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The bare necessities: How much household carbon do we really need?

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  • Druckman, Angela
  • Jackson, Tim
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    Abstract

    The consumption patterns of Western nations are generally deemed to be unsustainable. Yet there is little attempt to restrain either material throughput or income growth. Nonetheless, in the face of the need to make 'deep' cuts in carbon emissions (for instance), consumption restraint may be a perfectly legitimate response. This paper explores the potential for a Reduced Consumption Scenario in the UK constructed by assuming that households achieve a specific 'minimum income standard' which is deemed to provide a decent life for each household type. The minimum income standards are taken from a recent study for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and include not only subsistence commodities such as food, warmth and shelter but also the means to participate effectively in society. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation study produced detailed household expenditure budgets for these income standards. The paper uses an environmentally extended Quasi-Multi-Regional Input-Output model to estimate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions required in the production and distribution of all goods and services purchased according to these budgets. Our results show that average household GHG emissions in the UK would be around 37% lower in the Reduced Consumption Scenario than they are currently. We explore several implications of these findings including: the need to change social norms around consumption, the need for investment to improve the thermal performance of homes and the need to develop new transport infrastructures. We also address the potential to reduce emissions below the level achieved in this Scenario and discuss the implications for policy.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VDY-50744R0-1/2/7f22d4f905e67cbe745d6e94b8db0396
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 69 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 9 (July)
    Pages: 1794-1804

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:9:p:1794-1804

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

    Related research

    Keywords: Carbon footprint Well-being Lifestyles Environmental Input-Output Scenario;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Carlsson-Kanyama, Annika, 1998. "Climate change and dietary choices -- how can emissions of greenhouse gases from food consumption be reduced?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 277-293, November.
    2. Druckman, A. & Bradley, P. & Papathanasopoulou, E. & Jackson, T., 2008. "Measuring progress towards carbon reduction in the UK," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(4), pages 594-604, July.
    3. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
    4. Druckman, Angela & Jackson, Tim, 2009. "The carbon footprint of UK households 1990-2004: A socio-economically disaggregated, quasi-multi-regional input-output model," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 2066-2077, May.
    5. Jackson, Tim & Papathanasopoulou, Eleni, 2008. "Luxury or 'lock-in'? An exploration of unsustainable consumption in the UK: 1968 to 2000," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 80-95, December.
    6. Alcott, Blake, 2008. "The sufficiency strategy: Would rich-world frugality lower environmental impact," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(4), pages 770-786, February.
    7. Victor, Peter A. & Rosenbluth, Gideon, 2007. "Managing without growth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 492-504, March.
    8. Druckman, A. & Jackson, T., 2008. "Household energy consumption in the UK: A highly geographically and socio-economically disaggregated model," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 3167-3182, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Manfred Lenzen & Robert A. Cummins, 2013. "Happiness versus the Environment—A Case Study of Australian Lifestyles," Challenges, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(1), pages 56-74, May.
    2. Misato Sato, 2012. "Embodied carbon in trade: a survey of the empirical literature," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 77, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    3. Büchs, Milena & Schnepf, Sylke V., 2013. "Who emits most? Associations between socio-economic factors and UK households' home energy, transport, indirect and total CO2 emissions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 114-123.
    4. Anderson, Blake & M'Gonigle, Michael, 2012. "Does ecological economics have a future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 37-48.

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