The Paris Agreement achieved a momentum that 195 countries agreed on limiting the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius and pursued further efforts to 1.5 degrees Celsius. A "bottom-up" approach to climate actions is the trend to address future climate change challenges. Although the U.S. withdrew from the agreement, non-state actors and individuals are still essential contributors to climate change mitigation.
This research aims to better understand people's consumption patterns and associated environmental implications, and therefore provide more scientific supports for voluntary climate action. To this end, this study investigated the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions driven by the U.S. household consumption from 1995 to 2009 with Multi-Regional Input-Output (MRIO) method. It includes 40 countries and economic interdependence among 1,435 nation-sectors. Consumption structure and different consumer groups are further analyzed by linking the global input-output table with Consumer Expenditure Survey.
The results show that utility, transportation, and services are major contributors to domestic GHG emissions, while consumption on goods and transportation embodies a large amount of indirect emissions abroad. China and Canada are two leading carbon importers to support the household consumption in the U.S. In addition, carbon footprints are unequal among different groups of consumers with different income levels. This research could help individuals to better understand their global carbon footprints and provide policy implications for the voluntary climate actions.