Signing up to these targets will show your commitment to a fair, sustainable lifestyle. Signing up to all 10 would commit to an equal share of the global carbon budget necessary to keep close to the 1.5°C climate goal enshrined in the Paris Agreement. Click on the rosette to the left to commit to as many of the targets as you can, or sign up from individual target pages.
To find out more before you sign up click on the Overview and explanation banner below.
More information on the Fair Lifestyle Targets. You can also access Background and assumptions, the major policy measures necessary to reach the Paris climate targets, co-benefits, a selection of target-free activities, references, a video presentation, details of the authors and acknowledgements.
Global, transformational action is needed over the next few years to prevent the climate crisis becoming much worse. Governments and large corporations should bear the largest responsibility for the world’s collective failure to implement sufficient measures to tackle the problem so far. One reason for this, however, is resistance from – mainly wealthier – consumers to the lifestyle changes necessary to stay within the 1.5°C temperature goal enshrined in the Paris Agreement. Indeed, it is the consumption patterns of the richest 10% of the world’s inhabitants that lead to approximately half of all global greenhouse gas emissions (Oxfam, 2015; Oxfam, 2021). Here we seek to reduce this resistance by encouraging climate-conscious individuals – especially scientists and engineers, given their influence within society – to sign up to meeting targets compatible with the Paris goal. Our hope is that, if sufficient numbers of scientists and other influential people sign up, that would demonstrate powerful enough support to pressure policy-makers to enact measures on the scale necessary to transform society to meet the climate targets. (More discussion of the necessary policy measures is given under Major policy measures necessary to reach the Paris climate targets.)
On average, everyone in the world will need to have a ‘lifestyle carbon footprint’ of less than 2.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) per year by no later than 2030 – and reach intermediate levels before then and continue to reduce afterwards – to give a relatively high chance of meeting the 1.5°C temperature goal. The 2.5 tCO2e figure has been estimated by the Hot or Cool Institute (HoCI, 2021) based on a ‘global carbon budget’ that would have a 50% chance of keeping global heating below 1.5°C – and divided according to principles of fairness and sufficiency. (The data behind these figures is discussed in more depth under Background and assumptions.)
Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) has devised 10 evidence-based targets to help UK citizens meet that lifestyle carbon footprint this year. The HoCI estimates that current lifestyle carbon footprints in the UK are typically 8.5 tCO2e a year. The rest of your footprint – about 3.3 tCO2e – comes from your share of national services and infrastructure such as hospitals and the military, which you can influence (less directly) by using your vote and your political voice. (Those outside the UK are welcome to make the commitments too. Please sign up and then, if you would like to, go ahead and do your own calculations to take account of different factors such as the carbon emissions of your nation's electricity grid.)
So this is your chance to commit to any or all of the 10 targets compatible with the 1.5°C goal by 2030. We estimate that committing to meet all 10 targets would bring your lifestyle carbon footprint to less than 2.5 tCO2e a year.
Many people already meet some of these targets or will find them straightforward while others will find some of the targets a stretch. This will depend on individual circumstances such as having family abroad, living in an area with limited public transport, living in rented accommodation, or being limited by health issues. SGR acknowledges that our current government and systems interact with personal circumstances to make some choices much less easy; but by publicly committing to change your individual behaviour as much as you can within the system, those working in climate change can act as thought leaders and demonstrate the need and will for wider action.
With this in mind, please read all the targets before deciding your commitments. You can then sign up for all your chosen targets using the form towards the end of the web-page.
The 10 targets for Fair Lifestyles in a carbon-constrained world
A package of travel options comprising or equivalent to:
- Zero car ownership
- Up to 5,000 km long-distance train travel
- Up to 5,000 km bus and short-distance train travel
- Up to 950 km car travel (e.g. taxi, car club, lift-share), on average shared with one other person
- Walking & cycling for most short journeys
- Minimal ferry travel and zero ferry travel with a car
- Zero cruise ship travel
- Minimal travel on speed boats, steam trains, helicopters or other very high emissions vehicles/ vessels
You can tailor these distances to create a travel package with equivalent emissions that suits your personal circumstances more closely.
Meeting this target would, on average in the UK, emit 0.7 tCO2e per capita per year.
Note distances of longer/ irregular journeys and their transport mode;
Estimate distances for daily commute and repeated leisure trips (if not walking or cycling).
A package of food measures comprising:
- Minimal consumption of animal-based foods e.g. vegan (100% plant-based food) or near-vegan diet
- Minimal consumption of foods that are air-freighted or grown in a heated greenhouse
- Minimal food waste
- Minimal consumption of foods that contribute to deforestation
Complying with this target would, on average in the UK, emit 0.9 tCO2e per capita per year.
Keep a food diary for a typical week, noting quantity and type of food, especially any with high emissions
Home energy consumption (heating, hot water and electricity) up to 3,500 kWh.
Meeting this target would, on average in the UK, emit 0.9 tCO2e per capita per year.
Read energy meters at start and end of reporting year, and ideally each month to monitor progress and, if necessary, adjust behaviour
The equivalent of 100% home energy supply from very low carbon sources. Depending on personal circumstances, this will include some combination of these two energy supply measures:
- Grid energy supply (electricity and/or gas) from a high quality 100% renewable energy supplier;
- Electricity and/or heat supplied from local renewable sources, for example your own solar photovoltaic panels together with a heat pump.
We suggest different actions to reach this target dependent on whether you are a tenant or a home-owner.
Meeting this target would, on average in the UK, reduce the emissions of energy use in target 4 from 0.9 tCO2e to 0.15 tCO2e per capita per year, once lifecycle emissions have been accounted for.
A package of measures regarding possessions comprising:
- Low overall consumption of bought goods
- Majority of bought goods second-hand/ reconditioned, especially high carbon goods such as electronic/ electrical equipment or furniture
- A very limited number of new high carbon goods, if kept for an adequate lifetime, e.g. electronic/ electrical equipment, furniture
- A limited number of new medium carbon goods, if kept for an adequate lifetime, e.g. clothes, shoes
- Minimal consumption of new very high carbon goods, e.g. high-cost jewellery, commercial cut flowers
Complying with this target would, on average in the UK, emit 0.1 tCO2e per capita per year.
NB We obviously encourage consumers to opt for goods with a high energy-efficiency rating (where relevant) although energy consumption during use would be counted under home energy use (target 4).
Note major purchases, whether they are new/second-hand/reconditioned and the lifetime of the purchase they replace (if relevant)
The 10 targets we have presented above concern behaviour choices and actions made each year – but there are further choices, made only occasionally during a lifetime, that can have a major effect on your contribution to climate change. These include, for example, a decision to move far from home for work, leading to repeated flights home over the following years to see family and friends. Arguably, however, the decision with the largest impact on the climate is whether to have a child.
Sign up now
Clicking the button to the left will take you to a Google form where you can commit to aiming for one or more of the ten core targets.
Your feedback on this process is important so that we can develop this project. To let us know what would make it easier for you to sign up to the targets, please email email@example.com.
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