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  • Rick Bonetti

Household Carbon Footprints

A study by Berkeley researchers Christoper Jones and Daniel M. Mammen studied the Spatial Distribution of U.S. Household Carbon Footprints Reveals Suburbanization Undermines the Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Urban Population Density. They found consistently lower HCF in urban core cities and higher carbon footprints in outlying suburbs.

Their study used national household surveys to develop econometric models of demand for energy, transportation, food, goods, and services. The models were used to derive average household carbon footprints (HCF) for U.S. zip codes, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

The figure above shows the relative proportion of HCF due to travel, home, food, goods, and services. Use their calculator to modify your personal HCF. Even if car fuel is reduced by having an electric vehicle, other factors remain.

Carbon footprint profiles of almost all U.S. zip codes, cities, counties, and states are available on the project Web site,, and an interactive mapping Web site,

The December 13, 2022, New York Times article The Climate Impact of Your Neighborhood, Mapped notes: "A map of emissions linked to the way people consume goods and services offers a different way to view what’s driving global warming. Usually, greenhouse gases are measured at the source: power plants burning natural gas or coal, cows belching methane, or cars and trucks burning gasoline. But a consumption-based analysis assigns those emissions to the households that are ultimately responsible for them: the people who use electricity, drive cars, eat food, and buy goods."

As previously noted, Molly Kawabata says, "The fossil fuel industry has promoted the "individual carbon footprint" to deceive the public and turned the table of responsibility from those who are causing the problem onto individual users.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that a "lawsuit – filed in the US federal district court of Puerto Rico – evidence of the conspiracy dates back to 1989 when the defendants, which include ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Rio Tinto, individually and through trade association formed the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) as a “not-for-profit corporation to influence, advertise, and promote the interests of the fossil fuel industry by giving false information to their consumers and the public at large”.


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