more that just shopping local — from seeking click and collect and eco-delivery solutions to demanding zero packaging and ethically sourced products. It's a good sign as each one of us can make a difference. We just need to make it easier for people to make better choices for themselves, the places they live and the planet as a whole."
Consumers are driving change in manufacturing for products that are more natural, that use less plastic and that are produced ethically and sustainably. This demand of manufacturers to change their habits needs to be reflected back in a change in the habits of householders who are the highest consumers of fossil fuels and the largest contributors to food waste. Rishi Sunak’s decision to halve duty on domestic aviation is a step backwards for emissions helping consumers to keep on consuming at rates the planet’s ecology cannot afford. It’s great that there is greater awareness and concern, but this needs to translate into change of habit for us to make an impact.