Climate change guide launched as prelude to crucial Nairobi talks

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The Independent Online

For anyone feeling impotent in the face of climate change, help is at hand, in the form of a new 16-step guide to cutting carbon emissions in your own life.

I Count, written by members of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition of organisations dedicated to action on climate change, aims to cut through the mass of information on global warming.

Sir David Attenborough, Annie Lennox, Alistair McGowan and Jo Brand are supporting the book, which is published on the eve of global climate change talks organised by the United Nations in Nairobi. The idea for the £3 myth-busting guide came about after the campaign surveyed the information available to members of the public and concluded that the plethora of advice was confusing.

Drawing on expertise from its supporters, who include Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, the Women's Institute and the public service union Unison, the upbeat guide uses humour to encourage people to act.

Ashok Sinha, director of Stop Climate Chaos, said: "I think the steps will be no surprise to a number of Independent readers. Many people are aware of the problem, but aren't fully aware of what some of the solutions are."

In addition to straightforward measures such as turning down thermostats and taking more holidays in the UK, the book also encourages the public to take political action.

"We want to engage with as many people as possible in UK society to try to create a popular mandate for some of the unpopular decisions the Government will have to take," Mr Sinha said. "We need to make sure that politicians hear what we're doing and make clear to them that we expect the Government to take the decisions needed."

The back cover of the book, the full title of which is I Count - your step-by-step guide to climate bliss, is a tear-off postcard to the Prime Minister. It calls for a commitment to cut UK carbon pollution by at least 3 per cent year on year, to take a world lead on the issue and to support poor countries which are already having to tackle the disastrous effects of climate change.

Sir David Attenborough said climate change was the greatest man-made threat of all time. "Urgent action is needed - by individuals and most of all governments. Without political will, action on the scale required will not be possible."

Jo Brand, the comedian, said she usually hated books that tell you what to do. "But this one actually made me laugh and showed me how to save a bit of cash."

Alistair McGowan, the television impressionist, said: "It is not only exceptionally important, it's also pretty funny and gives you a great excuse to invite a friend to share a bath."

The book is published by Penguin, which had shown a "heartening" degree of support, Mr Sinha said. "It doesn't mean that, as a corporate entity, Penguin has taken a decision to be fully behind our campaign, but we get a real sense that Penguin not only likes the book because it thinks it will sell, but because it has cultural value and chimes with some of the aspirations Penguin has."

The book is the prelude to a day of action on Saturday, when at least 10,000 supporters are expected to attend a rally in Trafalgar Square, London, travelling by low-carbon means. "This is going to be the biggest climate change event this year and a chance for all of us who care to stand up and be counted," Mr Sinha said. "By joining us you can send a clear message to the Government that we want them to do all they can. In the run up to climate change talks in Nairobi, now is the time to make our voices heard."

Members of the public who cannot attend are being urged to sign up online or show support through texting "I Count" to 84424.

Steps to save the planet

* Feel the power of off - switch off (not to standby) appliances including televisions, stereos and mobile-phone chargers.

* Buy cool - the next time an appliance packs up, replace it with an A** rated one.

* Master your thermostat - turn your hot water thermostat down to 60C.

* Share your bath or, even better, take a shower.

* Buy local food if you can. For the rest of your shopping, buy fairtrade food.

* Don't buy anything with excess packaging.

* Recycle and start a compost heap.

* Visit a politician to find out what they are doing to cut carbon emissions.

* Switch to green energy.

* Cycle or walk for short journeys.

* Shun badly designed or unnecessary products, such as gas-fired patio heaters, lettuce from California and four-wheel-drive cars in the city.