Frequent extreme weather events – Repeated hot summers – Ever shorter autumn and spring – Frequent droughts – Semi-desertification – Less but more intensive rainfall – Storms, hailstorms – Localized flooding, mudslides – Frequent floods – Strengthening winds – Increased frost damage and substantial loss of produce – Switchback to drought- and heat-resistant plants – Decreased water-intensive species – Reduced apricot harvest and expanding fig harvest – Changing variant types in viniculture – Earlier blossoming – Later migratory birds – Appearance of new pests – Water for irrigation in short supply – Increased value of potable water – Alkaline lakes, marshland and bogs drying out – Increased pollen production – Increased incidence of melanomas in humans – Decreased life expectancy of urban dwellers – Urban heat islands – Transport: increased harmful emissions – Increased noise pollution – Extravagant use of energy, slow takeup of renewable energy resources
What can I do?
70% of energy used in households in the EU goes towards heating the home, 14% for heating water. By taking the following steps you, too, can help reduce emissions and in many cases save yourself money.
Reduce the temperature of central heating by just 1 °C; set the thermostat even lower if you leave home and during the night, and this can cut your heating bills by up to a quarter.
Insulate the heating pipes and cavities in the walls. On average, heat escaping through the walls, roof and floor accounts for more than 70% of heat loss. Exploit renovations to upgrade the energy efficiency of your home.
Locate the refrigerator away from the cooker and boiler so that the heat does not give the fridge extra work. Don’t allow it to get iced up. Wait until food has cooled down and only then place it in the refrigerator.
Switch off! If you switch off five unnecessary lights in corridors and rooms at home, you can end up saving approximately €60 a year. By switching to energy-efficient bulbs, the annual saving will be another €60.
Think carefully when you need to use household appliances: only use the washing machine or dishwasher when it is totally full. Take care which temperature programme is used and only ever use a clothes dryer when absolutely essential. If you make tea or coffee, only boil as much water as you really need. If we all boiled one litre less water a day, the energy thus saved would be sufficient to light a third of Europe’s streets.
Don’t leave appliances on standby. Fully switch off household electronics like the computer and modem and don’t leave them in the standby mode. This can save a household up to €100 a year. Turn off the office computer as well. Remove mobile phone chargers from the mains socket when not in use.
Always close the tap when brushing teeth and take showers instead of baths. An average shower can save you up to three-quarters of the energy needed for a bath.
Practice selective waste disposal for recycling. Recycling of an aluminium can saves around 90% of the energy required to produce a new one. Organic waste can be effectively recycled in the form of compost. Reduce the amount of waste by buying fewer disposable products and packaging, and shop intelligently: it takes less energy to produce a single 1.5 litre bottle than it does to produce three 500 ml bottles, and there is less waste packaging as well.
Switch to ‘green’ energy. It might be a little more expensive, but demand drives supply and the greater the supply the more likely it is that prices will fall because of economies of scale.
In the car
– Environmentally-conscious driving can reduce fuel consumption by 5%. For instance, here are a few green driving tips:
Drive straight off with a cold engine. Leaving an engine running to warm it up consumes a lot of fuel. Set off and change up as soon as possible because the higher gears are more efficient from a fuel consumption point of view.
– Check the pressure in the tyres. If they are 0.5 bar less than recommended, the car will consume an extra 2.5% fuel.
– Use low viscosity motor oil. The best oils can reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.5%.
– Remove the roof rack. Empty roof racks and boxes can increase fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 10%.
– Slow down. Driving at speeds over 120 kph consumes 30% more fuel per kilometre than going at 80 kph. If you drive at a steady speed you will end up saving a lot in fuel.
– Travel by train. A person travelling by train results in two-thirds less carbon dioxide emissions than a person travelling alone in a car.
– Find alternatives to flying. Flying is the world’s fastest growing source of carbon dioxide emissions. If you must fly, then consider ‘offsetting’ your carbon dioxide emissions by supporting an organization that invests contributions in renewable resources or forestation.
– Cycle, walk, use car sharing, take advantage of public transport and do telework.
– Shop intelligently. You should only ever buy appliances that have the energy saving label and do not have excessive packaging. Select recyclable products, local and seasonal produce, and fuel-efficient cars that have the lowest per kilometre carbon dioxide emissions.