Development of 'Carbon Footprint' Concept and Its Utilization Prospects in the Agricultural and Forestry Sector

'탄소발자국' 개념의 발전 과정과 농림 부문에서의 활용 전망

Choi, Sung-Won;Kim, Hakyoung;Kim, Joon

  • Received : 2015.10.30
  • Accepted : 2015.12.15
  • Published : 2015.12.30


The concept of 'carbon footprint' has been developed as a means of quantifying the specific emissions of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) that cause global warming. Although there are still neither clear definitions of the term nor rules for units or the scope of its estimation, it is broadly accepted that the carbon footprint is the total amount of GHGs, expressed as $CO_2$ equivalents, emitted into the atmosphere directly or indirectly at all processes of the production by an individual or organization. According to the ISO/TS 14067, the carbon footprint of a product is calculated by multiplying the units of activity of processes that emit GHGs by emission factor of the processes, and by summing them up. Based on this, 'carbon labelling' system has been implemented in various ways over the world to provide consumers the opportunities of comparison and choice, and to encourage voluntary activities of producers to reduce GHG emissions. In the agricultural sector, as a judgment basis to help purchaser with ethical consumption, 'low-carbon agricultural and livestock products certification' system is expected to have more utilization value. In this process, the 'cradle to gate' approach (which excludes stages for usage and disposal) is mainly used to set the boundaries of the life cycle assessment for agricultural products. The estimation of carbon footprint for the entire agricultural and forestry sector should take both removals and emissions into account in the "National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report". The carbon accumulation in the biomass of perennial trees in cropland should be considered also to reduce the total GHG emissions. In order to accomplish this, tower-based flux measurements can be used, which provide a direct quantification of $CO_2$ exchange during the entire life cycle. Carbon footprint information can be combined with other indicators to develop more holistic assessment indicators for sustainable agricultural and forestry ecosystems.


Carbon footprint;Greenhouse Gases;Carbon lavelling;Life cycle assessment


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