Simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint ahead of COP27 climate change conference

  • Tap to watch video report by ITV Meridian's Andy Dickenson

Your everyday routine or lifelong habits as consumers all have an impact on your personal carbon footprint - whether that's opting for a coffee over a tea in the morning, what you cook on the BBQ and the fruit you choose in the shop.

Ahead of the COP27 conference in Egypt, there's a renewed focus on what governments can do to tackle climate change - but there are tough choices we now have to make as individuals to help too.

Dr Melissa Lazenby, a lecturer in climate change at the University of Sussex says it's not just how we produce our food, but what we eat and drink that will now have to change.

ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson asked her some of the questions consumers now face:

Dr Melissa Lazenby says opting for a tea is better for the environment

What's better for the environment, tea or coffee?

Melissa says: "Typically tea has less greenhouse gas emissions than coffee just based on how coffee is produced and the land that it requires to farm.

"What I think people need to focus more on if they want to make a bigger impact is actually how much milk and the type of milk they use - if you have a lot of milk or have say a cappuccino or a latte, that increases your carbon footprint exponentially due to the dairy products.

“What also matters is how much water you boil, so only boil as much water as you need and keep that to a minimum.”

A beef burger, a soy sausage or halloumi - which is most responsible for heating up the planet?

Does it make a difference what food you cook on the BBQ?

Yes. The production of red meat requires a lot of food, water and land, while cows themselves produce methane - a harmful greenhouse gas - via microbes in their stomachs while processing food.

Melissa says: "The comparison on this is really stark. If you're having a barbecue, if you want to make the least amount of impact on the environment and on climate, don't go for a beef burger.

"That's got the most methane - 25 times more compared to the soy sausage - beef and lamb are the worst.

"In terms of what is actually sustainable for the planet, we are going to have to really think about reducing meat dramatically, meat and dairy products dramatically. Not completely cutting them out, it's just how much meat some countries and some people really consume."

  • Does it matter where I go on holiday?

Yes. Flying is responsible for a huge proportion of a consumer's annual carbon footprint - especially if you're a habitual or long-haul flyer. A return flight between London and New York emits 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide - three times the amount that someone living in Ghana will emit in a year.

Opting for public transport like the train - which albeit can take longer - produces the least carbon emissions. Or even better – ride a bike or walk and take trips locally.

If air travel is your only option, choose to fly economy, fly direct, pack light, and try to choose greener airlines. Comparison websites now highlight the more eco-friendly flights.

Melissa says: “For some people it may be more difficult than for others to think about cutting back on holidays or long-haul flights every year.

"I think because we’ve experienced a pandemic recently, the whole world has experienced uncomfortable changes so I think now is the best time more than ever to actually try and get that trajectory going and be where we are to make those transformative changes."

When Kent strawberries are out of season, what difference does it make to buy blueberries from Peru?

How much of an impact does buying local produce have in reducing my carbon footprint?

Melissa says: “Seasonally its so much better to eat local produce, however fruit and vegetables in terms of the bigger picture doesn’t have a massive impact on your carbon footprint.”