(Current Affairs) Environment- "Concept of Carbon Footprint"


Concept of Carbon Footprint:

  • Carbon footprint is a measure of-The amount of CO2 emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels; in case of an organization, business or enterprise as a part of their everyday operation; in the case of an individual or household as a part of their daily lives; or in case of a product or commodity in reaching the market. In other words, the total amount of GHG emission caused directly or indirectly by an individual, organization, events or products is called "Carbon Footprint" of that entity. A carbon footprint is expressed as tons of carbon dioxide (C02) or tons of carbon emitted usually on yearly basis. A ton of carbon dioxide is released when we for example travel 5000 miles in an airplane or drive 2,500 miles in a medium - sized car, or cut down and burn a tree that was about 1 foot in diameter and 40 foot tall.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Fossil Fuels Burning in Top Ten Countries, 2006
Country Emissions Share of Global Total

Million Tons of Carbon Percent
United States 1,656 19.8
China 1,480 17.7
Russia 437 5.2
India 391 4.7
Japan 342 4.1
Germany 221 2.6
Canada 177 2.1
United Kingdom 171 2.0
South Korea 130 1.6
Mexico 123 1.5
All Other Countries 3,249 38.8
Global Total 8,379 100.0
  • Carbon footprint consists of two parts – The Direct/ Primary footprint and Indirect/ Secondary footprint.
  • The Primary footprint is a measure of direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumption and transportation (e.g. car and Plane).

  • The secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect CO2 emissions from the whole lifecycle of products that are used. These are associated with their manufacture and breakdown. For a country the total amount of CO2 release is associated with the carbon foot print of the individuals and business houses that belong to that country.

  • Carbonyatra.com, India's only carbon emissions news and information portal, launched the country's first carbon footprint calculator on 22nd August 2007. This will enable Indians and everyone worldwide to check, calculate and offset their carbon emissions and fight global warning.

Offsetting carbon and obtaining credits for reduction of carbon emissions by adopting "flexible mechanisms:

  • Under Kyoto Protocol, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) members is divided into two groups: Annex 1 countries include mainly the OECD and eastern European industrialized countries and the Non Annex-l countries are the developing economic.

  • Three emission trading based 'flexibility mechanisms' were adopted to help in minimizing the global economic cost of achieving The agreed emission reductions. They are namely:

  • International emission trading that would involve the transfer of the Assigned Amounts Units (AAU) among the Annex 1 countries.

  • Joint Implementation (JI) involves project based activities undertaken between Annex 1 countries.

  • Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) involves emission reduction projects undertaken in non Annex- 1 countries. For each tonne of CO2 that an industry in the developing world saves by adopting cleaner technology or energy efficiency or shifting to non-conventional sources of energy generation, the United Nation's body on climate change gives a certificate called Certified Emission Reduction (CER) to the concerned industry. The company receiving the CER can sell the surplus credits (collected by surpassing the emission reduction targets) if any, to entities in the developed countries either immediately or through a future market at a price that is mutually agreed upon by both the parties involved in the deal. In the process the entities in the developed countries find it cheaper to buy "offsetting" certificates rather than achieving emission reductions in their own backyard.

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