The UK and Australia both released their national greenhouse gas emissions accounts for 2017 recently (provisional data for the UK was released just today), what a different story the data tells!
Allow me to present a graph of the national emissions in the UK, from 2000 to the most recently available data. The first time that I saw this graph (or a variant of it), I was probably less than a week into working in the UK. I excitedly pointed out to one of my colleagues that emissions are on a serious downward trajectory here! There has been a 35% reduction in emissions since 2000. Earlier this month analysis by Carbon Brief made headlines when it revealed that UK carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels had dropped to the same level as 1890.
In case you were wondering, my colleagues were less impressed with all this and simply told me that the government isn’t doing enough to address climate change.
The graph below tells the dismal story from Australia that I was more familiar with. As you can see, greenhouse gas emissions in Australia are currently just a smidge under 2000 levels. And they have been increasing for the last four years!
For both the UK and Australia I have taken the data from their original government-published sources and made my own graphs, just so that you can directly compare them.
C’mon Australia! Why can't we at least get our graph to move in the right direction! I wrote three years ago about our dubious claims to fame in reducing the national renewable energy target and repealing the carbon pricing mechanism. I guess the graph above shows the embarrassing outcome of those policy decisions.
For reference and further reading, here are the links to data sources for each country:
And a disappointment...
Before we moved to Cardiff we did a bit of research to see if it was the kind of place we would like to live. There were certainly some positives (castle keys! municipal composting! affordable rent!), but bulk food shopping was one thing I wasn't sure of. Using my internet sleuthing skills I starred a couple of places to check out on google maps, and in my first week I diligently went and checked them all out. Unfortunately none were a bulk food store in the sense that I was used to (i.e. where I could bring my own bags and completely avoid bringing any additional packaging home with me).
It has taken me six months, but this weekend I ventured back to one of those initial places to try again, and this time ask if they could help me rather than just look around. I was optimistic, as they bag everything into little plastic baggies from big sack on site, so I thought they might be able to just pop some into my fabric bags while they were at it.
Long story short, they said no. They had a bunch of reasons why it would be too hard, and perhaps they have tried it in the past and it hasn't worked. Either way, I left without buying anything. My boyfriend did sneak back though and buy some pearl cous cous - everything here is in packages so I guess we might as well enjoy the food we like!
I feel it is inevitable that someone will open a bulk or plastic-free store in Cardiff in the next year. They are popping up all over the UK and Wales a the moment, and plastic pollution seems to be the issue of the moment (it is even the theme for this year's World Environment Day). If you decide to open a bulk store in Cardiff, I promise to be your most loyal customer!
On the bright side (literally), with the start of daylight savings this weekend it feels like we are finally emerging from winter. I even spent most of the weekend outside in the sun (admittedly wearing a scarf, beanie, woollen jumper and explorer socks, but I'll take it!). I can't believe I took the two below photos on the way to work just a few days apart last week. Here's hoping for some more sunny days!
Since moving to Cardiff (in actual Wales, not New South Wales) last year, I have stopped really paying attention to the weather forecast. After ambitiously trying to leave my raincoat behind and getting unexpectedly saturated on my short ride to work once, I have realised that I'm better off just wearing it every day because it is always rainy (yes, I should have expected that, I know).
So when storm Emma dumped a load of snow on Cardiff, it was a complete surprise to me. I have been sent home from school in Australia due to heat, but never have I experienced a snow day before, and thanks to Emma I got to have two!
But what does all this have to do with sustainability, I hear you ask.
Last Friday no one could use their cars. It lasted just one day until the roads were cleared and the temperatures began to rise on Saturday, but it was a magical day. The streets were alive, not with cars racing along, but with people. As most workplaces were closed, my housemates and I huddled in our front room (the warmest room the the house), working from home. From there we could see people wandering past, dragging sledges, chatting to neighbours and generally just chilling out rather than rushing from one activity to the next as they normally might. There were no worries of a car coming along, so children (and let's be honest, Australian "adults") frolicked in the streets.
When we ventured out in search of food (because we thought it was a joke when everyone started panic-buying bread and milk on Wednesday), the only shops that were open were those that are locally owned. The larger chain supermarkets remained closed, which meant the local grocer where we buy our fruit and veg was absolutely bustling. We managed to find some bread at a local deli, and for everything else we just ate what was already in the cupboards and fridge (the best way to reduce food waste!).
By Saturday, at least in central Cardiff, the snow had started to turn to slush and noisy, dirty cars ruled the roads again. Just a week later, those magical days feel distant already as the hustle and bustle of work and other activities returned to normal.
Of course, not being able to use the roads caused havoc for emergency services and those with limited mobility (and that is definitely not a good thing!). But for the rest of us, it was an enforced exercise in slowing down and smelling the daffodils.
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My name is Kara and I created this blog as a way to document all the lovely aspects of sustainability. You can find out more on my About page.
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