Consumption-based accounting of CO2 emissions in the sustainable development Goals Agenda

V Spaiser, Kate Scott, A Owen, R Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2017 the paper ‘The Sustainable Development Oxymoron: Quantifying and Modelling the Incompatibility of Sustainable Development Goals’ was published, showing that there is a conflict between socio-economic development goals and ecological sustainability goals using cross-country time-series data. The authors looked at production-based CO2 emissions to measure and model the 13th SDG goal addressing climate change. Their models showed that production-based CO2 emissions were stalling or even decreasing in rich countries, which suggests that other countries are also likely to see stalling and decrease in their CO2 emissions once they become rich. However, this conclusion can be challenged when accounting for consumption-based CO2 emissions rather than production-based CO2 emissions. In this follow-up paper, we re-run some of the analyses performed in the original paper making use of consumption-based CO2 emissions. The analysis confirms the inherent SDG conflict between socio-economic and ecological SDGs. But, this new analysis demonstrates that from a consumption perspective the trend of stalling or decreasing CO2 emissions is reversed, with natural depletion costs being exported to poorer countries. Despite this new perspective on CO2 emissions, the conflict between SDG goals can still be avoided by making investments in public health, education and renewable energy, as suggested in the original paper.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2018


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