Home Science Major changes in our lifestyle in the face of climate crisis

Major changes in our lifestyle in the face of climate crisis

Adopting new habits to combat climate change means changing the way we move, consume and eat. It’s not easy: in general, Europeans are reticent. Furthermore, individual actions must be accompanied by climate policies to limit the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5ºC.

Twelve years ago, just before the Copenhagen Climate Summit, which was one of the biggest disappointments in terms of the climate struggle, two Indian researchers in a study called on society to change its lifestyle and thus reduce emissions. greenhouse gases.

This shift, they said, must be accompanied by an ongoing effort towards greater awareness of sustainable lifestyles, energy issues and the creation of synergies between policy, regulation, technology, market forces and ethical imperatives.

The change must focus on energy consumption patterns. It is important to include this in the global political discourse.”, emphasized the researchers in their work. More than a decade later, and with considerable advances in climate action following the approval of the Paris Agreement in 2015, few habits have been changed to achieve the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

At this time, purchases of electric cars did not particularly increase, nor did air travel decrease – except for months of confinement and pandemic due to covid-19. In most cases, we continue to buy food regardless of its origin and eat red meat as if that doesn’t really influence the climate emergency. We also continue to consume energy in our homes in the same way.

This is confirmed by the latest survey conducted in August 2021 by the YouGov-Cambridge Public Opinion Research Center in the UK, which looked at the environmental attitudes of around 9,000 people in seven European countries, including Spain (UK, 1,767; Germany, 2,108 ; France, 1,035; Denmark, 1,009; Sweden, 1,015; Spain, 1,050; Italy, 1,000).

The results, published recently, reveal that in general Europeans want urgent action against climate change, but are far from changing their way of life: they remain loyal meat consumers and question policy proposals such as banning the sale of new oil. vehicles from 2030.

Concern about climate change is very high in all countries, although knowledge of the concrete measures that can be taken to face it is lesser, and action also falls short of concern.”Says Lorraine Whitmarsh, director of the Center for Climate Change and Social Transformation (CAST) and researcher at the University of Bath (UK).

In each national sample, the majority of respondents agreed that climate change is a genuine phenomenon and a major concern, and rejected the idea that its seriousness is being exaggerated. So what are you waiting for to make certain personal decisions?

More electric car and less red meat

Glasgow, Copenaghe, Paris Agreement, climate change, oil, greenhouse effect, electric car, plane, carbon, red meat

Climate change is an issue that can seem distant or abstract to people compared to the more immediate concerns of everyday life, so it generally doesn’t influence people’s decisions.“Whitmarsh emphasizes as the main obstacle.

However, the scientific community warns that the changes that must take place in the energy system to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will not be enough if they are not accompanied by a change in the social system. It is necessary to change the way we work, how we travel and even how we eat.

Currently, measures to reduce carbon emissions are often expensive and complicated or not socially “normal”. “It is necessary to make it easier, cheaper and make the option standard”, insists the researcher.

While people show great enthusiasm for the rewilding (reforestation or restoration of ecosystems to their natural state), with 70% support in Great Britain and 79% in Spain according to the survey, mood weakens when it comes to lifestyle change.

In most European countries, most people eat meat at least several times a week. Of those interviewed, only a small portion claimed to have reduced their consumption of meat in the last 12 months and, of these, usually about half or less did so for environmental reasons.

But, in addition to following a low-carbon diet, without a doubt, it is in the means of transport and mobility that changes must occur first. “Living without a car (or, failing that, buying an electric vehicle) is the best thing people can do to reduce their carbon footprint by avoiding flying”, Emphasizes the British scientist.

government support

Reducing an individual’s carbon footprint is directly related to how we move, travel and eat, but as citizens we can also influence decision-making on a larger scale to tackle the climate crisis. “Governments must be urged for broader change to make low-carbon options easier and more affordable“Says Whitmarsh.

In this sense, attitudes towards environmental action in the political sphere are very varied. In almost all countries, most respondents support the policy of increasing public investment in renewable energies such as solar, wind and tidal, with the majority in Great Britain (66%), Germany (52%), Denmark ( 65%), Spain (74%) and Italy (69%). Only France is reluctant with 24% support.

However, in other areas, public support is wavering and variable, such as a ban on the sale of gasoline or diesel cars and vans, or a frequent flyer tax. Measures that are, however, necessary because, although education is part of the answer, it is not enough.

More importantly, governments implement policies such as frequent flyer fees, pedestrian charging and congestion, parking fees, carbon taxes, subsidies for electric vehicles and heat pumps, and regulations to ban the most polluting products and practices in order to make it easier for everyone to take action to reduce carbon emissions”, The British moat.

In that sense, and after two weeks of the Climate Summit that took place in Glasgow, in general people in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Italy strongly support many of the objectives of the negotiations. to COP26, “at least in principle”Says Emily Shuckburgh, director of Cambridge Zero. But in fact, just a few months before it started, only a third of British adults were aware of its celebration at home, a number that dwindles when questioned in other countries.

The researcher emphasizes that COP26 must be seen as a vital summit in which the world must take immediate and significant measures for the climate. “But the bad news is that most people have barely realized that the world leaders who can really act will be in our own backyard.”, concludes.

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