Following this experiment, what benefits do you see for yourself, of living within the 2030 1.5oC targets?
It might sound anathema to some, but I often think the degree of ‘choice’ we live with is paralyzing, not freeing, and it’s no choice about the really important things. Doing this experiment limited my choices — there were certain things that I just knew I couldn’t/shouldn’t do if I was to stay within my limits or get anywhere close to them. So it freed up my mind for more important — by which I mean generally more meaningful — things. That’s a huge benefit.
What are the low-carbon activities you find great and would like to make part of your life?
Being outside. Inhabiting my senses — sounds, sights, textures, smells, tastes, moving my body. This is the sort of thing that sounds incredibly naff if you haven’t experienced the total absorption of it! This past weekend I spent two nights camping, including one night sleeping in the woods without my tent, on my own, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in years. Then again, I had to drive an hour to get there… And I certainly realise this is not most people’s idea of fun!
What activities seem incompatible (even with probable efficiencies) with the 1.5oC targets?
Buying an electric vehicle…that’s something we had done just a couple of months before the experiment when our old diesel car finally gave up the ghost, and having it on my balance sheet tipped me right up towards the red, leaving hardly any budget left for daily life. Individually-owned vehicles are surely incompatible with a 1.5C future.
Do you think we can achieve 2030 1.5oC targets while leading quality, dignifying, healthy lives and why?
Absolutely, in theory. In practice, we are stuck in a system that makes it very hard to do so — even seeing friends and family in our spread-out world can mean long journeys, for example
What are the challenges and opportunities you foresee to leading quality, dignifying, healthy lives with half (2040 1.5oC targets) and even a third (2050 1.5oC targets) of the 2030 1.5oC carbon budget?
I can’t see how we’d move around in the ways we do now, or eat any meat or dairy — my current diet is varied and not wholly vegan. I certainly can’t quite see how we will heat our homes. And given the upfront costs of switching away from e.g. gas to e.g. air source heat pumps, I can’t even understand how the maths will work in our favour as we switch over, if we manage it. It was these upfront costs that took me most by surprise in this experiment — we had renovated our home recently to make it more energy efficient (and also to extend it) and more reliant on solar PV and solar hot water and the experiment made me realise how long it will take to ‘pay off’ the carbon investment of those renovations. I keep thinking about how inefficient it is for everyone to heat their homes individually and for us to all switch over to individual pieces of technology. Surely communal approaches — e.g. ground source heat pumps that heat whole neighbourhoods — make more sense?
For those who wish to, please share as much or as little as you want in addition to the questions above in a free format. If it can help, here are some guiding questions: “How are you feeling about 1.5-degree lifestyles”? “How would you describe this experiment to someone new”? “What else would you like to share”?
The biggest thing for me is finding it hard to limit myself when no one else around me is. There’s a huge cultural component to this. If everyone is doing it, it’s going to be psychologically very different from feeling like you’re making sacrifices alone. That said, as I’ve written above, it certainly doesn’t all feel like sacrifice. And the cultural shift is needed in that regard, too — the ways we occupy ourselves will have to change, and there is much happiness to be found in those changes