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A detailed household carbon footprint analysis using expenditure accounts – Case of Flanders (Belgium)

Christis, Maarten, Breemersch, Koen, Vercalsteren, An, Dils, Evelien
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.228 pp. 1167-1175
carbon, carbon footprint, case studies, climate change, data collection, developing countries, education, emissions, households, income, income distribution, issues and policy, socioeconomics, surveys, Belgium
Within national carbon footprints, households are responsible for bulk of the overall direct and indirect carbon emissions. Also, the wide spread in household characteristics (e.g. size, income, age) leads not only to different carbon footprints, but also includes an underlying difference in the contributions of the consumption domains. Therefore, it is essential that policies focussing on climate change mitigation should be customized to take into account these differences. In this study we quantify which socio-economic household characteristics are associated with a higher than average per capita carbon footprint and which consumption domains trigger this higher than average carbon footprint. The results are quantified for the regional case study of Flanders (Belgium). To obtain a better estimate of direct and indirect emissions we draw upon the EXIOBASE2 multi-region input-output dataset combined with the regional input-output data and detailed regional household budget survey data. From our analysis, it is also clear that the decomposition of the carbon footprint into the relevant consumption domains reveals insights that are absent when comparing total carbon footprints. Overall we find that there is a clear link between the income distribution and the carbon footprint of consumption, a finding that returns frequently in literature for both developed and developing countries. However, this income distribution is closely related to several underlying other socio-economic categories (e.g. level of education and household size) which do provide further insights useful for policy as they reveal important socio-economic aspect which needs to be considered.