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Changing your personal lifestyle is just a small part of solving the climate crisis

For developed countries, such as the United States, there are some simple lifestyle changes that would reduce emissions.

Hundreds of scientists called for immediate, drastic action to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases in a larger report last week.

The original goal set in the historic Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures – fades quickly into the rearview mirror. The new report, from UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changedrew a roadmap to give the planet one last chance at 1.5 degrees.

The IPCC warned that emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide methane should peak as soon as possible – by 2025 at the latest – then fall to half their current level in 2030 and fall to zero by 2050. This means drastic changes across all sectors of human life, in particular a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, coal and oil, for renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power.

Conversations about reducing emissions often involve one well-known refrain: What can I do? How can I make my lifestyle more sustainable?

The truth is that only a small part of the IPCC’s roadmap involves individuals changing their daily behavior. There are some lifestyle changes that can be effective if people in developing countries implement them en masse – diet, food waste and transportation choices. But the report stressed that government policies and better business practices were needed to change human behavior on a large scale.

“Lifestyle choices and behaviors are certainly important. But not everything is under our control,” said Edward Byers, an energy and climate researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and a lead author on the IPCC report.

You can switch your gas hatch to an electric vehicle tomorrow, Byers added, but you may not be able to choose whether the new car’s electricity came from a solar farm or a coal-fired power plant.

‘Influencers’ make daily decisions with major emission implications

For developed countries, such as the United States, there are some simple lifestyle changes that would reduce emissions. For example, it could make a big difference if city dwellers dropped their cars for cycling, walking and public transportation.

But that only happens if planners and developers make cities more viable by building homes near businesses, designing bike-safe roads, and planning accessible, low-cost public transportation systems.

That’s why Stephanie Roe, lead author of the IPCC report and climate scientist at the World Wide Fund for Nature, thinks of individual action in the form of “influencers”. Such people have the power to make major choices as professionals – such as planning transit systems or deciding what a restaurant chain does with its extra food – that can either significantly reduce emissions or have cascading effects that affect other people’s behavior.

“We often assume that it must be these top-down decisions, either from the federal or state level, that can make these changes. But often it is actually the actions of individuals in these sectors that can make a big difference. ” said Roe.

“For example, if you have someone who builds houses to live on – that builder or that builder can choose heat pumps over boilers, or they can choose induction heaters over gas stoves,” she added. “These kinds of decisions, which are not necessarily facilitated or the incentive yet of policy, are made on an individual basis.”

Food waste, which releases heavy methane gas when decomposed is a problem whose solution can largely fall on individual consumers. The IPCC report found that in 2019, 61% of the world’s food waste came from households.

Nevertheless, the report recommended the creation of education campaigns to reduce household food waste, policies to make expiry date labels clearer and improved packaging to extend shelf life.

“A large part of the responsibility is to decarbonize lives with large companies, industries and governments to establish the proper incentives and regulatory framework,” Byers said. There are “many, many things that the public can do in their everyday choices. This also requires a centralized and coordinated action and political will.”

Changing your personal lifestyle is just a small part of solving the climate crisis

Source link Changing your personal lifestyle is just a small part of solving the climate crisis

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