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A Carbon Consumption Comparison of Rural and Urban Lifestyles

Author(s): Jukka Heinonen | Seppo Junnila

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 3;
Issue: 8;
Start page: 1234;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: life cycle assessment | carbon | climate change | lifestyle | consumption | urban structure

Sustainable consumption has been addressed from different perspectives in numerous studies. Recently, urban structure-related lifestyle issues have gained more emphasis in the research as cities search for effective strategies to reduce their 80% share of the global carbon emissions. However, the prevailing belief often seen is that cities would be more sustainable in nature compared to surrounding suburban and rural areas. This paper will illustrate, by studying four different urban structure related lifestyles in Finland, that the situation might be reversed. Actually, substantially more carbon emissions seem to be caused on a per capita level in cities than in suburban and rural areas. This is mainly due to the higher income level in larger urban centers, but even housing-related emissions seem to favor less urbanized areas. The method of the study is a consumption-based life cycle assessment of carbon emissions. In more detail, a hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) model, that is comprehensive in providing a full inventory and can accommodate process data, is utilized.
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