The University of Southampton
Social Sciences: Sociology, Social Policy & CriminologyPart of Social Sciences

Research project: Who Emits Most? An Analysis of UK Households' CO2 Emissions and their Association with Socioeconomic Factors

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This ESRC-funded project analyses the distribution of CO2 emissions across UK households, using the Living Cost and Food Survey.

Project Overview

While there is an emerging consensus among politicians that radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are required to avoid dangerous climate change, the question of who will bear the burden of such policies generally receives less attention. Using the Living Cost and Food Survey, our research project aims to find out who emits most, by quantifying households' CO2 emissions and identifying determinants of emissions. Once we know more about households with low and high CO2 emissions, we can draw conclusions about the distributional impacts of CO2 reduction policies. This is of great relevance, first because this raises important issues of equity but also because addressing these issues is likely to make these policies more effective.

Given that we focus on three different sources of total household emissions (home energy, personal transport and consumption of all other goods and services), we may be able to derive distinct policy recommendations depending on the source targeted. This will be particularly relevant if it emerges that the emissions patterns are very different for different sources of CO2 emissions.

Milena Buchs (SSP) is principal investigator on this project. Co-investigators are Sylke Schnepf (Social Statistics) and Nick Bardsley (Economics, University of Reading). Research assistant: Frederico de Luca.

Value: £99,600. May 2011 – April 2012

Events

Conferences and events associated with this project:

Can climate policies be fair? Workshop explores issue

The workshop "Can Climate Policies Be Fair" took place on 5 July, at the Royal Statistical Society, London

The workshop was organised by Drs Milena Buchs, Sylke V. Schnepf (both from Southampton) and Nicholas Bardsley (University of Reading). At the workshop, the organisers presented results from their ESRC project “Who emits most? An analysis of UK households' CO2 emissions and their association with socio-economic factors”. Presentations from this project addressed the following questions:

  1. What are the methodological challenges of using the Living Costs and Food Survey for estimating household emissions and their distribution? How do different methods of converting expenditure into emissions compare and what are the implications of the so-called infrequency of purchase problem for this type of research?
  2. What is the role of different socio-economic factors for total, indirect, home energy and transport emissions and how do they interact, for instance, are high education and rural location still related to higher emissions once we control for household income?
  3. What are likely distributional implications from climate change mitigation policies, e.g. are carbon taxes on transport progressive and how would they compare to tax and rebate schemes?

    In addition, Dr Ben Anderson (University of Essex) contributed a presentation on the methodological challenges of using the LCF for analysing household water and home energy use, funded by the ESRC Sustainable Practices Research Group; Professor Ian Gough (LSE) on the role of social policy to counteract distributional dilemmas related to climate policies (funded by an ESRC project on climate change and social policy) and Ian Preston (Centre for Sustainable Energy) on the distributional implications of current and planned UK climate change and energy efficiency policies.

    The workshop also provided room for a very stimulating discussion and exchange between presenters and the very mixed audience of academics and representatives from government departments, the Office for National Statistics, environmental charities, consultants and private sector organisations. The event was funded by the ESRC project “Who emits most” and the Division of Social Statistics & Demography at the University of Southampton.

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