Household time use, carbon footprints, and urban form: a review of the potential contributions of everyday living to the 1.5 °C climate target

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review


  • Dominik Wiedenhofer
  • Barbara Smetschka
  • Lewis Akenji
  • Mikko Jalas

  • Helmut Haberl

Research units

  • University of Klagenfurt
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
  • Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)
  • University of Helsinki


The 1.5 °C mitigation challenge for urban areas goes far beyond decarbonizing the cities’ energy supply and needs to enable and incentivize carbon-free everyday living. Reviewing recent literature, we find that dense and mixed urban form enables lower direct emissions from mobility and housing, while income is the major driver of total household carbon footprints; importantly, these effects are not linear. The available urban infrastructure, services and societal arrangements, for example on work, all influence how households use their time, which goods and services they consume in everyday life and their subsequent carbon footprints and potential rebound effects. We conclude that changes in household consumption, time use and urban form are crucial for a 1.5 °C future. We further identify a range of issues for which a time use perspective could open up new avenues for research and policy.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-17
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

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