Every person contributes to global warming

Man’s influence on global warming can no longer be denied and climate change has an impact on all of humanity. This makes global warming a societal problem for which we must find a solution together. Climate change is a consequence of an excessive concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Many human activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions: housing, mobility and transport, travel, food, consumption… The principle is simple: every person fills in part of the planet’s climate budget.

A climate contribution per person

To limit the greenhouse gas emissions related to human activities, there are many steps one can take, such as insulating our house, using renewable energy, travelling by bike or train… For many of these measures, performance indicators and labels exist that make it possible to objectify their environmental impact and to include them in a regulatory framework. Well-known examples are the CO2 emissions of cars (in grams of CO2/100km) and the energy performance certificates of houses (in kWh/m².year).
However, these indicators are insufficient to keep actual greenhouse gas emissions within the planet’s climate budget. After all, many low-emission cars and many kilometres still produce a significant amount of CO2 emissions, and many efforts for energy savings in the house are cancelled out by the building extensions associated with the renovation or by the location of the house necessitating greater transport distances. Moreover, the environmental impact of, for example, the production and recycling of a car, house or any other consumer good, is often forgotten.
There is a need for a more holistic assessment of the environmental impact of our activities, incorporating the external effects of efficiency measures and determining the impact over the entire life cycle of a good. This should include a more absolute performance indicator: the total greenhouse gas emissions per person (and per year), taking into account the capacity of the earth: a climate contribution per person.

Understanding your climate impact

In order to make proficient use of our climate contribution, we need an easy way to get a better overview of our personal CO2 emissions as well as more insight into the emissions related to the choices we make. Therefore, a higher transparency is needed about the CO2 consumption related to all kinds of activities, ranging from living, mobility, travelling, food, purchases…
A a number of tools and initiatives exist that provide such insight, but they are often limited to one or a few activities, or oversimplified and not very accurate. Moreover, most of them do not take into account life cycle aspects. My Climate Contribution aims to develop and/or bring together tools that provide a more accurate picture of our emissions from a holistic assessment.

A compensatory regulation

In order to tackle the climate problem effectively, the climate contribution cannot remain free of obligation: the climate problem is a global problem, so everyone must contribute to the solution. In addition to a better understanding of the impact of our activities, a regulatory framework will be needed in which the climate contribution of each individual is tracked and monitored, and in which everyone is encouraged and supported to reduce their emissions. A significant part of the population cannot finance the necessary investments in CO2 saving measures, while also their CO2 savings are essential to stay within the climate budget of the planet. The climate solution should not fundamentally alter the relations between people, e.g. between those who can and those cannot keep up with the energy transition. The climate solution is therefore one in which everyone contributes.

My Climate Contribution proposes a climate contribution according to the following principle:

“Those who choose to emit more, not only pay the cost of their emissions, but also the necessary savings from others.”

Freedom of action is a fundamental right, but it ends when the way one chooses to fulfil it endangers the freedom of action of others. Whoever choses to cause higher emissions, should therefore compensate for the reduced emissions by others. A practical proposal is to allocate a target climate contribution to each household. If the household exceeds its contribution, it would pay a progressive levy to be used to finance the savings made by other households. The number of tradable emission rights shall correspond to the planet’s climate budget.