Carbon footprint more impacted by socio-economic status than by location


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Swiss households have an excessively high carbon footprint. However, this footprint depends more on socio-economic status than location – whether the household is in the countryside or in the city – as people travel more in the countryside but consume more in the cities.

Swiss households enjoy a high standard of living, but this translates into a significant carbon footprint. To support policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at local, regional, national and international levels, a better understanding of the consumption and travel habits of Swiss households is essential. Key factors include household composition and income, and whether households are in town or in the countryside, although ultimately people’s lifestyles do not differ much from one environment to another.

A team of researchers from EPFL’s School of Architecture, Civil Engineering and the Environment (ENAC), led by doctoral assistant Melissa Pang, has worked hard on this issue. The researchers analyzed data from the household budget survey in Switzerland for 2008, 2011 and 2014 and combined it with an environmental-extended input-output analysis (EEIOA) to assess the carbon footprint of households in measuring their direct and indirect emissions. Their results were recently published in Communications on environmental research.

More consumption in cities

Overall, households in the countryside have a larger carbon footprint than those in the city. This is mainly because they travel more and consume more energy in their home (direct emissions). However, urban households have a larger carbon footprint than their rural cousins ​​when it comes to food, clothing, cultural activities and air travel (indirect emissions). The researchers found that “although the urban setting appears more climate-friendly if we only look at direct emissions, the socio-economic factors that influence consumption patterns outweigh these positive effects on carbon emissions when we look at direct emissions. take into account the global footprint ”.

The authors of the study also show that the composition of a household directly influences its carbon footprint: “A two-person household has the largest carbon footprint per capita, and it decreases as family size grows.

The study shows that the canton of Ticino is Switzerland’s worst offender in terms of carbon footprint, while households in denser urban areas, such as Zurich, Bern and Basel, have a smaller footprint.

The authors also found that income levels play an important role: “People consume without thinking too much about it because they can afford it and they like to. But we have to determine if we are consuming too much, ”explains Melissa Pang. “That said, new trends are emerging – the climate strike is a good example. There is no need for extreme measures, but every little bit counts.” The overall carbon footprint of the Swiss population seems to have decreased slightly between 2008 and 2014, although this needs to be confirmed by more in-depth studies.


High carbon footprint families identified by sweets and restaurant food, not higher meat consumption


More information:
Mélissa Pang et al. Urban carbon footprints: a consumption-based approach for Swiss households, Communications on environmental research (2019). DOI: 10.1088 / 2515-7620 / ab59c5

Provided by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne


Quote: Carbon footprint more impacted by socio-economic status than by location (2020, February 5) retrieved on October 27, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2020-02-carbon-footprint-impacted- socio-economic-status.html

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