Sustainability and carbon emission reductions

A recent discussion at an event I attended focussed around the following question. Is sustainability all about carbon emission reductions or is that only part of the story. How do these two issues relate to each other?

My response is this: Carbon emission reductions are an essential part of a sustainability strategy here and now, but that may not always be the case. I believe that it is impossible to be sustainable now without considering this issue and successfully achieving carbon emission reductions. But a strategy that only considers carbon emission reductions is not a full sustainability strategy.

It is possible to be sustainable by considering carbon emission reductions, and it is impossible to be sustainable without considering it.

In the housing industry for example, PassivHaus is a carbon emission reduction strategy, but it is not a sustainability strategy. The Code for Sustainable Homes is a sustainability strategy because it considers carbon emission reductions as well as many other issues. (the fact that it ignores some pretty major issues notwithstanding)

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2 thoughts on “Sustainability and carbon emission reductions

  1. Rory, Passivhaus is an energy efficiency and comfort performance standard, not a carbon reduction standard. And yes, it forms only part of a sustainability strategy but it arguably focuses on the major part and requires that it is done to a higher standard than any other.

  2. You are right, sustainability and carbon emission reduction are linked but they are by far not the same thing. While reducing GHG emissions (‘carbon’) is all about helping mitigate global warming (and trying to make its consequences less damaging), sustainability goes way beyond that. In fact, in the strictest sense, acting sustainable means to pursue economic prosperity, environmental integrity and social justice at the same time. In practice, it is mostly used to describe measures to protect the environment.

    Have a look at my sustainable futures blog to find out more about those sorts of things 🙂

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