We have all heard about global warming and the efforts being made to keep global warming below the 1.5 degree mark. But what exactly does that mean and how can we be a part of saving our planet? Reema Nagpal explains what the 1.5 threshold means, and shares a guide on how we can shift to a 1.5 degree lifestyle.

In a dramatic sign of the escalating climate crisis, the past twelve months have been the hottest on record globally, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), a climate monitoring service funded by the European Commission. Regions across the world are experiencing unprecedented heat waves, with temperatures soaring to dangerous levels, threatening lives and livelihoods.

The global conversation about climate change often revolves around the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This target, established by the Paris Agreement, is crucial for mitigating the most severe impacts of climate change. But what does 1.5 degrees mean?

1.5 degrees explained

Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius means that by the year 2100, the world’s average surface temperature will have risen no more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) warmer than pre-industrial levels. The 1.5°C threshold was the stretch target established in the Paris Agreement in 2015, a treaty in which 195 nations pledged to tackle climate change. It’s a political target but informed by science, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

At 1.5 degrees of warming, significant impacts will already be evident, including more frequent and severe heatwaves, increased droughts, and more intense storms. Coral reefs are likely to decline by 70-90%, and there will be greater risks to health, livelihoods, food security and water supply. Beyond 1.5 degrees, the impacts become more severe. We are already experiencing these changes, as the average global temperature over the past 12 months was 1.63 degrees above pre-industrial levels, according to C3S. Although the 1.5-degree target refers to long-term warming over decades, scientists warn that this temporary breach is alarming.

What does 1.5 degrees mean for families, and how can we adapt our lifestyles to contribute to this global effort?

Families are at the heart of communities, and the choices they make collectively can have a significant impact on the environment. From daily habits to long-term investments, each decision contributes to either exacerbating or mitigating climate change. Embracing a 1.5 degrees lifestyle involves making mindful changes that reduce our carbon footprint and promote sustainability.

Steps to a 1.5 Degrees Lifestyle for Families

Reduce Energy Consumption: According to the European Environment Agency, industry is responsible for 26% of total emissions, while households account for 25%. This means that the general public’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is nearly equal to that of the industrial sector. Therefore, using energy-efficient appliances, switching to renewable energy sources like solar or wind power, and improving home insulation to reduce heating and cooling needs can play a crucial role in reducing emissions.

Sustainable Transportation: Opt for walking, cycling, public transport, carpooling or electric vehicles over traditional fossil fuel-powered cars.

Dietary Changes: Food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, making our daily dietary choices a significant factor in environmental degradation. According to a graphic from Our World In Data, which illustrates GHG emissions from 29 food products, animal-based foods generally have a higher carbon footprint than plant-based ones. Therefore, reducing meat consumption, especially beef and lamb which are the highest emitters, can be particularly impactful.

Waste Reduction: Minimize waste by recycling, composting, and reducing plastic usage. Aim to buy products with minimal packaging and consider second-hand options.

Conscious Consumption: Adopting a “1.5 degrees lifestyle” involves making choices that reduce your carbon footprint, such as mindful consumption, supporting eco-friendly brands, and reducing overall material consumption.

Advocate and Educate: Support policies and leaders committed to climate action and educate others about the importance of reducing carbon footprints and adopting sustainable practices.

Adopting a 1.5 degrees lifestyle is not about sacrifice at all; it’s about improving quality of life for you and your families and all future generations. Families can enjoy healthier diets, more physical activity, and a stronger sense of community. Financial savings from reduced energy and water bills are a bonus. Most importantly, it fosters a sense of purpose and responsibility, knowing that your family is contributing to a healthier planet.


Reema Nagpal

Reema Nagpal works as a consultant for a US based Architecture firm, where she specialises in integrating sustainability and wellness principles into the firm’s projects. As a mother to a 4-year-old, she is committed to creating a greener future for generations to come, fuelling her dedication to educating children and inspiring them to grow up with an awareness of and commitment to the environment.