Best Ways To Cut Climate Change Are Overlooked

Governments and schools are failing to help people to recognize the best ways to cut climate change, researchers say


Published:

Teachers and policymakers are missing a golden opportunity to show people the best ways to cut climate change and reduce their carbon footprint, a study says.

It identifies four ways of behaving that it says will have the most substantial effect in decreasing someone’s climate impact: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living without reliance on a car, and having smaller families.

The researchers, from Lund University in Sweden, analysed 39 peer-reviewed papers, carbon calculators and government reports to calculate the potential of a range of individual lifestyle choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They say their comprehensive analysis identifies what people can do to have the greatest impact.

Writing in the journal Environmental Research Lettersthe authors say their study found the incremental changes advocated by governments may represent a missed opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beneath the levels needed to prevent 2°C of climate warming, the goal set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Better Choices 

The lead author of the Swedish study, Seth Wynes, said: “There are so many factors that affect the climate impact of personal choices, but bringing all these studies side-by-side gives us confidence we’ve identified actions that make a big difference.

“Those of us who want to step forward on climate need to know how our actions can have the greatest possible impact. This research is about helping people make more informed choices.

“For example, living car-free saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, while eating a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.

“These actions, therefore, have much greater potential to reduce emissions than commonly promoted strategies like comprehensive recycling (which is four times less effective than a plant-based diet) or changing household lightbulbs (eight times less effective).”

Less Potential

The researchers also found that neither Canadian school textbooks nor government resources from the EU, US, Canada and Australia highlight these actions, focusing instead  on incremental changes with much smaller potential to reduce emissions.

Study co-author Kimberly Nicholas said: “We recognise these are deeply personal choices. But we can’t ignore the climate effect our lifestyle actually has. Personally, I’ve found it really positive to make many of these changes. It’s especially important for young people establishing lifelong patterns to be aware which choices have the biggest impact.”

The four behavioural changes on which the study concentrates have all been urged to different degrees, from the virtues of eating no (or at least less) meat to avoiding flying and reducing car pollution. There have also been warnings about the impact of that sensitive issue, human numbers.

Current Averages 

All the choices were compared on a life cycle basis for one individual making the decision under current average conditions in developed countries. This means, for example, that the emissions saved by switching from the prevailing Northern omnivorous diet to a plant-based one includes emissions from fertilisers, methane production by livestock, and the transport of food to shops and markets. 

The calculation for flights is based on the emissions for one person flying on a return flight (for instance New York to London) under average conditions, while living car-free estimates not only the emissions saved per person (based on average vehicle miles travelled and vehicle occupancy) but also those from vehicle production and maintenance, and from the burning of fuel.

The calculation on family size measures the cumulative impact of current and future descendants, and current levels for all emissions produced over the lifespan of descendants, divided by the life expectancy of the parent.  

Buying green energy, often suggested as an effective way to cut a person’s carbon footprint, was sometimes but not always treated by the researchers as a high-impact action.

They say the sorts of behaviour that are most effective at reducing people’s personal emissions can also be seen as desirable choices which promote a slower and healthier lifestyle.

They also confront the distinct possibility that some readers will not like their suggestions: “Though some high-impact actions may be politically unpopular, from an emissions reduction perspective this does not justify a focus on moderate or low-impact actions at the expense of high-impact actions.

“As a specific example, one textbook says ‘making a difference doesn’t have to be difficult’ and provides the example of switching from plastic bags to reusable shopping bags in order to save 5kg of CO2 per year. This is less than 1% as effective as a year without eating meat. Examples like this represent missed opportunities to encourage serious engagement on climate change.

“Focusing on high-impact actions (through providing accurate guidance and information, especially to ‘catalytic’ individuals such as adolescents) could be an important dimension of scaling bottom-up action to the transformative decarbonisation implied by the Paris Agreement.”

Alex Kirby is a former BBC journalist and environment correspondent. He now works with universities, charities and international agencies to improve their media skills, and with journalists in the developing world keen to specialize in environmental reporting.

This article was republished from Climate News Network.

See also:
Healthy Diet Good For Climate Change
Waste: The Defining Metaphor Of Our Herding Culture

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

March 28, 2020

Lovely Venus offers pleasures to both begin and end the day. Her post-midnight trine to Jupiter keeps wide-eyed night owls and talkative partygoers engaged and entertained. The Moon, first in Taurus and much later, after nightfall in Gemini, forms half a…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2020

Keynotes: Susan Lataille, Roland M. Comtois and Rhys Thomas. 40 vendors! Terrific line up of passionate heart-based educators sharing empowering practices of living well. Tickets on...

Where:
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Warwick, RI


Telephone: 508-615-9805
Website »

More information

This Introductory class will lead into a Starseed Ascension Workshop series with 3 Levels. SPECIAL BONUS!  Receive a $25 discount on the Level 1 Workshop, April 4-5, if you attend this...

Cost: $95

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, #1A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Join Jeffrey Warren and Danielle Dionne for an evening of ecstatic trance exploration through sound and movement. Trance dance has the potential to be a gateway for self-exploration, healing,...

Cost: $25

Where:
Moth & Moon Studio
173 South River Rd
Suite #4
Bedford, NH  03110
View map »


Sponsor: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Contact Name: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Website »

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us for Monday Morning Meditation and discover the serenity and silence within your own being. This group is designed for people who are new to meditation and looking to explore the benefits...

Cost: $15

Where:
Moth & Moon Studio
173 South River Rd
Suite #4
Bedford, NH  03110
View map »


Sponsor: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Contact Name: Jeffrey Charles Warren
Website »

More information

We invite you to join our Monday evening community group. We are creating this group to introduce Mindfulness and Compassion meditations to the broader population, and to support the graduates of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Website »

More information

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Taijiquan (Tai Chi) morning classes every Tuesday 10-11:30am Taijiquan is a way to stay young and healthy using gentle flowing movements that uses not just the body but the mind as...

Cost: $20

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

This is a time where you’re probably finding life moving at a slower pace, which offers an unprecedented global opportunity for greater self care. With all the demands and speed of modern...

Where:
Online
, MA

More information

On March 26th, experience the mycelium network in action. To watch Fantastic Fungi at home and register for the Q&A, click here. As we enter into an even vaster understanding of just how...

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: Louie Schwartzberg and Paul Stamets
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this time of social distancing, it's important to make time and create new habits around maintaining your wellness. In support of that, we have gathered over 30 professionals who have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, NH


Sponsor: Ramsay Media LLC
Contact Name: Paul Ramsay
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this time of social distancing, it's important to make time and create new habits around maintaining your wellness. In support of that, we have gathered over 30 professionals who have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
, NH


Sponsor: Ramsay Media LLC
Contact Name: Paul Ramsay
Website »

More information

In her Art and Spirit workshops, Melissa combines her gift as an intuitive with her extensive background in painting to help you to work through creative blocks and learn or refine technique. Come...

Cost: $150

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, #1A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.” —Thich Nhat...

Cost: $30 before 3/25 ($35 after)

Where:
Online
, MA


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags