Until now, the majority of climate change mitigation policies have primarily focused on reducing emissions on the production side, with comparatively fewer measures addressed to the demand side. According to the IPCC ‘having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050’. Despite their key role in addressing climate change, the importance of sustainable lifestyles and behavioural change is not yet sufficiently recognised in UNFCCC priorities and processes.
The Paris Agreement noted the importance of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production with an emphasis on the responsibility of the ‘developed country Parties’.
Nevertheless, the most recent Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) delivered on behalf of the EU and Member States, although containing a series of measures and actions to bring European countries on track to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century, compatible with limiting global warming to a 1.5°C increase, have not adequately incorporated lifestyle-related mitigation pathways.
Backed by the carried out scientific investigations, our key recommendations resolve around the following four priority areas of lifestyle changes with the highest recognised potential for reducing climate impacts:
- Cities and public authorities
- Resources and planetary health.