Journal article Open Access
In this article, we analyse the environmental impact of household consumption in terms of the material, water and land use requirements, as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, associated with the production and use of products and services consumed by these households. Using the new EXIOBASE 2.2 multi-regional input-output database, which describes the world economy at the detail of 43 countries, 5 rest-of-the-world regions and 200 product sectors, we are able to trace the origin of the products consumed by households and represent global supply chains in 2007.
We highlight the importance of environmental pressure arising from households with their consumption contributing to more than 60% of global GHG emissions and between 50% and 80% of total land, material and water use. The footprints are unevenly distributed across regions with wealthier countries generating the most significant impacts per capita. Elasticities suggest a robust and significant relationship between households’ expenditure and their environmental impacts, driven by a rising demand of non-primary consumption items. Mobility, shelter and food are the most important consumption categories across the environmental footprints. Globally, food accounts for 48% and 70% of household impacts on land and water resources respectively, with consumption of meat, dairy and processed food rising fast with income. Shelter and mobility stand out with high carbon and material intensity, whereas the significance of services for footprints relates to the large amount of household expenditure associated with them.