Living on a Carbon Diet

Ghislain Dubois (2015)

Low Carbon Economy, 2015, 6, 13-20



The objectives of this paper are to understand the features of simulated low carbon lifestyles under strong greenhouse gas emissions reduction assumptions (20%, 50%), the nature of trade-offs and the hierarchy of choices operated by households within a limited carbon and financial carbon budget, the acceptability of important changes in consumption patterns, and finally the values and representations, benefits and losses that households express in such changes. The research implemented a protocol combining experimental economy (simulation of carbon budget reductions under financial constraints) and anthropology (semi-structured interviews, to understand the rationale behind choices). Each household of the sample (n = 30) was investigated for 2 - 3 days. Firstly, a very detailed carbon footprint of the household was calculated. Then households were proposed a list of 65 pre-defined solutions covering most of available mitigation options, with financial and carbon cost and savings calculated for their real situation. The sample reached an average of −37% (−12%/−64%), with a preference to act on habitat and food and a reluctance to change transport consumption. Due to the amount of reductions asked, low carbon lifestyles finally impact comfort but allow saving money. Recommendations for policies are presented.


Climate Change, Mitigation, Individual, Consumption, Carbon Footprint

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).
Published Online March 2015 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/lce

Received 9 February 2015; accepted 25 February 2015; published 28 February 2015
Copyright © 2015 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Living on Carbon diet (PDF, 516.86 ko)