Greenhouse gas footprint
The consumption of goods and services is often linked to greenhouse gas emissions, such as from transport, building heating systems, industry and the extraction of raw materials. Nitrous oxide and methane emissions originate specifically from agriculture and waste management.
In a globalised economy, both the greenhouse gases emitted in Switzerland and those emitted abroad as a result of Swiss final demand must be recorded (total final consumption expenditure of households and the public sector). Due to the high proportion of imports in total consumption, a large portion of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by Swiss consumption occur abroad.
In 2018, the greenhouse gas footprint per capita amounted to around 13 tonnes of CO2-equivalents – well over the average of the EU countries. In 2000, it was nearly 18 tonnes per capita, which means that it has fallen by around a quarter.
The greenhouse gas footprint is far in excess of a level that is in line with the planetary boundaries. A study, which assumes an equal global right to emissions (Dao et al., 2018), placed this right at 0.6 tonnes per capita in 2015. The current trend is significantly above the required reduction. For these reasons, the state is rated as negative and the trend, despite a reduction, as unsatisfactory.
Although the population grew by 18% during the period considered, total emissions have fallen by 11%.
The proportion of domestic and import-related emissions has remained relatively constant. In 2018, 65% of them were caused abroad.
Between 2000 and 2018, greenhouse gas footprint efficiency increased by around 44%. Consequently, a decoupling between the growth in prosperity and greenhouse gas emissions has taken place. This may have different causes, such as more resource-efficient technologies or a rising market share of environmentally-friendlier goods and services.
An international comparison is only indirectly possible, due to differing system limits and the life cycle models that were used as a basis. According to Tukker et al. (2014) and the calculations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Switzerland’s greenhouse gas footprint is excessively high in international comparison.
The statistical concept of the greenhouse gas footprint is used to determine total greenhouse gas emissions caused by the final demand for goods and services in Switzerland. In addition to domestic emissions, the emissions generated abroad in the production of goods and services destined for Switzerland are also taken into account.
The footprint comprises the direct emissions from households, the emissions due to the final demand of households and the public sector, and the emissions in connection with gross fixed capital formation (GFCF).
The greenhouse gas footprint is a quantity that must be modelled. The results presented here are based on air emissions accounts, the input-output tables of the national accounts and a weighting of the imported emissions. The weighting takes into account the CO2 emission intensity of the origin of Swiss imports. The greenhouse gas intensity of exports from the EU is weighted using an overall aggregate ratio of total CO2 emissions to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the respective economic region.
The greenhouse gases taken into account are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and synthetic gases (HFC, PFC, SF6, NF3) in CO2 equivalents.
|Targeted trend||Initial value||Final value||Deviation from theoretical path in%||Observed trend||Assessment|
|0.6 n 2015||2000||2018||21.48%||Towards theoretical path||unsatisfactory|