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Austria's consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions: Identifying sectoral sources and destinations

Karl W. Steininger, Pablo Munoz, Jonas Karstensen, Glen Peters, Rita Strohmaier, Erick Velázquez

Greenhouse gas emissions can be addressed at the points of both production and consumption of goods and services. In a world of inhomogeneous climate policy, missing out policies on either production or consumption leaves an important policy area idle, rendering climate policy inefficient and potentially ineffective. While consumption-based emissions accounts have become readily available at the national level, we here show how their more detailed analysis by sectoral destination (which final demand sectors account for them), sectoral source (in which sectors across the globe those emissions are actually occurring) and the geographical location of the latter can inform a complementary consumption-based climate policy approach. For the example of the EU member country Austria, we find that more than 60% of its consumption-based emissions occur outside its borders, and 34% even outside the EU. The top sectors are a very different list under a consumption-based accounting perspective (construction, public administration (including defense, health and education), and wholesale and retail trade) than under a production-based one (electricity, iron and steel, and non-metallic minerals, such as cement). While for some sectors (e.g. electricity) production-based approaches can work well, emission reduction in other sectors (e.g. electronic equipment) is crucially dependent on consumption-based approaches, as a structural path analysis reveals.

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