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Consumption, carbon emissions and international trade
Date:5/9/2011

Palo Alto, CA Accurately calculating the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the process of producing and bringing products to our doorsteps is nearly impossible, but still a worthwhile effort, two Carnegie researchers claim in a commentary published online this week by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The Global Ecology department's Ken Caldeira and Steven Davis commend the work of industrial ecologist Glen Peters and colleagues, published in the same journal late last month, and use that team's data to do additional analysis on the disparity between emissions and consumption in different parts of the world.

Caldeira and Davis point out that carbon is released at many stages of the production process including the energy used in creating each component of a product, CO2 released in making the manufacturing equipment, and carbon released by vehicles transporting factory workers to and from their jobs.

"Very quickly, we see that nothing exists in isolation and that to understand how much emission can be related to any particular action, we must have a reasonable accounting system that allocates total CO2 emissions to specific actions," Caldeira said. "The accounting system must conform to our intuitions about how responsibility should be shared among participants in complex systems."

Caldeira and Davis say Peters and his team are leaders in asking questions about how much CO2 consumption in the United States and other developed countriesused here to signify nations that made commitments under the Kyoto Protocol is supported by CO2 in developing countries.

The earlier PNAS-published study looked at the impact of goods and services that were consumed in developed countries, but produced in developing ones. Peters and team found decreased emissions in the former since 1990, and increased emissions in the latter. But when emissions from the production of goods were transferred to the place where the goods were co
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Contact: Ken Caldeira
kcaldeira@carnegie.stanford.edu
650-704-7212
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert

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