1,5 Degree Compatible Living in the Nordic Conditions

To take our survey, learn about your carbon footprint, and how to reduce it, go to our website carbonfootprint.hi.is

Here we provide the key aspects to the project. Jump right to a specific section:

  1. Aim of the Project
  2. Why?
  3. How?
  4. Feasibility, Originality, and Impact
  5. References and Related Previous Papers


Aim of the Project

The Nordic countries are often seen as green due to their low-carbon energy systems. However, their global climate impacts are among the highest when emissions are calculated based on consumption. The main aim of the study is to figure out how to reach 1,5-degree warming compatible urban lifestyles in the Nordic conditions without compromising a high standard of living.


The Paris Agreement set out a framework to limit global warming to 1.5°C. We use IPCC pathway emissions per capita as benchmarks for reaching this goal. Through our study, we investigate what lifestyles are compatible with these benchmarks in order to figure out the lifestyles, policies, and behaviors consistent with this goal. The lifestyles of some Nordic residents can inform other residents, and can provide insight useful for policy proposals. The sixth IPCC Assessment Report established that global warming in the 21st century will only be between 1.0°C to 1.8°C under a very low GHG emissions scenario - making the goal of this study evermore pressing. Furthermore, one of the novelty items of the study is to compare attitudes towards the climate with actual climate impacts through emissions. The relationship found between attitudes and emissions provides insight into whether attempts to change climate attitudes are useful. The Nordic countries have a high standard of living and high consumption. Figuring out how to live climate-friendlier lifestyles with minimal compromise is imperative to achieving a successful shift towards sustainability on a large scale. We can provide insight into how fundamental changes in lifestyles of an affluent part of the human population can be motivated and sustained.


A survey will be published in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, which has questions honed to figuring out the carbon footprints of participants, their attitudes, and general socioeconomic status. This will provide valuable information for the research team. At the same time, survey participants get an estimate of their carbon footprint and personalized suggestions on how to lower it. Following this, study participants are invited to keep a diary that utilizes an innovative online softGIS survey. The softGIS method enables combining traditional survey questions, diary-keeping of purchases, a mapping of activities, visited locations, and transport modes.

Feasibility, Originality, and Impact

There is a high novelty value of this project. There are three key novelty features in this study:

  1. Over 100 CBCF studies have been published in peer-reviewed academic journals (Ottelin et al. 2019), but not a single one of them includes any attitudinal variables which would enable analyses on the impact of pro-environmental attitudes or stated pro-environmental behaviors.
  2. The data for CBCF studies have never been collected using the softGIS method planned for this study. Thus this study would open up entirely new avenues for analyses on the impact of the spatial context/qualities of the urban environment, which have already been found important despite limited research on the issue (Ottelin et al. 2019; Heinonen, 2012).
  3. The remaining carbon budgets for specific mitigation targets have only been connected to the CBCFs in a few early studies using the two-degree target (Gignac & Matthews 2015; O’Neill et al. 2018), and no study so far exists which looked into sub-national scales, whereas, at the same time, a high number of sub-national scale CBCF studies have emerged with recommendations for sub-national scale mitigation policies (Ottelin et al. 2019).


References and Related Papers

Related Papers from Members of the Research Team or Papers built upon:


References on this sub-site:

Gignac, R.; Matthews, D. (2015): Allocating a 2°C cumulative carbon budget to countries, Environmental Research Letters, 10, 075004.

Heinonen, J. (2012): The Impacts of Urban Structure and the Related Consumption Patterns on the Carbon Emissions of an Average Consumer, Aalto University publication series, DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS 25/2012, Espoo, Finland.

IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

O’Neill, D. W., Fanning, A. L., Lamb, W. F., & Steinberger, J. K. (2018). A good life for all within planetary boundaries. Nature Sustainability, 1(1), 88–95.

Ottelin, J.; Ala-Mantila, S.; Heinonen, J.; Wiedmann, T.; Clarke, J.; Junnila, S. (2019): What can we learn from consumption-based carbon footprints at different spatial scales? Review of policy implications, Environmental Research Letters, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab2212.