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Territorial-Based vs. Consumption-Based Carbon Footprint of an Urban District—A Case Study of Berlin-Wedding

Lenk, Clara; Arendt, Rosalie; Bach, Vanessa; Finkbeiner, Matthias

Cities account for 70% of carbon emissions and are therefore a vital driver for climate change. Thus, a city’s main contributing sectors need to be identified. Territorial-based footprints focus on the final energy consumption, which is derived from the stationary and transport sectors. The consumption-based approach is based on consumption data, which are converted into carbon emissions using an input–output model. If the consumption-based approach is applied to an urban district not only emissions in the investigated area are considered, but also those that occur along the supply chain of consumed products in the urban district. The goal of this study was to apply and evaluate two different approaches to calculate an urban district’s carbon footprint to support climate protection management at the local government level. To achieve this goal, these two different approaches were applied to calculate the carbon emissions of the urban district Wedding in Berlin and were compared regarding criteria such as data availability and relevance. The footprints resulted in 400,947 t CO2-eq. for the territorial approach and in 401,371 t CO2-eq. per year for the consumption-based approach, which resulted in 4.61 t CO2-eq and 4.62 t CO2-eq per capita and year, respectively. Methodologically, the two approaches differ significantly, but the total results showed a difference of only 0.1%. Thus, this study cannot verify that the consumption-based approach mostly leads to higher emissions per capita in the Global North. This could be due to lower purchasing power and a higher share of multiple-person households in the relatively poor urban district of Wedding, Berlin. The territorial approach is more suitable to derive measures for local climate action, whereas the consumption-based approach highlights the responsibility of consumers for GHG emissions along the supply chain and the importance of the food sector.
Published in: Sustainability, 10.3390/su13137262, MDPI