Let’s Try to Go Green in 2016

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It’s predicted that 2016 will see some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded around the world, thanks to the combination of the El Niño weather phenomenon and the increasing effects of global warming. We’ve just gone through one of the strangest summers we’ve had in Australia, and if winter is going to be similarly moody you’d best prepare yourself and your home.

What is El Niño? It’s a natural cycle of warming in the Pacific Ocean that goes on to impact the world’s weather, and the current El Niño event is the largest of its kind in almost twenty years. The impact of El Niño on its own is strong enough as it is, but when combined with the temperature increases driven by global warming, we can expect record temperatures and extreme weather events across the globe. This could mean anything from heat waves in China, Russia, Australia, and the Middle East to severe flooding in England.

It’s not enough to just prepare yourself and your family with a great air conditioning unit and a weatherproof home. With the rate of global warming expected to accelerate much faster over the next few years, there has never been a greater need to start seriously cutting our greenhouse gas emissions.

Personal clean energy goals for 2016

We all have a part to play in keeping global warming under the proposed target of 2 degrees celsius. Some ways you can make a difference include:

  • Energy efficient appliances

Reduce the amount of electricity you use at home by replacing your old heat-producing light globes with energy-efficient CFL and LED globes. It’s also worth buying appliances with a high energy efficiency rating, and using passive techniques to reduce the need for artificial heating and cooling. This means a lower electricity bill and doing good for the environment!

  • Smart gardening

Try to adopt green landscaping techniques when tending to your garden. You could do this by reducing the amount of space in your garden that is covered by lawn, and covering it instead with a low maintenance native plant species. A petrol lawn mower emits 10 times as many hydrocarbons as a car, so cutting down any lawn mowing can add up to make a great deal of difference to the Earth! It’ll also mean less time spent cutting grass, too.

  • Drive green

This one is somewhat more difficult to go for, but if you are able to, why not reduce your vehicle carbon dioxide emissions by buying a more fuel-efficient car? You can even go for an electric or hybrid vehicle if you can afford it, completely ridding yourself of emissions entirely. Maintain your vehicle regularly to ensure it’s not releasing more toxins into the atmosphere than what it needs to, practice fuel-efficient driving techniques, and try to minimise driving by using public transport, pedal power, or car pooling where possible.

  • Use and refuse wisely

Try to buy food from local sources as supermarket food refrigeration and transportation is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Eating more vegetarian dishes can also help with saving energy, as veggies require a lot less energy to produce than meat. Also remember to recycle wherever possible, as this will reduce the amount of energy needed to create new products, while also reducing the amount of rubbish that goes into landfills.

  • Save energy at home

Adopting energy saving practices around the home is one of the best ways to go green in 2016. Things you could do include running the washing machine or dishwasher only when the load is full, hanging clothes rather than using a dryer, using a water filtration system over bottled water, turning off lights, appliances, and devices when not in use, and having quick, cooler showers.

International clean energy goals for 2016

It’s not just individuals who need to make a change if we’d like to see our world live longer. A recent UN summit in Paris took a step in the right direction by negotiating an agreement between a number of countries to try and limit the extent of global warming to less than 2 degrees celsius, compared to preindustrial temperatures. This will involve some drastic changes from several major industries around the world. Thankfully, there are already some hopeful changes in motion.

  • Automobile industry

With a finite future for oil, car manufacturers have been developing electric vehicles for several years now, and some ground-breaking new models were unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016) in Las Vegas. These included an all-electric Chevy Bolt from General Motors with an estimated range of 200 miles on a single charge and the Budd-e electric micro bus from Volkswagen, with a range of 233 miles.

  • Smart home technology

New innovations in this area were also on display at CES 2016, including Samsung’s SmartThings app-based smart home control system, O2’s Digital Life smart home mobile control system, Amazon’s Alexa voice-controlled smart home control system and the CES award-winning Ecoisme device, which monitors and adjusts home appliance energy use throughout the day.

  • Solar energy

The global market for solar panels is predicted to reach a record high this year thanks to strong demand in China and the USA. With manufacturers expected to produce 16.82 gigawatts of solar panels in the first quarter of 2016 and 17.73 gigawatts in the second, the market is expected to continue to grow globally beyond 2017 as the cost of manufacturing and installing solar panels continues to drop.

  • Offshore wind investments

These doubled in Europe in the last year, with turbine orders up significantly on previous years and there are now 84 offshore wind farms in 11 countries either operating or under construction. AGL Energy Ltd in Australia also plans to invest AU$2.1 billion in new projects including large wind farms in Silverton New South Wales and Coopers Gap in Queensland.

By committing to making one or two of these small changes regularly, each of us can make a big difference to the planet (and our electricity bill in the process!). And, with record temperatures and extreme weather patterns lurking on the horizon, there’s plenty of incentive for all of us to try and contribute to clean energy in 2016.