The Global Ecology department's Ken Caldeira and Steven Davis commend the work of industrial ecologist Glen Peters and colleagues, published in the same journal late last month, and use that team's data to do additional analysis on the disparity between emissions and consumption in different parts of the world.
Caldeira and Davis point out that carbon is released at many stages of the production process including the energy used in creating each component of a product, CO2 released in making the manufacturing equipment, and carbon released by vehicles transporting factory workers to and from their jobs.
"Very quickly, we see that nothing exists in isolation and that to understand how much emission can be related to any particular action, we must have a reasonable accounting system that allocates total CO2 emissions to specific actions," Caldeira said. "The accounting system must conform to our intuitions about how responsibility should be shared among participants in complex systems."
Caldeira and Davis say Peters and his team are leaders in asking questions about how much CO2 consumption in the United States and other developed countries—used here to signify nations that made commitments under the Kyoto Protocol— is supported by CO2 in developing countries.
The earlier PNAS-published study looked at the impact of goods and services that were consumed in developed countries, but produced in developing ones. Peters and team found decreased emissions in the former since 1990, and increased emissions in the latter. But when emissions from the production of goods were transferred to the place where the goods were consumed, then the trend in developed countries was reversed.
The Carnegie scientists took this data and broke it down in terms of per-capita and per-dollar gross domestic product. They found that on a per-capita basis the average person in developed countries is responsible for more CO2 emissions than his or her counterpart in the developing world. And the amount of CO2 emitted per dollar of GDP is improving at similar rates between the two categories.
Caldeira and Davis concluded that "the focus on territorial emissions … has perhaps led us to underemphasize the role of consumption of goods and services in driving these emissions. It is important to look at all drivers of emissions, as everyone along the supply chain has a vested interest in the benefits that accrue from our fossil-fueled global economy."
The Department of Global Ecology was established in 2002 to help build the scientific foundations for a sustainable future. The department is located on the campus of Stanford University, but is an independent research organization funded by the Carnegie Institution. Its scientists conduct basic research on a wide range of large-scale environmental issues, including climate change, ocean acidification, biological invasions, and changes in biodiversity.
The Carnegie Institution for Science (carnegiescience.edu) is a private, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with six research departments throughout the U.S. Since its founding in 1902, the Carnegie Institution has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.
Ken Caldeira | EurekAlert!
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences