Living Sustainably

7. Implement three measures immediately

1. Stop CO2 emissions

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No upcoming catastrophe has ever been studied as thoroughly as global warming. And none has been so thoroughly ignored. The first international climate summit was held in 1979.

Climate change should be of concern to all, who care about health, who care about economic stability and investment value and who care about intergenerational justice - which should be every one of us
Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. 2020. The Future We Choose - Surviving the Climate Crisis.

Limiting global warming to a level clearly below  2 °C requires a rapid decarbonisation of the global economy. If this project fails, it will have serious consequences for future generations.

Only if there is a fundamental change in the way we manage land can we reach the targets of climate-change mitigation, avert the dramatic loss of biodiversity and make the global food system sustainable.
German Advisory Council on Global Change WBGU. 2020. Rethinking Land in the Anthropocene: from Separation to Integration.

It's time to finally listen to the young generation and the science and to act.

The past years have been the warmest since weather records began, while global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.


2. Cut back over-consumption

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We have to rethink our way of life and cut back on over-consumption. 

The wearing out of nature through our consumption-oriented lifestyle is too great and endangers our basis of existence. 

Very often we do not consume what we really need. Four out of five people are spending less on their own needs, but rather on what their friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues are buying. 

Three powerful status symbols still determine our consumption behaviour.

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Big car 

A big vehicle has always been considered a powerful status symbol. In the past, it was the pompous coaches of a few, then the Rolls-Royce of some, the American Chevrolet of many, and today the ever-bigger car of almost all people. Since 1980, the average weight of a car has doubled.

Large consumption of meat and fish

Since time immemorial, the consumption of meat has been a powerful status symbol. First, it was the feasting in the palaces of a few (over 200 years ago, in Europe, over 90% of all people generally had no meat to eat), then frequent food in expensive restaurants for the many, and, today, almost all people eat meat daily.

For 1 kg of beef about 33 square meters of agricultural land is required, for 1 kg of potatoes, however, only 0.3 square meters. 

Per capita fish consumption has doubled worldwide since 1960. 

No other consumer product in the world requires more land than the production of meat and milk. Although only 17 percent of humanity's calorie requirement is from animals, they need 77 percent of the global agricultural land.
Meat Atlas - Facts and figures about the animals we eat. Heinrich Böll Foundation Germany and Friends of the Earth Europe Belgium. 2014. 

Large living space 

Large living space has always been considered a powerful status symbol. It used to be the pompous castles of a few, then the spacious villas of some, the homes of many, and today the large apartments of almost all people.

In Switzerland, for example, each inhabitant occupies an average of 42 square metres of living space - twice as much as in 1965.

The construction of these residential buildings means a large consumption of resources and entails a large increase in energy consumption in heating and a large subsequent consumption, such as the purchase of furniture and many additional home furnishings. After all, people in Europe own on average around 10,000 items.

All three status symbols have a big impact on our environment. 

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3. Use clean and efficient technologies

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The impact of our current economy and way of life on nature and climate can only be partially offset by clean and more efficient technologies.

We need both the rapid implementation of clean technology and a sustainable way of life. Only then can we correct the imbalance on our planet.

Policymakers must establish effective framework conditions so that our economic system can move away from a pure growth strategy and give priority to a sustainability strategy, thus making sustainable living practical and comfortable for all of us in our daily lives. 

  • Enact effective legislation to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Apply the «polluter pays» principle in general.
    Whoever causes damage to the environment must pay for it.

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  • Stop state subsidies for resource consumption and environmentally harmful activities.

In addition, environmentally harmful activities linked to our economy should no longer be kept alive with the argument of keeping jobs. 


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