GHG reduction potential of changes in consumption patterns and higher quality levels: Evidence from Swiss household consumption survey
An effective consumer-oriented climate policy requires knowing the GHG reduction potential of sustainable consumption. The aim of this study is to draw lessons from differences in consumption between households with high and low GHG emissions. We evaluate a survey of 14,500 households and use a method that allows measuring changes in price level of consumption. Comparing the 10% of households with the highest GHG emissions per capita with the lowest 10% - controlling for differences in expenditure level and household structure - we find a range 5-17 tons of CO2-equivalent per capita and year. The observed differences stem mainly from heating, electricity use, car use, and travel by aircraft. Consumption patterns with low GHG emissions are characterized by less spending on mobility, but more on leisure and quality oriented consumption (leading to higher prices per unit). Further characteristics are: a higher share of organic food, low meat consumption and fewer detached single family houses. Our findings imply that a significant reduction in GHG emissions would be possible by adopting real-world consumption patterns observable in society. The twin challenge is to shift consumption towards more climate friendly patterns, and to prevent any trend towards high emitting consumption patterns.
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