The scale and drivers of carbon footprints in households, cities and regions across India

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Abstract

The carbon footprint (CF) has emerged as an important yardstick to understand the total contribution of countries, sectors and individuals to climate change. In contrast to conventional emissions accounting which captures only territorial or local production activities, the CF includes the emissions imposed by consumption across global supply chains for goods and services. Recent interest has grown in the application of CF assessment for municipalities owing to their large contribution to global carbon emissions and the limited coverage of existing data to monitor their climate pledges. By linking household-level consumer surveys to a global supply chain database, spatially-explicit CF assessment is possible at a district and household scale. To date, such technique has exposed otherwise unforeseen differences in consumer carbon footprints in developed countries. Within this study we calculate and compare the household carbon footprints 623 districts in India, based on micro consumption data from 203,313 households and explain their variation by economic, cultural and demographic factors. We show the eradication of extreme poverty does not contradict with climate change mitigation in India. However, our analysis suggests CF reduction policies within India need to target high-expenditure households which are responsible for nearly seven times the carbon emissions than low-expenditure households (living on $1.9 consumption a day). These vast disparities between the carbon footprint of citizens in India highlights the need to differentiate individual responsibilities for climate change in national and global climate policy.

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Lee, J., Taherzadeh, O., & Kanemoto, K. (2021). The scale and drivers of carbon footprints in households, cities and regions across India. Global Environmental Change, 66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2020.102205

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