Indicator Economy and Consumption

Total environmental impact of consumption

The indicator shows the impacts across all areas of the environment both in Switzerland and abroad arising from Swiss final demand. For example, raw materials are required for the production of consumer goods, and land and water are required by settlements, transport, and for the production of food and animal feed. While the overuse of resources in Switzerland is likely to affect the economic system and quality of life here in the medium to long term, it is already having severe impacts in other countries, for example due to the logging of forests, climate change and water scarcity.

Assessment of the state
poor poor
Assessment of the trend
unsatisfactory unsatisfactory
Total (impact at home and abroad) 2018: 25.8077425837663 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2017: 26.9049344559867 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2016: 27.5834886127734 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2015: 28.6337293980005 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2014: 28.2466769263463 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2013: 28.9848211893508 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2012: 28.555544634924 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2011: 29.2989732178488 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2010: 29.7813061939958 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2009: 30.1160705987139 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2008: 30.3854820801537 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2007: 30.6345042613136 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2006: 31.8248417792593 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2005: 32.1011472547275 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2004: 32.0875629876935 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2003: 32.9994392819312 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2002: 33.8112995227104 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2001: 36.037337939916 Total (impact at home and abroad) 2000: 35.0886996772529 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2018: 17.4281705592959 Total environmental impact generated at home  2018: 8.37957202447039 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2017: 18.2984381594376 Total environmental impact generated at home  2017: 8.60649629654908 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2016: 18.7185390825542 Total environmental impact generated at home  2016: 8.8649495302192 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2015: 19.6233649831125 Total environmental impact generated at home  2015: 9.01036441488796 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2014: 19.2412010315434 Total environmental impact generated at home  2014: 9.00547589480288 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2013: 19.3837484134753 Total environmental impact generated at home  2013: 9.60107277587551 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2012: 19.0721319236672 Total environmental impact generated at home  2012: 9.4834127112568 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2011: 19.7532942570737 Total environmental impact generated at home  2011: 9.54567896077508 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2010: 19.5957076684216 Total environmental impact generated at home  2010: 10.1855985255742 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2009: 19.7722306380959 Total environmental impact generated at home  2009: 10.343839960618 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2008: 19.93128607687 Total environmental impact generated at home  2008: 10.4541960032838 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2007: 20.1606824360386 Total environmental impact generated at home  2007: 10.473821825275 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2006: 20.6756466073545 Total environmental impact generated at home  2006: 11.1491951719048 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2005: 20.744474871728 Total environmental impact generated at home  2005: 11.3566723829995 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2004: 20.2820468215765 Total environmental impact generated at home  2004: 11.805516166117 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2003: 20.5181444281911 Total environmental impact generated at home  2003: 12.4812948537401 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2002: 20.9658346542644 Total environmental impact generated at home  2002: 12.845464868446 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2001: 22.7277918775137 Total environmental impact generated at home  2001: 13.3095460624023 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2000: 21.4707403557648 Total environmental impact generated at home  2000: 13.617959321488

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: EBP/Treeze 2022
Total environmental impact generated abroad  2018: 148915.473904509 Total environmental impact generated at home  2018: 71599.4794115319 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2017: 155246.32814163 Total environmental impact generated at home  2017: 73018.6334244409 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2016: 157601.675732519 Total environmental impact generated at home  2016: 74638.8858171571 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2015: 163406.232758366 Total environmental impact generated at home  2015: 75030.4397886883 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2014: 158502.58753671 Total environmental impact generated at home  2014: 74184.1025924373 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2013: 157776.559482524 Total environmental impact generated at home  2013: 78149.1895997723 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2012: 153322.012862276 Total environmental impact generated at home  2012: 76237.7237905561 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2011: 157130.779201562 Total environmental impact generated at home  2011: 75932.649693477 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2010: 154100.88025296 Total environmental impact generated at home  2010: 80099.6690322975 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2009: 153942.751935471 Total environmental impact generated at home  2009: 80535.1312284197 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2008: 153507.895258857 Total environmental impact generated at home  2008: 80516.7122130672 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2007: 153090.021113965 Total environmental impact generated at home  2007: 79532.9031872948 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2006: 155248.03403086 Total environmental impact generated at home  2006: 83716.3966058934 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2005: 154735.693361003 Total environmental impact generated at home  2005: 84710.872958858 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2004: 150393.445950766 Total environmental impact generated at home  2004: 87539.1065344066 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2003: 151098.652254575 Total environmental impact generated at home  2003: 91914.1025345807 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2002: 153341.032683596 Total environmental impact generated at home  2002: 93949.8417644784 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2001: 164904.971319458 Total environmental impact generated at home  2001: 96569.4478163073 Total environmental impact generated abroad  2000: 154676.39441365 Total environmental impact generated at home  2000: 98104.5279397625

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: EBP/Treeze 2022
Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2018: 146.771385111352 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2017: 140.011894185492 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2016: 135.646837663222 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2015: 131.296040590418 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2014: 132.535120385521 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2013: 126.921558344233 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2012: 131.128557655826 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2011: 130.685933898181 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2010: 124.104190236638 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2009: 124.055899410288 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2008: 121.627798076982 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2007: 118.881173577194 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2006: 115.299781550928 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2005: 112.778965735492 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2004: 108.964606193029 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2003: 106.949513135985 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2002: 104.152111277173 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2001: 98.4497655700999 Efficiency of the total environmental impact  2000: 100
Trend in total environmental efficiency (quotient from economic domestic end final demand and total environmental impact)

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: EBP/Treeze 2022
Comment

Between 2000 and 2018, the total environmental impact footprint per capita fell by 26% (with annual fluctuations) from around 35 million to 26 million eco-points. However, with an 18.4% increase in population during this period, the actual fall is much lower (around 13%). As we import a lot of products, the environmental impact is primarily felt abroad. Around two thirds of our environmental impact in 2018 was created outside Switzerland.

As the production and consumption of goods and services has an impact on the environment, we might expect the total impact to rise in line with domestic final demand. But this is not the case. While final demand in Switzerland between 2000 and 2018 increased by 28%, its environmental impact has actually fallen. In other words, a decoupling of prosperity and total environmental impact has taken place, i.e. total environmental efficiency has improved.

The current trend is particularly due to successful efforts in Switzerland to control air pollution and protect the ozone layer, with legal requirements and technological developments playing a key role. A larger market share of environmentally friendly goods and services may also have had a positive effect.

The current total environmental impact is around three times the threshold for the sustainable use of resources. The figures used for the underlying calculation are based on the planetary boundaries, Swiss environmental policy targets, and an extrapolation to global consumption.

The current rate of decrease in total environmental impact does not allow Switzerland to achieve the threshold value by 2030, meaning it will not achieve the Agenda 2030 target for sustainable resource use. Nor does the progress made to date include all areas of the environment. The status is therefore assessed as negative, and the trend as unsatisfactory.

International comparison

The indicator in eco-points is quantified on the basis of Switzerland’s environmental policy targets. Hence there is no international comparison. The approach has been adopted in the scientific debate in other countries like Germany and Japan.

Method

Method for aggregating different types of environmental impact: In order to record and evaluate the total impact across all environmental factors such as emissions in the air and water, heavy metals in the ground, consumption of raw materials, etc., methods are required that are also capable of expressing environmental impacts as a figure. This example uses the ecological scarcity method – also known as the UBP method. This method expresses all environmental impacts in the unit of eco-points (Umweltbelastungspunkte, UBP). In the UBP method, the various environmental impacts are weighted according to the distance of the current environmental situation (emissions and demand on resources) to the existing targets of a country or region using eco-factors (“distance-to-target approach”). In Switzerland, the UBP method is geared towards Switzerland’s environmental goals and international environmental goals supported by Switzerland, which are in turn based on scientific knowledge. The further a current pollutant emission is from the target, the greater the significance of its environmental impact within the overall balance. However, the true extent of the environmental impact ultimately depends on the quantity of pollutants emitted. The emitted quantity is therefore multiplied with the eco-factor of the emission.

Footprint perspective method: When modelling the environmental impact caused by final demand, consideration is given to the entire value chain for all goods and services consumed, i.e. the extraction, production and transportation, etc., right up to their use and disposal. In addition to the resources used and emissions produced in Switzerland, the pressure on the environment in other countries is also taken into account. The environmental impact caused by export goods is deducted, as this is not included in domestic consumption. This is in line with the system boundaries of the footprint or consumption perspective.

The underlying calculation comes from the publication Environmental Footprints of Switzerland: Developments from 2000 to 2018 (EBP/Treeze 2022).

Comparison with the “ecological footprint”: This indicator is related to, but should not be confused with, the “ecological footprint” as defined by the Global Footprint Network. From the point of view of consumption, this indicator consolidates direct land use, wild-caught fish, and the areas of forest (theoretically) required to offset fossil carbon emissions into one figure. The ecological footprint is not a comprehensive environmental indicator. It does not take account of consumption of fresh water and other renewable and non-renewable natural resources, the loss of biodiversity or the environmental impact of air pollutants, heavy metals, nitrogen and persistent pollutants. Its main benefits are clear communication and widespread recognition. As a projection, Switzerland’s ecological footprint exceeds its global biocapacity by around three times. Despite major methodical differences, the resulting need for action is similar to that produced by the UBP method.

Basis for assessment of the trend
Targeted trend Initial value Final value Deviation from theoretical path in% Observed trend Assessment

5.8 n 2030

(according to Agenda 2030)

2000 2018 48.05% Towards theoretical path unsatisfactory
 
Last updated on: 08.11.2022

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