Carbon Footprints and Consumer Lifestyles: An Analysis of Lifestyle Factors and Gap Analysis by Consumer Segment in Japan

In Sustainability
Volume (Issue): 11 (21)
Peer-reviewed Article
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Addressing the prevailing mode of high-carbon lifestyles is crucial for the transition towards a net-zero carbon society. Existing studies fail to fully investigate the underlining factors of unsustainable lifestyles beyond individual determinants nor consider the gaps between current footprints and reduction targets. This study examines latent lifestyle factors related to carbon footprints and analyzes gaps between decarbonization targets and current lifestyles of major consumer segments through exploratory factor analysis and cluster analysis. As a case study on Japanese households, it estimates carbon footprints of over 47,000 households using expenditure survey microdata, and identifies high-carbon lifestyle factors and consumer segments by multivariate regression analysis, factor analysis, and cluster analysis. Income, savings, family composition, house size and type, ownership of durables and automobiles, and work style were confirmed as determinants of high-footprint Japanese households, with eight lifestyles factors, including long-distance leisure, materialistic consumption, and meat-rich diets, identified as the main contributory factors. The study revealed a five-fold difference between lowest and highest footprint segments, with all segments overshooting the 2030 and 2050 decarbonization targets. The findings imply the urgent need for policies tailored to diverse consumer segments and to address the underlying causes of high-carbon lifestyles especially of high-carbon segments.