During the last American presidential election, the Obama team highlighted that support for their victory was across the board - 8 of the 10 wealthiest counties in America had gone their way, which was meant to show that rich people believed in his vision also.
That means 8 of 10 counties feel something must be done about climate change, but if an analysis of Swiss homes is similar to America, they mean someone else must do the changing.
Writing in Environmental Science&Technology, Dominik Saner and colleagues found that energy conservation in a small number of households could go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The energy people use to power their homes and to satisfy their mobility needs accounts for more than 70 percent of emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas involved in global climate change. To cope with that problem, policymakers and environmentalists have primarily criticized the supply side, for instance, electric power plants, heating systems and cars that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The authors instead decided to take a close look at the other end of the equation — how energy consumption for housing and land-based mobility at the household level impacts greenhouse gas emissions.
Their analysis of more than 3,000 households in a Swiss town found that only 21 percent of the households accounted for almost 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The biggest factors contributing to a few families having a disproportionately large environmental footprint were large living spaces (which use energy for heating, lighting and cooling) and long commutes in private vehicles.
"If their emissions could be halved, the total emissions of the community would be reduced by 25 percent," the scientists concluded.