Lifestyles for climate justice

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News: A recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has pointed out that climate change has caused substantial damages, and increasingly irreversible losses, in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal, and open ocean marine ecosystems.

Policy approach to tackle climate change:

The policy approach to tackling this has tended to concentrate on supply-side changes, involving decarbonizing production. There is a need for equal emphasis on demand-side changes, reflected in the Prime Minister’s plea for a “Lifestyle for Environment” campaign at Glasgow 2021.

Need for focus on lifestyle:

This is based on behavioral changes on the demand side. At the global level, the richest 10% of the world population accounts for 47% of carbon emissions, and the poorest 50% accounts for just 10% of the emissions.

The geographical distribution of the rich and poor is substantially skewed. In many sub-Saharan countries, the vast majority of the population belongs to the bottom 50% of global carbon emitters. The share of people in the global top 10% is especially high in Western European countries and in the US.

In India, the carbon intensity of expenditure rises with income groups. This must be because high carbon-intensity products like cars and air-conditioners are used almost entirely by the top-income deciles.

This lifestyle of “yesterday’s luxuries become today’s necessities”, is a global problem as it has defined living standard goals and consumer behaviour in most countries.

What should be done?

The UNFCCC can promote sustainable consumption including reducing waste generation, assisting individuals and households to make environmentally sound purchasing decisions.

In India, the government should commission a survey on the carbon and environmental footprint of expenditure categorized by product and income groups.

Focus on specific measures, such as mandatory product standards that reduce the carbon footprint; using government purchase programs to promote environmentally safer products; labeling to show the carbon footprint; nudging consumer behavior through an information outreach; measures to reduce waste generation and mandatorily recycling discarded electronic products and durables by suppliers.

Such change in consumption pattern is essential for climate mitigation and climate justice.

Source: This post is created based on the article “Lifestyles for climate justice” published on 30th March in Business Standard.

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