(In)Sufficiency of industrial decarbonization to reduce household carbon footprints to 1.5°C-compatible levels


Scenarios that limit global warming to 1.5°C rely on a combination of interventions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and capture carbon dioxide. However, the extent to which lifestyle change contributes to mitigation relative to technological change over time remains understudied. Here, we present a scenario model that incorporates extensive supply-side technological transformations while excluding lifestyle changes. By adapting a global supply-use table from EXIOBASE using elements from Shared Socioeconomic Pathway 1 and a mitigation pathway consistent with the 1.5°C target, we assess how household footprints evolve in 2030 and 2050 and the extent to which technological change alone can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. We modeled footprints for 49 countries/regions, with a focus on the EU27. Our scenario results indicate that while technological change can substantially reduce emissions, the reductions are ultimately insufficient to achieve the 1.5°C target. Eight EXIOBASE regions, including three EU27 countries, are on a 1.5°C-consistent trajectory with just technological advancements in 2030. However, by 2050, no countries are projected to meet the 1.5°C-compatible target. The average EU27 overshoot for household footprints approaches 2.2 tCO2e/cap in 2030 and 3.1 tCO2e/cap in 2050. Global overshoots are more moderate at 0.3 tCO2e/cap in 2030 and 2.0 tCO2e/cap in 2050. Our results highlight the critical role of household lifestyle transformation in climate change mitigation. Future research can explore the diverse lifestyle change pathways necessary to align with the aspirational 1.5°C target outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Stephanie Cap, Arjan de Koning, Arnold Tukker, Laura Scherer,
(In)Sufficiency of industrial decarbonization to reduce household carbon footprints to 1.5°C-compatible levels,
Sustainable Production and Consumption, Volume 45, 2024, Pages 216-227, ISSN 2352-5509,

Keywords: Household consumption; Input-output analysis; Technological change; Climate change mitigation; Climate target

Barriers and enablers of 1.5° lifestyles: Shallow and deep structural factors shaping the potential for sustainable consumption (2023)


Introduction: Transforming consumption and lifestyles toward sustainability cannot be achieved by individual behavior change alone but requires changes in the structures in which this behavior is embedded. However, “structure” is a blurry concept and scholars use it in a multitude of ways. What often remains implicit in studies on structural phenomena are different types of structures, how they may or may not restrict the agency of individuals in particular ways, and how these restrictions support sustainable consumption patterns at the societal level. To move beyond the current state of research, this article systematizes political, economic, technological, and societal structural factors the literature identifies as impactful regarding the sustainability of consumption and lifestyles compatible with the targets of the Paris Agreement.
Methods: We draw on a systematic review of existing research and use empirical observations to develop conceptual terms that revisit the structure-agency dilemma and offer ways going forward about (un)sustainable consumption.
Results: We do so based on the material or ideational, as well as shallow or deep nature of these factors. Thereby, the article throws light on the deep and opaque material and ideational structural factors lying underneath and shaping the sustainability impact of the more visible, shallow structural factors typically considered in public debates about sustainability governance.
Discussion: The article, thus, highlights the need to consider and address these deep structural factors for any effective pursuit of transformation.

Steffen Hirth, Halliki Kreinin, Doris Fuchs, Nils Blossey, Pia Mamut, Jeremy Philipp, Isabelle Radovan and the EU 1.5° Lifestyles Consortium (2023): "Barriers and enablers of 1.5° lifestyles: Shallow and deep structural factors shaping the potential for sustainable consumption" in: Frontiers in Sustainability, Vol. 4 2023, doi: 10.3389/frsus.2023.1014662.