Indicator: Global environmental footprint of consumption

A graph shows the global environmental footprint of household consumption, represented by the indicator’s energy consumption, CO₂ emissions and raw material use. The indicators show the environmental footprint generated by the consumption activities of private households in Germany and abroadClick to enlarge
Global environmental footprint of household consumption
Source: Statistisches Bundesamt Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • Compared with 2010, energy consumption by private households and associated carbon dioxide emissions decreased slightly overall.
  • Raw material use stagnated at the level of 2010.
  • In its Sustainability Strategy the German government sets the goal of reducing the global environmental footprint of private household consumption in all three areas.

Environmental importance

Through their consumption activities, private households significantly contribute to the environmental impact caused by the German economy as a whole. A distinction is made between direct and indirect use of environmental resources, as well as direct and indirect emissions.

Direct resource use or direct emissions respectively result, for example, through energy consumption within private households (e.g. heating) or are directly related with consumption activities such as when fuel is used for driving. By contrast, CO₂ emissions, energy consumption and raw material use resulting from the production of consumer goods are labelled indirect. These can either occur in Germany or abroad. For indirect CO₂ emissions and energy consumption, the terms CO₂ or energy content of consumer goods apply. A significant part of the indirect environmental impact of our consumption is generated abroad through the import of goods or so-called intermediate inputs.

In its sustainability strategy, the German government set the goal of continuously reducing the global environmental footprint of private household consumption in all three areas (BReg 2021, in German only).


Assessing the development

Direct and indirect energy consumption by private households has declined by 5.9 % since 2010, but has risen again slightly compared to 2014. Around 30.4 % of energy consumed by private households is generated abroad during the production of goods that are imported.

There is a similar trend in CO₂ emissions. Overall, CO₂ emissions from private household consumption in 2017 were 7.9 % lower than in 2010, with around 31.5 % of emissions resulting from the production of imported goods abroad.

The use of raw materials has not decreased since 2010. Usage of abiotic materials (ores, fossil fuels and other minerals) has decreased by 2,1 % since 2010 and there has been a 3.0 % increase in biomass. In total, approximately 659 million tonnes of raw materials were used for private household consumption in 2021.

When the three sub-indicators are viewed together, the picture is mixed: While the use of raw materials is stagnating and requires further efforts to achieve the German government’s target, energy consumption and CO₂ emissions are moving in the desired direction.



Data on the global environmental footprint of private households are calculated from a number of different sources in the environmental economic accounts by the Federal Statistical Office using environmentally extended input-output analysis. The determination of indirect environmental impacts is particularly challenging, which is why new data for the indicator always comes with a delay. The Federal Statistical Office developed the basis of this indicator on behalf of the German Environment Agency as part of the research project "Global Environmental Consumption by Production, Consumption and Imports" and is described in a method manual (Destatis 2020, in German only).

More detailed information 'Einkommen, Konsum, Energienutzung, Emissionen privater Haushalte' (in German only).