Do we need to reduce consumption to avoid Climate Change?

Reducing consumption can play an important role in addressing climate change although not many political parties openly address the urgent need to reduce waste, resources and consumption.

The production and consumption of goods and services are responsible for many greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to global warming. By reducing our consumption of goods and services, we can decrease the demand for goods that generate high levels of emissions. This, in turn, can encourage a shift towards producing more sustainable goods and services with a lower environmental impact.  The challenge of immediately cutting down on our consumption is that it will immediately affect job losses and have an effect on the global/local economy.   There is also an imbalance in many western economies where there are not enough highly skilled workers in some sectors.  Some industries continue to lose jobs to automation such as food processing, mail sorting, and warehousing and some jobs are in the process of automation such as delivery, office work and even the creative industries.

In addition to reducing consumption, there are other steps that can be taken to address climate change, such as increasing energy efficiency, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and investing in research and development of new technologies. However, reducing consumption is a critical component of a comprehensive approach to tackling climate change.  With automation coming at speed and taking away jobs, the overall economy may well be smaller with pay decreases, and fewer jobs.  We may be naturally already moving to an economy based on what we need rather than what we want.  With increased automation, employees and business owners may find they have much more time on their hands for leisure and time with family. The benefits may end up outweighing all the negative impacts.

But with a population approaching 10 billion by 2050, we still need a rethink on what the planet can sustain and we may still need to put the emphasis on consumerism and growth, and move towards more sustainable models of production and consumption.  Ultimately, the amount of reduction in consumption required will depend on the collective actions of individuals, businesses, and governments, as well as the availability of alternative technologies and lifestyles that are less carbon-intensive.  The first step will be to transition to clean energy as soon as possible, when energy is abundant, cheap and clean, the world can move forward very quickly to clean up other industries.   Recycling and bringing in legislation on repair and re-use large white goods such as washing machines and fridges.


Do we need to reduce consumption to avoid Climate Change?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top