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Saving the planet is like picking fruit

Saving the planet is a bit like picking fruit off a tree: it gets harder the farther up you climb…

Across the developed world, measures to reduce the demand for energy are being pursued through saving and efficiency, carbon pricing and the phasing out of oil and coal power stations in favor of cleaner gas and renewable power. Cleaner fuel requirements for ocean-going shipping will soon become mandatory, and governments are subsidizing the sale of electric vehicles.

But the next steps are harder, since they require a change in behavior from consumers, investors and industrial leaders. Solutions may include the mandatory use ofelectric vehicles, abandonment of single-use plastics and eating less meat, while at the same time reducing the energy intensity of industry. And to mitigate emissions, the search for affordable carbon capture and storage continues.

But is this enough? Ultimately, technology will be needed to curtail emissions while allowing for continued economic growth or, as BP puts it, “more energy with less carbon”.

The low hanging fruit

Householders can cut their carbon emissions in a number of ways, including lowering their heat, replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED ones and switching off and unplugging electronic appliances when not in use. They can also commit to shop locally as well as walkcycle, or use mass transportation to help reduce greenhouse gases instead of driving to work or using car-sharing services, which can contribute to traffic congestion and air pollution.
Corporations can also take advantage of some low-hanging fruit within easy reach—light switches. Office building lights can be turned off at night in an effort to save energy and counteract potential damage to the environment. Planting trees for shade and installing blinds, improving insulation and installing double- or even triple-glazed windows can also enhance the working environment and save on heating and cooling costs.

The more difficult fruit

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