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Envisioning Future Low-Carbon Lifestyles and Transitioning Instruments: São Paulo, Brazil

  • Published on February 14, 2022

In São Paulo the participants expressed content with the household experiments in that they found ways of calculating and building upon their understanding of sustainable lifestyle choices. The experiments were a way of self-evaluation that brought to the attention of the participants how they can change habits and choose more low-carbon intense lifestyle options – and still live a healthy and happy life. In São Paulo the participants were asked how easy or difficult the different lifestyle options are to adopt. Avoiding and reducing food waste, house sharing, turning off lights when not in use, switching to LED lighting, and reducing TV time are among the options that were seen as very easy to adopt. Avoiding excessive packaging, substituting meat with low carbon protein, and avoiding car use are among the option that were less easy to adopt. The more difficult options according to the participants are: reducing meat and dairy consumption, repair items instead of buying new, choosing a vegan/vegetarian diet and bicycle use.

 

The Science is uncomfortably clear. The Paris Agreement proclaimed that we must “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius…” (UNFCCC, 2015) in order to mitigate unprecedented impacts of climate change such as further biodiversity loss and the deterioration of public health. Many of us feel an urgent need to combat climate change and its impacts.

196 countries agreed to the Paris Agreement. It is understood that to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must change our way of living. We simply cannot continue on our current path of consumption. Reaching this goal requires social and economic transformation.

Nevertheless, the urgency of transitioning towards more sustainable lifestyles is often underestimated. Everyday living needs to be transformed at the size, scale and urgency required because the decisions we make to meet our daily needs for food, housing, mobility and leisure greatly impact the planet and the people around us. Prioritizing what we can all do can generate the momentum for change we need! In addition, our individual behavior changes must be accompanied by broader systemic and structural changes, including new institutions and infrastructures that embody the ethos of sustainability.

At this point you might ask yourself how we can actually achieve social change. We believe that a first step towards making sustainable lifestyles the social norm is to share the experiences of citizens who already tried to make 1.5 degree living a reality. So, we better understand which lifestyle changes are realistic, possible and even improve our own wellbeing. On the other hand, we can learn from the challenges and difficulties that are connected to lifestyle changes and at the same time identify the supporting measures that governments and cities need to put in place to speed up the process to a more sustainable future.

What emerges from the project is a mosaic of community-generated future lifestyle visions and experiences of households living with the low-carbon options complemented with scientific findings that show the emissions reduction potential in the areas of housing, mobility, nutrition, consumer goods & services, and leisure.  

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