Carbon footprint

Report Release: Green Public Procurement for Curbing Carbon from Consumption

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Because public entities exercise large-scale purchasing power in contracts for goods, services, and construction of infrastructure, policies prioritizing environmentally and socially responsible purchasing can drive markets in the direction of sustainability. In fact, public procurement accounts for an average of 12 percent of GDP in OECD countries, and up to 30 percent of GDP in many developing countries. Significant GHG emissions are attributable to products and services that are commonly procured by governments, for example, large infrastructure such as roads, buildings and railways; public transport; and energy.

The European Commission defines green public procurement (GPP) as "…a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured".

A wide range of countries around the world practice some form of GPP to promote products and materials that are more environmentally friendly and have lower energy or carbon footprint.

This report looks at 30 of those programs, 22 of which are countries in Asia, Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Oceania, and five case-studies at the city and regional level, as well as GPP programs of three multi-lateral banks and the UN to promote sustainable production and consumption. Fifteen of the countries we reviewed are among the top 20 GHG-emitting nations. The GPP programs included in this study are at country-, state-, region-, or city- level.

To read the full report and see complete results and analysis, download the report from this link.

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What’s the Embodied Carbon in the U.S.-China Trade?

Authors: Ali Hasanbeigi, Daniel Moran

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President Donald Trump has just signed an executive order to levy tariffs on a wide range of Chinese products worth an estimated $50 billion. This will certainly have major trade implications not only between China and the U.S., but globally. Perhaps, that’s why a major sell-off is happening in global stock markets. We thought to take this opportunity to look at it from climate change perspective. Do you know what’s the embodied carbon in the trade between the U.S. and China?

In our recent study on Embodied Carbon in Globally Traded Goods funded by the ClimateWorks Foundation, Global Efficiency Intelligence, LLC. and KGM & Associate Ltd. used the most recent available data and a cutting-edge model (Eora MRIO) to conduct a global assessment of the extent of the embodied carbon in globally traded goods, so-called carbon loophole.

The graph below highlights our finding related to embodied carbon in the trade between U.S. and China in 2015. As it is illustrated, the embodied carbon in goods that U.S. imports from China is around 502 million ton of CO2, while the embodied carbon in goods China imports from the U.S. is around 67 million ton of CO2. Therefore, the net import of embodied carbon by the U.S. from China is around 435 million ton of CO2.

To put this number in perspective, the entire GHG emissions in California (the 5th largest economy in the world) in 2015 was 440 million ton of CO2.

Source: KGM & Associate and Global Efficiency Intelligence analysis   Figure. Embodied Carbon in the U.S.-China Trade in 2015 (Million ton CO2)

Source: KGM & Associate and Global Efficiency Intelligence analysis

Figure. Embodied Carbon in the U.S.-China Trade in 2015 (Million ton CO2)

It is hard, however, to quantify the carbon implication of this new U.S. tariff on imports from China without knowing the exact list of products affected and how the tariff will change the trade balance between the U.S. and China.

A tool like the U.S. tariff on imports could be good for the climate and the economy if it was based on the carbon footprint of the goods imported and was not just implemented as a blanket tariff. In fact, California recently passed the Buy Clean legislation (AB 262), which calls for the state to create rules for the procurement of infrastructure materials (steel, glass, etc.) purchased with state funds that take into account pollution levels during production. This could be an example of environmental- and climate-friendly procurement and trade tariffs that level the playing field and can benefit both industry and the environment and incentivize high polluting companies that are out-of-state or out-of-country to clean up their production in order to be able to trade with these states or countries.

Our study on Embodied Carbon of Globally Traded Goods which includes results for trade between other countries and regions of the world will be published in April 2018.

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Infographic: The Embodied Carbon in Global Steel and Cement Trade

Authors: Ali Hasanbeigi, Daniel Moran, Prodipto Roy

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President Trump just signed an executive order to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports to the U.S. While many people are discussing how this can lead to a trade war between certain nations, we decided to take a look at it through the lens of embodied carbon in traded goods.

The UNFCCC’s greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting system works on the basis of national production rather than consumption of emissions. This means that when goods are traded, their embodied emissions (e.g. emissions associated with manufacture) are also traded. However, these imported emissions are not counted towards a country’s reported climate impacts. It is estimated that around 25% of global CO2 emissions comprise goods and services which have been internationally traded.

In the recent study on Embodied Carbon in Globally Traded Goods funded by the ClimateWorks Foundation, Global Efficiency Intelligence, LLC. and KGM & Associate Ltd. use the most recent available data and a cutting-edge model to conduct a global assessment of the extent of the embodied carbon in globally traded goods, so-called carbon loophole. In addition, we have conducted a series of higher-resolution, deeper dive case studies into a few key sectors and geographies of most importance, including steel and cement.

The infographic below summarizes some of our key findings related to deep-dive analysis we conducted for embodied carbon in global steel and cement trade. As it is illustrated, steel trade accounts for a significant amount of embodied carbon in trade. Even though China doesn’t feature in the top three steel import sources for the United States (Canada, Brazil, and South Korea occupy the top three spots), China still accounts for 40% of carbon embodied in the global commodity steel extra-regional trade, and 27% of carbon embodied in overall commodity steel trade.

One of the frustrations of U.S. steelmakers, which led to their support of the U.S. tariff, was China systematically overproducing subsidized steel and flooding the international markets. Furthermore, many steel manufacturers in China and other steel exporting countries like the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) produce a comparable unit of steel using significantly more carbon and energy than their cleaner counterparts in their own country or region. We see this disparity of carbon use in production not only in countries like China but also within different states in the U.S.

A tool like the U.S. tariff on steel imports could be good for the climate and the economy if it was based on the carbon footprint of the steel imported and was not just implemented as a blanket tariff. In fact, California recently passed the Buy Clean legislation (AB 262), which calls for the state to create rules for the procurement of infrastructure materials (including steel) purchased with state funds that take into account pollution levels during production. This could be an example of environmental- and climate-friendly procurement and trade tariffs that level the playing field and can benefit both industry and the environment and incentivize high polluting companies that are out-of-state or out-of-country to clean up their production in order to be able to trade with these states or countries.

The study on Embodied Carbon of Globally Traded Goods will be published in September 2018.

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Is Trump's Steel Trade War Good for the Climate?

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President Trump just suggested to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports. While there are mix reactions to this announcement and many say it can lead to a trade war, I thought to look at it from climate change point of view. Is a U.S. tariff on steel imports good for the climate? The answer is it depends on where we are importing steel from. I will discuss this in more details below. According to USGS, U.S. imported around 36 million ton of steel in 2017, which equals to about 43% of total steel production in the U.S. that year.

Iron and steel production is an energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) intensive manufacturing process. Two types of steel production dominate the industry: blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace (BF/BOF) and electric arc furnace (EAF) production. BF/BOF production uses iron ore to produce steel. The reduction of iron ore to iron in a BF is the most energy-intensive process within the steel industry. EAF production re-melts mainly scrap to produce steel. BF/BOF production is more energy intensive and emits more GHG than EAF production.

A few years ago, when I was working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, I led a study to compare the CO2 intensity of steel production in four major steel producing countries: China, Germany, Mexico, and the U.S. We defined a similar boundary for the steel industry in these countries and adjusted the CO2 intensity based on net import of fuel and intermediary products (e.g. net imported pig iron, direct-reduced iron (DRI), pellets, lime, oxygen, ingots, blooms, billets, and slabs). The result of our study is presented in the graph below. More results and scenario analysis can be found in the report we published (see link at the bottom). Our analysis used 2010 data because that was the latest year for which the data were available for all four countries at the time of the study.

Figure. CO2 intensity of the iron and steel industry in China, Germany, Mexico, and the U.S. in 2010 (Hasanbeigi et al. 2016)

Figure. CO2 intensity of the iron and steel industry in China, Germany, Mexico, and the U.S. in 2010 (Hasanbeigi et al. 2016)

As can be seen from the Figure above, China has the highest and Mexico has the lowest total steel industry CO2 intensity. The total CO2 intensity of the Chinese steel industry is almost twice that of the Mexican steel industry. Two main reasons for low total CO2 intensity in Mexico’s steel industry are: a) Mexico has the largest share of EAF steel production among the four countries studied (69% in 2010), and b) Mexico’s steel industry consumes a larger share of natural gas compared to that in other countries studied. This results in a lower average emissions factor for fuels in Mexico. Another interesting point to note is that the total CO2 intensity of the German steel industry is 2% lower than that of the U.S. which is remarkable given that, in 2010, Germany had a lower share of EAF steel production (30% of total production) than the U.S. (61% of total production). However, it should be noted that the U.S. steel industry would have had lower CO2 intensity if we had not adjusted for net import of intermediary products to the steel industry, but that would have not been an accurate comparison. 

Our analysis also showed that the CO2 intensity of BF/BOF steel production alone in the U.S. is significantly higher than that in other three countries. This could be because of various reasons such as older BF/BOF plants and lower penetration of some major energy efficiency technologies such as coke dry quenching (CDQ) and top-pressure recovery turbine (TRT) in blast furnaces, etc.

Some of the key factors influencing the CO2 intensities of the steel industry are: share of EAF from total steel production, the age of steel manufacturing facilities in each country, the level of penetration of energy-efficient technologies, the scale of production equipment, the fuel shares in the iron and steel industry, the steel product mix in each country, the CO2 emissions factor of electricity grid, etc.

Figure below shows the Top 10 countries from which U.S. imported steel in 2014.

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Even though our aforementioned study did not include all the countries from which U.S. imports steel, many of them are known for having low energy and carbon intensive steel industry and/or having high EAF steel production share, which helps to reduce the CO2 intensity of their entire steel industry. Figure below shows the share of EAF steel production (one of the key factors influencing overall CO2 intensity of the steel industry in a country) in top 10 counties from which U.S. imports steel.

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It worth mentioning that U.S. also exported around 11 million ton of steel in 2017, around 90% of which went to Canada and Mexico. In fact, even though Canada and Mexico are among top countries from which U.S. imports steel, U.S. export more steel to Canada and Mexico than imports from them. Therefore, imposing steel import tariffs for these two countries does not seem to be effective.

To sum up, the U.S. tariff on steel imports can be good for the climate if it is based on carbon footprint of the steel imported and not just a blanket tariff. In fact, state of California recently passed a Buy Clean regulation, which calls for the state to create rules for the procurement of infrastructure materials (including steel) purchased with state funds that take into account pollution levels during production. It was one of the rare cases where both environmentalist and industry advocates agreed and backed the regulation. This could be an example of environmental- and climate-friendly procurement and trade tariffs that can benefit both industry and the environment and incentivize high polluting companies that are out-of-state or-country to clean up their production in order to be able to trade with these states or countries.

Needless to say, an import tariff on steel could result in a major trade war that will include other industrial sectors and products.

More details of our steel industry CO2 intensity comparison analysis and results are presented in the report that is published on LBNL’s website and can be downloaded from this Link.

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Also read our related blog posts:

Some of our related publications are:

  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Arens, Marlene; Rojas-Cardenas, Jose; Price, Lynn; Triolo, Ryan. (2016). Comparison of Carbon Dioxide Emissions Intensity of Steel Industry in China, Germany, Mexico, and the United States. Resources, Conservation and Recycling. Volume 113, October 2016, Pages 127–139
  • Zhang, Qi; Hasanbeigi, Ali; Price, Lynn; Lu, Hongyou; Arens, Marlen (2016).  A Bottom-up Energy Efficiency Improvement Roadmap for China’s Iron and Steel Industry up to 2050. Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. LBNL- 1006356
  • Morrow, William; Hasanbeigi, Ali; Sathaye, Jayant; Xu, Tengfang. 2014. Assessment of Energy Efficiency Improvement and CO2 Emission Reduction Potentials in India’s Cement and Iron & Steel Industries. Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume 65, 15 February 2014, Pages 131–141
  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Price, Lynn, Aden, Nathaniel; Zhang Chunxia; Li Xiuping; Shangguan Fangqin. 2014. Comparison of Iron and Steel Production Energy Use and Energy Intensity in China and the U.S. Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 65, 15 February 2014, Pages 108–119
  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Morrow, William; Sathaye, Jayant; Masanet, Eric; Xu, Tengfang. (2013). A Bottom-Up Model to Estimate the Energy Efficiency Improvement and CO2 Emission Reduction Potentials in the Chinese Iron and Steel Industry. Energy, Volume 50, 1 February 2013, Pages 315-325
  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Arens, Marlene; Price, Lynn; (2013). Emerging Energy Efficiency and CO2 Emissions Reduction Technologies for the Iron and Steel Industry. Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory BNL-6106E.

References

  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Arens, Marlene; Rojas-Cardenas, Jose; Price, Lynn; Triolo, Ryan. (2015). Comparison of Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions Intensity of the International Iron and Steel Industry: Case Studies from China, Germany, Mexico, and the United States
  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Arens, Marlene; Rojas-Cardenas, Jose; Price, Lynn; Triolo, Ryan. (2016). Comparison of Carbon Dioxide Emissions Intensity of Steel Industry in China, Germany, Mexico, and the United States. Resources, Conservation and Recycling. Volume 113, October 2016, Pages 127–139
  • USGS, 2018 and 2014. Iron and Steel
  • Buy Clean California. http://buycleancalifornia.org

Decarbonization Roadmap for California’s Cement and Concrete Industry

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The cement industry accounts for over 5 percent of current man-made carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. World cement demand and production are increasing; annual world cement production is expected to grow from approximately 4,100 million tonnes (Mt) in 2015 to around 4,800 Mt in 2030 and grow even further after that. The largest share of this growth will take place in developing countries, especially in the Asian continent.

According to USGS, United States produced around 86 Mt of cement in 2016 making it the third largest cement producer in the world after China and India. The state of California has 10 cement plants that together produced around 10 Mt of cement in 2015 making it the second largest cement producing state in the U.S. after Texas. This significant cement production in California is associated with a substantial energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state. The cement industry in California is the largest consumer of coal in the state. Therefore, there is a need to develop a roadmap on how to reduce energy use and GHG emissions related to cement and concrete production in California.

Given our extensive experience in this area, Global Efficiency Intelligence, LLC is conducting a study for the Sierra Club to develop a roadmap for decarbonizing California’s cement and concrete industry. In this study, we will look into current status of the cement and concrete production in California and conduct a benchmarking analysis for the energy use and emissions of the cement industry in California in comparison with some other key cement producing countries. In addition, we will look into options that can help to decarbonize the cement and concrete production in California such as energy efficiency, fuel switching, alternative raw material and products, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

Don't forget to Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to get the latest about our new blog posts, projects, and publications.

Also read our related blog posts:

Some of our related publications are:

  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Agnes Lobscheid; Hongyou, Lu; Price, Lynn; Yue Dai (2013). Quantifying the Co-benefits of Energy-Efficiency Programs: A Case-study for the Cement Industry in Shandong Province, China. Science of the Total Environment. Volumes 458–460, 1 August 2013, Pages 624-636.
  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Morrow, William; Masanet, Eric; Sathaye, Jayant; Xu, Tengfang. 2013. Energy Efficiency Improvement Opportunities in the Cement Industry in China. Energy Policy Volume 57, June 2013, Pages 287–297
  • Morrow, William; Hasanbeigi, Ali; Sathaye, Jayant; Xu, Tengfang. 2014. Assessment of Energy Efficiency Improvement and CO2 Emission Reduction Potentials in India’s Cement and Iron & Steel Industries. Journal of Cleaner Production. Volume 65, 15 February 2014, Pages 131–141
  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Menke, Christoph; Therdyothin, Apichit (2010). Technical and Cost Assessment of Energy Efficiency Improvement and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Potentials in Thai Cement Industry. Energy Efficiency. DOI 10.1007/s12053-010-9079-1
  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Menke, Christoph; Therdyothin, Apichit (2010). The Use of Conservation Supply Curves in Energy Policy and Economic Analysis: the Case Study of Thai Cement Industry. Energy Policy 38 (2010) 392–405
  • Hasanbeigi, Ali; Price, Lynn; Hongyou, Lu; Lan, Wang (2010). Analysis of Energy-Efficiency Opportunities for the Cement Industry in Shandong Province, China: A Case-Study of Sixteen Cement Plants. Energy-the International Journal 35 (2010) 3461-3473.

Infographic: Textile and Apparel Industry’s Energy and Water Consumption and Pollutions Profile

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Although the textile and apparel industry is not considered an energy-intensive industry, it comprises a large number of plants that, together, consume a significant amount of energy which result in substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions too. 



The textile and apparel industry and especially textile wet-processing is one of the largest consumers of water in manufacturing and also one of the main producers of industrial wastewater. Since various chemicals are used in different textile processes like pre-treatment, dyeing, printing, and finishing, the textile wastewater contains many toxic chemicals which if not treated properly before discharging to the environment, can cause serious environmental damage.

With global population growth and the emergence of fast fashion, the worldwide textile and apparel production are increasing rapidly. In 2014, an average consumer bought 60% more clothing compared to that in 2000, but kept each garment only half as long.

The Infographic below shows the Textile and Clothing Industry’s Energy and Water Consumption and Pollutions Profile.

Don't forget to Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to get the latest about our new blog posts, projects, and publications. Also see below our related publications and tools.

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Some of our related publications and tools are:

1.     Hasanbeigi, Ali; Price, Lynn; (2015). A Technical Review of Emerging Technologies for Energy and Water Efficiency and Pollution Reduction in the Textile Industry. Journal of Cleaner Production. 

2.   Hasanbeigi, Ali (2013). Emerging Technologies for an Energy-Efficient, Water-Efficient, and Low-Pollution Textile Industry. Berkeley, CA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. LBNL-6510E

3.     Hasanbeigi, Ali; Hasanabadi, Abdollah; Abdolrazaghi, Mohamad, (2012). Energy Intensity Analysis for Five Major Sub-Sectors of the Textile Industry. Journal of Cleaner Production 23 (2012) 186-194

4.     Hasanbeigi, Ali; Price, Lynn (2012). A Review of Energy Use and Energy Efficiency Technologies for the Textile Industry. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 16 (2012) 3648– 3665.

5.    Also, you can check out the Energy Efficiency Assessment and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Tool for the Textile Industry (EAGER Textile), which I developed a few years ago while still working at LBNL. EAGER Textile tool allows users to conduct a simple techno-economic analysis to evaluate the impact of selected energy efficiency measures in a textile plant by choosing the measures that they would likely introduce in a facility, or would like to evaluate for potential use.


Quantifying The Embodied Carbon Of Traded Goods

Author: Ali Hasanbeigi, Ph.D.

Globalization has resulted in substantial increase in global trade of goods and services across countries around the world. Often, goods are produced in developing countries where labor cost is lower, and developed countries are often net importers.

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The UNFCCC’s greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting system works on the basis of national production rather than consumption of emissions. This means that when goods are traded, their embodied emissions (e.g. emissions associated with manufacture) are also traded. However, these imported emissions are not counted towards a country’s reported climate impacts. It is estimated that around 22% of global CO2 emissions comprise goods and services which have been internationally traded. Better understanding and providing solutions to address the embodied carbon of traded goods will be critical in global and national efforts to decarbonize industry. In addition, large and multinational companies are paying more attention to the energy and carbon footprint of their supply chain. Also, with higher consumer awareness, end users of products are also paying increasing attention to energy and carbon footprint of the goods they use.

Global Efficiency Intelligence, LLC. has partnered with the ClimateWorks Foundation and KGM & Associate Ltd. to use the most recent available data and a cutting-edge model to conduct a global assessment of the extent of the embodied carbon in globally traded goods, so-called carbon loophole. In addition, we will conduct a series of higher-resolution, deeper dive case studies into a few key sectors and geographies of most importance.

The report of this study is expected to be published in the spring of 2018.

Don't forget to Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook to get the latest about our new blog posts, projects, and publications.