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The Story of Upfront Carbon
How a Life of Just Enough Offers a Way Out of the Climate Crisis
We must cut carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. But emissions are not produced just by driving your car or heating your home. "Upfront carbon" refers to all emissions involved in making your car or building your home or any other item.
As we seek to incorporate more renewables and less fossil fuels into our energy supply, upfront carbon becomes increasingly dominant compared to operating emissions, yet they are often ignored. This is why the pursuit of sufficiency, or making and buying just what we need, has become a powerful strategy for tackling climate change.
By focusing on consumption rather than production, The Story of Upfront Carbon:
- Demystifies the complex web of cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessments, demonstrating that the accepted concept of "embodied carbon" is just one part of the carbon accounting equation
- Establishes the compelling rationale for carbon minimalism, arguing that only through frugality, simplicity, and materiality can we address global inequality and avoid climate catastrophe
- Shows how big-picture thinking and a broad, systemic approach to determining a product's ecological footprint is indispensable to help guide the transition to degrowth and a zero-carbon society.
Packed with concrete strategies for minimizing the upfront carbon produced by transportation, agriculture, consumer goods, the built environment, and more, this highly readable and accessible guide is required reading for a world on the brink.
Lloyd Alter is a writer, public speaker, architect, inventor, and Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Design at Toronto Metropolitan University. He has published many thousands of articles on diverse platforms such as TreeHugger, Planet Green, and The Guardian. Lloyd is the author of Living the 1.5 Degree Lifestyle. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
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