Many states conduct greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories to inform their climate change planning efforts, usually following a production-based method. But states could also estimate all emissions released to support consumption in their state, regardless of where the emissions occur.

This analysis shows that consumption-based emissions for Oregon are 47 percent higher than those released in-state. This implies that Oregon’s contribution to global GHG emissions (carbon footprint) is considerably higher than traditional production-based methods would suggest.

Furthermore, the consumption-based inventory helps better highlight the role of goods and services (and associated purchasing behaviors). This could help states and their local government partners find new ways to reduce emissions, such as promoting low-carbon consumption by the public sector or households, that are well within their sphere of influence.

State and local governments should consider conducting consumption-based GHG inventories and adopting consumption-related targets in order to broaden the reach and effectiveness of their emission reduction efforts. Such frameworks should be viewed as a complement, however, not a substitute for production-based GHG emissions inventories and targets.

Note: This article is based on a report to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Consumption-based Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory for Oregon.

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