The pursuit of constraining global warming to 1.5 °C has prompted the IPCC to propose various mitigation strategies. In its 6th report, a novel approach, ‘demand-side mitigation,’ has been highlighted as a pivotal category of mitigation measures, transcending mere technological aspects and cost-benefit analyses.

Demand-side mitigation:

  • This approach aims at reshaping the demand for goods and services through targeted changes in choices, technology adoption, consumption patterns, behaviors, and lifestyles.
  • Example: Embracing plant-based diets and reducing red meat consumption can mitigate cardiovascular risks while also reducing emissions.
  • Example: Encouraging walking and cycling not only enhances personal fitness but also curbs emissions.

Significance of ‘Demand-side mitigation’:

  • Supply-side solutions, though effective in reducing emissions intensity, have limitations in achieving absolute emissions reduction without complementary demand-side interventions.
  • Behavioral and lifestyle modifications, along with demand-side management, have already demonstrated emissions reductions globally and hold the potential for significant future reductions.
  • Swift and profound shifts in demand facilitate emissions reduction across sectors in the short to medium term.
  • Demand-side strategies across sectors could potentially reduce emissions by 40-70% by 2050.
  • Demand-side mitigation, coupled with innovative service delivery methods, can help in avoiding, shifting, and enhancing final service demand.

Government Actions:

  • Introduction of economic incentives like carbon pricing while considering intricate decision-making processes, habits, and routines.
  • Example: Dedicated bus corridors established in Indian cities to promote public transport and discourage private vehicles.
  • Implementation of higher taxes on carbon-intensive products.
  • Example: European Union’s proposal for a carbon border adjustment tax on imports based on their carbon emissions during production.
  • Encouragement of alternative work culture like remote work to reduce commuting fuel consumption.
  • Promotion of green practices such as car-sharing and energy-efficient buildings through advertising and entertainment media.
  • Challenging established norms and values to foster change.
  • Example: Framing public transport as a comfortable alternative to alleviate stress from driving in congested traffic.

Community Initiatives:

  • Transforming the perception of car ownership as a status symbol and establishing a new norm favoring public transportation.
  • Shaping narratives that portray plant-based diets as healthy and natural, promoting specific diets.
  • Example: Successful case studies indicate citizens’ support for transformative changes through participatory processes aligned with local interests and culture.

Individual Contributions:

  • Raising awareness about lifestyle and dietary adjustments.
  • Example: Encouraging the transition from non-vegetarian to vegetarian diets to reduce demand.
  • Professionals altering their practices in line with decarbonization goals.
  • Example: Urban planners creating infrastructure conducive to low-carbon mobility and energy usage by designing safe walking and cycling spaces.
  • Wealthy investors divesting from fossil fuels and investing in carbon-neutral technologies.
  • Celebrities leading by example with eco-friendly lifestyles and consumption habits.

The recognition is growing that monetary growth alone cannot gauge national welfare and individual well-being. Therefore, actions for climate change mitigation should be assessed against indicators encompassing a broader range of needs, incorporating individual well-being, macroeconomic stability, and planetary health.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish March 19, 2024