Project at a Glance

Title: Retail climate change mitigation: life-cycle emission and energy efficiency labels and standards

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Horvath, Arpad

Contractor: UC Berkeley

Contract Number: 07-322

Research Program Area: Climate Change, Economic Analysis

Topic Areas: Behavioral Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Strategies for reducing the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of products are receiving increasing attention around the world as climate change mitigation policy options. One notable example is the use of product “carbon footprint” labels, the purpose of which is to provide consumers with enabling information for low-carbon purchasing decisions. This project developed a multi-region input-output (MRIO) based life-cycle assessment (LCA) model for California to explore the role that product life-cycle carbon labels and efficiency standards might play in reducing the state’s annual GHG emissions. The California MRIO LCA model was applied to estimate the life-cycle GHG emissions of 22 different products in the state, and was further coupled with life-cycle design and technology improvement analyses to estimate the GHG emissions that might be realized for each product under different scenarios. The results suggest that energy-using devices and animal-based food items offered the greatest potential reductions among the products considered, that services might be overlooked as a supply chain GHG emissions reduction opportunity, and that purchase volume, market uptake, and stock turnover considerations are key characteristics affecting the identified GHG emissions reduction opportunities. Data uncertainties were found to be a key issue for conducting such analyses. The methods developed in this study could provide the state with valuable screening capabilities for identifying products and services that hold the greatest potential for in-state emissions reductions under life-cycle GHG emissions policy initiatives.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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