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"Be the Change?" - Exploring the Environmental Mitigation Potential of Lifestyle Changes in Europe Using a Multi-Regional Input-Output Model

Lundström, Ruben LU (2017) FMI820 20162
Environmental Engineering (M.Sc.Eng.)
Environmental and Energy Systems Studies
Abstract (Swedish)
Är det möjligt för konsumenter att vara förändringen man vill se i samhället, och därmed bidra till en hållbarare framtid? Med hjälp av en modell baserad på Multi-Regional Input-Output (MRIO) analys undersöks den miljömässiga potentialen av olika livsstilar i EU. Europeiska hushålls fotavtryck för koldioxid, toxicitet, vatten och land beräknas för olika konsumtionsmönster. Modellen som används innefattar en förenklad och statisk bild av ekonomin, och bortser from de ekonomisk-strukturella förändringar en storskalig livsstilsförändring på EU-nivå skulle innebära. Därav bör resultaten inte tolkas som exakta. Majoriteten av vår mark och vattenanvändning är relaterad till utgifter på mat. En livsstil baserad på sänkt kaloriintag, undvikande av... (More)
Är det möjligt för konsumenter att vara förändringen man vill se i samhället, och därmed bidra till en hållbarare framtid? Med hjälp av en modell baserad på Multi-Regional Input-Output (MRIO) analys undersöks den miljömässiga potentialen av olika livsstilar i EU. Europeiska hushålls fotavtryck för koldioxid, toxicitet, vatten och land beräknas för olika konsumtionsmönster. Modellen som används innefattar en förenklad och statisk bild av ekonomin, och bortser from de ekonomisk-strukturella förändringar en storskalig livsstilsförändring på EU-nivå skulle innebära. Därav bör resultaten inte tolkas som exakta. Majoriteten av vår mark och vattenanvändning är relaterad till utgifter på mat. En livsstil baserad på sänkt kaloriintag, undvikande av matavfall, och enbart konsumtion av ekologisk, vegansk mat kan potentiellt sänka fotavtrycket av europeiska hushåll med upp till 21% för koldioxid, 22% för land, och 34% för vatten. Genom minskad användning av transportsystem (till exempel genom att cykla) kan vårt koldioxidfotavtryck minskas med upp till 26%. Livsstilar baserade på minskad konsumtion innebär dock även en risk för att sparade pengar spenderas åter på mer utsläppsintensiva produkter (sk. rebound effect). En sådan oönskad effekt åtgärdas mest effektivt genom att låta sparade pengar gå till tjänstesektorn som har en låg utsläppsintensitet. Ett alternativ är en absolut minskning av hushållens konsumtion, där en viss nivå av utgiftsminskning korresponderar med motsvarande minskning av fotavtryck. Påverkan på land- och vattenanvändning huvudsakligen är placerad utanför EU. Det motsatta är sant för koldioxid- och toxicitetsfotavtryck som främst orsakas av utsläpp som sker inom EU. Sammanfattningsvis bär livsstilsförändringar en stor potential för att begränsa miljöbelastningen orsakad av europeiska hushåll, även om det krävs att negativa effekter av rebound effect samtidigt undviks. (Less)
Abstract
Is it possible for the EU consumer to ‘Be the Change’ and set society on a more sustainable pathway by a change of lifestyle? Using a Multi-Regional Input-Output (MRIO) model this research investigates the environmental impact reduction potential of different lifestyles in the EU, for footprints of carbon, toxicity, water, and land. 12 lifestyles are found that offer significant reduction potential without the risk of trade-offs across footprints. Half of these lifestyles are based on net reduction of consumption, and half involve shifting consumption patterns toward less environmentally intensive products. Overall, the majority of land and water footprint is associated with spending on food and thus holds a large reduction potential. A... (More)
Is it possible for the EU consumer to ‘Be the Change’ and set society on a more sustainable pathway by a change of lifestyle? Using a Multi-Regional Input-Output (MRIO) model this research investigates the environmental impact reduction potential of different lifestyles in the EU, for footprints of carbon, toxicity, water, and land. 12 lifestyles are found that offer significant reduction potential without the risk of trade-offs across footprints. Half of these lifestyles are based on net reduction of consumption, and half involve shifting consumption patterns toward less environmentally intensive products. Overall, the majority of land and water footprint is associated with spending on food and thus holds a large reduction potential. A lifestyle of no food waste, reduction of calorific intake, and consuming only organic, vegan food may reduce carbon, land, and water footprint by up to 21, 22, and 34%, respectively. By low use of transportation systems (e.g. by biking) up to 26% of the EU household carbon footprint could be avoided. However, lifestyles based on reduced consumption involve a risk that the saved money is re-spent on more emission-intensive products (rebound effect). For example, a full rebound effect from decreased use of mobility would cause land and water footprint to increase significantly. The rebound effect is most effectively mitigated by ensuring that expenditure is instead redirected toward services that have a low impact intensity. An alternative is to decrease the absolute consumption, where any total expenditure reduction corresponds to the same reduction of environmental footprints. A majority of the estimated changes of land and water footprint that different lifestyles would cause are taking place outside the EU, the opposite being true for carbon and toxicity impacts. In conclusion, lifestyle changes hold a large potential for mitigation of the environmental footprint of the EU households, but the potential rebound effect has to be taken into consideration. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Biking to work, eating vegan food, buying organic food or renewable electricity, working from home, shopping second hand clothes, co-owning tools and machinery, living off-grid, or simply spending less money; how can I practically ‘Be the Change’ I want to see in the world?
What are the environmental effects of largely spread "sustainable lifestyles"?
By the help of global production and consumption data, Ruben Lundström has analyzed the impact on carbon, toxicity, land, and water footprints that different lifestyle changes in the EU have. The footprint methodology gives the blame for emission caused by production activities to the final consumer; that is, you and me. Every product we buy, be it strawberries from Morocco or locally... (More)
Biking to work, eating vegan food, buying organic food or renewable electricity, working from home, shopping second hand clothes, co-owning tools and machinery, living off-grid, or simply spending less money; how can I practically ‘Be the Change’ I want to see in the world?
What are the environmental effects of largely spread "sustainable lifestyles"?
By the help of global production and consumption data, Ruben Lundström has analyzed the impact on carbon, toxicity, land, and water footprints that different lifestyle changes in the EU have. The footprint methodology gives the blame for emission caused by production activities to the final consumer; that is, you and me. Every product we buy, be it strawberries from Morocco or locally produced pig from the farmer around the corner, requires inputs that may come from all over the world. For example, by our consumption we may cause carbon emissions in Brazil in the production of soy bean-based fodder for your local farmer’s pig, or a water deficiency in Morocco in production of your strawberries. Ruben investigates 50 different lifestyles changes, derived from EU citizen visions of a sustainable Europe by 2040.
12 lifestyles are found that offer significant impact reductions without the risk of trade-offs across footprints (for example decreasing carbon footprint but increasing land use). These include working part-time, purchasing local services, consuming local and organic food, decreasing use of in-house chemicals and garden fertilizers, and decreasing purchase of clothes by reuse and repair. Half of these 12 lifestyles are based on net reduction of consumption, and half involve shifting consumption patterns toward less environmentally intensive products. Compared to the total EU household footprint in 2007, the best combination of dietary lifestyles (only vegan and organic food, no food waste, and eating less) may potentially reduce our environmental footprint by 20-35%. The majority of the land and water use embedded in the products we buy, and a significant share of CO2-emissions, is linked to our dietary choices; and this aspect is therefore important to consider to achieve a sustainable lifestyle. All low-meat diets are beneficial, but the resulting reduction of land and water use occur mostly outside the EU. The benefits of such diets may therefore not yield regional environmental benefits. The largest potential for reducing emissions of CO2 is found by overall reduction of the use of personal transport (cars, buses, airplanes, trains, etc.), for example by biking or working for home.
Reducing working time (and thus income) by 25% offers the most obvious impact reduction. All other lifestyles based on reducing consumption of specific products risk that the saved money is re-spent into other products. This so-called rebound effect could undermine or even worsen the outcome of lifestyle changes in cases where monetary savings are re-spent on products that are more emission or resource intensive. Such negative outcome is best addressed by having consumers redirecting the saved money toward services, that have the lowest impact per Euro spent.
Ruben argues that it is possible to ‘Be the Change’ you want to see in the world by a change of lifestyle, but we all must seriously consider what we do with the money we potentially save. We must all realize the limitations of material happiness and come to the point where we put higher focus on personal relationships and the inner journey of coming to know our purpose in life. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Lundström, Ruben LU
supervisor
organization
course
FMI820 20162
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Sustainable Consumption, Climate Mitigation, Lifestyles, Europe, MRIO
report number
LUTFD2/TFEM-- 16/5118--SE + (1-101)
ISSN
1102-3651
language
English
id
8904864
date added to LUP
2017-04-05 11:44:30
date last changed
2017-04-05 11:44:30
@misc{8904864,
  abstract     = {Is it possible for the EU consumer to ‘Be the Change’ and set society on a more sustainable pathway by a change of lifestyle? Using a Multi-Regional Input-Output (MRIO) model this research investigates the environmental impact reduction potential of different lifestyles in the EU, for footprints of carbon, toxicity, water, and land. 12 lifestyles are found that offer significant reduction potential without the risk of trade-offs across footprints. Half of these lifestyles are based on net reduction of consumption, and half involve shifting consumption patterns toward less environmentally intensive products. Overall, the majority of land and water footprint is associated with spending on food and thus holds a large reduction potential. A lifestyle of no food waste, reduction of calorific intake, and consuming only organic, vegan food may reduce carbon, land, and water footprint by up to 21, 22, and 34%, respectively. By low use of transportation systems (e.g. by biking) up to 26% of the EU household carbon footprint could be avoided. However, lifestyles based on reduced consumption involve a risk that the saved money is re-spent on more emission-intensive products (rebound effect). For example, a full rebound effect from decreased use of mobility would cause land and water footprint to increase significantly. The rebound effect is most effectively mitigated by ensuring that expenditure is instead redirected toward services that have a low impact intensity. An alternative is to decrease the absolute consumption, where any total expenditure reduction corresponds to the same reduction of environmental footprints. A majority of the estimated changes of land and water footprint that different lifestyles would cause are taking place outside the EU, the opposite being true for carbon and toxicity impacts. In conclusion, lifestyle changes hold a large potential for mitigation of the environmental footprint of the EU households, but the potential rebound effect has to be taken into consideration.},
  author       = {Lundström, Ruben},
  issn         = {1102-3651},
  keyword      = {Sustainable Consumption,Climate Mitigation,Lifestyles,Europe,MRIO},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {"Be the Change?" - Exploring the Environmental Mitigation Potential of Lifestyle Changes in Europe Using a Multi-Regional Input-Output Model},
  year         = {2017},
}