Solving the global climate change crisis is going to rely on, in one way or another, changing human behavior.
ARLINGTON, Va. September 29, 2018
A new report from Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment quantifies the contribution individual behavior change can make toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The Center’s analysis of 80 climate solutions outlined in Project Drawdown, a comprehensive plan to mitigate global warming, found that individual behavior plays a significant role in 30 of them. Further analysis of those 30 solutions, based on the emissions reduction potential estimates in Drawdown, found that greater adoption could help reduce about one-third of the projected global emissions between 2020 to 2050. The report also offers practitioners behavioral science tools to promote the adoption of the solutions.
“Undoubtedly, this list does demonstrate the massive potential that individuals and communities can have in terms of contributing to efforts to reduce emissions,” reads the report. “Solving the global climate change crisis is going to rely on, in one way or another, changing human behavior.”
The report divides the 30 solutions into four categories (food; agriculture and land management; transportation; and energy and materials) and identifies significant potential for mitigation. The total emissions reduction potential of these solutions is between 393 and 729 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases. Based on Drawdown’s modeling estimates, the projected total greenhouse gas emissions from 2020-2050 is 1,979 gigatons. Therefore, large-scale adoption of these 30 behavioral solutions could mitigate up to 36.8 percent of emissions between 2020 and 2050, increasing the chances for achieving the necessary milestones to keep global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
“Tackling climate change can seem overwhelming, and people often feel like they can’t possibly make a difference. This report proves otherwise,” said Brett Jenks, President & CEO of Rare. “Our findings should offer hope to everyone looking for what they can do on a personal level to help address the climate crisis.”
The final chapter of the report outlines ways that behavior change tools can be applied to conservation and climate action.
“Compiling this list of solutions is just one step. Now we need people to adopt them,” said Kevin Green, Senior Director at the Center for Behavior & the Environment at Rare. “The Center for Behavior & the Environment is dedicated to connecting the growing body of knowledge about human behavior and decision making with many inspiring efforts all over the world to promote the adoption of sustainable, climate-smart behaviors.”
To encourage adoption, Rare will look to proven solutions. Earlier this year, Rare was joined by Conservation International, National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Wildlife Fund in launching Solution Search, a global competition to identify, reward, and spotlight innovative, promising solutions to helping consumers adopt more climate-smart behaviors. The competition is currently in the judging phase, with finalists set to be announced later this Fall.
The report’s authors include Katie Williamson, Katie Velasco, and Kevin Green of the Center for Behavior & the Environment; and Aven Satre-Meloy, a doctoral student and Rhodes Scholar in the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University.
A copy of the report can be downloaded at Rare.org/Center.
The report is the first produced by the Center for Behavior & the Environment, which Rare established in 2017 to apply the latest insights from behavioral research to the world’s biggest conservation challenges. By closing the loop between the science of human motivation and decision-making and the practice of environmental stewardship, Rare hopes the Center will serve as a catalyst for promoting widespread adoption of more sustainable behaviors.
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