We have all become fairly familiar with carbon footprinting, but what about the term climate shadow? Your climate shadow is a concept that was brought to light by Emma Pattee, a climate journalist, who wants to help society visualise and consider how life’s choices can influence climate change. It relates to actions that are challenging to quantify and measure, but influence others in a climate-positive way, hence the ‘shadow’ that we leave behind. Your climate shadow could be impacted by who you vote for, who you work for, or even how often you speak about climate change.
It is all about how you engage with life’s choices: supporting climate action campaigns, lobbying the local government for change, bringing up climate topics in general conversation, encouraging friends and family to have meat-free days, supporting or investing in sustainable businesses, and choosing a line of work that enables you to engage with climate issues – these are all choices that we can make to have a positive impact on the environment and on our climate shadow that we leave behind.
A climate shadow is no replacement for carbon footprinting, nor is it its intention. To reduce emissions, reach net-zero targets and inform decision making, we need to be able to measure and track emissions over time, which carbon footprinting allows us to do. The concern is that reducing our carbon footprint becomes our sole priority, and distracts us from taking other important and impactful action that wouldn’t necessary be captured by a carbon footprint.
It shouldn’t be the case of one or the other, by continuing to measure and reduce emissions while being aware of our climate shadow, we and the planet can reap the benefits of both types of action.
It is clear that the term climate shadow does carry importance, it is more than just jargon – it supplies us with a greater awareness of how we can all influence climate change with simple, everyday actions. All types of climate action are necessary, and any concept that strengthens our response to climate change should be welcomed with open arms.
Author: Ben Deyes, Energy and Carbon Specialist
Source: Forget your carbon footprint. Let’s talk about your climate shadow. (mic.com)
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