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Individual solutions to the climate crisis—a flight of fancy

It is absurd to lecture ordinary people about making miniscule changes to their lifestyle in the name of tackling the climate crisis
Issue 2814
A graphic illustrating air pollution and climate change shows planes spewing clouds of emissions over a map of the world

Air travel could be responsible for up to 5 percent of emissions. But the polluting lifestyles of the private jet rich are more to blame for the climate crisis than ordinary people

What can ordinary people do about climate change? All too often advice in the mainstream press still tells us it is essential to make individual changes in our lives.

But amid rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events, it has become clear that individual change will do little to offset the emissions causing the crisis. In reality, the actions of a very few are driving temperatures up.

There was anger after TV reality star and millionaire Kylie Jenner took a 17 minute flight this week. It shone a spotlight on the polluting lifestyles of the super wealthy.

Air travel could be responsible for up to 5 percent of emissions. But those who fly by private jets or business class—which carry fewer people—are responsible for a greater proportion of that than the rest of us.

It is absurd to lecture ordinary people about making miniscule changes to their lifestyle and consumer habits while the biggest polluter by far—the fossil fuel industry—is allowed to continue. But it’s handy for politicians, businesses and their friends in the media to carry on because it lets them and their system off the hook.

One thing ordinary people can do about the climate crisis is join the fight to take on the real culprits.

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