Territorial and Consumption-Based Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments: Implications for Spatial Planning Policies

Kimmo Lylykangas, Rebecca Cachia, Damiano Cerrone, Kaie Kriiska, Ulrich Norbisrath, Peter R. Walke, Anssi Joutsiniemi, Jukka Heinonen

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The quantification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is increasingly important in spatial planning for regions, cities, and areas. The combination of territorial and consumption-based accounting (CBA) approaches can currently be considered best practice for calculating GHG emissions at sub-national levels, in terms of informing local decision-making about the different climate impacts of spatial planning policies, both within the boundaries of a given region and for the inhabitants of that region. This study introduces four European case studies that were conducted using the two quantification approaches to assess the climate impacts of locally relevant planning policies. The case studies represent different scales of spatial planning, different European planning systems, and different situations in terms of data availability. Territorial results are not suitable for inter-regional comparison, but rather for internal monitoring, while CBA allows for comparison and provides a comprehensive picture of the global carbon footprint of residents, however, with indications that are more difficult to link to spatial planning decisions. Assessing impacts, and in particular interpreting results, requires both methodological understanding and knowledge of the local context. The results of the case studies show that setting climate targets and monitoring the success of climate action through a single net emissions figure can give false indications. The study shows that the two approaches to quantifying GHG emissions provide complementary perspectives on GHG emissions at the sub-national level and thus provide a more thorough understanding of the GHG emission patterns associated with spatial planning policies. The identification of the regional differences in GHG emission sources and mitigation potentials are the main functions of sub-national GHG inventories and the impact assessment for spatial planning. Harmonization of the data collection for sub-national GHG inventories and the transparency of underlying assumptions would greatly support the coherence of climate action and the implications to spatial planning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1144
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • carbon neutrality
  • climate action
  • consumption-based GHG accounting
  • GHG quantification
  • spatial planning
  • territorial GHG accounting

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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