The Carbon Footprint of… Everything

How do you know that concern about climate change has reached the mainstream? When a product's carbon footprint is a factor in every buying decision.

And how do you know the carbon footprint of a product? Through eco-labeling – a label disclosing the amount of energy used to produce the product, or the amount of CO2 that producing the product released into the atmosphere. The idea is similar to nutrition labeling – give consumers the knowledge they need to make informed choices.

Eco-labeling is springing up all over the place:

You can find more examples at Eco-Labels, the Consumers Union Guide to Environmental Labels.

While eco-labels are a great idea, there are two problems. Carbon footprints are complicated to assess, and without standardization and evaluation by a third party there's no way to know their accuracy. Also, without an industry-wide standard measure, you don't know whether a particular carbon footprint is good or bad – how it compares to other products in the same category. Still, you have to start somewhere and this is a good start!

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One Comment

  1. D. Chaundy
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Installing a new oil boiler could reduce the CO2 we emit. Can you give me some estimate of the CO2 emitted when a domestic sized boiler is manufactured, starting with the iron ore and ending with the finished product.

    I often doubt the benefit in changing from an old, working, device to a new, greener one but I cannot find any figures to estimate any in;crease, or decrease, in "greenness".
    David Chaundy

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