Spatial planning aims to improve the socioeconomic and environmental sustainability of a region, yet, in the spatial planning framework, it is difficult to capture the environmental impacts of the lifestyle of residents as a whole. We use carbon load as an indicator for environmental pressure and explore the spatial variations in carbon load from transport, domestic energy use, and the consumption of goods based on data obtained from the Household Budget Survey in Estonia, in an attempt to understand how residential location is related to the environmental load of household consumption. We use environmentally extended input-output computing for carbon accounting, multiple regression models for statistical analysis, and settlement hierarchy as an analytic tool for characterizing residential location. The results show that the capital region and other higher-level settlements provide favorable conditions for the consumption of leisure-related goods and services even when other socioeconomic variables are taken into account. Industrial cities dominated by apartment block housing are characterized by conservative consumption patterns of residents. For rural residents, a lower carbon load imposed from other consumption categories compensates for their higher dependency on cars. We conclude that there is a need for an integrated and balanced spatial planning policy that considers the entire consumption pattern of populations in different settlement types.
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