Title: Reliability of carbon footprint as a decision-making tool for product development - a critical review

Authors: Gregor Radonjič

Addresses: Faculty of Economics and Business Maribor, University of Maribor, Razlagova 14, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia

Abstract: Various methods exist for evaluating the environmental consequences of products. With climate change high up on the political and corporate agendas, carbon footprint (CF) calculations are in strong demand. However, there are certain serious shortcomings related to the CF concept which every practitioner and potential user should be aware of. Although building upon a life cycle approach, CF addresses only impacts on climate change that may give a misleading picture of the environmental impacts and shift environmental burdens to other impacted areas, thus leading to incomplete decisions for sustainable development policies. Another very important issue is how the CF results are presented to the customer. All these conceptual and methodological shortcomings demand better understanding of the value of CF results within product development and marketing activities. In addition, understanding of the uncertainties can be crucial for properly interpreting CF results.

Keywords: carbon footprint; life cycle assessment; LCA; product development; greenhouse gases; GHG emissions; climate change; environmental impact; green products; reliability; decision making; sustainable development; sustainability policies; marketing; uncertainties.

DOI: 10.1504/IJETM.2015.068972

International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management, 2015 Vol.18 No.2, pp.99 - 115

Received: 03 Dec 2013
Accepted: 14 Feb 2014

Published online: 23 Apr 2015 *

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