Universal Carbon Accounting for UK Products

The public are eager to help the world transition into a post-carbon society, but many feel disconnected from those in power making decisions about our future. I propose that we make use of the publics support through a policy decision - adopting universal carbon accounting and requiring all products to display their carbon footprint. Operating in a similar manner to the traffic light labels on food products, this would allow consumers to know whether or not the product theyre purchasing had a significant negative impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Firstly, its essential to establish the necessary infrastructure to allow companies to calculate their carbon footprint - if it isnt simple to do then there will be significant resistance. I would suggest an independent carbon accounting regulator to ensure that all calculations are done in the same way and with the same categorisation; carbon accounting is difficult and complex, but even if there are errors it will all be relative and therefore usable. To ease the transition, I suggest that the calculator be set up and run for a trial period - allowing companies to opt-in, perhaps offering financial incentives or simply for the positive publicity.

Once any issues have been resolved and trial companies are happy with the process, its time to legislate and make this mandatory. I believe that consumers, now knowledgeable of climate change thanks to the increase in activism, will steer towards products with a low carbon footprint. This significantly reduces demand for the products with high carbon footprints, forcing companies to change their production methods and sources in order to lower their carbon footprint. As a result, this should cause an exponential decrease in emissions by UK companies. If the scheme is successful, it may be repeated in other countries - resulting in a worldwide decrease.




Trigger (intervention)




Feedback Dynamics


Timescale and scaleability





William Brown

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