How to reverse global warming? Part 1, A Swiss consumer guide

How to reverse global warming? Part 1, A Swiss consumer guide

-Article originally printed as an article on Linkedin

For Drawdown Switzerland’s launch I am publishing a 3 part guide on how Switzerland can help reverse global warming. In Part 1 here are 3 things Swiss consumers can do to reverse global warming today!

Part 2 of the guide will focus on Swiss producers and Part 3 on how the $6.6 trillion in assets under management at Swiss banks can be put to more profitable use and help reverse global warming internationally.

Summer 2018: Flooding in Lausanne and helicoptering water to cows due to drought

1. Switch to a plant-rich diet and reduce food waste

You can start a plant-rich (or based) diet the next time you go shopping at Coop or Migros[2]. For lunch and dinner out how about Hiltl and Tibits vegetarian and vegan restaurant chains? Hiltl has been serving vegetarian meals since 1898.

There are more and more plant-based alternatives from burgers to milk and even cheese. Do not be surprised if the pricing is often similar to or even more expensive than the meat equivalent , as producers are just at the start of getting economies of scale and retailers seek a price premium. But as with renewable energy, buying plant-based foods will make their price go down, particularly as meat is such an inefficient way of producing food.

Roger Lienhard, Founder and CEO of Blue Horizon, Swiss investor in plant-based food presenting at Innovation for Sustainability, Zurich September 4th 2018.

An overnight switch to a vegan diet overnight may not be for us all. However consuming Beef/lamb, pork and chickens are to our diet as coal, oil and natural gas fossil fuels are to producing energy, part of our past, not our future. Why? If only because of efficiency. “…. plant-based replacement diets can produce 20-fold and twofold more nutritionally similar food per cropland than beef and eggs…”[3], and 10-fold for pork and twofold for chickens. I will develop this point further in Part 2 the producer guide.

“Replacing all animal-based items with plant-based replacement diets (US alone) can add enough food to feed 350 million additional people, more than the expected benefits of eliminating all supply chain food loss”.

2. Buy 100% renewable sourced electricity and produce your own

The electricity you buy in Geneva, Basel and Nyon is already 100% renewable and 62% of electricity consumed nation-wide is from renewable sources (solar, wind and hydro). Just as you cannot tell which (retreating) glacier the water you drink from the tap is from, so you cannot tell which power plant your electricity comes from. However, by paying for 100% renewable energy you know your money goes to a clean energy source not a fossil fuel one[1]. The more you control the source of your energy the more you know about its origin. Better to pay for a domestic source for a little extra cost and perhaps best of all produced from your own rooftop solar panel , micro-wind turbine or in-stream hydro (if you have the luxury of a stream running through your property)

3. Rethink how you move

The car that you use less than 10% of the time costs you over 15,000 Swiss francs per year (VW Golf driven 10,000 Km/year) whereas a family of four pays about ½ that, 7,890 Swiss francs (Family pass) to use all Switzerland’s public transport system (including trains, trams, buses and boats).

Figure 1 Swiss public transport system Source: Swiss Federal Railways

For those closer to work commute by electric bicycle from Urban Connect provided by Swiss employers such as Roche, Zurich and Hiltl. And of course walk and bike everywhere, it’s healthier than sitting in a car, bus, tram or train!

Judith Häberli, Founder and CEO of Urban Connect (Photo Right)

[1] Pumped hydro in Switzerland must be pumped using renewable sources exclusively in order to avoid “laundering” fossil fuel powered electricity (i.e. payment going to fossil fuels powered producer).

[2] Coop and Migros are the 2 biggest food retailers in Switzerland

[3]The opportunity cost of animal based diets exceeds all food losseshttp://www.pnas.org/content/115/15/3804.


One thought on “How to reverse global warming? Part 1, A Swiss consumer guide

  1. Thank you for your initiative. Your list is fine, although air travel is missing. In fact there is not much an individual can do: and one often feels that one is the only one trying. Maybe it would be interesting to start, in collaboration with other associations working for the same goal, a club of citizens that would take the vow to do a certain number of things immediately: for example:
    -reduce immediately by 50% air travel and use of individual car
    – reduce by 50% the consumption of meat
    – finance the installation of at least 1 m2 of solar panels (through collective actions)
    – reduce the buying of new goods , especially from China (because of extended use of coal-based electricity)
    Such a club would give the individuals the opportunity to be counted and thus the encouragement of not beeing alone.

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