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The 21 Percent: One Fifth Of Households Generate Half The Carbon Pollution

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"The 21 Percent: One Fifth Of Households Generate Half The Carbon Pollution"

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Even if every house on your block looks the same, there’s a good chance they’re emitting vastly different amounts of pollution, a new study published this week by Environmental Science and Technology found.

Researchers in Switzerland studied a town of 3,000 houses to get a look into how household consumption and pollution differs. What they found was that the amount of pollution differed vastly between neighbors:

In a case study performed on a midsized community, we found a median value of greenhouse gas emissions of 3.12 t CO2 equiv and a mean value of 4.30 t CO2 equiv per capita and year for housing and mobility. Twenty-one percent of the households in the investigated region were responsible for 50% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that if their emissions could be halved the total emissions of the community would be reduced by 25%.

Obviously, household pollution can vary greatly based on the size of a person’s home, the amount of energy they use, and whether or not they own a car. But even for people whose lives take up the same amount of physical space, pollution can vary: Certain appliances and particular vehicles can produce much higher levels of pollution. And while the perception is generally that more efficient appliances are prohibitively expensive, in the long run they save consumers a ton of money.

Within the new energy and environment plan proposed this week by President Obama are certain measures to help reduce such household pollution. He plans to increase efficiency standards for buildings, appliances, and vehicles. Efficiency standards are a proven way of reducing pollution.

(HT: Mother Jones)

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9 Responses to The 21 Percent: One Fifth Of Households Generate Half The Carbon Pollution

  1. Dano says:

    The 21 Percent: One Fifth Of Households Generate Half The Carbon Pollution [in the residential subsector of the building sector]

    That is: they only did a LCA of those sectors, so it is not of total GHG emissions of the area.

    Best,

    D

  2. Geoff Beacon says:

    With support from the millenium charity, UnLtd, and some friends, I started the the Green Rationbook website.

    I am convinced our approach is right – a panel makes informed judgments on carbon footprints. This allows for transparent and open discussion of the issues.

    I think the Green Ration Book could make a useful compliment to the work described above by giving more detailed information on the carbon cost of specific aspects of everyday living.

    The Green Ration Book website needs pushing forward and I have not recently been able to find the time and effort to do it justice. I would be happy to find the right people with whom I could collaborate – or even take it over..

  3. Michael Glass says:

    After looking at their paper: wouldn’t it have been a) easier and b) more accurate to get a sampling of yearly electricity, heating gas, and petrol bills?

  4. Superman1 says:

    What’s the context? If we cannot exceed 1 C during the interim in order to have even minimal safety, according to Anderson, then ANY CO2 emissions are too much! Cutting emissions in half sounds impressive, and it buys a little time, but doesn’t guarantee we avoid extinction. That’s the bind we are in, and avoiding it by excluding context doesn’t present the total picture.

  5. Superman1 says:

    The following brief in the Financial Times places the climate issues in reasonable perspective.
    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d711f7fe-be28-11e2-9b27-00144feab7de.html#axzz2XW5zGrHf

  6. Superman1 says:

    http://www.salon.com/2013/03/27/is_there_an_actual_tipping_point_for_global_warming_partner/. An excellent article on climate change tipping points, but I am continually amazed at ‘experts’ who fail to see how these feedback mechanisms act in concert due to their synergetic cross-coupling to temperature.

  7. Marc Lee says:

    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives did something like this for Canadian households, looking at direct and indirect GHG emissions by quintile:
    http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/who-occupies-sky

  8. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “ANY CO2 emissions are too much! Cutting emissions in half sounds impressive, and it buys a little time, but doesn’t guarantee we avoid extinction.”

    As usual, you proclaim that “any emissions” are “too much” and in the same breath, you condemn and denounce every proven method of rapidly and drastically reducing emissions.

    As for “extinction”, since it is impossible to know whether we have ALREADY gone over the so-called “climate cliff”, it is impossible to provide any “guarantee” of any particular outcome.

    In which case the only rational response is to apply EVERY POSSIBLE METHOD of reducing emissions as quickly as possible, which necessarily means focusing on the “low-hanging fruit” first — those measures which can be applied NOW, using solutions that are at hand NOW, that can achieve the greatest reductions in the shortest possible time at the lowest cost — which primarily means eliminating waste, increasing efficiency, and deploying zero-emissions energy technologies as rapidly as possible.

    And yet you consistently, and belligerently, attack all of those measures (and of course, those who propose them).

    Your position is ludicrously incoherent — or blatantly dishonest. Either way, it has become little more than a vehicle for your personal attacks and boorish trolling.

    • Superman1 says:

      “which necessarily means focusing on the “low-hanging fruit” first — those measures which can be applied NOW, using solutions that are at hand NOW, that can achieve the greatest reductions in the shortest possible time at the lowest cost — which primarily means eliminating waste, increasing efficiency, and deploying zero-emissions energy technologies as rapidly as possible”. The one REQUIRED low-hanging fruit is eliminating all non-essential uses of fossil fuel IMMEDIATELY. NONE of the remainder can be accomplished in the required time scale to avoid going over the cliff.