We are excited about launching this web site. Many years of our research have gone into developing models and analyzing data on the connection of industrial production, consumption and environmental pressures.
Profound insights have been gained, and an approach has matured which we think is indispensible to address climate change and resource scarcity. Now, we feel that the world really should pay attention! We want to use this website to communicate our research findings to a broader public and to enter into a dialogue with those interested.
Climate change is now increasingly acknowledged as the most urgent global environmental problem. Humans have changed the composition of the atmosphere in a manner that disturbs our planet’s energy exchange with the rest of the universe, thereby leading to a small but measurable increase in temperature on our planet. The main process by which we have changed the atmospheric composition is combustion. Combustion happens on fields, in industry, in stoves and car engines, mostly intentionally and for a specific purpose.
Our problem is that while politicians are waffling about how to address the climate challenge, the rate at which the concentration of greenhouse gases increase is itself increasing. Energy consumption increases, and the fraction of carbon dioxide absorbed by the biosphere and oceans may be going down. It is hence important to act – but to act, we need to know what to do.
The occasion of opening this website is the publication of a paper by Dr. Glen Peters and myself, modeling and analyzing the carbon footprint of 73 nations. Here you can find out whether, in your country, it is nutrition which contributes most to the average person’s footprint, housing or mobility. You can see how your country does, compared to others, and how much of the carbon footprint is due to imported goods.
Our main message is: all of our purchases are relevant to the climate. The attention often focuses on the direct use of energy. Yes, that is where we are causing the highest emissions of greenhouse gases per unit money spent. But on the aggregate, the emissions caused by the production of goods and services we consume are more important. We need to reduce both direct and indirect. We need to be careful that the reduction of direct emissions does not shift emissions elsewhere.
Of course, the problem is exceedingly complex, and there is much more to the story than the headline. I hope this website will be able to shed some light on important aspects that have often been overlooked.