energyWhat now for the Paris climate change agreement? President-elect Trump has made it clear that he intends to trash much of Obama’s climate change legacy, including withdrawing from the COP21 agreement signed in Paris. If one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet stops taking climate change seriously, where does that leave us? And will others (including China) follow suit?

We recently attended an event in Brussels, hosted by Friends of Europe, looking at the future of energy mix of a post-COP21 world. The event was held before the US elections, when a Trump victory still seemed improbable. We had the opportunity to interview some of the participants at the event, and we put your questions to them on climate change and energy.

To be honest, the whole issue can seem a bit overwhelming. We had a comment from Gianvito arguing that there’s nothing ordinary people can do to protect the environment, because pollution and degradation are “just going to happen”. Perhaps precisely because climate change is such a huge, global issue, it can often make ordinary people feel powerless and insignificant. Is there anything individual citizens can do to cut CO2 and help avert catastrophic climate change? Or is it all in the hands of states and multinational corporations?

To get a reaction, we spoke to Andreas Goldthau, Professor of International Relations at Royal Holloway University of London and Associate with the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. What would he say to Gianvito?

goldthauI think it’s imperative that individuals act. Without individuals, nothing will happen. Individuals need to change their day-to-day behaviour, but also push for bigger solutions at higher policy levels. They have to do both. They have to adapt individually, but also make sure climate change adaptation and mitigation happens are incorporated at national policy levels.

But how radically will they have to change their day-to-day behaviour? We had a comment from Willy, who questioned whether we can we keep our current lifestyles and cut CO2 emissions to an acceptable level. So, will citizens have to radically transform the way they live?

goldthauI would say an absolute not. We can keep the quality of life that we have, and probably improve it – though we might have to change our lifestyle a little bit. But it’s possible to reconcile both climate targets and lifestyle going forward, based on novel technology that’s in the process of being rolled out. This will be possible as the technology progresses.

What can individuals do to cut CO2 emissions? Will we have to radically change the way we live, or will technology let us keep the quality of life we have today? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Michael Smith



42 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Bobi Dochev

    So… the politics we voted for once again put their hands up, basically give up and let the individuals take care of the problems.
    It’s not Trump! Way before trump US Congress said this is just Obama’s idea it is not likely the Paris agreement to be ratified (same as the Kioto agreement, which was ignored by US).
    And way before Trump I asked a simple questions: What will Europe do to forse those countries to improve their CO2 commissions.
    Europe already have relatively low impact, the main question is not how we going to reduce our green-gases emissions further more. The question is not how to squeeze the individuals in those countries that are concerned. THE MAIN QUESTION IS HOW TO PUSH THE BIGGEST POLLUTANT LIKE US AND CHINA TO REDUCE THEIRS!!!

  2. avatar
    Giulia Noia Dipresa

    we should stop buying stuff from the coutries that don’t actually give a damn about the environmental problem… also we should use our feet instead that using our car when we can avoid it and when it is not really necessary… we’re become so lazy.

  3. avatar
    Paul X

    Erm…switch off unnecessary electrical appliances, turn central heating down, walk/cycle instead of driving……not rocket science and probably not a subject that will generate much meaningful debate…..

    More relevent is “what can individuals do to cut EU MP’s extravagant wages, allowances and pensions?” …how can they justify nearly €100K wage, up to €70K pension and €4K a month allowance for phone calls, stationary and computer supplies?…..and as if this wasn’t enough they can claim an additional €300 a day “incidental expences” just for turning up…..if only everyone in Europe on a normal wage could get an additional weeks pay for just clocking in we’d all be very happy

    Forget C02 emmissions I would like to know what I’m getting for my taxes (well at least only until Brexit that is)

    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/about-meps.html

    • avatar
      Kevin Owen

      So what is the carbon footprint to manufacture one of those?

  4. avatar
    Radu Paul

    First of all individuals should look up alternative scientific opinions and decide for themselves if it’s really us that’s causing global warming or it’s just a scam to rob us blind of what little we have.

    • avatar
      J. tsultim

      What ALT scientific data are you talking about? Would that be the data that denies we release any CO2 into the atmosphere or the data that shows we emit 26.8 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere? The only scam is that you believe we are so insignificant that we can’t effect out planet. You now like Deforestation or Nuclear fallout or Ocean Acidification.

  5. avatar
    Adrian Limbidis

    It’s simple…we kill the rich…and then give the production facilities to the communities that owe their livelyhoods to said facilities.
    And they can decide – democratically – if they want to choke on dead air and foul water for profit.

    Something tells me they won’t…

    • avatar
      Kevin Owen

      Common sense tells you they won’t.

    • avatar
      Adrian Limbidis

      We can implement laws to prevent Animal Farm

  6. avatar
    Andre Viana

    Europe is destroying innovation and they’r economy with this idea. All they think s bout is stop using fossil fuels. Buy a electric car???? Stupid.

  7. avatar
    Judith Loureiro

    i can’t stand these lights! they give a terrible fuzzy glare and give me a headache….they also are ugly

    • avatar
      Judith Loureiro

      where i do have them, in areas where the light is not used constantly, like on the stairs,they are in pairs….but i had the same affect from flourescent lights used in the past…i guess my brain wiring doesn’t like the flickering….never liked disco lightening either, for that matter…..guess it’s just the way i’m wired.

  8. avatar
    Lynne Warner

    Stop enforcing those useless, expensive ,;light bulbs on us. There is no saving when they only last a couple of months and then land up in the trash!

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive

      Lynne agreed, the pictured “energy saving” spiral CFL bulb was a disaster & rip off! LED’s are (still) very expensive, emit harsh white light, but will hopefully improve in every aspect. Some info:

      http://eartheasy.com/live_energyeff_lighting.htm

  9. avatar
    Faddi Zsolt

    First of all: consume less. Don’t buy things that you don’t use. Buy food what you eat and what you don’t drop in the thrash. Buy things without packaging. This is the first step. If you can make it, than we can continue with lessons.

    • avatar
      Charo Gutierrez

      And try that the food and things that you have to consume are from nearby and not traveling thousands of kms

  10. avatar
    Ante Radnić

    Here in Croatia we decreased milk price so low that all small-scalle farmers had to sell their cows to buchers. No cows – no farts. No farts – no CO2.

    • avatar
      Charo Gutierrez

      Farts = CH4, for your information. And your comment makes no sense whatsoever

    • avatar
      Ante Radnić

      Let’s say like this: i work on a ship. Small ship. Fuel consumption is app 1 t/hr with main engine of 12 MW. Imagine consumption of 50 MW engine. How much of them are around us?
      Not to mention dirty industry in Asia. Dirty industry that is producing for us on the west, but polutting on the east, so we could feel better.
      What can you do like individual to reduce CO2 emission? Not much. You can use your car as less as possible, you can use good insulation on your house to save energy for heating/cooling, you can use energy-saving equipment… You can do what ever you like. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do that. But, effect will be simbolic. It’s only a gesture of good will and it’s very popular reacently.
      On the other hand, you can make some difference if you buy local products. Not only that you will help people around you, you will cut coast of transportation, procesing, packing and storing big amounts of food. But, most of people will still rather buy in super-market. And change light-bulb to save energy.

    • avatar
      Duncan

      @Ante, I don’t prefer buying from supermarkets. But I as with many others throughout Europe don’t have enough spare time or money to get my food from farm shops or grow my own and then go to a shop to get toilet paper and so on anyway. What can individuals do to reduce co2 emissions? I’d say reject these ridiculous lifestyle employers are imposing on us to suit their own needs for very little fiscal return, grow your own food, stop using technology such as tv and internet get off the power grid completely if possible, or reduce to absolute minimum. Use a bike instead of a car and don’t expend energy without need to limit your food requirements. We could all do that, but that’s not what you want is it? Since at that point we aren’t consuming needlessly and demand for products drops off and companies stop making money and people stop taking out loans to buy unnecessary luxury items such as holidays and expensive cars so the banks stop making money too and then governments stop making money from taxing the system. So let’s stop pretending for one single split second that any of this is the fault of the average person on the street since it’s the people I power driving this destructive and wasteful culture we live in and you want to keep it that way.

  11. avatar
    Domenico Galardo

    Why to reduce it ? A little bit more concentration of CO2 is very good for environement. We should instead preserve forests !

  12. avatar
    Vasco Lopes

    EU must immediately restrict both exports and imports with all countries who refuse to ratify COOP21 agreement.

  13. avatar
    John Costigane

    As a lover of Science, the null hypothesis has an important role. The null for climate is simply : the climate changes, of itself. Those who claim that humans provide the null (man-made climate change) are not true scientists, more interested in pushing a dystopian agenda.

    Donald Trump is the best thing possible for climate sceptics.

  14. avatar
    Andre Viana

    I am going to pay ten times more for a light bulb?? So I can save one euro a month on power!! Your barking boy. Get out of town.

  15. avatar
    Ștefan Pădureanu

    Tax it!
    Musk has the right idea. We can’t start to change our society if we’re not willing to tax the fossil fuel oligarchs!

    • avatar
      Ander Anderson

      Desmond Whelen The Environment is not a tax because it is about saving the Planet

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