Our Man in Doha: Day Three - Carbon footprinting is an international pursuit

Day Three: Carbon footprinting is an international pursuit

I was delighted to speak at the EU pavilion this afternoon at the request of Minister Corrado Clini, the Italian Minister of the Environment, Land and Sea.

I spoke about the Carbon Trust's approach to carbon footprint measurement and certification, and the way in which we help companies realise business value from understanding the carbon implications of their organisational, supply chain and broader value chain carbon footprint.

I spoke alongside Matina Hauser, Coordinator of the Italian Ministry's Footprinting Taskforce, Paul Simpson, CEO of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Andre Correa do Lago, Director of the Department of the Environment and Special Affairs at Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Gianluigi Angelantoni, CEO of Archimede Solar Energy, an Italian CSP firm.

There's a lot of international interest in carbon footprinting, and the projects in Italy and Brazil are small but growing. Italy has helped develop lifecycle footprints for six different products, from organic t-shirts to Ferraris, and Brazil is working with Italy to bring over methodologies to assess their own domestic products and services. The incredible growth of the CDP shows that international corporate interest in footprint measurement is at an all-time high.

I was happy to describe the Carbon Trust's long history with footprinting and the successes and scale we've achieved. Back in 2008 we collaborated to create the world's first international standard for product carbon footprinting, PAS 2050.  For the first time, businesses had a robust, consistent standard for measuring the carbon footprint of their goods and services.  I also explained how we helped write the GHG Protocol Product Standard, and that we were the first company in the world to be accredited to certify carbon product footprints.  Now more than 27,000 product carbon footprints have been certified by the Carbon Trust and our Carbon Reduction Label appears on goods worth £3.3billion in annual sales.

What I think is particularly interesting is how footprinting might be used to help drive positive consumer choices when the footprint is given some context. Integrating product footprints with the idea of a Personal Carbon Allowance really helps contextualise the grams of CO2 in a glass of milk, for example. In the same way that Guideline Daily Amounts on nutritional information give context to the 8 grams of fat in a glass of milk (contextualised as 12% of your Guideline Daily Amount), so too might Personal Carbon Allowances give context to your consumer choices that have been footprinted. Suddenly the 400 grams of CO2 that went into your glass of milk represents 2% of your Guideline Daily Amount of carbon - a much more meaningful number.

But in the immediate term, there is lots of opportunity for other countries to benefit from the Carbon Trust's work in carbon footprint measurement and certification. There are billions of dollars worth of carbon saving opportunities to be had, and footprinting really lets you pinpoint where they are and how they can be affordably captured. The CDP showed that companies that pay attention to their footprints outperform those that don't, and the clear interest of Italy and Brazil shows that they want to get in on the game too. As they say, you can't manage what you don't measure, and footprinting helps you get the most business value out of reducing emissions.

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