A New Policy Brief on the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Consumption

by Future Earth Regional Centre for Asia
Tech Technology Factory Zhuhai China. Photo: dcmaster/Flickr
The paper asserts that global research and the policy agenda need to address a primary driver of greenhouse gas emissions: consumption and its associated production.

The Future Earth Knowledge-Action Network on Systems of Sustainable Consumption and Production (KAN-SSCP) has published a paper entitled "Why Achieving the Paris Agreement Requires Reduced Overall Consumption and Production".  The paper outlines three reasons why whole systems of consumption and associated production need to be the focus of the global research and policy agenda.  It is freely downloadable.

Abstract (Adopted from the website of Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy)

Technological solutions to the challenge of dangerous climate change are urgent and necessary but to be effective they need to be accompanied by reductions in the total level of consumption and production of goods and services. This is for three reasons. First, private consumption and its associated production are among the key drivers of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, especially among highly emitting industrialized economies. There is no evidence that decoupling of the economy from GHG emissions is possible at the scale and speed needed. Second, investments in more sustainable infrastructure, including renewable energy, needed in coming decades will require extensive amounts of energy, largely from fossil sources, which will use up a significant share of the two-degree carbon budget. Third, improving the standard of living of the world's poor will consume a major portion of the available carbon allowance. The scholarly community has a responsibility to put the issue of consumption and the associated production on the research and policy agenda.

The policy brief is the outcome of an initiative launched by the Working Group on Political Economy of Sustainable Consumption and Production, a constituent part of the Future Earth KAN-SSCP. The paper is a response to a commentary entitled “Three Years to Safeguard Our Climate” that appeared earlier in the year in the journal Nature.

The policy brief was published in Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policya journal that seeks to advance scientific and political perspectives and to cultivate transdisciplinary discussions involving researchers, policy makers, civic entrepreneurs, and others towards significant transformation of existing systems of consumption and production.

First published by Future Earth Regional Centre for Asia.