Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Regional carbon footprints of households: a German case study

  • Case Study
  • Published:
Environment, Development and Sustainability Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Households are either directly or indirectly responsible for the highest share of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, programs helping to improve human consumption habits have been identified as a comparatively cost-effective way to reduce household emissions significantly. Recently, various studies have determined strong regional differences in household carbon footprints, yet a case study for Germany has not been conducted. Local information and policies directed at household consumption in Germany thus devoid of any foundation. In this paper, we analyze the impact of different criteria such as location, income and size on household carbon footprints in Germany and demonstrate how the impact of GHG mitigation opportunities varies for different population segments. We use a multi-region input output hybrid LCA approach to developing a regionalized household carbon footprint calculator for Germany that considers 16 sub-national regions, 15 different household sizes, and eight different income and age categories. The model reveals substantial regional differences in magnitude and composition of household carbon footprints, essentially influenced by two criteria: income and size. The highest income household is found to emit 4.25 times as much CO2e than the lowest. We identify indirect emissions from consumption as the largest share of household carbon footprints, although this is subject to fluctuation based on household type. Due primarily to local differences in vehicle availability, income and nutrition, an average household in Baden-Wuerttemberg is found to have 25 % higher carbon footprint than its Mecklenburg-West Pomeranian counterpart. Based on the results of this study, we discuss policy options for household carbon mitigation in Germany.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Aamaas, B., Borken-Kleefeld, J., & Peters, G. P. (2013). The climate impact of travel behavior: A German case study with illustrative mitigation options. Environmental Science & Policy, 33, 273–82. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1462901113001366.

  • Abrahamse, W., Steg, L., Vlek, C., & Rothengatter, T. (2005). A review of intervention studies aimed at household energy conservation. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25(3), 273–291. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S027249440500054X.

  • Ahmad, N., & Wyckoff, A. (2003). Carbon dioxide emissions embodied in international trade of goods. http://search.oecd.org/officialdocuments/displaydocumentpdf/?doclanguage=en&cote=dsti/doc(2003)15.

  • Andreasen, A. R. (1994). Social marketing—Its definition and domain. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 13(1), 108–114.

    Google Scholar 

  • Argonne National Laboratory. (2012a). The greenhouse gases, regulated emissions, and energy use in transportation (GREET 2.8a). http://www.transportation.anl.gov/modeling_simulation/GREET/index.html.

  • Argonne National Laboratory. (2012b). The greenhouse gases, regulated emissions, and energy use in transportation model (GREET 1.8c). http://www.transportation.anl.gov/modeling_simulation/GREET/index.html.

  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen. (2012). Bruttostromerzeugung in Deutschland von 1990 bis 2011 nach Energieträgern. Berlin. http://www.ag-energiebilanzen.de/viewpage.php?idpage=1.

  • Barrett, J., Peters, G., Wiedmann, T., Scott, K., Lenzen, M., Roelich, K., et al. (2013) Consumption-based GHG emission accounting: A UK case study. Climate Policy, 13(4), 451–470. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14693062.2013.788858.

  • Berkhout, P. H. G., Muskens, J. C., & Velthuijsen, J. W. (2000). Defining the rebound effect. Energy Policy, 28, 425–432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Birol, F., & Keppler, J. H. (2000). Prices, technology development and the rebound effect. Energy Policy, 28, 457–469.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brinkman, N., Wang, M., Weber, T., & Darlington, T. (2005). Well-to-wheels analysis of advanced fuel/vehicle systems—A North American study of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and criteria pollutant emissions.

  • Bullard, C. W., & Herendeen R. A. (1975) Energy impact of consumption decisions. Proceedings of IEEE, 63(3), 484–493. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/lpdocs/epic03/wrapper.htm?arnumber=1451705.

  • Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (2012). http://bts.gov.

  • Bundesministerium fuer Wirtschaft und Technologie. (2010). Energie in Deutschland—Trends und Hintergründe zur Energieversorgung. Berlin.

  • Chester, M., & Horvath, A. (2011). Vehicle manufacturing futures in transportation life-cycle assessment. Research Reports, Institute of Transportation Studies. Berkeley: UC Berkeley. http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/1qp3f0vc.

  • Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung. (2011). Kraftfahrzeugverkehr 2010—Weiteres Wachstum und hohe Bedeutung von Firmenwagen. Berlin. http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.389477.de/11-48-3.pdf.

  • Dietz, T., Gardner, G. T., Gilligan, J., Stern, P. C., & Vandenbergh, M. P. (2009) Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce US carbon emissions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 106(44), 18452–18456. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2767367&tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract.

  • Dietzenbacher, E., Los, B., Stehrer, R., Timmer, M. P., & de Vries, G. J. (2013). The construction of world input–output tables in the WIOD project. Economic Systems Research, 25, 71–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • DIN-EN-ISO. 14067: Carbon Footprint von Produkten—Entwurf. (2012).

  • Ellerman, A. D., & Buchner, B. K. (2007). The European Union emissions trading scheme: Origins, allocation, and early results. Review of Environmental Economic Policy, 1(1), 66–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • EUREAPA. (2004). Regional comparison (2004—Baseline) from carbon footprint (all GHGs).

  • Fawcett, T. (2004). Carbon rationing and personal energy use. Energy & Environment, 15(6), 1067–1083.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Finkbeiner, M. (2009). Carbon footprinting—Opportunities and threats. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 14(2), 91–94. http://www.ireea.cn/paddy/pd_admin/web_edit/uploadfile/20100409231728286.pdf.

  • Finkbeiner, M., Hoffmann, R., Ruhland, K., Liebhart, D., & Stark, B. (2006). Application of life cycle assessment for the environmental certificate of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 11(4), 240–246.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Group, R., & Europe, C. (2008) Statistical yearbook.

  • Greening, L. A., Greene, D. L., & Difiglio, C. (2000). Energy efficiency and consumption—The rebound effect—A survey. Energy Policy, 28, 389–401.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heinonen, J., & Junnila, S. (2011). Implications of urban structure on carbon consumption in metropolitan areas. Environmental Research Letters, 6(1), 014018. http://stacks.iop.org/1748-9326/6/i=1/a=014018?key=crossref.d8d514fafda1b003bad19d08e1b3643e.

  • Hertwich, E. G., & Peters, G. P. Carbon footprint of nations: A global, trade-linked analysis. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(16), 6414–6420. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19746745.

  • Hertwich, E. G. (2005). Consumption and the rebound effect—An industrial ecology perspective. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 9, 85–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hertwich, E. G., & Peters, G. P. (2009) Carbon footprint of nations: A global, trade-linked analysis. Environmental Science & Technology, 43(16), 6414–6420. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19746745.

  • Hertwich, E. G., & Peters, G. P. (2010). Multiregional input–output database OPEN: EU technical document OPEN: EU multiregional input–output database.

  • International Energy Agency. (2012). Statistics and balances. Paris: International Energy Agency. http://www.iea.org/stats/.

  • Jones, C., & Kammen, D. M. Spatial distribution of U.S. household carbon footprints reveals suburbanization undermines greenhouse gas benefits of urban population density. Environmental Science & Technology.

  • Jones, C. M., & Kammen, D. M. (2011) Quantifying carbon footprint reduction opportunities for U.S. households and communities. Environmental Science & Technology, 45(9), 4088–4095. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21449584.

  • Kunkel, C. M., & Kammen, D. M. (2011). Design and implementation of carbon cap and dividend policies. Energy Policy, 39(1), 477–486. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0301421510006622.

  • Kollmuss, A., & Crimmins, A. M. (2009). Carbon offsetting & Air Travel Part 2: Non-CO2 emissions calculations (SEI Discussion Paper). Stockholm (pp. 1–43).

  • Kraftfahrtbundesamt. (2011). Bestand an Personenkraftwagen am 1. Januar 2012 nach Bundesländern und ausgewählten Kraftstoffarten. http://www.kba.de/cln_030/nn_269000/DE/Statistik/Fahrzeuge/Bestand/EmissionenKraftstoffe/2012__b__emi__eckdaten__absolut.html.

  • Laitner, J. A. S., Ehrhardt-martinez, K., & Mckinney, V. (2009) Examining the scale of the behaviour energy efficiency continuum. 217–223.

  • Lenzen, M., Dey, C., & Foran, B. (2004). Energy requirements of Sydney households. Ecological Economics, 49(3), 375–399. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0921800904001107.

  • Lenzen, M., Wood, R., & Wiedmann, T. (2010). Uncertainty analysis for multi-region input–output models—A case study of the UK’S carbon footprint. Economic Systems Research, 22(1), 43–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lenzen, M., Kanemoto, K., Moran, D., & Geschke, A. (2012). Mapping the structure of the world economy. Environmental Science and Technology, 46(15), 8374–8381.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lenzen, M., Moran, D., Kanemoto, K., & Geschke, A. (2013). Building Eora: A global multi-regional input–output database at high country and sector resolution. Economic Systems Research, 25, 20–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Max Rubner Institut. (2008a). Nationale Verkehrstudie II—Ergebnisbericht (Teil 1). Karlsruhe.

  • Max Rubner Institut. (2008b). Nationale Verkehrstudie II—Ergebnisbericht (Teil 2). Karlsruhe.

  • McKenzie-Mohr, D. (2011). Fostering sustainable behavior: An introduction to community-based social marketing. Cabriola Island: New Society Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Minx, J. C., Wiedmann, T., Wood, R., Peters, G. P., Lenzen, M., Owen, A., et al. (2009). Input–output analysis and carbon footprinting: An overview of applications. Economic Systems Research, 21(3), 187–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Minx, J., Baiocchi, G., Wiedmann, T., Barrett, J., Creutzig, F., Feng, K., et al. (2013). Carbon footprints of cities and other human settlements in the UK. Environmental Research Letters, 8(3), 035039. http://stacks.iop.org/1748-9326/8/i=3/a=035039?key=crossref.32c84bcdbabd115e117d24e9c54b71a1.

  • Narayanan, B. G., & Walmsley, T. L. (2008). Global trade, assistance, and production—The GTAP 7 data base. USA: Center for Global Trade Analysis, Purdue University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pont, J. (2007). Full fuel cycle assessment—well-to-wheels energy inputs, emissions and water impacts. State plan to increase the use of non-petroleum transportation fuels, assembly bill 1007Alternative transportation fuels plan proceeding. TIAX LLC Consultant Report. Cupertino.

  • Sausen, R., Isaksen, I., Grewe, V., Hauglustaine. D., Lee, D. S., Myhre, G., et al. (2005). Aviation radiative forcing in 2000: An update on IPCC (1999). Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 14(4), 555–561. http://openurl.ingenta.com/content/xref?genre=article&issn=0941-2948&volume=14&issue=4&spage=555.

  • Seyfang, G., Lorenzoni, I., & Nye, M. (2007). Personal Carbon Trading: Notional concept or workable proposition? Exploring theoretical, ideological and practical underpinnings. Norwich, UK

  • Skjærseth, J. B., & Wettestad, J. (2009). The origin, evolution and consequences of the EU emissions trading system. Global Environmental Politics, 9(2), 101–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sorrell, S., & Dimitropoulos, J. (2008). The rebound effect—Microeconomic definitions, limitations and extensions. Ecological Economics, 65, 636–649.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Statistisches Bundesamt. (2008a). Wirtschaftsrechnungen—Einkommens- und Verbraucherstichprobe 2008—Aufwendungen privater Haushalte für den Privaten Konsum (Fachserie 15 Heft 5). Wiesbaden.

  • Statistisches Bundesamt. (2008b). Wirtschaftsrechnungen—Einkommens- und Verbraucherstichprobe 2008—Aufwendungen privater Haushalte für Nahrungsmittel, Getränke und Tabakwaren (Fachserie 15 Heft 3). Wiesbaden.

  • Statistisches Bundesamt. (2008c). Wirtschaftsrechnungen—Einkommens- und Verbraucherstichprobe 2008—Ausstattung privater Haushalte mit ausgewählten Gebrauchsgütern (Fachserie 15 Heft 1). Wiesbaden.

  • Statistisches Bundesamt. (2008d). Wirtschaftsrechnungen—Einkommens- und Verbraucherstichprobe 2008—Einnahmen und Ausgaben privater Haushalte (Fachserie 15 Heft 4). Wiesbaden.

  • Statistisches Bundesamt. (2012). Preise—Harmonisierte Verbraucherpreisindizes, Deutschland. Wiesbaden: Statistisches Bundesamt

  • Statistisches Bundesamt. (2013). Einkommens- und Verbrauchsstichprobe (EVS). https://www.destatis.de/DE/Meta/AbisZ/Einkommens_Verbrauchsstichprobe.html.

  • Statistische Aemter des Bundes und der Laender. (2012). Gebiet und Bevölkerung—Fläche und Bevölkerung. http://www.statistik-portal.de/Statistik-Portal/de_jb01_jahrtab1.asp.

  • Sullivan, J. L., & Burnham, A., & Wang, M. (2010). Energy-consumption and carbon-emission analysis of vehicle and component manufacturing. Argonne.

  • Steg, L., & Vlek, C. (2009) Encouraging pro-environmental behaviour: An integrative review and research agenda. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29(3), 309–317. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0272494408000959.

  • The Carbon Trust. (2007). Carbon footprint measurement methodologyVersion 1.1. London. http://www.carbontrust.co.uk.

  • Umweltbundesamt. (2012a). Der CO2-Rechner., Deutschland. http://uba.klimaktiv-co2-rechner.de/de_DE/page/.

  • Umweltbundesamt. (2012b). Prozessorientierte Basisdaten für Umweltmanagement-Instrumente—PROBAS Datenbank. Umweltbundesamt. http://www.probas.umweltbundesamt.de/.

  • Umweltbundesamt. (2008). Bestimmung spezifischer Treibhausgas-Emissionsfaktoren für Fernwärme (Forschungsbericht 360 16 008; UBA-FB 001145). Dessau-Roßlau. http://www.umweltdaten.de/publikationen/fpdf-l/3476.pdf.

  • What are equivalence scales? (2008). Paris. http://www.oecd.org/social/familiesandchildren/35411111.pdf.

  • Wiedmann, T., Minx, J. (2007). A definition of “Carbon Footprint”. ISA Research and Consulting, editor (pp. 1–11). Durham: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Wiedmann, T., Lenzen, M., & Wood, R. (2008). Uncertainty analysis of the UK-MRIO model—results from a Monte-Carlo analysis of the UK multi-region input–output model (Embedded Emissions Indicator). London.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert Miehe.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Miehe, R., Scheumann, R., Jones, C.M. et al. Regional carbon footprints of households: a German case study. Environ Dev Sustain 18, 577–591 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-015-9649-7

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-015-9649-7

Keywords

Navigation