A little while ago I spoke to a Friends of the Earth Meeting about climate change. I pointed out that:
Households are responsible for 28% of total final energy demand, 34% of electricity use, and a quarter of UK carbon dioxide emissions. We now use 70% more electricity for lights and appliances than we did in 1970 Electricity and gas use has risen by nearly 20% since 1990, and the trend continues. Up to half of UK householders do not even look at their energy bills.
The argument I was making was that:
this can’t be a debate where we as individuals expect institutions (however well intentioned) to come up will all the solutions and to carry all the burdens.
I need the institutions I rely on to be thinking about these things, but I also need to find ways to reduce the impact that I and my family have on the planet and I need to find a way of involving my neighbours in that same quest.
Had I but known it, I think I was describing, and advocating for, environmental citizenship. Cleaver people than I have been doing the same thing and there's now a website and a pamphlet which are definately worth a read.
Citizenship has traditionally been associated with the public arenas of government and civil society. Public actions, such as lobbying government for stricter environmental regulations and participating in campaigns to protect vulnerable ecosystems, are central to environmental citizenship. However, because actions and choices in the private spheres of the household and market have environmental consequences, they too are considered appropriate spaces for the enactment of environmental citizenship. Private actions include, for example, composting and recycling waste, reducing energy consumption and choosing to consume low impact goods and services.
(via David Miliband)