Seven strategies to tackle climate change

Our report for the G7 provides detailed guidance on how to tackle consumption-based emissions. If all the strategies were implemented they would save nearly one billion tonnes of CO2eq emissions a year by 2030.

G7 countries control or influence 27% of all global emissions and earlier this year announced they would increase their focus on resource efficiency and circular economy and pursue sustainable consumption and production models. Our seven strategies provide a framework for how they can take this work forward.

We also examined the difference between territorial and consumption-based emissions (which includes emissions connected with imported goods such as food etc.) within the G7 and found 1.8 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, measured in CO2eq are currently being missed by focusing on territorial emissions, and not equally on consumption-based emissions.

The seven strategies are:

  1. Tackling food waste: In 2019 nearly a billion tonnes of food ended up in the bin – 17% of all the food available to people that didn’t make it into the mouth. We are urging Governments, businesses and individuals to act now on food waste and the potential impact is vast. Creutzig et al (2022) estimate that reducing food loss and waste could lower global GHG emissions by around 2 billion tonnes CO2e per year including savings in the full value chain, which includes the final customer.
  2. Sustainable healthy diets: In 2021, well over 800 million people were affected by hunger, 150 million more than in 2019. Meanwhile, over 3 billion people in the world can’t afford a healthy diet. The World Health Organisation (WHO) identified that most of the world’s population live in countries where obesity and being overweight kills more people than being underweight. Unsurprising given that the global average calorie intake in 2018 was 2,861 kcal per day versus the guideline of 2,500 per day. If everyone ate less calories we could save significant tonnes of GHG emissions.
  3. Switching from goods to services: Both economic and environmental gains can be achieved through a service economy where products are shared with a number of people through leasing models. Our research suggests that increasing rental could add over 3 billion euros to Gross Value Added and create over 33,000 jobs in Germany alone.
  4. Making better use of existing products: We routinely discard products if they no longer work. If we can persuade people to give them a second life we can reduce GHG emissions and create employment opportunities. Priority products include cars, electrical goods and clothing.
  5. Designing lightweight products: In most cases, the carbon impact of a particular material is broadly proportionate to weight. Lightweighting products is therefore a straightforward way to reduce resource use and carbon footprint at the same time. We believe the opportunity exists to save at least 11 million tonnes CO2e per year.
  6. Recycling more: Recycling has been a global success story for the last two decades, delivering significant environmental and economic benefits. Recycled materials can help conserve resources and reduce GHG emissions when used in place of primary materials. And globally, recycling has the potential to avoid around 500 million tonnes CO2e per year (Creutzig et al 2022).
  7. Substituting materials: In many sectors including construction, vehicles, furniture and packaging highly intensive materials such as steel and cement can be directly substituted for lower carbon intensity alternatives. The effect of substituting is enormous and we are urging the Government to work with industry to develop a standard for the whole-life carbon footprint of buildings and infrastructure.
The seven steps to net zero, displayed as a circular illustration.

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