One percent every three months

August 13, 2019

An emissions target made real

Last October, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority, declared that global emissions need to drop by 45% by 2030 – just 11 years from now – if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C.  (Quick primer here.)

Sadly, global reaction was underwhelming – perhaps because any target given in years can sound like a long time.

Recently, I heard a speaker reframe those numbers in this different, more impactful way:

          “Emissions need to drop by 1% every three months.”


For me, it was simple math, and suddenly it was real.  Reductions need to start now, and the longer we stall, the more daunting the challenge.

So, something to ponder as you relax and sip this summer: where will your 1% between now and November 14 come from?

  • Will you drive less? Will you bike, carpool or take public transit, even just a few times?  Will you stop idling or using drive-throughs?  Will you get a more efficient vehicle?  Will you take one less flight?  (Quick tip: transportation is ‘low-hanging fruit’, with significant savings readily available to anyone willing to make a few simple habit changes.)
  • Will you use less air conditioning now, or less heating in the fall?
  • Will you eat a little less meat and a few more veggies? Will you choose more local produce this fall?
  • Will you take shorter or fewer showers?
  • Something else? (Please hit reply and let me know, so I can share in a future Green Ideas.)

And once you’ve decided, why not start thinking about where your next 1% will come from, by Valentine’s Day?

(PS: 11 years isn’t that long – remember the global financial crisis and the election of Barack Obama in 2008?)

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