Norwegian researchers have some advice on how individual consumers can make conscious choices that are climate friendly. Their 34 tips include carpooling, cutting back on meat and taking public transit.
The gift-giving season is often a time of great joy – and great waste. But a team of researchers in Norway have a list of 34 different actions that consumers can take to do their part to mitigate climate change.
Their paper, Climate change mitigation potential of Norwegian households and the rebound effect, with Eivind Lekve Bjelle as first author, was recently published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.
What’s more, their study looks directly at what consumers can do to help make the 2-degree goal a reality, rather than relying on government action or industry policies.
“For me the most important take-home message is that Norwegian households can significantly lower their carbon footprint by actively changing their pattern of consumption,” Bjelle said in a university statement.
But there’s a catch: if consumers cut back on the amount they drive or invest in highly efficient household appliances, that’s good for the money and they’ll also likely find themselves with a little extra cash in their pockets.
That’s where the trap lies, says co-author Kjartan Steen-Olsen.
“When households take climate actions to reduce emissions, they typically also save money,” he said. “This money is often spent on discretionary items with relatively high climate impacts and the net emissions savings will be reduced.”
This secondary effect is called the rebound effect, and can reduce the savings from the initial emission savings.
For the researchers, a climate-smart consumer must also therefore be a purchase-smart consumer. This means also means purchasing durable goods that can be repaired or clothing and furniture that will last a long time, even if they might cost more.
“Consumers can focus on purchasing ‘better’ goods rather than necessarily less,” said Richard Wood, who led the research team. “Consumers should aim for purchases of goods and services that improve their quality of life, rather than material possessions.”
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