Research shows that people in wealthier, high-consuming countries can help avert climate breakdown by making six relatively straightforward lifestyle changes, creating a society of “less stuff and more joy”.
Experts say if enacted these “shifts” would account for a quarter of the required emissions reductions needed to keep the global heating down to 1.5C and increase pressure on government and the private sector to make the necessary far-reaching systemic change. The research has inspired the Jump campaign, urging people to sign up to make the changes. Tom Bailey, one of its co-founders, said if pledging to make all six shifts is too daunting, just making a start on some of them can make a difference.
Keep electronic products – smartphones, personal computers, smartwatches and TVs – for at least seven years. “The addiction to gadgets and buying ‘stuff’ in general is a major contributor to carbon emissions,” according to the report.
The process of extracting rare earth metals and producing ever more products often generates more emissions than using the items themselves, the study shows. For example, only 13% of an iPhone 11’s lifetime emissions are down to its use; the other 86% are associated with its production, transport and end-of-life processing.
“We typically replace these products for an upgraded model at least every couple of years,” says Bailey. “The target is to keep electronic products for five to seven years – their full optimum lifetime.” He says people should try repairing equipment, borrowing, renting or buying second hand, adding: “If you really need something then keep new items to a minimum.”