Products or product constellations?
A heated discussion has been bubbling over at work regarding life-cycle and/or supply chain emissions [reductions] and the methods by which companies should capture and report these. So take an LCA perspective of product X. You will begin and end with a set of processes, materials, and energies ‘consumed’ across the product’s life cycle – all positive emissions resulting in a net consumption of materials/energy. But what happens if you take a systems approach, charting a business-as-usual (BAU) trajectory, and then compare the life cycle impacts of your product versus some alternative end-state? This is no arcane concept only to be appreciated by Saul Kripke’s fanclub, but rather a method that resembles how CDM-derived credits are quantified. For example, if I am an ICT company producing teleconference software that encourages people to avoid (inter)national travel and in-person conferences, then can I claim those avoided emissions as a net reduction across my own inventory’s supply chain? Companies are already doing this, such as Bayer whose CDP6 Scope 3 reporting is about -9x their combined Scope 1 and Scope 2. At first glance this appears reasonable – reward companies who are helping drive a carbon-constrained economy – but the fact remains that Bayer is not in the business of sequestration and therefore negative emissions contradict the reality that their supply chain consumes fuel, burns electricity, and turns gears, all which contribute positive emissions. A similar example can be made with building insulation. If it weren’t installed, then the building would consume more energy in heating and cooling, negating the energy consumed in the insulation’s manufacture and then some: three to one, so reports BASF. A counterargument: if I didn’t buy BASF insulation, then I would’ve bought Polyiso, so then is it fair for that particular company to receive credit against an uninsulated building’s expected emissions when in actuality there were alternatives? If you extend this line of reasoning to transportation, you’ll quickly see a pessimistic, and more pessimistic view of hybrids. On the one hand, sure – your fuel economy is higher than average, but you’re still burning fuel. And on the other, you could’ve bought a bicycle.
The (carbon) label says it all
Leaving the rest of the country in its carbon-constrained dust yet again, California introduced the Carbon Labeling Act of 2009 earlier this month which will require the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to “develop and implement a program for the voluntary assessment, verification, and standardized labeling of the carbon footprint, as defined, of consumer products sold in this state.”
Shenzhen: 1, Detroit: 0
A news clip you’re unlikely to hear over the post-Corker grumblings and White House scurrying is the retail launch of the F3e hybrid car by Chinese auto manufacturer BYD.
Climate Change Photography[!(https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/186/453777277_1592d54e7f_m.jpg?w=712)](http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrecawagas/453777277/ "photo sharing") (http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrecawagas/453777277/)
What can a single company do? or, A whole lotta carbon
I’ve been spending much of the past few days reviewing the CDP6 responses that include Scope 3 “indirect” emissions. As a brief backgrounder, the Scope 1, 2, and 3 terminology was adopted by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol‘s Corporate Standard, and revised as “direct” and “indirect” emissions in the ISO 14064 documents. The emissions caused by facilities owned and operated by a company are classified as Scope 1, purchased electricity and steam as Scope 2, and emissions related to a company’s activities but not taking place at owned or operated facilities are Scope 3. You could therefore refer to the Scope 3 inventory as the emissions due to a company’s supply chain, both upstream and downstream.