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Vínculo original en AlphaGalileo
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Friday, 4 de December de 2009
Monday, 7 de December de 2009
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Monday, 7 de December de 2009
New tool for climate calculations
Noble intentions are great stuff, but they do not automatically lead to the smartest actions, a fact that may be particularly true with respect to climate policy. Now, four current or former students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have found a way to help people and businesses make smart decisions when it comes to limiting their contribution to climate change.
The four, either graduates of or PhD candidates in NTNU's interdisciplinary Industrial Ecology Programme, have founded a company called MiSA, which has developed software called Klimakost (Climate Cost). Klimakost calculates the sum of direct and indirect emissions related to products and/or services from municipalities and companies. The tool is based on a combination of emission statistics and national economic transactions. The calculator enables people to determine which activities in both the public and private sector have the greatest environmental costs.
Fifty-six different kinds of businesses analysed
The software enables users to choose among 56 types of businesses and industries to see which activities or materials account for the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, if you work in the insurance industry, 20 per cent of the greenhouse "costs" of doing business come from heating, electricity and transport. In contrast, 40 per cent of the emissions in the insurance industry occur abroad, from activities such as producing the metals that are used to make computers or components of office furniture.
On their own, these findings may not seem to be that surprising, but the idea is to make it easier to make informed decisions, using a tool that shows you where the biggest benefits can be had from emission cuts.
One driver for the creation of the software is the increasing prevalence of "green" branding and carbon footprint accounting for common consumer products. Beginning in 2010, for example, France will require companies to inform French consumers the amount of emissions that their new TV has caused in China, if it is produced there.
Similar provisions are in the works in other EU countries. This poses a potential financial risk to businesses that aren't prepared to address the requirements. The climate summit in Copenhagen may further add to the impetus to create carbon labels or green branding. There may also be a push from China to get buyers of finished products to pay their fair share of greenhouse gas emissions that result from the production of the product in the countries where it is manufactured.
The tool can also be useful in green procurement, an issue that the international furniture store IKEA has begun to address.
Life cycle analysis
Klimakost considers emissions from the entire value chain, from cradle to grave. It was developed with support from Innovation Norway. The emissions model is based on statistics from Statistics Norway, and includes exchanges between sectors of the economy, imports and exports to other countries, and national emissions figures. The technical term for such a model is input-output analysis.
Analysts can use the MiSA emission model in the public sector in combination with figures from a municipal management tool called Kostra. When a single company asks for help, MiSA can connect the model with the company's own accounting system.
Still in the early stages
The four NTNU graduates or students, Johan Pettersen, PhD; Christian Solli, MS; and Hogne Nersund Larsen and Håvard Bergsdal, both PhD candidates, are still in the early phases of getting their new company up and running. But the group hopes that their model will help politicians make informed decisions when choosing green technologies for investment. For example, they say, 10 busses that burn biofuel may garner a great deal of attention, but a city may get much more environmental benefit out of upgrading an entire municipal fleet so that it is more fuel-efficient.