Changes to everyday living may be answer to global warming

Shared electric cars and multi-function devices such as smart phones can both contribute to holding back climate change, experts say.

Climate change can be kept in check without resorting to unproven technologies simply by changing the way we live, a study suggests.

Scientists identified a range of ways to reduce energy demand that together could prevent global temperatures rising higher than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

They included car-sharing with electric vehicles, greater use of smart phones and other multi-function devices, improving the energy efficiency of buildings, and eating less red meat.

Such changes alone over the next 30 years would make it possible to meet the 1.5C target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to the researchers writing in the journal Nature Energy.

This could be achieved without bringing in “unproven” technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), which aims to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bury it underground.

Lead author Professor Arnulf Grubler, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria, said: “Our analysis shows how a range of new social, behavioural and technological innovations, combined with strong policy support for energy efficiency and low-carbon development can help reverse the historical trajectory of ever-rising energy demand.”

The research showed global energy demand for transport could be reduced by 60% through the use of shared and “on demand” fleets of electric vehicles.

Strict standards for the energy performance of new buildings and renovations of existing buildings could reduce energy demand from heating and cooling by 75%.

And eating less red meat could significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, while increasing forest cover by an area the size of Italy and Bangladesh combined.

Study co-author Dr Charlie Wilson, from the University of East Anglia, said: “A rapid down-sizing of the global energy system between now and 2050 makes it much more feasible to transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewables and electricity to provide for development needs while limiting the impacts of climate change.”

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