You may not feel able to fight global warming on your own–but government policy nudges could help wealthy consumers shift to greener lifestyles, says a new report
Food, housing, and personal transport have the largest impact on climate change–representing about four-fifths of total lifestyle carbon footprints, compared to other areas like goods, leisure, and services, according to the research.
But individual behaviour shifts alone will not be enough to transition to a low-carbon society, with researchers arguing those must happen alongside broader system change.
“Behaviour change can only do so much without a full turnaround from our pro-growth politics, financial and economic models towards a more holistic wellbeing economy,” said Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president of the Club of Rome, a Swiss non-profit.
…There are “deep inequalities” in lifestyle-linked greenhouse gas emissions among the world’s major economies, the report finds.
For example, a resident of Canada–which has the highest per-capita emissions among the 10 countries analysed–has on average lifestyle footprint more than six times bigger than someone in Indonesia.
“The emissions share of the top 1% highest-income earners is greater than the total emissions of the bottom 50% combined, and may be twice as high, according to some estimates,” the report notes.
To address this disparity, it recommends that governments adopt the idea of a “fair consumption space” that would allow the remaining carbon budget to be distributed in a fair manner.
Lifestyle carbon footprints need to be reduced by 91-95% by 2050 in high-income countries, compared with 76% in lower-middle income countries, according to the analysis.