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Thibaud Petit

Jan. 18, 2023

Knowledge

carbon footprint

Knowledge as an incentive to climate action

 

Picture from AdobStock : research4life.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/AdobeStock_268936952.jpg

 

 

Your level of knowledge influences your carbon footprint. Today, one of the main barriers to action at population’s level is the lack of knowledge and maturity on climate issues. However, knowledge alone is not enough. It must be followed by concrete action or the current stagnation will continue. Your level of knowledge influences your carbon footprint. This is what emerges from a result published by Carbone 4's MyCO2.  In short, the less you know about your footprint (or the climate in general), the higher it will be. We have already discussed the barriers that prevent  governments and  companies from taking action. However, we have not yet addressed the following question: what is the reason for the lack of action among the population? One of the recurring answers is the lack of knowledge and maturity on climate issues.  Acquiring or improving your climate knowledge does not mean reading an astronomical amount of studies and books. It is not about becoming a carbon expert either. Nevertheless, knowing your own carbon footprint is the first step to reducing it. In fact, knowledge only makes sense if it is followed by concrete actions.

 

 

 

 

Lack of knowledge in a few barometers 

 

During the Christmas time, you may have noticed some  nonsense expressed by your friends or family members about global warming. This nonsense is far from being an exception, as illustrated by a 2022 study conducted by the French polling company Ipsos. The study gathered the views on climate change of citizens from 30 countries across 5 continents, representing ⅔ of the world's population. Their attitude oscillated between three poles: mobilisation, concern or indifference. 


Although subject to other factors, the inaction among the population can be explained by a high rate of climate scepticism. Looking at Belgium’s case, according to the Ipsos barometer, this rate stood at almost 41% in 2022, while only 59% were convinced that human activity remains the main cause of global warming. Out of these 41%, 27% either attribute global warming to natural change or do not know its origin. The remaining 14% simply deny its existence. While these results are worrying, they are hardly surprising. In 2019, Belgium already hit the headlines for being  one of the countries where people relativised climate change the most. And the 2022 crisis did not help. According to the tenth  health survey conducted in 2022 by the Belgian Health Institute Sciensano,  climate change (43%) is only the third most important concern for Belgians, just behind the rising utility prices (68%) and the war in Ukraine (60%).

 

 

 

 

Another element linked to inaction is the respondents' attitude towards existing solutions against global warming. Changes in lifestyle (42%) and technical progress and innovations (31%) top the list. But it is the remaining 27% that are particularly interesting. If we break down this figure, we see that 16% of respondents consider that nothing more can be done  to stop global warming. This is followed by those who have  no idea how to fight it (8%), and finally those who simply  deny its existence  (3%).

 

 

 

 

 

Lack of knowledge and triangle of inaction


Another figure linked to the current inaction is associated with the respondents' relationship with the authorities responsible for climate action. Looking back at Belgium’s case, the majority of respondents see their  governments as the main lever of action  (70%), rather than citizens, consumers and businesses. In general, we tend to place the need to act against global warming in the hands of one actor (in this case the government).

 

 

 

 

However, it is important to remember that  national governments are relatively constrained by external mechanisms.  Indeed, the climate transition should not be conducted by one actor, but by all. By thinking that other actors will act in our place, we indirectly promote inaction. And if they don’t make decisions, we blame them for their inaction. This leads to the  triangle of inaction  between government, business and individuals where one actor blames the other two for climate inaction. This creates a vicious circle that reinforces the belief of the respondents that there is nothing more to do, but also some business leaders’ statements that  climate transition necessarily means loss of profitability.

 

 

 

 

It's time to act together

 

So, can knowledge still make us exit out of the triangle of inaction?  Yes, provided that it is followed by concrete actions (e.g. energy savings, promotion of soft mobility, preference for short circuits, etc.). In the long term, this awareness will allow you to inspire your stakeholders of your sector. You will be then able to advocate for more measures and initiatives in favour of the transition to a low-carbon economy. 

 

For the record, there is no need to read tons of books or to become a carbon expert. There are already plenty of tools and actions that can provide you with or perfect your knowledge in a quick and fun way. For example, there are initiatives to encourage soft mobility or the Fresque du Climat to make your stakeholders and staff aware of the consequences of global warming. And if you prefer the group effect? There is always the possibility to join forces with other players during coaching sessions to stimulate carbon reduction solutions. 

 

All actors currently engaged in the climate transition adventure have gone through an awareness of their impact. Estimating your carbon footprint  is an essential first step.Tapiois the partner to help you in your climate change journey. Thanks to our expertise, you will be able to inspire change at your level and contribute to moving away from inaction. 




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