How can your household help reduce carbon emissions?
Kiwis now have a handy tool to slash their household greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to a data collaboration between the Herald, Wellington agency ChewyData and Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
The Household Climate Action Tool offers a simple but effective way for homes to reduce their contribution to climate change.
The interactive resource builds on work by Motu, a not-for-profit research institute, which compared information from the 2006/7 and 2012/13 Household Economic Surveys and found many opportunities for individual action — even by just eating less red meat.
Motu senior fellow Dr Suzi Kerr said a recent nationwide survey showed that while 87 percent of Kiwis have at least some concern about climate change, only 42 percent believe that their actions can make a difference.
“While most households are taking at least some actions that reduce emissions, the actions they are choosing are not necessarily the ones that will have the biggest emission benefits.”
The tool draws on averages of annual spending and household purchases to help people figure out their household’s best choices to reduce emissions.
As incomes rise, individual household emissions may also go up.
“We’re hoping the combination of the tool and our research will help householders understand the impact of their spending choices and identify the most significant opportunities to mitigate their impact on emissions.”
Other ways for households to reduce their emissions were to reduce their consumption of dairy products, increase their car’s fuel efficiency, or shift from driving to walking, cycling or public transport.
Households could also have some impact on their emissions by decreasing their home electricity use and international travel.
“Food, transport, housing, and utilities account for 82 percent of household emissions,” Dr Kerr said.
“Households looking to reduce their emissions should look at what they consume in these categories first, so they can make meaningful change.”
At each level of income, the highest-emitting households had nearly twice the emissions of the lowest-emitting households.
The differences in emissions within income groups were mainly driven by differences in transport choices.
The richer, higher-emitting households fly internationally more often. Regardless of income, the households that emit the most drive more.
There is also some difference in diet, with the higher-emitting households eating more meat and dairy than the lower-emitting ones.
“So it’s perfectly possible for two people with relatively high expenditure to emit almost as little as two people with low expenditure but different spending habits.”