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1.5 degrees Celsius. According to a special 2018 report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that’s the maximum global temperature increase allowable before we see catastrophic impacts on food security, ecosystems, water access, frequency and extremity of weather events, and more. The report warns global leaders and policymakers that failing to limit the Earth’s temperature increase will result in a world that is unrecognizable – and extremely difficult to live in.  

Given the urgency and magnitude of climate change, what are individuals’ role in helping to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius? How do our lives and habits need to change? How does our responsibility, as residents of the wealthiest country in the world, compare to those living in poverty? And how does individual responsibility for carbon reduction interact with corporate and industrial responsibility? Does it matter that we recycle and buy local produce and use public transit when the US continues to buy oil from Saudi Arabia and 85% of Americans drive to work?  

To get to these questions Talk Policy to Me reporter and Goldman MPP student Reem Rayef spoke with Chris Jones, one of the makers of the CoolClimate Calculator. The calculator is an online interactive tool that calculates users’ carbon footprints (the amount of CO2 they emit per year) using information about their homes, consumption habits, and lifestyles. The calculator then provides custom recommendations to users on how they might “green” their lifestyles – from buying an electric vehicle to eating a vegetarian diet.

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