What can we learn from consumption-based carbon footprints at different spatial scales? Review of policy implications

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review

Researchers

Research units

  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Iceland
  • University of New South Wales

Abstract

Background: Current climate change mitigation policies, including the Paris Agreement, are based on territorial greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting. This neglects the understanding of GHG emissions embodied in trade. As a solution, consumption-based accounting (CBA) that reveals the lifecycle emissions, including transboundary flows, is gaining support as a complementary information tool. CBA is particularly relevant in cities that tend to outsource a large part of their production-based emissions to their hinterlands. While CBA has so far been used relatively little in practical policymaking, it has been used widely by scientists. Methods and design: The purpose of this systematic review, which covers more than 100 studies, is to reflect the policy implications of consumption-based carbon footprint (CBCF) studies at different spatial scales. The review was conducted by reading through the discussion sections of the reviewed studies and systematically collecting the given policy suggestions for different spatial scales. We used both numerical and qualitative methods to organize and interpret the findings of the review. Review results and discussion: The motivation for the review was to investigate whether the unique consumption perspective of CBA leads to similarly unique policy features. We found that various carbon pricing policies are the most widely supported policy instrument in the relevant literature. However, overall, there is a shortage of discussion on policy instruments, since the policy discussions focus on policy outcomes, such as behavioral change or technological solutions. In addition, some policy recommendations are conflicting. Particularly, urban density and compact city policies are supported by some studies and questioned by others. To clarify the issue, we examined how the results regarding the relationship between urban development and the CBCF vary. The review provides a concise starting point for policymakers and future research by summarizing the timely policy implications.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number093001
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume14
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

    Research areas

  • carbon footprint, input-output, consumption-based, policy, review, spatial scale, city, GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS, CLIMATE-CHANGE MITIGATION, INPUT-OUTPUT-ANALYSIS, ENVIRONMENTAL-IMPACT, DIOXIDE EMISSIONS, HOUSEHOLD CONSUMPTION, ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT, US HOUSEHOLDS, CO2 EMISSIONS, LIFE-STYLE

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