Carbon footprint

  • Carbon footprint decreases but remains too high

    In 2016, the carbon footprint of consumption in the Flemish Region amounted to 14.2 tonnes CO2-equivalents per inhabitant. Despite an increase in consumer spending and investment, the carbon footprint decreased by 2.9 tonnes CO2-equivalents per inhabitant between 2010 and 2016 (-17%). Yet the carbon footprint remains too high. To limit the average global temperature increase to 2°C, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to an average of 2 tonnes CO2-equivalents per inhabitant by 2050.

    The carbon footprint of consumption in 2016 was also higher than the total greenhouse gas emissions on the territory of the Flemish Region. The greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 11.9 tonnes CO2-equivalents per inhabitant.

  • Half of the carbon footprint is due to housing, passenger transport and food

    In 2016, two-thirds of the carbon footprint in the Flemish Region was linked to goods and services purchased by households. This mainly concerned housing, passenger transport and food (49%).

    The remaining third of the carbon footprint mainly consisted of emissions linked to investments by businesses and government in, among other things, buildings and infrastructure, machinery, ICT equipment and emissions linked to public services for which the consumer does not pay directly, such as education and defence.

  • Housing and passenger transport contribute most to carbon footprint reduction

    Three quarters of the decrease in the carbon footprint of consumption between 2010 and 2016 was attributable to goods and services purchased by households. The largest decrease was observed in housing (44% of the total decrease), followed by passenger transport (9%) and culture and recreation (5%).

    The decrease in the emissions from housing can largely be explained by the reduction in the use of fossil fuels by households, the shift from heating oil to gas and a decrease in the emission intensity per euro of output of the production chains of fossil fuels and electricity.

    In passenger transport, the decrease was mainly due to reduced emissions caused by the production of fuels and the production of cars.

  • Flemish Region outsources net greenhouse gas emissions

    About 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions linked to consumption in the Flemish Region originated outside the Flemish Region. Just over half were emissions from outside Europe. This distribution did not change much between 2010 and 2016. At the same time, more than 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions of Flemish companies were the result of production for export. That share also remained stable between 2010 and 2016.

    However, the greenhouse gas emissions generated outside the Flemish Region but caused by consumption in the Flemish Region were higher than the greenhouse gas emissions generated in the Flemish Region by production for export: 40% higher in 2010, 30% higher in 2016. The Flemish Region therefore outsources net greenhouse gas emissions.


Department of the Environment and Spatial Development: Environmental report (MIRA), carbon footprint 


Carbon footprintthe greenhouse gas emissions that are generated worldwide as a result of the domestic consumption of the inhabitants of that country or region. The carbon footprint of the Flemish Region includes all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide that arise as a result of consumption in the Flemish Region.

CO2-equivalentsunit of measurement used to reflect the warming potential of greenhouse gases. CO2 is the reference gas against which other greenhouse gases are measured.

Publication date

16 November 2021

Next update

January 2024

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