Inititatives for Carbon Management Must Be Comprehensive and Attainable

By Daniel Stouffer

As carbon management becomes a familiar turf, it also becomes a real premise that the process of controlling and measurement of such carbon emissions is actually more complex than anyone could have imagined. Based on the studies by the Carnegie Institution for Science, up to 1/3 of carbon emissions consequent to good and services which are both consumed and bought in developed countries are really emitted outside borders.

Carbon management will not be effective unless it analyzes and seeks to control carbon emissions throughout the entire production and supply chain. This translates to the compelled accounting of carbon emissions associated with the development of any product at its early stages and nations need to closely examine the implications of buying such products in large quantities, without being responsible for the emissions caused by the production of such products.

As we all become more acclimatized to the issue of carbon management, so we come to a growing realization that measurement and control of such gases will be far more complex than people might have initially realized. This realization is backed up by a recent study produced by the Carnegie Institution for Science, which estimated that as much as one third of carbon dioxide emissions related to goods and services that are bought and consumed in developed countries may be actually emitted outside of territorial borders.

The Carnegie Institution for Science study reinforced the need for controversial policies like "cap and trade" to be reviewed, so that they take into account climate changing emissions that are evident when trading goods and services. It is becoming clear that more sophisticated carbon management tracking and software applications will be required, before truly accurate measurements can be asserted.

It has been concluded that fully 23% of all carbon dioxide related to fossil fuel production globally is emitted during the manufacturing production of goods destined for different countries. This would translate to the consequence of the consumer not being the one directly accountable for these GHG emissions. Carbon tracking schemes mostly focus on scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, and organizations track emissions directly from their own use of energy.

Most developed countries, including the United States, are "net" importers of carbon emissions. Approximately 6 gigatons of carbon are being releases during the production of products which are used in countries where these are not manufactured in.

Controversy reigns when it comes to carbon management and specifically measures to control and document these emissions. Many favor introduction of "cap and trade," in essence forcing companies to reduce their energy use and associated emissions due to an artificial ceiling and essential tax on emissions themselves. However, some are now calling for taxes on the importation of carbon intensive products, and therefore discouraging importation and protecting domestic industries from imports produced in countries that are not necessarily so "carbon aware."

We have seen Wal-Mart introduce a significant initiative to track emissions within their own supply chains. This very initiative is likely to have significant repercussions and to focus the attention of industry and government on supply-chain emissions. Carbon management systems will be crucial for organizations as they track not only "in-house" carbon emissions, but also those that occur beyond their immediate borders.

As an accord emerges from the recent Copenhagen Summit related to climate change, countries continue to debate legislative measures to help address carbon emissions. Most available carbon management software solutions are actually able to get integrated in the decision making process of any establishment as a tool for any organization's aims for sustainability.

Article by Daniel Stouffer
The Sustainability Resource Planning (SRP) platform delivers a broad range of enterprise solutions to over 40 global clients with a service network of over 7,500 consultants consisting of 65,000 application users. Verisae's software manages, and monetizes energy costs and carbon emissions while providing a rapid ROI. Learn more at

Consider a Donation

Donation Amount
Payment Method

Social Media

  • Fair Trade Community on Facebook
  • Fair Trade Community on Flickr
  • Fair Trade Community on Twitter
  • Fair Trade Community on YouTube