The Carbon Footprint of German, Scottish and Czech Households and Its Determinants the Influence of Infrastructure, Lifestyles and Socioeconomic Conditions

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:00 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Vera PETERS , Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
Climate change is on its way, and individual consumption decisions contribute substantially to it. About 40% of all GHG emissions come directly from private household energy consumption, and the figure is even larger if indirect effects of private consumption are included.

In order to further explore the conditions that lead to smaller GHG emissions, we present results from a quantitative household survey (n=1.532) in three European countries (Germany, Scotland, Czech Republic), which was conducted within the framework of an EU FP 7 project (GILDED) in 2011 and 2010.

A CO2-calculator and its items on self reported behavior were used to estimate households’ carbon emissions in the field of residence, mobility and nutrition. Beside site specific conditions such as infrastructure and socioeconomic factors, major individual and social motives for sustainable behavior are explored by applying psychological and sociological concepts such as the “Schwartz value inventory”, people’s perception of climate change and a lifestyle segmentation.

We focus especially on the explanatory power of the lifestyle approach for predicting carbon footprints. Lifestyle or "milieu" segmentations represent popular analysis tools especially in German sociology that aim at a modernized concept of social inequality encompassing the `subjective' dimension (attitudes, values and preferences) as relevant aspects for social differentiation. We applied this concept by connecting values and preferences with the households’ income, thus trying to identify different “social milieus”, i.e. like-minded social groups that are characterized by distinct mental frames and economic status. Previous lifestyle research suggests significant group differences on factors influencing energy use, e.g. the amount and kind of electronic appliances used or leisure mobility patterns. However, it has yet to be shown if different energy patterns result in different levels of overall consumption and emissions between the groups.