Feature article by Ellie Bolton.

Did you see the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) advertisements on the television this Christmas asking you if you are ready to say goodbye to the polar bears?  It is a very emotive ad.  Nobody wants to see polar bears disappear and their desperate plight as victims of human-caused climate change is distressing.  I hope that it has been an effective fundraising campaign.  But, perhaps what the advert should have gone on to say is that we all have a part to play in mitigating against the effects of climate change, and the people of Winchester more than most.

In 2007, WWF identified that the city of Winchester has the largest ecological footprint of any city in the UK.  Alarming, isn’t it?  To think that as a resident or business in the Winchester district we are contributing more than the UK average to the effects of climate change on creatures like the polar bears.  What can we do?

The good news is that there are lots of positive actions we can all take to reduce our impact on the environment.  By all means donate money to charities such as WWF.  That will certainly help.  But next take ownership of your carbon footprint by becoming a member of Winchester Action on Climate Change.

Formed in October 2007, Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) is a coalition of individuals and organisations, such as Hampshire County Council, Winchester City Council, the University of Winchester and Winchester Cathedral.  It aims to achieve widespread ownership of the issue of climate change as everyone’s issue and to encourage, persuade and advise all households and organisations to reduce their carbon footprints by a target of one-third by 2015.

So what is your carbon footprint, and how can you go about reducing it?

Well, it’s really a lot simpler than it sounds.  The average carbon footprint of a household with 4 people is around 17 tonnes per year.  This is based on things such as fuel usage in your home, car mileage and miles / gallon of the car and the number of air flights in a year (flying is particularly damaging to the environment).

Measuring your carbon footprint and committing to reduce it via the WinACC website is the first step to reducing your impact on the environment.  On the website you will also find lots and lots of helpful information on ways to reduce your carbon emissions, including links for accessing grants and even comparison tables for choosing the most energy efficient cars.

Click here to find out about your carbon footprint and join WinACC.

Go on; make some positive changes for the future.