Low carbon lifestyles: A framework to structure consumption strategies and options to reduce carbon footprints

Karin Schanes, Stefan Giljum, Edgar Hertwich

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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There are many opportunities for consumers to design their lives more sustainably. While a rapidly growing body of literature has investigated how consumers can reduce carbon footprints in key consumption areas, such as food, housing and mobility, an overall framework that allows structuring those options across all consumption areas is still missing. Hence, this paper presents a novel and systematic framework to identify improvement options that promote climate change mitigation and structure them based on their primary mode of impact on GHG emissions. The framework targets consumer practices and focuses on ambitious, but technically and socioeconomically feasible strategies for consumers to lower their carbon footprint. Four major categories for reducing consumption-based emissions form the basic framework, which are then subdivided into behavioural strategies and sub-strategies. The practical application of the framework is illustrated by using food consumption as an example. Systematically identifying improvement options can advance a holistic understanding of the range of behavioural strategies targeting consumer choices that operate at different stages in the supply chain. It thus provides a starting point for addressing critical questions related to the role of consumers in supporting climate change mitigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1033 - 1043
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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