How to reduce household carbon emissions : A review of experience and policy design considerations

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-124
Journal / PublicationEnergy Policy
Online published15 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


Global warming and environment problems caused by the excessive emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), along with rapid economic development has attracted the attention of many countries and regions of the world. Reducing GHG emissions is essential to mitigate the threat of global warming. Household carbon (dioxide) emissions have been recognized as one of the most important contributors to climate change, with a significant impact on both the local and global environment, and various policy instruments have been implemented by governments to bring about the reduction. This paper reviews these carbon abatement policy measures from demand-side and supply-side perspectives based on 144 countries across the world. The advantages and disadvantages of the policies are analyzed and it is found that income level largely affects the choice of policy, with high-income countries being mostly associated with demand-side policy instruments. Low-income countries adopt less demand-side policy measures and mainly depend on supply-side polices such as targets and regulations. Geographic location is also an important factor influencing the choice of policy instruments due to the different climates between different regions, although targets, regulations and carbon taxes are dominant GHG reduction policy measures worldwide. In America, tendering and net metering are popular, while in Europe feed-in-tariff (FIT) policies are implemented for more than 70% of the time. In Asia, policy measures, whether supply-side or demand-side, are comparatively weakly implemented and influenced by location, urbanization and economic growth. This paper suggests that, although the economic level is different, low-income countries and particularly developing countries can promote carbon abatement as well as the financial market by gradually changing from supply-side policy instruments to demand-side policies. This critical review provides a systematic understanding of various carbon emission policies in different countries and regions worldwide, which will provide significant assistance for the development of policies to reduce household carbon emissions.

Research Area(s)

  • Demand-supply, Energy policy, Household carbon emission