How to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions
A new research study has identified the four lifestyle choices that are most effective in reducing a person’s carbon dioxide footprint: eating a plant-based diet, avoiding air travel, living without a car, and having fewer children.
– Now we have a better idea of which personal choices make the most difference to the climate. This allows us to focus on the actions that have the greatest impact
According to the researchers, choosing a plant-based diet can save 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year. By avoiding a transatlantic flight, 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent can be saved per trip and return trip. Furthermore, a person who chooses to live car-free can save 2.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
These figures can be compared to the fact that researchers recommend that an individual’s annual emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents must be 2.1 tonnes by 2050 if the goal of limiting the global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees is to be achieved. Today, the figure is 6.7 tonnes per person within the EU, 13.5 tonnes for Canada, 16.3 tonnes for Australia and 16.4 tonnes for the USA.
Finally, choosing not to have another child (or any child) can save the equivalent of 58.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year – based on all future offspring’s emissions and current consumption patterns.
Kimberly Nicholas and lead author Seth Wynes, now active at the University of British Columbia, are aware that the step to make these changes can be perceived as great, if not impossible. Especially regarding the most personal choice about whether to have children, and if so how many.
– At the same time, we can no longer ignore the climate impact our lifestyle actually has. By embracing at least some of these choices, we can make a change that can have a positive effect during our lifetime. Young people are also in a time of life when they are more open to making changes and then it is even more important that they are aware of which choices are most effective.