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Research findings Income defines carbon footprint of Swiss households

Young man standing in front of shop shelves

The study authors recommend considering whether the Swiss are 'over-consuming'.  

(Keystone/Martin Ruetschi)

The carbon footprint of Swiss households depends more on social and economic status than on whether consumers live in urban or rural areas, according to a new study.

A team of researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne found that income levels play an important role. “People consume without much thought because they can afford to and enjoy doing so,” says Melissa Pang, lead author of the study is quoted as saying in a press releaseexternal link.

The team examined data from Switzerland’s household budget survey for 2008, 2011 and 2014 and combined them with a so-called environmentally friendly input-output analysis.

The study found that households in the countryside have larger carbon footprints than those in cities mainly because they travel more and use more energy in their homes. But urban households are bigger polluters when it comes to food, clothing, cultural activities and air travel.

Overall, a two-person household has the largest per-capita footprint and that people in southern Switzerland are the worst offenders.

The authors of the study say there is no need for “extreme measures” to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, but they add that “every little bit helps”.

Scientists also call for more in-depth studies to confirm findings that the Swiss population’s overall carbon footprint has fallen between 208 and 2014.

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