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Why achieving the Paris Agreement requires reduced overall consumption and production

08 May 2018

Source: Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy

Authors: Eva Alfredsson, Magnus Bengtsson, Halina Szejnwald Brown, Cindy Isenhour, Sylvia Lorek, Dimitris Stevis & Philip Vergragt

Keywords: Sustainable consumption and production, climate change, Agenda 2030, Paris Agreement, sustainable investments


Technological solutions to the challenge of dangerous climate change are urgent and necessary but to be effective they need to be accompanied by reductions in the total level of consumption and production of goods and services. This is for three reasons. First, private consumption and its associated production are among the key drivers of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, especially among highly emitting industrialized economies. There is no evidence that decoupling of the economy from GHG emissions is possible at the scale and speed needed. Second, investments in more sustainable infrastructure, including renewable energy, needed in coming decades will require extensive amounts of energy, largely from fossil sources, which will use up a significant share of the two-degree carbon budget. Third, improving the standard of living of the world’s poor will consume a major portion of the available carbon allowance. The scholarly community has a responsibility to put the issue of consumption and the associated production on the research and policy agenda.