“When you look at food in a grocery store, one item may be very low carbon and one may be very high and right now you just don’t know. A global private labeling system would give you information on the carbon associated with the various products you might buy,” said Michael Vandenbergh, environmental law professor at Vanderbilt Law School and director of the Climate Change Research Network.
Vandenbergh and co-authors Thomas Dietz of Michigan State University and Paul Stern of the U.S. National Research Council believe adding carbon labels to products could put power in consumer’s hands to not only buy products with a lower carbon footprint, but also influence how businesses produce, package and transport products, thus leading to lower carbon emissions. Their commentary is published in the premier issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, published April, 2011.BENEFITS TO COMPANIES
“Research shows that when a firm begins to study where the carbon is coming from in its supply chain, it will often find efficiencies in the supply chain it didn’t know existed,” said Vandenbergh. “For many companies, they will find that there are energy efficiency savings there— which mean cost savings— and they will begin to act in part because they want to provide consumers with what they want and part because it’s simply cheaper for the business to operate.”HOW WOULD A CARBON LABEL WORK?
One version of a carbon footprint label currently on some products in the United Kingdom was established by the non-profit Carbon Trust. The goal of their label is to show the volume of greenhouse gasses emitted during a product’s lifecycle, also known as its carbon footprint. The label also shows that a company is working to reduce that carbon footprint number within two years.
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