Individual action

Individual action on climate change includes
  • understanding the problem and avoiding repeating misinformation
  • reducing one's own carbon footprint
  • becoming a campaigner.

Understand the problem

Reduce your carbon footprint

Calculate your CO2 total for the last calendar year and set yourself a target of reducing it by a certain amount. We suggest that most people can reduce their personal total by 10% without any real difficulty or hardship. Once you have achieved this (it will probably be easier than you think), you can go on to a further 10% reduction in subsequent years.


Use video conferencing to avoid travel to international conferences.

Home heating and lighting

Many people consider 20 or even 21°C to be a standard room setting for a thermostat. Previous generations had very different ideas - 16°C has been regarded as standard in the past - and Workplace Regulations specify 16°C as the minimum temperature for workrooms (or 13°C where much of the work involves severe physical effort) (

Washing and drying


Avoid supermarkets:
See ActionAid's report on how the workers who produce the food and clothes we buy suffer low wages, job insecurity and poor working conditions at

A good resource is Sustainable Sustenance, a four-page briefing sheet on food transport and the environment produced by Women's Environmental Network, available as a .pdf from, or from


Think about everything you buy and consider more sustainable alternatives. Examples are

Become a campaigner

Here's a good description by Jacinta Kent from the Leeds newsletter A Little Less Conversation
"Activists. We come from every race, country and background imaginable but are all bound by one thing. It starts with a sense of injustice that won't stay at the back of our minds. The more we learn the further it shuffles, bustles, sometimes leaps to the forefront of our thoughts. It makes inaction an inconceivable idea and urges us to search the far flung corners of our creativity to try and find a way to make things better; so we take action."

John Ruskin (artist and social reformer) said:
"I saw injustice done and tried to remedy it. I heard falsehood taught, and was compelled to deny it ... I knew not how little or how much might come of the business, or whether I was fit for it."

Get involved with others, but bear in mind the descriptions of a committee as
and as
so make sure you stay focused.

Try to give people something that they want and they will take it.

Ideally you want to convince those in a position of power that they have a problem and that you have the solution.

When contacting people as part of a campaign, e.g. sending an email or a letter, always ask them to do something - e.g. say whether they agree, or sign a motion (if an MP).


First published: 2007
Last updated: 22 Aug 2023