Monitor Sustainable Living 2023

Recent reports from the 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) point out the severity of global warming and the major consequences it will have, even if we limit warming to 1.5 degrees. The current lifestyle in the Netherlands contributes significantly to environmental problems such as climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity. Behavioral change can turn the tide: the IPCC has calculated that 40-70% of global greenhouse gas emissions can be prevented by changing behavior. In 2021, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, together with Milieu Centraal and on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, conducted research into the state of affairs in terms of sustainable behavior and openness in the Netherlands.

A number of important findings emerge from the various themes queried in the Sustainable Living Monitor. Most Dutch people (about three quarters) are open to living sustainably. However, only a quarter of the 98 sustainable behaviors examined are actually exhibited by the majority. The only major absolute increases are behaviors related to energy consumption: more people are doing their best to save energy in the home through, for example, insulation or behavioral measures in the home. This may be explained by the suddenly rising energy prices, but also by the attention paid to this theme in the consumer environment.

Behaviors that the Netherlands is open to but not yet committed to on a massive scale and that do entail significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or land use are referred to in the report as sweet spots. These are:

  • Going on holiday by train instead of by plane
  • Buy an electric or fuel-efficient car
  • Buy furniture made from environmentally friendly materials
  • Buy few items of clothing
  • If product groups are taken together, buying all your stuff refurbished is also a sweet spot

In addition, we investigated where the bottlenecks are. These are behaviors that the Netherlands is not open to, but which are crucial for achieving climate goals because of their large potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions or land use. The bottlenecks are: Car sharing instead of owning and vegan food.

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