Consumer behaviorConsumption-related CO2 emissions remain unchanged despite higher market shares of green products

Today, the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) published the results of its study "Green Products in Germany 2017: Market observations for environmental policy". It shows that CO2 emissions in the consumer sector have hardly declined despite rising sales of green products.

As the third study of this kind, it examines the market developments of selected green products in the areas of housing (heating and electricity), mobility and food and between 2008 and 2015. The corresponding market figures were contrasted with the development of consumption-related emissions. For the first time, market developments of different environmental labels such as 'Blauer Engel' (paper), EU Ecolabel (hygiene articles), FSC and PEFC (wood) and GOTS (textiles) were included.

These are the key findings:

  • Overall, CO2 emissions in the three consumption sectors have fallen by one percent from 7.9 tons per person in 2005 to 7.8 tons in 2014. These three categories account for 80 percent of total emissions associated with private consumption.
  • Housing: Thanks to energetic renovations, CO2 emissions have fallen by around ten percent in the last ten years. However, the increasing size of an average living space and equipment with information and telecommunication technologies still burden the environment.
  • Mobility: During the evaluation period, CO2 emissions have increased by 0.4 percent – mainly due to sharply rising emissions in aviation and hardly decreasing emissions in automobile traffic.
  • Food: Especially the high meat consumption has led to a significant increase in emissions by nine percent.
  • Environmental labels: Eco-labels are particularly successful if green products enable savings and respective labels are promoted by the state and by law at the same time. For example, consumers can save energy costs with energy-efficient appliances under the EU energy label, which at the same time is legally binding for the producers.

Maria Krautzberger, UBA president, commented: "We are heading in the right direction, but the sales of environmentally friendly products are growing too slowly. This is mainly due to the fact that the prices of products do not reflect the real environmental costs. Our consumption is a major contributor to environmental pollution, therefore the costs of the environmental should be included in the price."

Source: Federal Environmental Agency

More information and the study