What small steps are you taking to mitigate climate change?
Did you know that our small everyday actions, compounding over time, can make a big difference to combatting the impacts of climate change?
Whether it's having our own compost heap at home or recycling our plastic waste, our individual actions often seem insignificant in the big picture of climate change action.
That's why Lily Dempster, an ANU alumna, has created One Small Step, a social enterprise that uses technology and behavioural science to make it easy and rewarding for people to successfully adopt greener habits.
"You're more powerful than you realise," Lily says.
"If you're serious about climate change mitigation, and you're worried about the future of the planet, then there's a lot you can do."
From her early work as an environmental campaigner at GetUp, Lily found that an underrepresented area in the environmental movement was people changing their behaviour.
At GetUp, Lily was running consumer campaigns which analysed the environmental impacts when people switched electricity retailers to renewable energy products and services.
"During those campaigns, we adopted a carbon accounting process to assess the impact. We found it was really significant in terms of the total carbon emissions reduced from people making the switch to renewable energy."
"I could see the huge carbon impact potential that behaviour change could have, particularly in wealthy, high-consumption countries like Australia. And so, I wanted to build a tool that made it easier for people to reduce emissions through simple lifestyle changes."
In building One Small Step, Lily's goal is to help people reduce their carbon footprints to 2 tonnes of CO2 or below, in line with the United Nation's 2050 goal for annual per person carbon footprints.
"The most recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report found that between 40-70 per cent of global carbon emission reductions could come from demand-side climate change mitigation. Yet a huge amount of venture funding and federal policy focus has been on the supply-side."
"The truth is we need to tackle both demand and supply to effectively tackle the climate crisis, and One Small Step is just one initiative trying to better address demand-side mitigation."
"If 50,000 of us reduced our personal carbon footprints by just a quarter over the next 12 months, that saves a whopping 250,000 tonnes of carbon emissions (taking an average of 20 tonnes of CO2e a year as a baseline)."
"That's the same saving you get from planting four million tree seedlings, or from taking 54,000 cars off the road or from running 54 wind turbines instead of using fossil fuel energy for a year," the One Small Step website reads.
To date, 70,000 people in Australia have downloaded the app.
Lily's work in creating One Small Step has led to her recent accolade of being named a 2023 Fellow of the Cartier Women's Initiative for Oceania.
Her fellowship profile reads,
"One Small Step is helping society to rapidly decarbonize with an app that helps anyone achieve net zero emissions through lifestyle changes."
This World Environment Day, Lily reminds the ANU community to not underestimate the power of our individual actions.
"Individual behaviour changes are not everything when it comes to climate change and environmental sustainability, but it's a crucial aspect."
In particular, Lily encourages us all to focus on where we have the most leverage and the most power and to use that capacity to the best of our ability.
"One Small Step helps you identify areas where you can have the biggest impact and then makes it easy for you to take those steps."
"The change you can make through the app is pretty significant."
To download One Small Step, head to https://www.onesmallstepapp.com/