Uncovering Household Carbon Footprint Drivers in an Aging, Shrinking Society

In order to meet climate change mitigation goals, nations such as Japan need to consider strategies to reduce the impact that lifestyles have on overall emission levels. This study analyzes carbon footprints from household consumption (i.e., lifestyles) using index and structural decomposition analysis for the time period from 1990 to 2005. The analysis identified that households in their 40s and 50s had the highest levels of both direct and indirect CO2 emissions, with decomposition identifying consumption patterns as the driving force behind these emissions and advances in CO2 reduction technology having a reducing effect on lifestyle emissions. An additional challenge addressed by this study is the aging, shrinking population phenomenon in Japan. The increase in the number of few-member and elderly households places upward pressure on emissions as the aging population and declining national birth rate continues. The analysis results offer two mitigatory policy suggestions: the focusing of carbon reduction policies on older and smaller households, and the education of consumers toward low-carbon consumption habits. As the aging, shrinking population phenomenon is not unique to Japan, the findings of this research have broad applications globally where these demographic shifts are being experienced.

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