We are all becoming aware our lifestyles are causing damage to the planet. There’s lots we can all do now to help improve the situation. Being an Electric Instructor is part of what I’m doing, however, being mildly smug, I’d like to ask am I greener than the average pet dog?
The average dog in the UK lives in a house centrally heated by gas emitting lots of CO2, gets driven to a walk in a polluting petrol or diesel car and eats meat, a big contributor to greenhouse gas through methane from farmed animals. The dog can’t help it and has more important things in it’s life to think off like chasing rabbits in the park rather than climate change.
Trains, Planes and Automobiles
What can we do as humans to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions? Let’s consider the first, transport. If you use public transport you might have no choice other than to use a diesel bus or taxi so have little influence over this part of your life. You could consider how you holiday and cut down on air travel. Maybe take that weekend break to a European city by train rather than flying. We’ll let the average dog off here as it probably uses little public transport and rarely flies away on holiday.
Personal transport can now be emission free on a daily basis. It’s simple, buy an electric car and run it on green energy. I know they are still too expensive for some people but you should have the intention to replace your car with electric as soon as possible.
I hear all the criticisms about EV battery range and understand the concerns. There are plenty of cars available that do at least 120 miles and most people leaving home with a full battery from an overnight charge can easily last a day. The new models being launched are mostly have over 200 miles. 100 miles a day 5 days a week is 26,000 miles a year. If your doing a long journey 50MPH will be the average speed on a UK motorway so that will mean stopping after 2 hours for a rapid charge and rest. I’m a driver trainer, you’ll not convince me anybody should be driving for over 2 hours without a short rest.
I also hear the criticisms about building electric cars creating more CO2 and cobalt mining being unethical. Most of an EV is the same as an ICE car. The motor and drivetrain are very much simpler so if anything, excluding batteries, the EV is greener in manufacture. Like any manufacturing process, manufacturing batteries creates CO2, there’s so much conflicting information about this. It seems that after about 5,000 miles the extra carbon in manufacture is offset by the lack of CO2 emission from driving the car. At the end of an electric cars life the batteries have a second life in electricity grid storage or home power storage systems. Then they can eventually be recycled. Most car manufacturers are now making, or moving towards making, all their EV battery production carbon neutral.
Yes, cobalt used in lithium iron batteries is mined in parts of the world where the health and safety standards are lower and child labour is used. This hasn’t stopped us all buying phones, laptops, tablets, toys and anything with a rechargeable battery in it for many years. If the world had a conscience about this something should have been done a long time ago.
An electric car is still not completely green and we have to find better ways to do personal transport. For the moment running an EV is the best environmental choice. My choice of an EV for my personal transport and work means my emissions from transport are much less than our average dog being driven to the park for a walk in an ICE car.
Fuelling our Homes
The electricity grid is getting cleaner all the time with more renewables being used and less gas and coal. Wind generation is now the cheapest form of power generation which means it’s attracting a lot of investment. Investors know cheap electricity will sell however it’s created. You can switch to a green electricity tariff now. It will probably be about the same cost as dirty electricity. There is no reason not to do it, use my Bulb referral and we both get £50 as well.
Green gas is a bit more difficult. Some suppliers will disclose how much gas they buy from anaerobic digesters which process plant waste using microorganisms to make gas. Think of it as bugs with wind. Gas boilers heating houses are big emitters of greenhouse gases and over time will be replaced with electric heat pumps and heat store systems. It will also get more comparable in cost to use direct electric heaters in homes.
My own home is a flat in a building about 100 years old. It’s difficult to heat being uninsulated with has large rooms and high ceilings. No gas into the building so heating is electric. I choose to use green electricity so even in a very inefficient building my greenhouse emissions for heating are zero. Less than the average dog in a well insulated home heated by gas.
Food for Thought
Another major contributor to greenhouse gas is farmed animals. We have to eat less meat and dairy products if we want to halt climate change.
I choose not to eat meat as much to do with health as the environmental impact. The reality is future generations will have to move to an almost completely plant based diet.
The average dog would react with contempt to a bowl of broccoli rather than a bowl of meat. Thinking about it, if the dog ate the broccoli it would probably contribute further to the methane problem.
Greener than the average dog?
Do you want to be greener than the average dog?
Three simple things will help:
- Change to an electric vehicle.
- Use a green energy tariff at home.
- Eat less meat.
Meet Wilbur, he’s my sister’s family dog. I’d like to thank my sister for letting me use Wilbur’s picture as an example of an average UK pet dog. Wilbur is old and not well now so we should allow him a few carbon extravagances, especially as many of us humans could do better in reducing our emissions.