3 Tons for the Planet? Our CO₂ Footprint and an Urgently Needed Transformation
We need a change. A change for the climate. Politically, economically, globally. But also in our daily behavior. Let’s talk about why being aware of your own CO₂ consumption is so important and how PLAN3T can help you to gradually reduce your footprint.
You probably already know that everyone has a CO₂ footprint. Some of us know the principle and the logic behind it. And yet for most, it is a principle that is difficult to grasp when translated into everyday actions. In times of melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, extinct species, and the endangerment of our entire ecosystem, this has to change - quickly.
Perhaps you’re like many other people and often ask yourself: “What can I, as an individual, achieve?” The answer is easier than you might think: a lot. With small continuous changes in your everyday life.
Yes, that’s right. Together we can achieve a meaningful change with small steps.
Time for a small CO₂ inventory
“Well, where do I start?”, you might ask. Rightly so! Before we give you the first impulses for action, however, we should take a look at the current status quo in terms of CO₂. In 2015, 196 countries met at the 21st Paris UN Climate Change Conference as a worldwide reaction to the negative climate footprint (you know the facts as well as we do, so we will spare you them here today). It was jointly agreed that
"... the rise in the global average temperature is kept well below 2°C above the pre-industrial level and efforts are made to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level."
0.5 degrees: Small number, big effect
1.5°C - we can still do that much without risking our lives. The problem: Currently, global warming is already 1°C above the pre-industrial level, and it’s rising. If we continue to live as we have so far, the critical 1.5°C mark would be reached by 2040, which would be a disastrous failure of the Paris Agreement. So, we need immediate change instead of just discussing and burying our heads in the sand. We need to start today to significantly reduce all of our CO₂ emissions to stay at a future temperature of 1.5°C.
The CO₂ facts at a glance
- According to the UN climate agreement, we only have 890 gigatonnes of CO₂ left, which can be released into the atmosphere by 2050 in order to keep the climate impacts at a bearable level.
- This results in an average CO₂ budget of 3 tonnes per person worldwide in the time frame from 2020-2050. It also means that our consumption in 2050 has to be less than 1T CO₂.
- The annual EU average is 8.4 tonnes CO₂, worldwide it is 4.9 tonnes CO₂. And here, in Germany? We currently emit an average of 11.6 tonnes of CO₂, every year.
The everyday CO₂ emissions of the average German person
11.6 tonnes compared to the 4.9 worldwide average, that sounds like a lot. And it is. A small number that is difficult to notice in fast-paced everyday life, right?
Perhaps now is a good time to translate these abstract numbers into everyday language. Let's take a look at how these numbers are generated in Germany.
The largest CO₂ emissions in private households are caused in the areas of energy, mobility, consumption, and nutrition. As your income rises, your own CO₂ footprint usually increases. A larger living space often leads to a higher energy requirement. More household items, larger cars, and more frequent vacation trips increase your own CO₂ budget. On the other hand, a higher income also means more potential for CO₂ savings. For example, the individual footprint can be significantly reduced with adequate insulation when building a house, switching to green energy, or committing to a mainly plant-based diet.
An everyday life with consequences?
You see: our everyday lives have an impact. Small and large. Short term and long term. Some impacts are good, some less. It does make a difference whether you do your next errands by bike, car, or on foot. Whether you use conventional or green electricity. The number of animal products you eat, as well as the quality of everything you consume. Regionality, seasonality, packaging waste, you name it. The list is long.
This can be overwhelming, but it is also a big plus because almost every area of life has an incredible amount of potential for sustainable change. A change that doesn't have to be as drastic as you might think.
3 tonnes for our planet?
Back to the bigger picture. In industrial countries like Germany, a lot has to happen to achieve our climate targets and a net-zero economy by 2050.
The good news: it doesn't have to happen at once. Of course, every quick change is good and important, but the small, subtle, everyday impulses make a huge difference, too. To achieve the average 3-tonne target over the next 30 years, the average German has to reduce CO2 emissions by 12 percent annually.
12% less every year. That does sound more feasible, doesn't it?
PLAN3T: Your impact app for everyday climate action and tangible transformation
This is where PLAN3T comes in place. Like many other people, we are tired. Tired of seeing and hearing excuses, red numbers, and sobering news all the time. We are tired of shying away from change - because it will come one way or another. With PLAN3T we create a platform that brings sustainable transformation into everyday life. Digital, approachable, and with real impact.
“Each one of us makes a difference every day. We have a choice as to what that difference will be. "
- Jane Goodall, Eni
Implementing a sustainable lifestyle is not about pointing the finger at someone else to judge and evaluate. It's not about perfection. It's about getting things moving forward. We want to motivate, give suggestions, surprise, inspire, and occasionally poke you, all in the context of climate protection.
And because we think that every commitment to the climate should be rewarded, we do just that, together with a selection of the coolest sustainable brands. And it works so easy: For every sustainable transformation that you make, you will receive our so-called Planet Coins that you can redeem for vouchers from our partner brands. Every sustainable action has a double value - for you and the climate.
Let's bring light into a bleak future together, bring sustainability to the center of society and herewith ensure that we stay within the planetary boundaries.
Are you as curious and excited as we are? If you want to get started and do your share of the job, then we have good news for you! Next Tuesday PLAN3T goes live on the German App Store and Google Play. Sign up now for early access and 300 Planet Coins as a welcome gift.