Nav: Home

Technological changes and new low-carbon lifestyles, key to mitigating climate change

May 18, 2020

In order to mitigate climate change impacts and achieve a more sustainable society, it is necessary to transform the current energy system based on fossil fuels into a model based on renewable energies, and to change society's lifestyles, accepting less mobility, low-carbon diets and smaller-sized dwellings. These are the main conclusions reached by the more than 400 scientists who met virtually last week at the International Conference on Low-Carbon Lifestyles, organized by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).

The conference discussed the social changes needed to ensure a less polluting economy and lifestyles that contribute to climate change mitigation. After three days of intense debates, the main conclusions highlight that, to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, it is critical to consider scenarios in which technological solutions and new low-carbon lifestyles share the spotlight. "Low-carbon lifestyles must stop playing a marginal role to become mainstream," conferees said.

However, this is not an easy task since lifestyles are defined by situational, behavioral and cognitive circumstances, which means that policies and social practices can strongly shape their evolution. "The goal is to reduce citizens' resistance to change by showing them that lifestyles coherent with climate targets are possible and necessary", they stated. It is therefore necessary to insist on the "co-benefits" of these new ways of life, and not only on climate objectives.

For instance, reducing the use of cars is not only positive in a climate change perspective, but also for health issues (air pollution, physical activity, etc.). Framing the message around issues that almost everyone agree upon (such as health) allows to bypass traditional political divisions", the text indicates.

However, the population must be motivated and made aware that sustainability depends on collective rather than individual efforts. In this regard, they stressed that the climate impact of "small gestures" (recycling, turning off the tap, etc.) tends to be overestimated, leading people to think that implementing them is sufficient to fight climate change. These low-impact behaviors continue to be promoted, perhaps because they are considered less "threatening" to individuals.

Changes can lead to a significant reduction in carbon use, but citizens must be informed on how this is possible. "In the field of mobility, it is necessary not only to introduce technological changes but also to minimize the number of passengers, the kilometers and the need for travelling", the conclusions state, in which other industrial sectors are highlighted. "We must reduce energy in all phases of the food system, and change current behaviors and diets for more sustainable ones, eating less meat or reducing it completely," they indicate.

Air travel, with recent social movements around the world in favor of reducing flights, and fashion, with proposals advocating for clothes exchanges or personal manufacturing of garments over other proposals such as sustainable fashion or the recycling of vintage clothing, are other sectors where changes should take place.

How is it possible to translate the objectives and proposals of new sustainable lifestyles into political measures? In the face of general disinformation about climate policies among the population, experts advocate information as the main measure for its acceptance. "Citizens know very little about their carbon footprint, and this information could contribute to better decision-making," says the text, recalling that it is not only necessary to "apply climate policies to reduce emissions, but also to reduce inequality or poverty". They also explain that the communication-based policies implemented in countries around the world have a greater acceptance than legal measures. Scientists believe that advertising can contribute to lifestyle changes, and recall that the scientific community must influence and guide society. "We must be coherent and consistent to influence others, and demonstrate in practice our own scientific beliefs", they indicate in the document. "To achieve significant lifestyle changes, we must gather support for collective measures to be taken", they insist.

Life after COVID-19 Regarding the exceptional situation generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, they stress that the crisis offers us the opportunity to break with our habits and reconsider our lifestyles. In this sense, the first weeks after the quarantine will be very important to build new habits, coherent with low-carbon lifestyles. Furthermore, economic recovery policies should take into account climate objectives, avoiding actions such as subsidizing polluting sectors.

This scientific conference itself is an example of these new lifestyles. The meeting was converted into a virtual format, avoiding travel and logistical expenses, which meant less environmental impacts. They stress that the health crisis highlights the high cost of acting too late, as well as the need for swift and radical action. These are valuable lessons that should be applied to the climate crisis.
Link to the conference:

Conference sessions:

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Related Fossil Fuels Articles:

How green hydrogen can become cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels
The green hydrogen revolution is coming, and Australia is perfectly placed to take advantage of it, an analysis of production costs by UNSW engineers has shown.
A key to cheaper renewable fuels: keeping iron from rusting
Washington State University researchers have made a key first step in economically converting plant materials to fuels: keeping iron from rusting.
New catalyst efficiently turns carbon dioxide into useful fuels and chemicals
By efficiently converting CO2 into complex hydrocarbon products, a new catalyst developed by a team of Brown researchers could potentially aid in large-scale efforts to recycle excess carbon dioxide.
Agriculture replaces fossil fuels as largest human source of sulfur to the environment
Historically, coal-fired power plants were the largest source of reactive sulfur, a component of acid rain, to the biosphere.
Agriculture replaces fossil fuels as largest human source of sulfur in the environment
New research identifies fertilizer and pesticide applications to croplands as the largest source of sulfur in the environment -- up to 10 times higher than the peak sulfur load seen in the second half of the 20th century, during the days of acid rain.
The secret to renewable solar fuels is an off-and-on again relationship
Copper that was once bound with oxygen is better at converting CO2 into renewable fuels than copper that was never bound to oxygen, according to Berkeley Lab and Caltech scientists.
'Blinking" crystals may convert CO2 into fuels
Imagine tiny crystals that ''blink'' like fireflies and can convert carbon dioxide, a key cause of climate change, into fuels.
Biomass fuels can significantly mitigate global warming
'Every crop we tested had a very significant mitigation capacity despite being grown on very different soils and under natural climate variability,' says Dr.
Plastics, fuels and chemical feedstocks from CO2? They're working on it
Four SUNCAT scientists describe recent research results related to the quest to capture CO2 from the smokestacks of factories and power plants and use renewable energy to turn it into industrial feedstocks and fuels.
Fossil fuels increasingly offer a poor return on energy investment
University of Leeds researchers have calculated the EROI for fossil fuels over a 16 year period and found that at the finished fuel stage, the ratios are much closer to those of renewable energy sources -- roughly 6:1, and potentially as low as 3:1 in the case of electricity.
More Fossil Fuels News and Fossil Fuels Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.