University of Oxford; University of Antwerp / Sociology
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The evidence on climate change and its consequences is very overwhelming, planetary boundaries in terms of biodiversity and climate change have been trespassed. If we want to keep temperature rise below 1.5 °C (and there are good reasons to try doing that), efforts to reduce GHG emissions should be multiplied, at all levels (individual, local, national, international). It is clear that this requires both structural change and personal change. However, we should realise very well that part of the structural change that we need, will be targeted at changing individual decisions and behaviour, making it easier for each of us to live a way of life that respects planetary boundaries (e.g. spatial planning, better public transport, …).
Part of my research is about the extent to which our consumption patterns should change, even if we allow for major technological change – and so far it seems that consumption patterns need to change drastically, while overall reductions in consumption (especially among the richer part of the population) will be unavoidable if we take the climate crisis seriously.
Even though not enough, I try to live since many years with a relatively low envinromental impact: I am a life-long vegetarian, raising my kids vegetarian; we don’t own a car and drive very little; don’t buy too many clothes; never travel by plane for holidays; and also for work limit flights as much as possible. Invested in much better insulation of our dwelling, and always tried to live close to where I work. I vote for parties that most convincingly try to address the climate challenge. We keep our savings at Triodos Bank and invested in Ecopower. Some of these choices were/are not easy (eg being a vegetarian in the late 1980s-early 1990s; but undoubtedly one of the hardest things is not travelling to other continents, especially when being surrounded by people that have not cut back on their travelling to far-away destinations.
However, my main concern is that there are large inequities in (1) who contributed to pollution; (2) who suffers from the consequences; (3) who bears the cost and adverse consequences of mitigation and adaptation policies; (4) who defines the policies. A key
element of the transition is therefore to spread the costs and benefits in a way that is as fair as possible, both nationally and internationally.