Read this if you feel individual attempts to live ‘green’ are trivial


This is for those who feel their attempts to live a green life are trivial.

It’s natural to feel pretty insignificant when considering the enormity of the problem posed by climate change and the carbon emissions that are overheating the planet. How does it matter if Mrs A uses her own carrier bags for groceries? Does it make any real difference that Mr X gathers up all the paper, plastic, glass and metal generated by the family every week and carefully deposits it in his local authority’s recycle bin? What difference does it make that Ms Y spends extra pennies on LED bulbs throughout her two-bedroom house?

Turns out, all of the above does matter and the last most of all. As the ASDA supermarket jingle goes, “every little helps” and energy-efficient products and appliances such as LED bulbs, fridges, vacuum cleaners etc, apparently play a big role in reducing energy demand.

According to the environmental analysis website Carbon Brief, such energy-efficient products have made a significant dent in the UK’s energy demand. Simon Evans writes in his piece on Carbon Brief that the amount of electricity generated in the UK last year fell to its lowest level in a quarter century. This happened as the economy grows and population increases. “Lower per-capita electricity generation and cleaner supplies have contributed roughly equal shares to the reduction in power sector CO2 emissions since demand peaked in 2005,” the analysis noted. “This has helped to cut UK greenhouse gas emissions overall”.

The Carbon Brief piece acknowledges the role played by European Union product standards in all of this. By reducing energy needed, they contribute to lower demand. The amount generated per person (and thought to be quite enough) is now roughly five megawatt hours. That’s the same as in 1994, when as Carbon Brief points out “Nelson Mandela became South African president and the apartheid era officially ended. That year also saw Tony Blair become leader of the opposition UK Labour Party, US president Bill Clinton deliver his first State of the Union address and Finland and Sweden voting to join the European Union.”

Back to the future then, energy-wise?

Keep on buying those LED bulbs.