Pandemic lessons

Cutting over-consumption and unnecessary travel

The Rapid Transition Alliance has joined with ClimateWorks to highlight how, especially in wealthier nations, over-consumption and unnecessary travel can be cut to live more sustainably in the face of climate change, incorporating lessons from the global health crisis.

During the pandemic we have seen enormous shifts in behaviour from individuals, organisations and governments. Vast sums of money have materialised to support people’s livelihoods, health and well being.

But amid the tragedy there has also been strong evidence of hope for the future. Many people have learned to value time spent in nature and simple pleasures such as being with family and friends above the temporary highs of endless shopping. The amount of unnecessary travel plummeted, showing us the possibilities of rapidly reducing carbon emissions from transport on a permanent basis. Looking forward, how can we continue to improve the balance between work and play, fulfilling our individual dreams while also caring for our communities? How can we enjoy life’s pleasures without thoughtless over-consumption and encouraging waste?

The Reset series

The Reset series explores the lessons from the global pandemic on two vital areas for rapid transition: overconsumption and unnecessary travel. Our set of downloadable short briefings focus on the period we are living through for scalable, rapid change – evidence-based hope for the future. 

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Too much stuff – cutting overconsumption

While too many people across the world still struggle to feed, clothe and house themselves in safety, the rest of us are consuming way beyond what is sustainable. This is driven by an economic system that supports growth without thought for what have traditionally been called “externalities” – the natural world and human health and wellbeing. So, while it won’t solve climate change alone, cutting consumption is vital where it is possible. We look at ways this has been done successfully in the past, and discuss how it can be done faster and at scale.

⬆ We spoke to Ugo Vallauri, Co-founder and Policy Lead at the Restart Project to talk about how we can tackle over-consumption and reduce waste through repairing ⬆

Unnecessary travel – better ways to connect

Travel moved from being a relatively rare and expensive action just a generation or two ago, to being a commonplace occurrence for many. Commuting long distances for daily work is a norm around the world, revealing a mismatch between work and housing availability. Most vehicles still depend on fossil fuels, with single passenger car use and flying for business or leisure being the most polluting means of transport. Vehicles powered by renewable energy are becoming more common but investment is relatively low in most countries and habits hard to shift. Here we look at how we can cut unnecessary travel quickly and at scale while we figure out how to decarbonise the sector.

⬆  Karen Creavin from the Active Wellbeing Society, talks about the bike share scheme they have launched to give people access to transport that they may not have been able to afford

Lessons from Lockdown

We asked people to share their experiences of lockdown to see what lessons you might have for bringing about a rapid transition to more happier, more caring and less polluting lives. We created a set of materials which showcase what we have learned and point to some of the things that we want to keep for the future.

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