04 Jul 2024, 14:13
Edgar Meza

High-income earners in Germany emit twice as much CO2 as low-income households - report

Clean Energy Wire

The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) has found that high-income households emit more greenhouse gases than poorer citizens due primarily to their travel habits. “Air travel in particular increases an individual’s carbon footprint and is one of the main reasons why higher-income households have a carbon footprint that is twice as high as lower-income households,” said the DIW's Sandra Bohmann, co-author of a report in the institutes latest Weekly Report. “A single long-haul flight causes more emissions per capita than housing and food-related emissions in an entire year combined.”

DIW analysed the per capita carbon footprint in Germany in the areas of residential energy use, nutrition and transport. At 6.5 tonnes per capita per year, carbon emissions in these areas are twice as high as required to achieve the target specified in the Paris climate agreement. Among the main drivers of CO2 emissions are air travel, meat consumption, the number of people living in a household, as well as per capita living space, according to the report. Based on its findings, DIW calls for greater individual efforts as well as targeted political instruments such as simplifying home swapping, energy-efficient renovation of residential buildings, banning short-haul flights, and introducing an animal welfare levy.

To achieve the government’s 2045 carbon neutrality goal, the report notes, “massive individual as well as political efforts are required: Policymakers must implement and support measures that increase energy efficiency in residential energy consumption, promote environmentally-friendly eating habits, and expand sustainable transport options while reducing the emissions-intensive options.” A related DIW report on sustainable consumption found that differences in purchasing power among consumers must be taken into account, pointing out that low-income households often cannot afford sustainable products, such as organic food or fair trade clothing.

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