Münster’s Stakeholder Thinking Lab contributes thoughts and solutions for 1.5° lifestyles

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Two women playing the climate puzzle
2022-12-15

“Climate policy will only work as long as it addresses social inequity” was just one of the central talking points at the Stakeholder Thinking Lab that the consortium member University of Münster hosted on November 4th 2022. As part of a coordinated research in our five case countries Hungary, Latvia, Spain, Sweden, and Germany, stakeholders were engaged on structural barriers and enablers for sustainable lifestyles.

After an introductory get-together the night before, a total of 28 stakeholders from the city council, business, media, NGOs and civil society took their seats in Münster’s historic Capuchin monastery, whose self-sufficient organic garden provided the backdrop for lively discussions on sustainability.

To start discussions from a common ground, Prof. Doris Fuchs gave a brief overview of the urgency of the climate crisis and the framework for societal action. Working groups of two or three participants then played our Climate Puzzles and chose 1.5° lifestyle options to align the average German carbon footprint with the climate goals for 2030. Discussions quickly sparked on which options would be an acceptable measure to the wider public. The structures we identified through our literature review and expert interviews gave additional food for thought and helped steer the discussions towards changing existing structures. Using small paper dots, stakeholders marked the options which they thought easiest and hardest to implement. The small dots quickly revealed that a switch to renewable electricity along with a reduction of animal-based products in our diet, and a switch to tap water in place of bottled water were thought to be easiest to mainstream by the Münster participants. Switching to an entirely vegan diet, giving up one’s car and reducing excess square meters were perceived as most limited by structural constraints.

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Doris Fuchs giving a presentation on the climate crisis
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Participants discussing lifestyle options

 

As part of the “backcasting” exercise, the participants were then asked to find a comfortable position and listened to our “1.5° vision for lifestyles in 2040”. In this vision, participants were “walked through” a positively transformed Münster in 2040, where all members of society were able to live in line with planetary and social boundaries, while improving societal wellbeing. After a few minutes of meditation, hypothetical questions such as “How has your life improved today compared to 2022? Which of the positive changes could you not do without anymore? If you now sent a letter to somebody back in 2022, what would be your advice to them?“ introduced participants to a constructive session of planning specific measures and steps to achieve 1.5° lifestyles in the short-, medium-, and long-term. Divided into four groups corresponding to the four consumption fields (housing, transport, nutrition, and leisure) participants came up with specific steps which should be taken by 2030, 2035, and 2040 to change existing structural barriers. Lively discussions till the very last minute made it hard to come to an end, but stakeholders provided the project with excellent input for analysis during the coming weeks.

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Different lifestlye options from the consumption field leisure

 Stakeholder Thinking Labs are a central part of the EU 1.5° Lifestyles project and will be carried out more than once to continue discussions and look into possible changes in preference. Stay tuned for our next round of STLs and the findings we draw from the past ones.

Jeremy Philipp and Halliki Kreinin, WWU Münster