Saving the World for Two Euros a Day

How to fight climate change on the cheap.

ByABC News
December 2, 2009, 9:43 AM

Dec. 2, 2009 — -- Europe could save the planet for just €2 per person, per day!

What sounds like an infomercial is actually a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute and Friends of the Earth Europe. According to the study, released on Tuesday, the EU could reduce its emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050, when compared to 1990 levels. That's twice the amount of reductions the EU has currently pledged ahead of Copenhagen.

However, as the study points out, such reductions won't come without a little sacrifice, aside from the €2 fee. Sacrifice number one: cars. The study calls for a reduction in trips taken by private cars to just 43 percent of total trips in 2050 from 75 percent in 2005. That means taking the train more. Additionally, the study calls on Europeans to use the train instead of the plane for trips of less than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

The study also asks meat eaters to go vegetarian, at least part-time. To reach such drastic reductions in carbon emissions, the average European would have to eat 60 percent less meat in 2020 compared to today. Such a diet would reduce the emissions that come from the animals and from fertilizing the crops those animals eat. It would also free up land currently used to raise livestock.

Best of all, all of these measures -- and the good karma that would presumeably result -- would cost Europeans just €2 per day between 2010 and 2020.

The study also in the EU's share owed to the developing world. Estimates range from €150 billion ($225 billion) to €450 billion ($675 billion) a year or another simple €3 a day charge to Europeans by 2020. In total, that means each European can buy clear skies and perhaps a clear conscience for just €18,250.