Founders Pledge Climate & Lifestyle Report

Link post

[Up­dated, re­placed prior de­scrip­tion with newly added sec­tion of key points from the main re­port]

John Halstead and I have pub­lished a new re­port (and at­ten­dant blog posts, here and here) on the im­pact of differ­ent lifestyle choices on cli­mate, how those are af­fected by policy, and how they com­pare to dona­tions.

Main con­clu­sions:

What we are say­ing:

  • 1. Dona­tions are a com­ple­ment to lifestyle choices: Dona­tions to effec­tive cli­mate char­i­ties provide an ex­cel­lent com­ple­ment to more con­ven­tional lifestyle changes such as fly­ing less, eat­ing less meat, etc.

  • 2. Huge differ­ences in im­pact: When we think about differ­ent lifestyle choices, there are huge differ­ences in im­pact. It is im­por­tant to be broadly aware of this to have the most pos­i­tive effect through lifestyle changes.

  • 3. Policy mat­ters for lifestyle choices: In many in­dus­tri­al­ised economies, there are now an in­creas­ing set of cli­mate tar­gets and poli­cies that do af­fect the im­pact of lifestyle choices. This is a good thing be­cause it makes tar­get achieve­ment less de­pen­dent on ev­ery­one be­ing vol­un­tar­ily vir­tu­ous. But it also means this is some­thing we need to take into ac­count when con­sid­er­ing which lifestyle changes to im­ple­ment.

What we are not say­ing:

  • 1. We are not deny­ing in­di­vi­d­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity: We are not say­ing that policy and the op­por­tu­nity to donate negate in­di­vi­d­ual re­spon­si­bil­ity for lifestyle de­ci­sions. Rather, we are seek­ing to ex­pand the ac­tions pur­sued by cli­mate con­scious in­di­vi­d­u­als.

  • 2. Dona­tions are not offsets: We are not say­ing that dona­tion is a form of offset­ting. Rather, it is a form of in­creas­ing im­pact; in­deed we think that the mind­set of offset­ting ar­tifi­cially limits our am­bi­tion far be­yond what it could be.

  • 3. We are not say­ing that you should or shouldn’t have chil­dren: We mostly dis­cuss this ex­am­ple since it has been dis­cussed heav­ily in prior work and we be­lieve prior analy­ses have sig­nifi­cantly over­stated the im­pact of this choice.

  • 4. We are not claiming that our es­ti­mates are 100% pre­cise: Our es­ti­mates—in par­tic­u­lar with re­gards to policy—should not be taken as ex­actly pre­cise, as there are differ­ent as­sump­tions and un­cer­tain­ties flow­ing into the anal­y­sis. Rather, they should be taken as in­dica­tive to give a sense of how policy changes the pic­ture.