Quantifying GHG emissions enabled by capital and labor: Economic and gender inequalities in France
Many studies have investigated the carbon footprint of households. They rely on consumption-based responsibility and focus on how many emissions are embodied in a product. Here we open a new field by discussing the emissions that individuals enable by providing labor and capital to companies, using the framework of income-based (downstream) responsibility. This perspective focuses on the emissions enabled by providing inputs to production processes, and is relevant for discussion of sustainable work and the carbon impact of investment and financial portfolios. We compute the downstream carbon intensity of primary inputs for 35 industries in France using the multi-regional input–output database EXIOBASE. We provide a detailed picture of enabled emissions, disaggregating those by industry and primary inputs. On average, capital inputs are more carbon intensive than labor inputs. Finally, we couple downstream carbon intensities with an extensive national survey on wages to obtain a distribution of the income-based emissions of employees. Income-based emissions are much more unequally distributed than wages due to the huge variability of carbon intensity across industries: a truck driver enables far more emissions than a social-care worker. Inequalities in emissions do not strongly interact with economic inequality. Yet they are gendered because women work disproportionately in low-carbon-intensive industries such as healthcare. As a result, women contribute less to GHG emissions than their wage share would seem to indicate.