Richer households cause more greenhouse gas emissions

09/12/2010 15:00

The production of goods and services bought by households cause greenhouse gas emissions. On average a household in the Netherlands causes over 22 tons of CO2 equivalents in emissions. The higher the household income the higher the greenhouse gas emissions. This is mainly because richer households consume more.

Greenhouse gas emissions per household by income group (deciles), 2007

Greenhouse gas emissions per household by income group (deciles), 2007

Households with the highest income pollute the most...

The richest 10percent of households generate almost 17percent of the total greenhouse gasses emitted by households. The poorest 10 percent account for 6 percent. Household emissions include both direct emissions, e.g. by heating homes and using cars, and indirect emissions needed to produce the consumer goods they buy. These indirect emissions partly take place within the Netherlands, and partly abroad.

…but have the smallest emission per euro spent

On the other hand, emissions per euro spent decrease as income increases. On average, spending by higher incomes is less environmentally intensive. This is because richer households spend less of their income on matters such as heating homes and transport, which form a relatively great burden on the environment. At the same time a large part of their income is spent on relatively clean products such as clothing, furniture and recreation. The effect of this consumption pattern, however, is not enough to compensate for the volume effect.

Greenhouse gas emissions per household by household size, 2007

Greenhouse gas emissions per household by household size, 2007

Emissions per person lower as the household size increases

Households consisting of more people also generate more emissions, of course. However, emissions per individual decrease due to the advantages of scale that come with sharing a home. On average emissions caused by consumption in the Netherlands amount to 9.9 tons of CO2 equivalents per person. In one-person households this is 14 CO2 equivalents per person, whereas in households consisting of 4 or more people it is 7 tons per person.

Bram Edens

Source:
Environmental Accounts of the Netherlands 2009