There has been considerable debate over individual lifestyle change as a political means to achieve society-wide decarbonization.
The purpose of this post is not to take a political position to which one is more important, individual or collective action, but rather to show what I have done to limit my climate impacts to around two and a half tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
Many North Karelian municipalities like mine, Liperi, are part of the Carbon-Neutral Municipalities network which aim for an 80 % cut in all GHGs by 2030 from 2010 levels.
While I am not going to enact major social or political change by my lifestyle alone, it is a valuable lesson on how difficult deep decarbonization is and how societies and economies are still almost completely separated from the Paris Agreement framing of climate neutrality.
I recently made the ultimate climate move and found a new home from Liperi in North Karelia, far away from the city I was born in and used to live in for almost 30 years, Helsinki.
Helsinki had a weird winter last year even before the global pandemic. We had pretty much no snow for the entire time and it was stormy and rainy too.
The stuck atmospheric pattern caused flooding and it was very hard to go outdoors because of the bad weather.
1. The science bit
The stabilization of the global climate to ”well below 2°C” with ”efforts to pursue 1.5°C” as is written in the Paris Agreement requires the entire human civilization to be at net-zero climate impact near mid-century or quickly thereafter.
Human-emitted carbon dioxide is the most important gas in this regard due to its long lifetime in the atmosphere (hundreds to thousands of years) and the general climate system (tens of thousands of years).
Net-zero means essentially three approaches. Firstly, human fossil fuel burning, cement production, and deforestation should cease or be completely mitigated at combustion by keeping carbon dioxide and other GHGs out of the atmosphere.
Secondly, natural carbon sinks in the biosphere need to be kept intact and thirdly because the physical carbon budget corresponding to a certain energy…