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Big lifestyle changes needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C, says Sitra – Helsinki Times

“The 1.5°C lifestyle necessitates changes in our everyday habits at home, work and leisure.”

Sitra on Thursday published a report together with its international partners modelling the changes required to pep global warming below the threshold regarded as crucial for preventing the worst irreversible impacts of climate change. The report examines roughly 30 alternatives for closing the so-called lifestyle gap, such as living in smaller spaces, switching away from car use and adopting predominantly plant-based diets.

People in Finland, it concluded, must reduce emissions arising from their consumption habits by 75 per cent in the next 10 years and by over 90 per cent by 2050.

Finns currently have an annual lifestyle carbon footprint of an estimated 10,400 kilos, the bulk of which is made up of emissions from transport (2,790 kilos), housing (2,500 kilos) and food consumption (1,750 kilos).

Sitra has calculated that the footprint could be reduced by 1,500 kilos by using public transport for private travel, by 1,120 kilos by adopting a vegan diet and 1,060 kilos by switching to an electric vehicle. A full list of the measures and their estimated impact on carbon footprints can be found below.

Consumers, it acknowledged, alone cannot create the change needed.

“The required levels of reductions, exceeding 90 per cent based on current lifestyle carbon footprints, imply a radical rethink of sustainability governance and the need for new business models to shift the paradigms on which we base infrastructure, economies and consumer lifestyles,” the report reads.

The average annual lifestyle carbon footprint is estimated at 7,600 kilos in Japan, 4,200 kilos in China, 2,800 kilos in Brazil and 2,000 kilos in India. The footprints should be decreased to 2,500 kilos by 2030, 1,400 kilos by 2040 and 700 kilos by 2050, according to Sitra.

“This would require very ambitious levels of introduction in Finland and Japan, such as over 75 per cent for around 30 options,” it said.

From over 10,000 to less than 1,000 kilos of CO2 emissions by 2050
Estimated carbon footprint reduction (CO2e)  

1,560

Not using a car for private travel (public transport)

1,120

Adopting a vegan diet

1,060

Switching to an electric car

900

Adopting a (lacto-ovo) vegetarian diet

810

Switching to a hybrid car

790

Using renewable energy in heating

700

Improving fuel-efficiency of vehicle

610

Using a heat pump in heating

580

Improving energy-efficiency of buildings

560

Using wind power

540

Renting a guest room to travellers (23m2 for 27 weeks)

450

Replacing dairy products with plant-based alternatives

410

Living (80%) closer to workplace

400

Using an electric bicycle instead of car for commutes

370

Reducing domestic and international flights

370

Using public transport instead of car for commutes

360

Replacing red meat with chicken and fish

340

Sharing a ride with one person

230

Working remotely (office workers)

220

Reducing living space by roughly 10%

140

Saving hot water

130

Reducing the consumption of sweets and alcohol

130

Lowering room temperature by 2°C

130

Improving efficiency of food production

50

Reducing food loss in production

40

Improving efficiency of household appliances

40

Reducing food loss in households

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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