The Guardian's 10:10 campaign

10:10 campaign bracelets coming out of the machine that is recycling them from an old 747.

10:10, a campaign to get individuals and organisations to reduce their emissions by 10% in 2010 is launched today, 1 September. The idea is simple and has proved surprisingly easy to communicate so far. Of course it has helped that the human tornado Franny Armstrong has been pushing it.


I think 10:10 will work because people instinctively know that they can make some small(ish) changes, reduce the amount of energy that they waste and spend a few hundred pounds getting more efficient equipment around the house. A 10% emissions reduction (whether in a school, an office or a semi-detached home in Oxford) is possible and yet meaningful. 10% is more than recycling your potato peelings but a lot less than going to live in a cave. It therefore appeals both to eco-doomsters who think that humankind needs to make massive changes within a decade and to practical householders who simply want to do their bit and save some money.

In the Guardian today, I’ve written a piece that lays out how people might choose to make cuts that get to a full 10% of total emissions, including those things that no one is directly responsible for, such as the electricity for streetlights, the gas needed to heat the offices of the Inland Revenue or the concrete going into a new bridge. I tried to present these options as an à la carte menu but the Guardian’s layout doesn’t really make this possible. So I’ve put the table here. If you are a typical UK resident, you need to choose a sufficient number of options to get up to a saving of about 1.5 tonnes. I’ve offered three columns – one for technology, one for waste avoidance, and the other for lifestyle changes, not least because I find people tend to gravitate towards just one of these options in their own thinking about emissions reduction.

10% is just the start. To get to the 80 or 90% reductions we eventually need is going to be more difficult and will involve fewer easier choices. Societies will find that they need to take every available option in all three columns, even those they find uncomfortable or unattractive. To put it at its starkest, we are probably going to need most of humankind to swing towards largely vegan diets at the same time as constructing 1,000 nuclear power stations across the world. But the people who instinctively see the case for veganism are those who are most opposed to nuclear, and vice versa. 10:10 will work as a campaign, but each succeeding percentage reduction is going to be more difficult.

View the table here.