The current distribution of Earth’s resources is very unequal, both between countries, but also within countries. The basic needs of too many people are not met. In order to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement, safeguard ecological limits, and reach sustainable development, we must address the consumption challenge.

In this paper, Dalhammar, Finnveden and Ekvall analyse the current trends and propose some ways to advance towards more sustainable consumption patterns. They encourage policymakers to:

  • Monitor consumption-based emissions;
  • Work towards more fair and inclusive consumption patterns and support strong sustainable consumption governance;
  • Develop more comprehensive policy packages for sustainable consumption;
  • Support policy experiments that can increase public support for new policies;
  • Analyze the potential for introducing sufficiency policies.

Over the subsequent 50 years, further progress has been made in environmental policymaking. For example, industrial pollution has been cut in many countries due to new technologies and fuel standards, waste management has improved, and environmental taxes and carbon markets have been introduced. However, these policies have not been introduced everywhere, and the adopted policies have not been able to stop climate change or continued ecological deterioration, but merely mitigated the problems.

This paper is part of a series that supports the Stockholm+50: Unlocking a better future report.