On 23 May 2019, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) organised the talk “So you think you’re green?” at Neimënster Abbaye, Luxembourg. More than 110 participants from the general public, companies and civil society organisations attended the seminar.
Climate change, deforestation, plastic pollution, and biodiversity loss are increasingly mentioned in the media, and their consequences have started to affect us directly. But what exactly are these environmental impacts and how do they relate to our consumer choices? Together with the audience, LIST researchers specialised in environmental sustainability assessment and circularity, Elorri Igos, Thomas Elliot, Thomas Gibon, Paul Baustert and Javier Babi Almenar, examined the environmental consequences associated with the way we live, move and consume.
As a practical example, a beer can was used to reveal the different impacts generated during the various life steps of products. Elorri Igos and Thomas Elliot talked about well-known impacts such as climate change, but also the less well understood impacts on human health, ecosystems and the resources of our planet. These included water stress from crop irrigation, soil contamination from aluminium disposal, and smog leading to respiratory diseases from transport operations, among others. In the second part, Thomas Gibon and Paul Baustert explained the impacts that an average Luxembourg resident generates during one year due to transport, food consumption and other consumer choices, as well as the impacts generated by public services. For example, the Internet (servers, data centres, smartphones, computers...) is responsible for 8% of a Luxembourger’s footprint (almost 4% of greenhouse gas emissions at the global level).
At the end of the seminar, recommendations to be more environmentally friendly were provided as take home messages. A lively discussion took place on how to identify and evaluate solutions to reduce our impacts and was continued over a drink after the event. The most efficient initiatives include switching from using cars to using public transportation (driving a car is almost 20% of your annual footprint), and from flying to using trains (10%), cutting meat and dairy consumption reduces your impact by another 10%.
> For any question on this topic, contact Elorri Igos or Thomas Gibon via email.