Chapter 1.9: Carbon Footprints

Because of global concerns about climate change and the need to reduce emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to climate change, there have been many different attempts to quantify and describe the various sources of those emissions.  A carbon footprint estimates the amount of carbon released from the production, transport, and use of a product.  But carbon footprints can also be calculated for individuals, organizations, or events. 

These assessments can allow us to look at the cumulative contribution of our lifestyle to carbon emissions and evaluate which of our actions contribute the most.  Perhaps what is most interesting about carbon footprints is that they allow us to quantify our personal responsibility in contributing to climate change.  As a result of recent global agreements to slow the progress of climate change, it is likely that ever-increasing attention will be paid to where GHGs are coming from. Individuals skilled in “carbon accounting” should have excellent professional opportunities in the future, as businesses gear up to meet the carbon-cutting challenge.



Background Materials:

For a general overview of carbon footprints, see:

A carbon footprinting guide from the Carbon Trust:

Some general carbon footprint tidbits from

Textbook References and Links:

Carbon footprint calculators: 

Cheah et al. article on manufacturing-focused emissions reductions in footwear production:


Downloadable data and files: NA