The United Nations is urging governments around the world to tax polluting industries, end fossil fuel subsidies, and stop building new coal power plants to lower air pollution that is choking the planet.

Instead of waiting for governments to act, you can do your bit by cutting down your carbon footprint, which is the measure of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a person or an organisation.

Experts have set a sustainable target of two tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per person per year. In 2014, the per capita carbon emission in Qatar was the highest at 45.4 tonnes. It was 16.5 tonnes for the United States, 7.5 tonnes for China, and 1.7 tonnes for India in 2014, showed data.

India’s current per capita emission is 1.8 tonnes, according to the country’s biennial update report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2018.

Here are some of the most effective ways to cut down your carbon footprint.

· Have fewer children: The most efficient way to cut your carbon emission significantly is by having fewer children. Just by having one less child, a parent can save over 58 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission, much more significant than recycling or using energy efficient light bulbs.

· Ditch the car: The next best measure for cutting your carbon emission is living without a car. Using public transport and giving up a car for good can bring down a person’s emissions by 2.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

· Drive efficiently: If you cannot give up your car, ensure that you get one that is energy efficient. While driving goes easy on the brakes and accelerator, keep the engine well-tuned and cut down on air conditioning, when possible.

· Forgo air travel: The aviation industry accounts for an estimated 2% of all the carbon emitted by humans every year. Not taking just one round-trip transatlantic flight can cut a person’s carbon emission by 1.6 tonnes a year, shows research.

· Go vegetarian or vegan: Growing livestock for food is resource-intensive and increases the carbon footprint massively. Growing livestock results in 14.5% of the total global carbon emission. Plus, 77% of the land under cultivation is actually used for growing food for the livestock, which could otherwise be utilised for growing vegetarian food. Researchers suggest eating a plant-based diet can reduce your carbon footprint by 0.8 tonnes per year.

· Do not waste food: If you do not want to cut down on eating meat, ensure that you do not throw away leftover food. Wasting food wastes the energy (and carbon) it took to produce, package and get the food to your plate. Globally, wasted food adds about 8% of the total carbon emitted through human activities.

· Make your house energy efficient: Ensure that your home and offices maintain a comfortable temperature to reduce carbon emissions. Use LEDs instead of incandescent lights. Buy energy efficient appliances.