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The University of Southampton
Energy at Southampton Research

Who emits most?

We accept that radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are required to avoid dangerous climate change, but who will the policies that can achieve this affect most? Is there a fair way to do it?

Given the growing scientific evidence for the severity of climate change and its impacts, further political action to reduce emissions becomes increasingly urgent. However, financial instruments to reduce emissions necessarily have distributional – and related fairness – implications. To facilitate an analysis of potential distributional implications of various climate change mitigation policies, we need to understand the distribution of emissions both across social groups and for different areas of emissions.

So the research, led by Dr Milena Büchs, set out to explore the question of how the association between household characteristics and emissions, differs across different areas of emission, e.g. home energy, transport and indirect emissions.

It turned out that economies of scale turned out to be most relevant for home energy but negligible for other areas whilst the presence of children turned out to be less important than the researchers had expected.

Dr  Büchs, together with co-researchers Dr Sylke Schnepf (also University of Southampton) and Dr Nicholas Bardsley (University of Reading),  used UK expenditure data 2006-9 and they found that the association between household characteristics and emissions does indeed differ for these different areas of emission. By providing the first direct comparing of the association between household characteristics and emissions across different domains, this research provides new insights into the possible distributional implications of mitigation policies in the UK.

Does living in a rural location contribute more to transport than to home energy emissions?
Rural emissions - which is higher?

Read: 'Unequal emissions – unequal policy impacts: how do different areas of CO2 emissions compare?' by Milena Büchs, Nicholas Bardsley and Sylke V. Schnepf
in International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment , Tony Fitzpatrick (ed.), Cheltenham, UK / Northampton, USA (Edward Elgar) forthcoming 2014.

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Milena Buchs and Sylke V. Schnepf (University of Southampton) and Nicholas Bardsley (University of Reading) analysing data to track emissions
Detailed analysis to inform policy making on energy
Dr Milena Buchs
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