To what extent can individuals contribute to fighting the climate crisis?
Admittedly, the extent is little, compared to the capacity of, let’s say, States which can enforce regulations and Companies that decide how the production system looks like. The things that individuals can do, by themselves, are mostly limited to changing their own consumption habits and lifestyles, or to protest and advocate for change in the system. These are relevant actions, and individuals shouldn’t feel like they don’t matter at all – although they are in fact very small, on the global scale. There are two additional aspects of individuals’ potential to act on the climate crisis that should be taken into consideration.
The first one regards the diversity between the individuals that leads to a diversity in their potential to fight the climate crisis. The financial situation of individuals, specifically, must be taken into account. A recent international study from the University of Leeds calculated that, across 86 countries, the richest 10% of people consume around 20 times more energy than the poorest 10%. The lifestyles led by rich people are often wasteful and excessive, which makes them, in a way, more responsible for the climate crisis; rich people also have a higher potential to act upon such global issues, as they tend to be more influential in government and in companies driving governmental policies. This said, it is true that high consumers live, like the rest of us, in a dysfunctional system that enables, and even rewards, their consumption.