"Consumption-based emissions reflect the consumption and lifestyle choices of a country’s citizens."

Via this article https://ourworldindata.org/consumption-based-co2 I see that Belgium's consumption-based CO2 emissions per capita in 2018 is still above the level of 1990.

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I wonder why?

Why are Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Norway still above their CO2 consumption levels, while many other neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Ireland, ... did manage to get their levels down?

Further more, I am wondering how they can correctly estimate the CO2 of all consumption? I believe this is not known for all brands/products?

P.S.: In 'Sources' we can read:

Consumption-based emissions are national or regional emissions which have been adjusted for trade (i.e. territorial/production emissions minus emissions embedded in exports, plus emissions embedded in imports). If a country's consumption-based emissions are higher than its production emissions it is a net importer of carbon dioxide.

The underlying source is an updated version of the paper by "Peters et al. (2011). Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008."

► (Updated to 2014) Peters, GP, Minx, JC, Weber, CL and Edenhofer, O 2011. Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108, 8903-8908: https://bg.copernicus.org/articles/9/3247/2012/bg-9-3247-2012.html

This updated data is available in the latest version of the Global Carbon Budget.

https://www.icos-cp.eu/science-and-impact/global-carbon-budget/2019 via https://www.icos-cp.eu/science-and-impact/global-carbon-budget

Our World in Data has calculated several additional metrics based on the following metrics:

► Energy consumption data from BP Statistical Review of World Energy: https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html

► Long-term GDP data from Maddison Project Database: https://www.rug.nl/ggdc/historicaldevelopment/maddison/releases/maddison-project-database-2018

► Population data from the UN World Population Prospects and Gapminder: https://www.gapminder.org/ https://population.un.org/wpp/

  • $\begingroup$ I suspect that it may be due to nuclear energy use by other rnations. Belgium has not built any nuclear reactors since the 1970's and perhaps put some out of service. fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Another reason may be industry type, with some heavy industries supported by fossil fuel factories. perhaps there's a trend related to central heating energy type or something. $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2021 at 5:28

2 Answers 2


My answer will not be complete, but consider one factor: population.

Belgium population per year:

1990 9,967,000

2000 10,251,000 (+10.2%)

2009 10,796,000 (+5.3%)

2018 11,376,070 (+5.4%)

On top of that, you are considering countries with relatively small population increasing significantly (Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands). Most of the population increase is from immigration and high fertility rate of the new population (see the CO2eq impact of about 9tons per capita on the parents due to a new born), with industrial powerhouses like Germany and Italy where a lot of the production has been delocalized in the same time period (check CO2 of Romania or Spain)

  • $\begingroup$ I'm skeptic if the whole Brexit thing substantially alters the numbers significantly (e.g. it feels like an increased demand for flats in Amsterdam) for an increase on side of The Netherlands vs. a decrease for the UK. For the numbers about Belgium, the yearly increase of capita you report look higher than the reports e.g., by worldbank, worldometer, or worldpopulationreview.com. What are the sources of your data? $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Mar 15, 2021 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Buttonwood population: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… regarding moving people: there must be a short-term net increase, because of the moving. Then I do not know, it depends on how CO2eq intensive is the lifestyle of the median Belgian, if the moving person will adapt to that lifestyle, if he will insist on buying pickles sourced from the UK, etcetc ... LCA assessment on people, in short. Where is Brexit mentioned? $\endgroup$
    – EarlGrey
    Mar 15, 2021 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ The numbers in the question are per capita, and it's not obvious (at least not to me) why an increase in population will also increase emissions per person. There might be more complicated effects that proportionally more new infrastructure (housing etc) has to be build for the new population, but I'm not sure if the population effect is so easy, I think economic factors might be more relevant. $\endgroup$
    – uUnwY
    Apr 28, 2021 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @StephanMatthiesen there are a number of studies pointing at immigrants (and their offsprings) increased fertility, even looking at detailed aspects, such as this study ( jstor.org/stable/26332183 ) . If the new population is not due to immigration, but to increased fertility, there is a marked increase in CO2eq per capita, both due to "infrastructure" and to personal changeas in parents attitudes/lifestyle pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32294098 Please do avoid doublecounting:link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10892-020-09345-z $\endgroup$
    – EarlGrey
    Apr 28, 2021 at 14:12

Because Europe's infinite wisdom. Jokes aside, Their anti co2 nonsense has revoked utilization of cheap and clean natural gas. Instead Europe to satiate it's energy demands now burns wood and trash. Before coal became widely available, wood was used not just for heating homes but also for industrial processes; it was the prdominant energy source for humanity. Even if half the land surface of Britain had been covered with woodland we could have made 1.25 million tonnes of bar iron a year (a fraction of current consumption) and nothing else. Even with a much lower population than today's, manufactured goods in the land-based economy were the preserve of the elite. Deep green energy production – decentralised, based on the products of the land – is far more damaging to humanity than nuclear meltdown. If Europe shuts down their nuclear plants it will not be water, wind or sun, but fossil fuel and imported wood chips to run their industrial society.

Nuclear's biggest advantage besides the fact it doesn't atmospherically pollute. A kilowatt-hour worth of coal fired electricity produces about 2.07 lbs of CO2 or over a million tons per terawatt-hour. The nuclear plant in my home state produces 14.9 Terawatt-hours per year; preventing over 15 million tons of CO2 per year or over half a billion tons over the last 40 years. The US nuclear industry keeps 830 million tons of CO2 out of the air annually. The other thing is the power density and 24/7 reliability a Nuclear reactor takes up a few acres of land and on it's size produces about 10-20 terawatt-hours per year; a wind farm or solar farm covers hundreds of thousands of acres. Were 7 billion people; were gonna be 9 billion by 2050 and they're moving to cities from the villages, the world is now 50% urban, up from 14% in 1900, it's gonna be 60% urban people by 2030, and 80% urban by 2050 that's 7 BILLION people living in cities and with it a appetite for city living means 24/7 power demand And they cant rely on combustion for heating, cooking, light and transportation they'll need electric power and that's either gonna come from FOSSIL or Nuclear. Your choice. A GRAM of uranium produces 17 times more energy than a ton of wood.

  • $\begingroup$ Only 2% of earth scientists would label it as nonsense. The US wildfire nonsense and ocean acidification rising sea level myth wasnt on topic either. Note that a nuclear station costs as much as wind and solar plus 2000miles of 10 gigawatt power lines. google.com/… $\endgroup$ Mar 24, 2021 at 0:59

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