Energy use is linked to environmental pollution such as air pollution and climate warming. That is why it is important to reduce energy consumption. In addition, renewable energies should make up the highest possible share of the energy mix, since they generally have a lesser environmental impact than fossil energies, such as petroleum, gas, and coal, and lower risks than nuclear power.
The energy footprint shows the extent to which primary energy is consumed domestically and abroad due to Swiss consumption. It considers energy consumption resulting from the production of imported goods abroad, but not the consumption that arises in the domestic production of export goods. This distinguishes the footprint perspective from the prevalent perspective, which considers only the energy that is consumed domestically (see the energy consumption indicator).
Between 1996 and 2015, the energy footprint per capita decreased by just over 7% to a continuous power rating of approximately 8,000 watts per capita. However, since the population grew by 17% during this period, the energy footprint per capita increased by 8% overall.
The energy footprint consists mainly of non-renewable energies and is far in excess of a level that would be in line with the planetary boundaries (extrapolated to the world's population). According to the 2000-Watt Society, the target for the energy footprint by 2100 is 2,000 watts and a non-renewable share of 500 watts per capita. The reduction achieved to date will definitely not suffice to reach this target. Furthermore, this target is cautious compared to the October 2018 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2018). For that reason, the state is assessed as negative and the trend as unsatisfactory.
Between 1996 and 2016, the share of renewable energies rose slightly from 10% to 17%. This means that around 83% of the energy footprint still comes from non-renewable sources. Primary energy from domestic sources can be allocated exclusively to renewable sources as neither fossil energy carriers (petroleum, natural gas, coal etc.) nor uranium are extracted in Switzerland.
Since the consumption of goods and services is linked to energy consumption, the energy footprint could be expected to rise similar to final demand. This is however not the case: While energy consumption has increased by 8%, Swiss final demand has increased to a much greater extent in the same period, i.e. by 32%. Consequently, prosperity and energy consumption have been decoupled to some degree. In other words, the so-called consumption-based energy efficiency has improved. This may have varying causes, such as more energy efficient technologies or an increasing market share of environmentally-friendlier goods and services.
Although information on the primary energy consumption of many countries is certainly available, it is not provided as a footprint, i.e. from the consumption perspective. This energy footprint is the first of its kind at the national level. For that reason, an international comparison is not possible at this time.
When modelling the energy footprint, the value chain of all consumed goods and services up to final consumption is taken into consideration. All production steps are included in it, i.e. the energy required to extract, produce, transport and dispose of goods. Furthermore, the primary energy required in these steps is also shown.
Primary energy is defined as energy that is stored directly in naturally occurring primary energy carriers. These include renewable energy carriers such as sun, wind, geothermal energy, watercourses and reservoir water as well as non-renewable sources such as petroleum, natural gas, coal and uranium. In general, primary energy cannot be used directly to heat, run motors, etc. In other words, primary energy carriers must be further processed into electricity, diesel, petrol, etc. The resulting energy losses are also taken into consideration.
Official statistics on emissions and material consumption serve as the basis for calculating domestic energy consumption.
To determine the consumption generated by imports and exports, the quantity of goods and services were linked using life cycle assessment data.