Consumption-based accounting reveals global redistribution of carbon emissions
This discussion brief explains the central concept of consumption-based accounting, and illustrates the kinds of new perspectives it can offer on responsibility for environmental impacts of production. The most common way of attributing carbon emissions or any other environmental pressure to a particular country or actor is based on production-based, or territorial, accounting, which estimates emissions released within a specific geographical area. This type of accounting is the basis for international negotiations, such as those on climate mitigation under the UNFCCC framework. Consumption-based accounting is an alternative method that, in contrast, attributes emissions to the final consumers of goods and services. Consumption-based accounting methodologies take as their starting point the goods and services consumed within a territory, and then reallocates the emissions from production, wherever in the world that production may have occurred, to those final goods and services.