We have been informed about saving energy decades ago. It started with turning the extra lights off. Many still practice that, which is good! But that is not enough. According to new research in the USA, many people have a hard time understanding details about energy usage. What is the difference between the energy consumption of a laptop and light, and an air conditioner? Are we investing our green effort in the right device? What does energy star mean exactly? Have we been properly informed?

Perhaps many people know that large appliances such as a washer consume more energy than a mini mixer, but how to go greener is still a burden. This burden has several reasons. Green efforts are sometimes miscommunicated and confusing. On the other hand, there is always a “status quo bias”. This difficulty to change is not related to political views. Both conservative and liberal people see the 2050s to be dominated by renewable energies. This is unlike the general perception but, most people predict that and want that. The key to reaching the goal of being green in the 2050s is a triangle of synergy: individuals, society, and government. Individual activities, although being necessary, is not enough. Our social task to fight climate change is to share this concern and encourage others to join the campaign. Just like what we saw in the current pandemic. We cannot save ourselves by only washing hands. It must be accompanied by social distancing.

On the other hand, the government needs to lead the campaign with proper communication. What is proper communication? According to the research mentioned earlier, influencers such as leaders, climate scientists, and communicators should be sufficiently committed to the green movement to gain buy-in from the citizens. However, being much different from ordinary people might have an adverse effect. One approach to resolve this challenge is having climate communicators from diverse backgrounds to address diverse audiences. The pandemic has changed many things so far, and we can resume many of our activities differently. COVID-19 taught a lesson that can be adopted for this situation. Behavioral change is quite possible. Even a fast change is possible and can outweigh that bias mentioned earlier. All we need is I) being clearly informed, and, II) synergy.

And finally, where are we in climate change fight? Are the goals too far? How much effort do we need to totally offset the carbon we have made so far? If the emission drops by 5% in 2020 because of COVID-19, such reduction is needed every year to reach the net-zero in 2050. But this cannot be reached by an annual lockdown program. A policy is required to secure this goal. The fact that the lockdown of New York reduced the emission by 10% suggests that individual efforts should be accompanied by policies and all entities should work together against climate change.

References

1) https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52485712

2) https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/05/14/how-our-brains-make-it-hard-solve-climate-change/