Four students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have developed software called Klimakost (Climate Cost) which calculates both the direct and indirect emissions in various products and services. Klimakost considers emissions from the entire value chain, from cradle to grave.
The tool is based on a combination of emission statistics and national economic transactions and enables people to determine which activities in both the public and private sector have the greatest environmental costs.
Users can choose from 56 types of businesses and industries. For example, in the insurance industry, 20% of the greenhouse ‘costs’ come from heating, electricity and transport, but 40% occur abroad in producing the metals that are used to make computers or components of office furniture.
The idea is to make it easier to make informed decisions. One driver has been the increasing use of ‘green’ branding and carbon footprint accounting for common consumer products. For example, in 2010 France will require companies to inform consumers of the amount of emissions that new products, such as TVs, have generated in manufacture, wherever that was.
An interesting addition to the tools required to calculate where emissions are really being made over a products life cycle, which will become an increasing focus in the years to come.