The Carbon Footprint of Municipalities

A consumption-based account of greenhouse gas emissions reveals true climate impacts of public services. Analysis based on the environmental impacts of consumption often focuses on household consumption. Some consumption, however, is provided by public authorities and paid for through taxes, not prices. Education, health care, elderly care, street cleaning and - important for Norway! - snow plowing are examples for that. What are the environmental impacts of these activities. In a series of papers, my [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:08+00:00 December 13th, 2010|New Research|0 Comments

Recognition for the Carbon Footprint

NATURE recently recognized the work presented in this web page, and more specifically the Carbon Footprint of Nations paper. In the category 'Community choice - the most viewed papers in science', the paper was reviewed under the title Where greenhouse gases start. At the same time, we got word that the Resource Panel Report Priority Products and Materials - which triggered the work presented here - has been downloaded over half a million times from the UNEP webservers since [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:08+00:00 December 13th, 2010|Reflexions|0 Comments

Contributing to the IPCC

I have the great honor to be selected to serve on the IPCC as lead author of the fifth assessment report. It has always been my desire to contribute to addressing environmental problems. Climate Science is fascinating – the ways scientists have found to tease out evidence about past climate are amazing. It is scary to see how the various pieces of the puzzle – not all of them yet found or correctly placed – [...]

By | 2013-03-26T09:03:44+00:00 July 30th, 2010|Uncategorized|0 Comments

UN Resource Panel highlights food and fossil fuel as global problems

It was my big day in Brussels: The deputy director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Angela Kropper, and the EU's Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, were there for the launch of our report, The Environmental Impact of Production and Consumption: Priority Products and Materials. It was the request for the report that prompted me to work on the Carbon Footprint of Nations. The report was written by a working group of the Resource Panel and published [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:08+00:00 June 30th, 2010|Reflexions|0 Comments

Carbon footprint calculation methods matter for policy

Recently, the idea of monitoring the carbon footprint of a nation as one option for climate policy has found its way into the legislative process in the UK. A Private Members Bill has been put forward in the House of Lords – the Bill seeks to put in place a consumer emissions target (the current UK Climate Change Act which sets an 80% reduction target only addresses production, i.e. territorial, emissions). Lord Teverson who initiated the bill said: "The [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 April 9th, 2010|Reflexions|0 Comments

Top Environmental Policy Paper

The Carbon Footprint of Nations has been recognized as the Top Environmental Policy Paper in 2009 by Environmental Science & Technology (announcement). It is a big honor for us to win that award. ES&T is the most important journal in environmental science and environmental technology, publishing 1500 papers in 2009. We were apparently among 80 papers nominated for the award. Most likely, the popular appeal and policy relevance of our paper was an important factor in our favor. We have previously [...]

By | 2013-03-26T09:03:44+00:00 March 11th, 2010|Reflexions|0 Comments

Carbon Footprint – Updated

A recent update of our study on the carbon footprint of nations highlights the role of China, Russia, the USA and the EU. Steven Davis and Ken Caldeira have just published an analysis of the carbon footprint of nations using the GTAP 7 database, allowing for a comparison of the years 2004 and 2001. The paper published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS for short) uses the same methods, research questions and data [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 March 11th, 2010|New Research|0 Comments

Sharing the atmosphere

The Climate Conference in Copenhagen has ended as expected: with a political declaration instead of a legally binding agreement. Nonetheless, there seems to be wide-spread disappointment among the public. Commentators are busy portioning out blame for the failure of the negotiations, where the U.S., China, and the unwieldy UN procedures receive the largest shares. Those involved in the negotiations process see Copenhagen as a stepping stone rather than a finish line: they point out that the Copenhagen Accord keeps going the process towards [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 December 28th, 2009|Reflexions|0 Comments

“Exported Emissions” at COP15

The Guardian and industry actors call for considering Carbon Embodied in Trade as part of a climate deal at Copenhagen. On December 7, 2009, 56 newspapers from 20 countries published a joint editorial calling world leaders to use the 14 days of climate negotiations in Copenhagen in order to come to an effective and fair agreement to limit climate change. At the time I am writing this, it is too early to see whether the call will [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 December 14th, 2009|Reflexions|0 Comments

The Environmental Footprint of Biofuels

A new UN report emphasizes the importance of addressing land use, water, and biodiversity impacts of biofuels. The jury is now in on biofuels: Current government mandates in the United States, Europe and other countries to blend biofuels into ordinary car fuels cause substantial environmental damage, do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and have a questionable contribution to energy security. A new UN report and a new book document many, sometimes fascinating facets of this intricate issue. There [...]

By | 2017-11-08T21:16:09+00:00 November 15th, 2009|Scientific Issues|0 Comments