Dreaming of a Sunny Christmas

By: Alyssa Pek, Communications Assistant

As the snow settles and the smell of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts fills the air, people forget their problems as they are enveloped in the spirit of the holiday season. However, there is one issue that should be at the back of everyone's minds as they light up their Christmas tree - what is the environmental impact of all these celebrations?

During the holiday season, we see a sharp increase in energy consumption throughout Europe. From Christmas lights put up in homes and throughout cities, to increased oven usage to feed your guests for your holiday parties, to your plane or train ride home to see your family - the holiday season is also a party for carbon emissions.

The climate impact of this surge in energy consumption is inevitably significant. However, there is no need to go into full Grinch mode just yet as there are plenty of solutions to limit your carbon emissions this holiday season. All we need is a Sunny Christmas.

Take for example the Christmas lights which illuminate our streets during this time of year. Lights in general contribute to 24.6% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, making them the biggest contributor globally. The addition of millions of lights for the holiday season certainly does not help the situation. In the US, Christmas lights consume approximately 6.63BkwH of energy - this is more than some developing countries consume in a year. If this energy comes from non-renewable sources, this could mean over 4,934,159 metric tons of GHG released into the atmosphere. Lighting that star up on top of your tree has more of an impact than you may have thought.

Luckily there is an easy solution to reconcile your desire for twinkling lights with your desire for being environmentally friendly. Solar-powered Christmas lights are now available in virtually every major retailer - and at a price much cheaper than what you would spend on the energy to power your traditional lights! If the Oxford Street Christmas lights in London made the switch to solar-powered lights, this would save approximately 1,722,825 tonnes of carbon emissions alone.

Other ways to reduce your carbon emissions during the holiday seasons include using energy from rooftop solar installations to power your Christmas dinner or charging your electric vehicle from a solar-powered station for your trip to go visit your loved ones. Of course, these solutions aren't just limited to the holiday season and can keep your carbon emissions low all year round.

A Sunny Christmas is at the top of our wish list, but we don't need Santa and his elves to make this wish come true. Let's avoid getting coal in our stockings this year and go solar this holiday season!

(Photo Credit: Visit London)