Location of Repository

Why carbon footprinting (and carbon labelling) only tells half the story

By Robert Lillywhite and Rosemary Collier

Abstract

The UK is a world leader in the use of carbon footprints. The introduction of PAS2050 has legitimised carbon footprinting and manufacturers and retailers have responded by estimating carbon footprints for selected products. In industrial production, where the relationship between inputs and outputs is constant and the process is tightly controlled, carbon footprints tend to be reproducible. However, agricultural production is different, being influenced by biological, geological and climatic variation. Thus, although the use of a single value to represent the carbon burden of a food product is appealing, in practice it can be misleading. This paper discusses the variability associated with carbon footprints of agricultural products and considers the value of carbon labelling. We suggest that carbon footprinting is a useful approach that will assist in the transition to a low carbon society but that current approaches to carbon labelling may not help consumers understand the carbon burden of agricultural products

Topics: S1, HN, GE
Publisher: Association of Applied Biologists
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2186

Suggested articles

Preview

Citations

  1. (2008). Carbon labelling and Tesco. doi
  2. Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Food Commodities Procured for UK Consumption through a Diversity of Supply Chains. Final Report of Defra Project FO0103.
  3. (2006). Determining the environmental burdens and resource use in the production of agricultural and horticultural commodities.
  4. (1996). Direct emission of nitrous oxide from agricultural soils. doi
  5. (2003). Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in fertiliser production.
  6. (2006). Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Volume 4. Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use. doi
  7. (2008). PAS2050. Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas missions of goods and services. doi
  8. The use of environmental footprints in horticulture: Case studies. Final report of Defra project WU0114.
  9. (2008). Vulnerability of exporting nations to the development of a carbon label in the United Kingdom. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.