Action on Climate Change

On equity grounds, all people should be allocated an equal carbon footprint: about 2 tonnes per person.

In general, higher consumption lifestyles have a greater environmental impact. Several scientific studies have shown that when people, especially those living in developed countries but more generally including all countries, wish to reduce their carbon footprint, there are key „high-impact“ actions they can take:

  • Living car-free (2.4 tonnes CO2 per year)
  • Avoiding one round-trip transatlantic flight (1.6 tonnes per trip)
  • Eating a plant-based diet (0.8 tonnes per year)

These differ significantly from the popular advice for “greening” one’s lifestyle, which fall mostly into the “low-impact” category: Replacing a typical car with a hybrid (0.52 tonnes); Washing clothes in cold water (0.25 tonnes); Recycling (0.21 tonnes); Upgrading light bulbs (0.10 tonnes); etc. The researchers found that public discourse on reducing one’s carbon footprint overwhelmingly focuses on low-impact behaviors, and that mention of the high-impact behaviors is almost non-existent in the mainstream media, government publications, K-12 school textbooks, etc. The researchers added that “Our recommended high-impact actions are more effective than many more commonly discussed options (e.g. eating a plant-based diet saves eight times more emissions than upgrading light bulbs).

Travel green! ->

Other than setting fire to a forest, flying is said to be “the single worst thing an ordinary individual can do to cause climate change.” Replacing a long-haul flight with a local holiday can save over six tonnes of CO2.