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Interview with Lloyd Alter

Today’s blog features an interview with Lloyd Alter, author of Living the 1.5 Degree Lifestyle: Why Individual Climate Action Matters More than Ever. It includes the winning question from the giveaway!

What individual action is most impactful to reduce the impacts of climate change?

Stop driving. It is the single most significant source of personal carbon emissions for the vast majority of people.

What gave you the catalyst to write this book? Lots of people are thinking about these things, but you went out there and wrote on it.

There was this article in the Guardian a few years ago titled “just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of emissions,” and I thought, no, they are not. We are responsible for emissions, and they are just feeding our addiction. So when an obscure Finnish report came out about 1.5-degree lifestyles, I thought I could do this.

How close did you get to slashing your carbon footprint to 2.5 tonnes per year?

I got very close. That was the point of the book, to show that it can be done. Although my calculator may have missed a few things, I am working on a more sophisticated one.

Winning Giveaway Question

Lloyd, what’s your answer to folks who say that individual action isn’t going to help, worse, that it blames the individual, and that we should focus on somehow making corporations and governments take action on climate emergency? (besides writing an entire book on the subject…)

The short answer is that the corporations are selling, and we are buying. If we choose to buy a car and need gasoline, it is our choice. It’s helped by their marketing, by zoning promoted by governments for decades that make suburban housing the norm, making cars a necessity, but it is still our decision to fill our tank or buy a house that needs a lot of gas to heat.

Yes, governments have to take action and change building codes, build safe bike infrastructure and high-speed rail, so we don’t have to fly. But we also have to stop consuming so much of everything.


Author Lloyd Alter

Lloyd Alter is a writer, public speaker, and former architect, developer, and inventor. He has published over 14,000 articles on Treehugger. He has become convinced that we just use too much of everything — too much space, too much land, too much food, too much fuel, too much money — and that the key to sustainability is to simply use less, what he calls Radical Sufficiency. He teaches sustainable design at Ryerson School of Interior Design and when not writing can often be found in his running shoes, on his bike, or in his 1989 Hudson single scull in Toronto, Canada.

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