Lifestyle Choices and Societal Behavior Changes as Local Climate Strategy

Brahmanand Mohanty, Martin Scherfler, Vikram Devatha
JEL codes: 
ADBI Working Paper Series

The Asia-Pacific region is witnessing rapid economic growth. Along with rising incomes, the
lifestyles of the large middle class are moving quickly towards a buy-and-discard consumer
model that involves carbon-intensive products and services. These increase dependency on the
Earth’s finite natural resources and simultaneously produces waste, putting a significant strain
on the environment. Such lifestyles, coupled with scarce resources and frequent natural
hazards associated with climate change, pose serious threats to the future of the planet.
Developed countries with high footprint per capita are under pressure to adjust their lifestyles
that respect the Earths’ carrying capacity. As far as countries in the Asia and Pacific region are
concerned, mere technological solutions such as improving production efficiency will not be
adequate to address climate change; a paradigm shift to more resource-efficient and low-carbon
lifestyles, that promote inclusive and efficient consumption is the need of the hour.
Several examples of good practices and community initiatives can be found around the world,
but these have yet to be brought to the mainstream in order to achieve tangible results.
Governments and policy makers in the Asia-Pacific can join hands with businesses and civil
society to accelerate this transition—from a consumption-oriented economic paradigm, to a
more sustainable way of production and consumption.
This paper attempts to identify lifestyle changes at the individual level, and behavioral changes
at the community level that could offer high carbon abatement potential. It also provides some
good practices of public policies and policy recommendations that can be pivotal in making a
business case of low-carbon and eco-efficient lifestyles, strengthening collective awareness,
and influencing public decision-making in developing countries in Asia.