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Visualizing the Carbon Footprint of Consumer Products

by Michael McLaughlin
Spindle wheel of orange, gray, and blue graphs illustrating the carbon footprint of different products.

A researcher from Columbia University has created Carbon Catalogue, a tool that visualizes the carbon footprint of nearly 900 products from 28 countries. The tool displays the carbon footprint of a product during three lifecycle phases: upstream, such as when firms acquire the raw materials to make a product, manufacturing, and downstream, such as when a consumer uses a product. By visualizing the upstream and downstream emissions, users can see where there is the most room to reduce carbon emissions. For example, the visualization shows that over 95 percent of the carbon footprint for residential air conditioners comes in the downstream phase.

Take a look.

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