J1: Carbon footprint and consumer buying choices

Interim Interim

Short description

This indicator tracks the carbon footprint of England’s residents, by showing changes in the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with final demand for goods and services in England, wherever the emissions arise across the globe. The indicator will show how consumer preferences and behaviour are impacting on the overall national carbon footprint.

This indicator is not available for reporting in 2021 in a finalised form. An interim indicator is presented here that shows consumption-based GHG emissions in England. Data underpinning this metric are available in Material footprint and resource efficiency in the UK, These source data are currently published as Experimental Statistics whilst there are ongoing refinements to the methodology.

Data at a UK level are published as UK’s carbon footprint. Further data may be available in the future tracking an index of carbon emissions impacts due to consumer buying choices.


While the currently available data predate the 25 Year Environment Plan, they provide the most recently available assessment of consumption-based GHG emissions in England. They enable a better understanding of a baseline from which to measure progress towards the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan when the indicator is next updated.

Trend description

England’s carbon footprint (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides) was estimated to be equivalent to 652.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2e) in 2017, a 15.3% reduction on levels in 2001 (770.5 MtCO2e). GHGs emitted directly by households (making up 18.8% of the footprint in 2017) were 11.1% lower in 2017 than in 2001 as a result of reductions in emissions associated with household-related heating. Total consumption-based emissions have been on a downward trajectory since 2007: the greatest contribution to this trend has come from the goods and services produced in England and consumed here; and emissions embedded in imports have also reduced substantially (26.6% and 19.5% respectively from a 2007 peak overall). As a proportion of total emissions in 2017, GHGs emitted overseas in the production of goods and services consumed in England made up roughly half (46.3%) of the total footprint.


Choose categories from the dropdowns below to see different breakdowns of the data. Some will not be available until a higher level is chosen.

This table provides metadata for the interim or final indicator presented above.

Indicator name

Carbon footprint and consumer buying choices

Indicator reference


Outcome Indicator Framework theme

Resource Use and Waste

Headline indicator status

Not applicable

Relevant goal(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Mitigating and adapting to climate change
  • Minimising waste
Relevant target(s) in the 25 Year Environment Plan
  • Making sure that all policies, programmes and investment decisions take into account the possible extent of climate change this century
  • Working towards our ambition of zero avoidable waste by 2050
Position in the natural capital framework
  • Pressure on natural capital assets
Related reporting commitments
  • None
Geographic scope


Status of indicator development


Date last updated

11 June 2021