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Carbon Footprint

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Recently, “carbon footprint” has become as an extremely famous term that extensively use in the media, particularly, the United Kingdom (Wiedmann and Minx, 2008). This suggests that carbon footprint calculations are greatly needed as climate change is becoming more and more important to the political and collaborate agenda. However, the term “carbon footprint” has not been academically defined. This essay will first explain the background and then evaluate definitions in terms of what factors are used to measure and how they can be used to calculate the amount of carbon footprint.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases in the atmosphere that absorb and emit radiation, which raises the Earth temperature. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Although Wiedmann and Minx acknowledged that those elements all potentially cause global warming, they just include CO2 whilst calculating. This is because of the lack of carbon in other factors or the difficulties in quantifying. In an important step, Wiedmann and Minx (2008) officially defined the term “carbon footprint” as ‘a measure of the exclusive total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that is directly and indirectly caused by an activity or is accumulated over the life stages of a product’. This includes activities of every single person, whole community, goods, and services. Debate about the definition has inevitably continued.

Wright et al. (2011) suggested that both CO2 and CH4, which are carbon-based gases, should be used in measuring carbon footprint since the data is easy to collect. Williams et al. (2012) also agree with Wright et al. because they believe that it would be understandable, practical, and precise definition available. The implication of this determination is that the carbon footprint should become an inexpensive and effective measurement that can apply to many kinds of organization in the world like a basic standard.

Wiedmann and Wright also proposed that green house gases inclusion should be offered for full life estimation in order to supply a “climate footprint”. This name just shows the extra of noncarbon-based gases and includes all amount of gases that can be applied in the world’s climate change control.

In order to calculate carbon footprint accurately, any definition of it has to be translatable into variables that can be measured. However, according to Williams et al. (2012), it is better to determine carbon footprint by using one single element rather than using independent emissions quantities for each greenhouse gas.

Wiedmann,T.,&Minx,J.(2008). A definition of “carbon footprint”.In C. C. Pertsova (Ed.), Ecological economics research trends (pp. 1-11).Hauppause NY,USA: Nova Science Publisher. Retrieved October 3,2012.

Wright,L.A.,Kempp S.,& Williams,I. (2011). ‘arbon footprinting’: Towards a university accepted definition. Carbon Management, 2(1), 61-61.Retrieved April 21,2012

Williams, O., Kemp, S.Coello,J.Tunner,D.A.,&Wright,L.A.(2012). A beginer’s guide to carbon footprinting. Carbon Management, Special report, 3(1), 55-67

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