Indicator Economy and Consumption

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 addition to the greenhouse gases emitted in Switzerland, the country is responsible for additional emissions, known as “grey emissions”. Due to the high proportion of imports in the total consumption, a large portion of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by Swiss consumption occur abroad.

Assessment of the state
poor poor
Assessment of the trend
unsatisfactory unsatisfactory
Per person
Consumption-based emissions of Kyoto substances, without ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: FOEN, FSO: STATPOP/ESPOP
Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2015: 69.5825521074374 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2015: 46.3639078925626 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2014: 68.1140671859755 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2014: 45.5205128140245 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2013: 67.8247684718258 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2013: 49.0341115281742 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2012: 65.7793314596317 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2012: 48.0113585403683 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2011: 65.3307903081386 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2011: 46.4433796918614 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2010: 64.3186849417372 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2010: 48.7933450582628 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2009: 60.96900018762 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2009: 47.7542198123801 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2008: 65.2055067971853 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2008: 48.6096832028148 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2007: 65.3805945326209 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2007: 47.0795654673791 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2006: 64.6439159212606 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2006: 49.2323040787394 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2005: 62.8667660844679 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2005: 49.7978739155321 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2004: 61.9010500725971 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2004: 49.2789999274029 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2003: 62.5539853067589 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2003: 49.6830546932411 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2002: 63.5629187974464 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2002: 49.7592612025536 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2001: 69.0856483356135 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2001: 51.6909016643865 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 2000: 62.2897367694612 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 2000: 50.0518732305388 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 1999: 58.7017622706714 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 1999: 50.6513177293286 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 1998: 57.4317624510296 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 1998: 50.6677775489704 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 1997: 51.3997220470484 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 1997: 48.7255179529516 Emissions abroad based on domestic consumption* 1996: 52.5479183790221 Emissions in Switzerland based on domestic consumption* 1996: 50.8518716209779
Consumption-based emissions of Kyoto substances, without ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: FOEN
Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2015: 117.610603453872 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2014: 118.307798026866 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2013: 114.490759627264 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2012: 114.852626197985 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2011: 115.987871813749 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2010: 112.458477986396 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2009: 113.168463377044 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2008: 108.016247707516 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2007: 108.777525027174 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2006: 107.092732206428 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2005: 105.959028824065 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2004: 106.456701211152 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2003: 101.139911174164 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2002: 99.1864982390346 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2001: 94.8173977353906 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 2000: 100.387958294852 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 1999: 99.7576802180164 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 1998: 101.482808613172 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 1997: 105.320718545093 Changes in consumption-related greenhouse gas efficiency  (quotient of economic final demand and the greenhouse gas footprint) 1996: 100

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: FOEN
Comment

In 2015, the greenhouse gas footprint per capita amounted to 14 tonnes of CO2-equivalents per capita. Thus, it is well over the average of the EU countries. Although it may be subject to fluctuations from one year to the next (caused by weather conditions, for example), it has been relatively stable during the period of time considered (4% decrease in 20 years).

The greenhouse gas footprint is far in excess of a level that is in line with the planetary boundaries. According to Dao et al. (2015), such a level would be 0.6 tonnes per capita in 2015. The current development is significantly above the required reduction. For these reasons, the state is rated as negative and the trend as unsatisfactory.  

Since Switzerland’s population grew by 17% during the period considered, total emissions have increased significantly, in contrast to the relatively stable per capita development, i.e. by around 12%.

Consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions show a steadily declining domestic share. However, their foreign share is rising just as steadily. In 2015, 60% of them were caused abroad.

Since the consumption of goods and services is linked to environmental impacts, emissions could generally be expected to increase similar to final demand. As far as the greenhouse gas footprint is concerned, this is not the case: While emissions increased by 12%, Swiss final demand increased by a greater extent during the same period, i.e. by 32%. Consequently, a relative decoupling between prosperity and greenhouse gas emissions has takten place. In other words, the so-called consumption-based greenhouse gas efficiency has improved. This may have different causes, such as more resource-efficient technologies or a rising market share of environmentally-friendlier goods and services.

 

International comparison

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.

Method

This indicator considers the greenhouse gases listed in the Kyoto Protocol (CO2, CH4, N2O and synthetic gases).

The datasets used for this indicator are domestic emissions data (domestic principle) combined with trade and life cycle data.

In addition, the values of Switzerland's greenhouse gas inventory are shown separately, in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol (territorial principle). These values take into account the emissions within Switzerland’s borders, including those caused by exports but not those caused by imports.

The calculation of the greenhouse gas footprint comes from Frischknecht et al. (2018).

For a comparison with the planetary limit values, see IPCC 2018 and Dao et al.

In 2018, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) calculated the greenhouse gas footprint of Swiss consumption for the first time. The method used for the preliminary calculation by FSO was the so-called environmentally extended input-output analysis. The results of both methods are comparable. The footprint calculated by the FSO also amounted to 14 tonnes of CO2-equivalents per capita in 2015 and the foreign share was 65% in the same year.

 
Last updated on: 18.11.2019

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