Change my personal lifestyle to fight climate change?

There are many possible changes in lifestyle we can take to tackle climate change. Look at the graph!

Can you see how some actions can save huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions but some not so much [10,9,2,3]!?

Our lifestyles are likely to change due to changes that governments make to reduce emissions [8]. It’s estimated that to keep global warming below or at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, each person in developed countries would need to lower their emissions 80-93% by 2050 [1]!

Therefore it’s important to see that personal changes can only have a significant effect if almost everyone acts [1]. This can happen through social movements [4,6,7], or other ways of influencing behaviour like tax [5].


[1] 1.5 Degree Lifestyles, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, 2019. Within report see: Executive Summary

[2] Life Cycle Assessment of grocery carrier bags. 2018. Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark. See: Table 10: LDPEavg CC impact = 1.1.x10^-1 kgCO2eq. So 10 plastic bags have CC impact of 1.1 kgCO2eq. N.B. Assumes bags are incinerated

[3] CO2-equivalent emissions from European passenger vehicles in the years 1995–2015 based on real-world use: Assessing the climate benefit of the European “diesel boom”. Helmers et al. 2019. Atmospheric Environment. See: Fig. 1. D) 0.175kgCO2eq/km for new petrol or diesel car produced in 2015. So driving 10km in a car takes about 1.75kgCO2eq.

[4] Veganism as a Cultural Movement: A Relational Approach, Cherry 2006. Within paper see: Abstract

[5] The distributional effects of carbon-based food taxes, Garcia-Muros et al. 2017. Within paper see: Abstract

[6] Transnational Activism and Global Transformations: The Anti-Apartheid and Abolitionist Experiences, Klotz 2002. Within paper see, for example: Abstract

[7] Low-carbon communities as a context for individual behavioural change, Heiskanen et al. 2010

[8] 1.5 Degree Lifestyles, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, 2019. Within report see: 5. Conclusions, Some practical implications of the study

[9] The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Wynes and Nicholas 2017. Environmental Research Letters. See: ‘avoiding airplane travel (1.6 tCO2e saved per roundtrip transatlantic flight)’

[10] Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers, Poore and Nemecek 2018, Science. Download supplementary material S2. GHG Emissions for Bovine Meat (beef herd) mean = 99.5 kg CO2eq/FU, where FU = 1kg of fat and bone-free meat and edible offal. If a steak weighs 333g, then GHG from 10 steaks is 99.5/3*10=331.67 kg CO2eq.

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