“We have to cut our carbon footprint in half if we have a hope of keeping global heating below 1.5 degrees. And we don’t have until 2030; we have to start reducing our emissions right now. If you divvy up the carbon budget by population, we pretty much have to reduce our per capita emissions of carbon dioxide to 2.5 tonnes per person.” -Lloyd Alter, Contributor @TreeHugger.com
What does it mean to live a 1.5-degree lifestyle?
The 1.5-degree lifestyle aims to reduce your carbon footprint by reducing consumption in three main categories: Food, Housing, and Transportation. It all started with the report published by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. The 1.5 Degree Lifestyles report proposes globally unified per capita targets for the carbon footprint from household consumption for the years 2030, 2040 and 2050. This summary of the report is intended to serve as a fact base for discussions on how we as a society, and stewards of our planet, can better limit global warming. The goal is to be within the 1.5-degree limit, which is the aspirational target of the Paris Agreement.
The report identifies potential options for reducing lifestyle-level carbon footprints on the basis of the literature and assesses the impact of such options. It provides suggestions and implications in terms of how to proceed towards lifestyles compatible with the 1.5 °C target. Most importantly, we learn the reason why we need a reduction of over 90% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The 1.5-degree targets are “based on a simplified calculation using population projections and household footprint share.” Today, the average person in Finland emits 10.4 *tonnes, the average Japanese 7.6, Chinese, 4.2. For 2030, the targets are between 3.2 and 2.5 tonnes per person. (To put it into perspective, food is 1.75 T, and it’s largely because of meat consumption.) So how do we reduce this number and get closer to the 1.5-degree target?
*A Metric tonne is 1000 kg, an American Ton is 1.102
What Can We Do to Live a 1.5 Degree Life?
Based on the report, the information gleaned on how to live the 1.5-degree lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint can be summed up into three categories: Food, Housing, and Transportation. These 3 main components have the highest impact of any lifestyle footprint (appx. 75%)
- Dairy and meat consumption – eat less meat and dairy and choose more vegetarian or plant-based dairy options
- Go totally Vegetarian or Vegan
- Reduce sweets and alcohol
- Less food waste on a household level and supply level
- Increase food production efficiency
- Reduce fossil-fuel-based energy – Increase our renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power
- More heat pumps in homes for heating
- Renting guest rooms
- Buy and live in smaller homes
- Lowering the thermostat by at least 2 degrees
- Saving hot water by washing clothes in cold water
- Build more energy-efficient homes, appliances and building supplies.
- Reduce our car and air travel – fly less, use public transportation (train, bus)
- Car-free commuting – Bicycle, train, public transport or carpool, or living closer to the office
- Purchase an electric or hybrid vehicle
- Shopping and consuming less new goods – buying well and purchasing less or buy used.
What steps are you taking in 2020 to live the 1.5-degree lifestyle?