• Cautious welcome for new Carbon footprint specification

Air Clean Up

Cautious welcome for new Carbon footprint specification

Sep 07 2009

The eagerly awaited PAS 2050, a specification for carbon footprint analysis, was published in London on 29th October 2008. Dave Covell, a Principal at environmental consultancy firm ENVIRON has used the new standard for the last few weeks and says, "This is an excellent document which will provide a benchmark that will be used world-wide. We know that many businesses have been treading water, waiting for PAS 2050, but now that a common specification has been published, they can start work on the detailed analysis of their supply chains.”

This Publicly Available Specification (PAS) specifies requirements for the assessment of the GHG emissions associated with the life cycle of all goods and services. It is intended for application in businesses of all sizes and is designed to create a level playing field in carbon footprinting, ensuring that common methods of analysis lead to fair comparisons.

There are of course complications within the procedures which necessitate the involvement of appropriate expertise. For example, if a product is recycled, it may have a beneficial effect on overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but it should not be penalised as a result of its extended life.   Co-sponsored by the Carbon Trust and Defra, and published by the BSI, PAS 2050 was also designed to enable the identification of poorly performing elements of a product’s life cycle; those that result in the greatest emissions of GHGs.   A common approach to carbon footprint analysis will enable businesses to use carbon labelling, but Covell believes that this will not be the main benefit. He says, "In our experience, carbon footprint work often reveals inefficiencies and excessive energy consumption, so, by providing an accepted specification, PAS 2050 will help to deliver significant opportunities for cost reduction."

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