The behaviour of Individuals is important, we should all strive to reduce our carbon footprint, but this Is not the main problem. The majority of energy use doesn’t happen in households. It’s used up in the extraction, production and transportation of material things.
High income countries will have to make a rapid transition to green energy such as solar and wind power to achieve the targets of reducing carbon emissions by 15% a year. It will only be possible to do this if we reduce energy use at the same time.
Scientists call this the ‘degrowth ’solution. But doesn’t lower growth mean a recession with rising unemployment, cuts to government spending and problems for ordinary people? Not if we take control of the economy from the 1% and use it for the benefit of the 99%.
We can eliminate ‘planned obsolescence’ which companies use to make bigger profits. If consumer goods last twice as long we can produce less of them. We can produce goods to be easily repaired instead of thrown away.
We can shift to free public transport instead of cars. We can ban single use plastics. We can limit advertising to stop the psychological pressure to buy things we don’t really need.
But what about jobs in those areas? We can introduce a four day, 30 hour week to share out the work and achieve full employment. But would less hours mean lower pay? We could introduce a guaranteed weekly living wage.
Higher GDP growth does not mean higher incomes. The higher income goes to the already wealthiest. Despite high growth wages have stagnated and poverty rates have increased.
The answer is not more growth damaging the planet and increased profits for the 1%, but a more equal sharing out of existing wealth .We can work less, have higher wages, better public services, and live healthier, happier lives while using our planets resources in a sustainable fashion.