On December 08, 2015 the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) released a brochure on the environmental impact of private consumption in Germany entitled “Environment, households and consumption“. In collaboration with the Federal Office for Statistics it presents basic facts about the environmental impact of private consumption in Germany in the areas of food, mobility and housing.
The essential insights are:
- Food: The consumption of meat in Germany has decreased from 2,8 million tons in the year 2000 to 2,6 million tons in 2013; simultaneously, however, exports of meat have more than tripled up to 3 million tons in 2013. Moreover, long routes of transport of non-seasonal and rapidly perishable food still lead to immense greenhouse gas emissions thereby harming the environment.
- Mobility: Private car use on average leads to higher emissions compared to the use of trains or busses. Yet, in Germany, the ratio of cars increased to 537 per 1.000 inhabitants in 2013 (as opposed to 521 cars/1.000 inhabitants in 2000); on the other hand alternative transportation options such as E-bikes or car sharing are becoming more and more popular.
- Housing: Single households constituted 40% of all households in Germany in 2014; this trend likewise increased the demand for living space as well as overall energy consumption.
Maria Krautzberger, president of UBA, noted the following: “We can only achieve our climate goals, if we reconsider our consumption habits. This also means to break with old habits: The production of animal products, especially meat, causes enormous environmental damages – mainly through the use of resources and land, but also through nitrate pollution of soils and waterways as well as high greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is: Anyone who wants to engage in climate protection, can do so by choosing an environmentally conscious diet.”