Environmental impacts of consumption in the European Union: High-resolution input-output tables with detailed environmental extensions

Gjalt Huppes*, Arjan De Koning, Sangwon Suh, Reinout Heijungs, Lauran Van Oers, Per Nielsen, Jeroen B. Guinée

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Abstract

    For developing product policy, insight into the environmental effects of products is required. But available life-cycle assessment studies (LCAs) are hardly comparable between different products and do not cover total consumption. Input-output analysis with environmental extensions (EEIOA) of full consumption is not available for the European Union. Available country studies have a low sector resolution and a limited number of environmental extensions. This study fills the gap between detailed LCA and low-resolution EEIOA, specifying the environmental effects of household consumption in the European Union, discerning nearly 500 sectors, while specifying a large number of environmental extensions. Added to the production sectors are a number of consumption activities with direct emissions, such as automobile driving, cooking and heating, and a number of postconsumer waste management sectors. The data for Europe have been constructed by using the sparse available and coarse economic and environmental data on European countries and adding technological detail mainly based on data from the United States. A small number of products score high on environmental impact per Euro and also have a substantial share of overall consumer expenditure. Several meat and dairy products, household heating, and car driving thus have a large share of the total environmental impact. Due to their sales volume, however, products with a medium or low environmental score per Euro may also have a substantial impact. This is the case with bars and restaurants, clothing, residential construction, and even a service such as telecommunications. The limitations in real European data made heroic assumptions necessary to operationalize the model. One conclusion, therefore, is that provision of data in Europe urgently needs to be improved, at least to the level of sector detail currently available for the United States and Japan.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-146
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
    Volume10
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006

    Keywords

    • Comprehensive environmental data archive (CEDA)
    • Hybrid life-cycle assessment
    • Input-output analysis (IOA)
    • Integrated product policy (IPP)
    • Life-cycle assessment
    • National Accounting Matrix including Environmental Accounts (NAMEA)

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