Fact Check Climate Change in the Agricultural and Food System

Consumption- and Production-based Approaches to Determine Greenhouse Gas Emissions of the Agri-food Sector in Austria

This policy brief contrasts consumption- and production-based approaches that can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and the agro-food system. Production-based emissions are collected at the point of origin and recorded in each country's greenhouse gas inventory according to internationally agreed standards. The emitting sectors, including agriculture and industry, are the primary addressees of national climate policies. In calculations of consumption-based emissions, those emissions are counted that occur abroad when imported goods are consumed domestically. In many wealthy countries, including Austria, emissions under the consumption-based calculation method are higher than those under the production-based method. If emission-intensive production processes are shut down in a country but the goods remain in demand and are imported from abroad, the net global effect depends on the emission intensities of the countries considered. Based on studies in the economic literature, these relationships are illustrated using Austria as an example. Finally, options are presented to reduce the total emissions associated with the agricultural and food system.