Author, Earthsave Canada
Safer consumption on our planet through more plants on our plates.
The crucial net-zero emissions target
2023 is the second year under Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, a stepping stone toward the goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. “Net zero by 2050” plans have been drafted by countries that have signed the United Nations Paris Agreement, in the pursuit of avoiding rises in global temperature above 1.5C. Recently, the World Meteorological Organization highlighted the need for strategies to support these emissions reduction goals, suggesting that global temperatures may breach 1.5C warming for the first time by 2027.
How is Canada measuring up?
A 2021 report by the Berlin Hot or Cool Institute entitled 1.5-Degree Lifestyles investigated GHG emission and lifestyle patterns in ten countries (Canada, Finland, United Kingdom, Japan, China, South Africa, Turkey, Brazil, India, and Indonesia) to identify what life might look like in 2030 in different geographical locations to avoid warming over 1.5C by 2050.
The researchers examined consumption patterns in six categories (food, housing, personal transport, goods, leisure, and services) and their emissions impact. Groups within consumption categories with the largest emissions impacts were named “emissions hotspots”. The researchers identified lifestyle behaviours for individuals in each country to address emissions hotspots by evaluating hotspot item necessity, feasibility of alternative item consumption, and the emissions impact of consuming alternative items. The lifestyle behaviors that researchers deemed most effective for emissions reduction are ways individuals can live within a “fair consumption space,” an individual-specific consumption pattern that equitably meets needs without overconsuming.
Researchers calculated that Canada’s consumer emissions surpassed those of all nine other countries, with annual per capita carbon emissions totaling 13.6 tonnes. Within Canada’s food category, meat was concluded to be an emissions hotspot, responsible for 1.39 tonnes of carbon emissions per capita. The researchers concluded that adopting a vegan diet is the second most impactful emission-reducing lifestyle strategy for Canadians, behind car-free private traveling.
A call to action for Canadians
Researchers have repeatedly emphasized that global GHG emissions and associated rising temperatures are driving us to an increasingly inhospitable world. Canada’s oversized contribution to global emissions compared to other countries, as confirmed by 1.5-Degree Lifestyles, is a call to action for Canadians to evaluate their choices. We will all need to make changes if humanity is to adapt and live consistently within low emissions targets. Fortunately, eating plant-based is a promising route for individual positive change and you can take impactful, plant-powered steps today.
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