Household expenditure on consumption categories with differing environmental pressure intensities
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
This indicator considers trends in expenditure across 12 broad household consumption expenditure categories and presents these, along with environmental pressure intensities for each category, to enable interpretation of the impact of changing consumption patterns. Different consumption categories show different environmental pressure intensities measured in units of environmental impact/Euro. A shift in the share of consumption expenditure from a high to a lower intensity category will have a role in decoupling environmental impact from growth in consumption.
This indicator is part of a Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) indicator set which was developed on the basis of a framework for indicator based reporting on SCP. The policy question the indicator seeks to answer is one of 35 policy questions forming the core of the SCP Indicator Reporting Framework. However, only some selected SCP indicators are published on the EEA website.
- Rationale reference ETC/SCP (2010) Towards a Set of Indicators on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) for EEA reporting. European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production
This indicator shows trends in total household consumption expenditure of Europeans as characterised by the Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (CIOCOP).
COICOP is a nomenclature developed by the United Nations Statistics Division and subsequently adopted by Eurostat to classify and analyse individual consumption expenditures incurred by households, non-profit institutions serving households and general government according to their purpose. Trends at the single digit disaggregation level demonstrate how patterns of consumption across 12 expenditure categories in Europe are changing. Figure 1, which compares the share of expenditure across the COICOP categories in two years, uses current prices, while figure 2, which shows the trends in expenditure in the 12 expenditure categories, is presented in chain linked volumes.
Figures 3-6 show environmental pressures per Euro of spending for each of the 12 household consumption categories for four environmental pressure categories. This enables expenditure trends in the first two figures to be interpreted with respect to potential changes in environmental pressures caused by household consumption.
Figure 1: % (the share of total expenditure on each COICOP category)
Figure 2: index, 1996 = 100 (developments in absolute expenditure in household consumption (COICOP) categories per capita)
Figure 3-6 kg/Euro (the unit pressure (kg CO2-equiv., g SO2-equiv., g NMVOC-equiv. and kg material use) per Euro of spending of household consumption categories)
Policy context and targets
The international policy framework for SCP was agreed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) with the adoption of a global framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production. The declaration ‘The future we want’ recognised the need to change unsustainable, and promote sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
The potential for reducing impacts from consumption through the development of alternative lower impact products is widely recognised. For example the Final Report for the Assessment of the 6EAP calls for ‘better resource efficiency per unit of products produced’. In addition, environmental impacts caused by consumption could be reduced through shifting expenditure from consumption categories with high environmental pressure intensities (pressures per Euro of spending) to less pressure intensive consumption categories.
The Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe, in its thematic area on Sustainable Consumption and Production, recognises that ‘changing consumption patterns of private and public purchasers will help to drive resource efficiency’. The Roadmap also includes the milestone that 'By 2020, citizens and public authorities have the right incentives to choose the most resource efficient products and services, through appropriate price signals and clear environmental information… Consumer demand is high for more sustainable products and services.’
The EU’s 7th Environment Action Programme reinforces the objectives of the Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe, stating that ‘measures will be taken to further improve the environmental performance of goods and services on the Union market over their whole life cycle including measures to increase the supply of environmentally sustainable products and stimulate a significant shift in consumer demand for such products’, and that ‘targets for reducing the overall lifecycle environmental impact of consumption will be set, in particular in the food, housing and mobility sectors’.
No quantitative targets have been identified.
Related policy documents
7th Environmental Action Programme
DECISION No 1386/2013/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’
COM(2011) 531 final - 6EAP FINAL ASSESSMENT
The Sixth Community Environment Action Programme FINAL ASSESSMENT
Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. COM(2011) 571
The Future We Want –Declaration of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio (2012)
The Future We Want is the declaration on sustainable development and a green economy adopted at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio on June 19, 2012. The Declaration includes broad sustainability objectives within themes of Poverty Eradication, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, Energy, Sustainable Transport, Sustainable Cities, Health and Population and Promoting Full and Productive Employment. It calls for the negotiation and adoption of internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals by end 2014. It also calls for a UN resolution strengthening and consolidating UNEP both financially and institutionally so that it can better disseminate environmental information and provide capacity building for countries.
Key policy question
Are Europeans switching consumption patterns to goods and services with less environmental pressures per Euro?
Methodology for indicator calculation
Figure 1: Expenditures (in aggregates at current prices) for each COICOP category within the EEA countries for two different years are calculated by adding the expenditure in the EU-28 to the equivalent expenditures in Iceland and Norway. Turkey, Switzerland and Lichtenstein have been omitted due to insufficient data.
Figure 2: Expenditures (in chain-linked volumes) for each COICOP category within the EEA countries since 1996 are calculated by adding the expenditure in the EU-28 to the equivalent expenditures in Iceland and Norway. Turkey, Switzerland and Lichtenstein have been omitted due to insufficient data. The index is calculated by dividing the value of the expenditure volumes for each year by the expenditure value for 1996 and multiplying by 100.
Figures 3-6: The data are obtained from the EEA and ETC/SCP's NAMEA project. Environmentally Extended Input-Output Analysis (EE-IOA) was carried out using Eurostat Input-Output tables and air emissions accounts for the EU-27. Pressures associated with 60 NACE product categories were allocated to COICOP categories using a transformation matrix. Direct emissions from households were also allocated using a simple transformation of emissions from mobile sources to ‘07 Transport and emissions from stationary sources’ to ‘04 Housing’.
Methodology for gap filling
No gap filling was necessary for producing this indicator.
- EEA, 2013 EEA, 2013, Environmental Pressures from European Consumption and Production: A study in integrated environmental and economic analysis. EEA Technical Report, No 2/2013 .
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
Data sources in latest figures
No uncertainty has been specified.
Data sets uncertainty
For information on data source uncertainty for the Eurostat consumption expenditure data the metadata file can be found here:
The methodology and key assumptions used in the Environmental Extended Input Output calculations are described in detail in the EEA Technical Report No. 2/2013 ‘Environmental pressures from European consumption and production’. Uncertainties result from a number of assumptions/characteristics of the methodology and underlying data including; coarse aggregation of all industries and products into 59 industry/product groups; allocation of environmental pressures to a product group according to monetary rather than physical flows; and basic one-to-one mapping of 59 (2-digit) product groups to 12 COICOP (2-digit) COICOP categories when allocating environmental pressures to COICOP groups.
Pressure intensities of household consumption categories have only been calculated for four types of environmental pressure. Including other environmental pressures and resources might identify different household consumption categories as having relatively high pressure intensities, and therefore lead to different conclusions on whether trends in consumption expenditure are moving in a favourable or unfavourable direction. Other environmental pressures and impacts, such as biodiversity loss, emissions to water and soil, or land use, are relevant as well but could not be included due to a lack of data for other pressures and impacts in the data set.
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoAlmut Reichel
Frequency of updates
ClassificationDPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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