activism climate change

Take climate action with The Jump

I’ll be honest, I was a little sceptical about The Jump. For a start, does the world need another attempt at creating a movement around small actions for the climate? Isn’t there one that you could join already? And secondly, there are quite a lot of things called The Jump, including an ill-advised ski-jumping TV show, and a somewhat confused campaign about climate refugees and sky-diving called Jump for the Planet.

So what is this The Jump, and what makes it different from previous projects to encourage people to change their lifestyles?

For a start, the project has its roots in some substantial research from C40 Cities, Arup and the University of Leeds. Their report into urban consumption patterns for a 1.5 degree world helped to clarify that perennial question of whether or not individual actions makes a difference.

The research identified the need for considerable reductions in consumption from the world’s wealthiest consumers. Governments and businesses have the biggest role to play in this reduction, but individual consumers can deliver around a quarter of the carbon savings through their personal choices. There are six things could make a significant impact, and these form the basis for the campaign that has emerged out of the research:

Those actions are to keep products for longer, avoid private motoring, eat a plant based diet, buy secondhand and reduce new clothes shopping, and only fly ever three years. As a sixth action, the campaign encourages people to do something that ‘nudges the system’ – such as changing your bank or your energy supplier.

The campaign explains those actions in clear terms on a colourful website that is refreshingly honest about what they can acheive. This isn’t Al Gore telling people to change their lightbulbs at the end of An Inconvenient Truth. In their words, they’re aiming for actions that are “clear, constructive, impactful, doable.”

These shifts are not necessarily small – ‘no personal vehicles’ is deeply counter-cultural in a car-centred society. But they are do-able for many. The campaign invites people to try, to do what they can, recognising that making a start is the most important thing.

I also like the way the website brings joy to the foreground. People I know who are committed to environmental living don’t actually think about it in these terms, but the media consistently talks about ‘sacrifices’ when it comes to the planet. Giving things up. Going without. Saying no. It paints green living as a noble but joyless thing to do. The Jump is having none of that, based as it is on the idea that having more stuff isn’t what makes us happy in the first place. Having less isn’t a hardship, nor a return to a more primitive age:

“Taking the JUMP is not turning your back on progress. Consumption and material progress are not fundamentally bad things. In fact they’re vital, ask anyone without enough to meet their needs. It’s just that in many parts of the world and society there is excessive consumption which is devastating our planet while not bringing substantial extra benefit.”

This is a balanced view of consumerism that chimes with a lot of my own principles. Overconsumption without extra benefits is essentially what the book The Economics of Arrival was about, and it’s how we try and live as a family too. In fact, barring the leased electric car that we can’t currently do without (my wife’s work starts before the buses run), we do all six of these actions already.

So, have a browse of The Jump’s website. The day-glo tones of the campaign aren’t going to resonate for everyone, but if it brings a few more people into the conversation, and addresses some of the blind spots in current environmentalism, then all strength to their arm.

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