Policy Pathways towards 1.5-Degree Lifestyles

Transition ahead

With every day that passes, the world inches closer toward the 1.5-degree climate target, and if emissions return to pre-pandemic levels, the global 1.5-degree carbon budget will be exhausted even before 2030. The  current EU average per capita carbon footprint of 8.2t CO2eq is far beyond the level required to remain within the carbon budget. To achieve the necessary rapid transition, Europe has to go beyond incremental efficiency improvements and implement deeper transformations.  An essential part of this transformation is changing dominant lifestyles and consumption patterns to scale down the consumption related per capita emissions to 2.5t CO2eq by 2030 and 0.7t CO2eq by 2050 required for achieving the 1.5-degree target. In this regard, a window of opportunity is opening: the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing willpower for ambitious climate action create a unique context for systemically transforming our ways of living.

“It’s not that…policies [in the current 2030 outlook] are necessarily failing but they may not be addressing the core issues of deep unsustainability, and so the message is that systemic change is needed.”

Hans Bruyninckx (Executive Director, EEA) during ZOE’s workshop on Policy Pathways towards 1.5-Degree Lifestyles

As the Green Deal indicates, a willingness to transform policies to align with climate targets exists among European policymakers. From the Farm to Fork Initiative to the Renovation Wave to the New Consumer Agenda, the European Union policy agenda is rich with opportunities to introduce and strengthen policies which promote and enable sustainable lifestyles while simultaneously improving well-being, health and social cohesion.

Collaboration between ZOE and policymakers

The 1.5-Degree Lifestyles project at ZOE aims to integrate behavioural and systemic infrastructural changes into policy design. The project brings together pioneering policymakers with a shared goal of a climate-neutral Europe. The primary focus is strengthening policies in areas with significant carbon consumption such as mobility, food, and housing. ZOE supports policymakers in identifying the gaps between European climate ambitions and current lifestyle-related policy. Through publishing policy briefs and organising policy labs and workshops, pathways are collaboratively developed which map out how to close those policy gaps. By connecting policymakers from different policy areas with relevant stakeholders and experts on science-based emissions, the project aims to create space for the development of fresh and comprehensive policy scenarios and political strategies. Based on methods of co-creation, the Policy Labs encourage exchanges of experiences and information while striving to evoke feelings of empowerment and self-efficacy among participants.

Watch the opening remarks of Dr. Hans Bruyninckx (Executive Director, EEA) during ZOE’s workshop on “Policy Pathways towards 1.5-Degree Lifestyles” in full below. He brings up central aspects which need to be addressed alongside the Green Deal when moving towards a new paradigm of systemic and just change.

1.5 Degree Lifestyles – Input from Dr. Hans Bruyninckx (Executive Director, EEA)

Video Link [Youtube.com]

For an overview of the project, please also see the Leaflet.

Do you want to find out more about the key messages of the project? Check out our Concept note.


 Dive deeper into the contents of this project on the 1.5-degree lifestyles website


Project partner

Project Team