Want to know how many calories are in a serving from that box of cereal? Simply turn it over and you can read a wealth of information: calories, fat, fiber, nutrients. But what if you’d like to know how much carbon was emitted to produce your breakfast? Currently, you’re out of luck. But an article in Nature Climate Change argues that labeling products—from food to household products—with their carbon footprint could reduce emissions over time as consumers and companies react to better environmental transparency. A ‘carbon footprint’ measures the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted to produce a product or service.
“Even modest changes in the household sector could significantly reduce emissions. A carbon-labeling program could reduce carbon emissions in two ways: By influencing consumer choices and by encouraging firms to identify efficiencies throughout the supply chain,” wrote Thomas Dietz, a professor of sociology with Michigan State University’s Environmental Science and Policy Program.
The biggest stumbling block for consumers, according to the paper, is not a desire to make greener choices but a dearth in information.
“Providing information would lower this barrier, allowing consumers to make more informed choices without substantial effort,” explains Dietz
Carbon labeling would not only better inform consumers of their choices, but could also help companies save money by finding ways to run their business more efficiently and to be rewarded by consumers for their efforts. Such labeling could also bypass government sluggishness on climate change, as “private carbon-labeling program for consumer products could help fill the policy gap”.
According to the paper, carbon labeling will not fix climate change, but it will help move society in the right direction.
(03/15/2011) Do you have the right to know whether the chocolate bar you’re munching on includes palm oil, which is blamed for vast deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia? How about that frozen pizza? According to a coalition of environmental and conservation groups it’s time for food manufacturers to add palm oil to the label in Europe, instead of currently being listed as simply, and erroneously (palm kernels are fruits), ‘vegetable oil’.
(11/18/2010) Everyone knows books are made of paper, but few think of where that paper comes from. However, two new reports may change that. Both the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) have found that some paper used in books, including popular children’s books, is linked to forest devastation in Indonesian, even targeting endangered trees that have been harvested illegally.
(01/12/2010) Palm oil is one of the world’s most traded and versatile agricultural commodities. It can be used as edible vegetable oil, industrial lubricant, raw material in cosmetic and skincare products and feedstock for biofuel production. Growing global demand for palm oil and the ensuing cropland expansion has been blamed for a wide range of environmental ills, including tropical deforestation, peatland degradation, biodiversity loss and CO2 emissions. In response to these concerns, a group of stakeholders—including activists, investors, producers and retailers—formed the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to develop a certification scheme for palm oil produced through environmentally- and socially-responsible ways. It is widely anticipated that the creation of a premium market for RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) would incentivize palm oil producers to improve their management practices.