Consumers hold the key to reduced carbon emissions

© Jonathan Billinger

With the United Nations Global Climate Change Conference, the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26), being held in Glasgow from 31st October to 12th November, a group of Devon councils and charities are launching a new Shop4Good campaign, aimed at showing ways to shop smarter and help tackle the climate crisis.

As Black Friday and Christmas are approaching, as well as the global climate summit in Glasgow, the Shop4good campaign aims to promote ten ways to shop that reduce CO2 emissions and increase wellbeing.

The campaign follows new research that shows consumer interest in sustainability has increased significantly since the pandemic and suggests consumer buying power may be doing more to help the climate than governments.

Shop4Good runs from Saturday, 30th October to Saturday, 13th November, in parallel with COP26. The councils taking part are North Devon, Torridge, South Hams and West Devon along with charities: 361 Energy, Plastic Free North Devon, Resurgence Trust, North Devon Biosphere and Totnes Climate Change Response Centre. All are working in partnership with Bideford-based Carbon Savvy.

Since shopping makes up a big part of our carbon footprint, the campaign highlights ways to reduce this. Examples are:
• buying long lasting products;
• sourcing locally;
• giving experiences as gifts, which research shows creates stronger social bonds.

North Devon Council’s lead member for climate change, Councillor Graham Lofthouse says: “North Devon District Council has set a very challenging internal target of net zero CO2 emissions by 2030 and a wider community one for, at the latest, 2050, in line with science-based targets. We have been working with Carbon Savvy for over a year to give tips and advice to everyone who wants to play their part in saving CO2.

‘I’m delighted that consumer power is having a growing influence because it’s only by working together that we can reduce CO2 emissions and create a healthy future for the region. So, I invite everyone to join the Shop4good programme. It’s going to be fun too.”

Shop4good is among a string of events that aim to help reach net zero CO2 emissions. On Sunday, 17th October, the first Earthshot Awards were screened on BBC1, with Prince William, David Attenborough and a host of stars including actress Emma Watson, footballer Mo Salah and Coldplay.

On 30th October, world governments meet in Glasgow to discuss how they can increase carbon targets above those pledged in Paris in 2015. Higher targets are needed to keep global temperatures below 1.5°C increase, which is said to be the critical threshold for life on earth.

Carbon Savvy’s Director, Mukti Mitchell, has dedicated his life to saving CO2, and was winner of the Energy Efficiency Champion of the Year Award at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Awards held recently.

He says: “Governments and councils can set targets, but to achieve these, every individual, business and organisation needs to reduce their own carbon footprint. I’m delighted to be working with Devon councils, charities and Falmouth University, to save CO2. The good news is that most actions that save CO2 also increase our well-being and save money. I’m particularly excited about the Shop4good online quiz, which is a bit of fun and has great prizes, so I hope lots of people will take part.

‘New research by the World Wildlife Fund found that two thirds of consumers think about sustainability when shopping. As consumers, we influence industry every day and one example is that 50% of fashion executives say consumer demand is driving their pursuit of sustainability. We can build the world we want through the way we spend, because every penny is a vote.”

Councillor Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council, says: “West Devon is delighted to be involved with Shop4good and I encourage everyone to get involved.

‘Although governments have to drive forward big changes to counteract CO2 emissions, the protection of our environment will also need every one of us to take responsibility to change the way we live and work if net zero carbon is to be achieved.”

Councillor Tom Holway, Executive Member for Climate Change and Biodiversity for South Hams District Council, says: “The more we buy locally produced goods and food, the more we support jobs in our area.

‘We are told there may be a shortage of Christmas goods and food because of the driver shortage, so make the most of what’s on your doorstep.

‘Order locally grown Christmas food, have a look in our local artisan workshops for Christmas present ideas, such as locally produced leather goods and jewellery, and hand-crafted wooden toys for young children.

‘Perhaps even an exciting outdoor experience for a teenager such as learning to surf or a stand-up paddleboard session.”

Find out more and take the quiz to win a prize at: www.carbonsavvy.uk.

Author: Laura White

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