A new research from the Hot or Cool Institute released on Tuesday found that all G20 countries analysed exceed the lifestyle carbon footprint for 2050, requiring rapid and radical reductions.
The report explores policies the governments can implement to pave the way for greener lifestyles, rather than focusing on individual behaviour changes, which will not be sufficient to achieve these reductions.
The latest edition of the Institute’s 1.5-Degree Lifestyles report analyses lifestyle carbon footprints from nine G20 countries around the world — Canada, the UK, Japan, China, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, India and Indonesia as well as Finland — and identifies where changes can be made to meet the Paris Agreement 1.5 degrees C climate target.
By analysing lifestyle habits in six domains — food, housing, personal transport, goods, leisure, and services — this report presents the current per capita lifestyle carbon footprints for each country, and delivers options for shrinking lifestyle footprints in line with a 1.5 degrees C world.
In order to meet the 2050 ambitious Paris target, high-income countries’ lifestyle footprints need to be reduced by over 90 per cent (91-95 per cent), upper-middle income countries need to reduce their footprints by 68-86 per cent, and lower-middle income countries like India need to reduce footprints by 76 per cent.
The study also highlights the huge inequalities and differences in lifestyle-related greenhouse gas emissions among the world’s major economies. An average person in Canada, the country with the highest per-capita emissions among the economies studied, has a lifestyle footprint six times larger than a person in Indonesia.
Going beyond individual behaviour change, the report looks at how a lack of enabling policies might be preventing people from making 1.5-aligned lifestyle choices.
From making specific recommendations for how countries can make changes to their public transport and housing infrastructure to calling for bans of high-carbon intensive consumerism like the use of mega yachts, this report outlines policies and market interventions that can be implemented at a domestic and international level to curb lifestyle carbon footprints.
Lewis Akenji, the lead author of the report, says: “Talking about lifestyle changes is a hot-potato issue to policymakers who are afraid to threaten the lifestyles of voters. This report brings a science-based approach and shows that without addressing lifestyles we will not be able to address climate change.”
Sandrine Dixson-Decleve, co-president of the Club of Rome says: “The solutions advocated in this report acknowledge that 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. This report is an essential companion for policymakers working at the intersection of society and climate change.”
Kazuhiko Takeuchi, President of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Japan based think tank, says: “This report highlights the importance of why countries such as Japan, which have made net-zero commitments, need to show how changes in lifestyles can contribute to this goal, and also how the goal itself will shape societies in the future. Further collaboration among stakeholders, citizens, and the business and the public sectors, to realise lifestyle changes is crucial to fulfil the net-zero commitments.”