Europe | Measuring the CO2 Footprint of European Households: A comprehensive approach

Published on Wednesday, December 21, 2022 | Updated on Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Europe | Measuring the CO2 Footprint of European Households: A comprehensive approach

This note analyzes the CO2 footprint of households in 10 European economies, adding to direct emissions their indirect ones through input-output analysis and detailing their structure by product. Thus, the analysis makes it possible to describe patterns and relevant factors for climate change mitigation policies.

Key points

  • Key points:
  • Households total footprint, wider than direct emissions. In order to improve the measurement, an extended households' carbon footprint should include not only their direct CO2 emissions but also those indirect emissions embodied in the different goods and services that households enjoy as consumers. Around 35% of household emissions are direct emissions, with the remaining 65% being indirect emissions coming from economic activities.
  • Energy mixes, income, lifestyles and technological capabilities shape households footprint. Clear differences and wide dispersions emerge when comparing the per capita CO2 footprints of european citizens by consumption purpose, COICOP. These divergences could be related to the energy mix, together with differences in lifestyle, purchasing power and the available production technology.
  • The energy mix matters more in shelter than in mobility. Shelter and mobility services account for about 70% of the total CO2 footprint of households. The weight of emissions linked to shelter increases in those economies with an energy mix with a low share of renewables, while its effect on the mobility footprint is less relevant.
  • Wide dispersion of emission intensities. Consumption pie-charts, in general, seem more homogeneous across countries than emission pie-charts, meaning that a huge part of the differences in the latter are explained by intensity disparities.
  • Policy implications to mitigate consumption-side emissions. Climate policies, with the aim of greening sectoral production, are imperative to reduce the footprint of households given the relevance of indirect households emissions in the total. Targeted policies by households’ income level, considering redistribution to offset regressive impacts and behavioral nudges, might be also implemented.

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