How to be sustainable – only use your Fair Earth-Share but what does that mean?

Thousands rally for climate action and a carbon priceSo you are one of the 10% of the worlds wealthiest people, you are responsible for over 50% of the world’s carbon emissions and if everyone lived like you we would need three planets to survive. And that ‘you’ is me, you and pretty much anyone reading this blog.

What can you do? What would a fair share of the earth look like? How do we live within one planet?

This post explores what living fairly within one planet would look like.

What is our Fair Earth-Share?

I’m still loving the “Is sustainability still sustainable?” book and in Chapter 4 it gives a nice summary of what your life will be like to live within one planet – fairly.

Per Person Metrics Fair Earth-Share World Average Current 10% Levels
1 Planet 1.5 Planets 3 Planets
Daily calorie supply 2,424 2,809 3,383
Meat Consumption (kg / year) 20 40 100
Living Space (square meters) 8 10 34
People per household 5 4 3
Home Energy (kWh per year) 2,300 3,500 9,300
Motor vehicle ownership 0.004 0.1 0.5
Motor vehicle travel (kms per year) 582 2,600 6,600
Air travel (kms per year) 125 564 2,943
Carbon Dioxide Emissions (tons per year) 2 4 14
Life Expectancy (years) 66 67 79

Wow. I’ve got a long way to go! The only one I hit was 5 people per house and that’s because I’ve got three kids.

And as the global population increases the fair share reduces.

What would a fair share of the earth look like?

Well, I don’t know about you but it looks healthier, more connected and more fair. Important note here is that although the life expectancy is lower in the fair share scenario some countries have acheived high life expectancy with very low ‘earth take’. Cuba for example has an average life expectancy of 78 years with a very high level of development.

Our houses would be a lot smaller which is good. The average McMansion in Sydney at the moment is over 220 square meters with an average occupancy of 2.2 – that’s 100 square meters per person. For my family 8 square meters would mean living in a 40 square meter house – whoa that’s small – a very different lifestyle. I don’t think you can even legally build an apartment or house that small in Australia!

Public transport needs to get a shit load better if we need to get to 1 car per 250 people. Zipcar and GoGet will help to get car ownership down, but the km travel cap needs to come into place.

Not sure my Mum and Dad would be too happy about me only travelling back to the UK every 160 years! Maybe we could flight share and bring that down to every 80 years.

What can you do?

Well, it looks very different from the lifestyle I am currently living. How about you?

Start off by seeing where you exceed your planetary share, where are you being unfair in your ‘earth take’.

And then start to measure yourself against these metrics. What’s your calorie intake? How much meat are you eating? How does your home energy compare?

I’m going to start tracking my meat consumption and then maybe break the news to Mum and Dad that I won’t see them again until 2093.

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