Invisible threats might seem the least menacing, but their effects can be disastrous. Greenhouse gases, while rarely visible by the naked eye, are reaching atmospheric concentrations that threaten the stability of the earth’s natural systems. Alternatively, ISO 14067:2018 – Greenhouse Gases – Carbon Footprint Of Products – Requirements And Guidelines For Quantification is quite visible, and it can provide its users with the means to better handle greenhouse gas emissions. This document has been revised, and it is marked by changes that led to a reduction in its scope to support related greenhouse gas international standards.
Climate change is often discussed in relation to its detriment to nature—how rising temperatures are causing glaciers to shrink, plant and animal ranges to shift, and ecosystems to adapt, as well as putting stresses on various species that could potentially lead to mass extinction. However, human society is not exempt from these looming threats.
The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is at 405 parts per million (ppm). The last time the earth’s air reached levels comparable to this, humans didn’t exist. Nonetheless, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide have always served a purpose. Without them, Earth wouldn’t retain any heat. This is because solar energy, from which we capture all our heat, passes through the atmosphere and radiates out into space. Greenhouse gases—gaseous molecules made of three or more atoms, therefore having the ability to vibrate while they absorb heat—capture heat before it can escape into outer space and send it either toward the earth, in the direction of another molecule, or back on its original path towards the stars.
Throughout prehistory, these levels have varied among an assortment of geological epochs, but scientific consensus indicates that this latest increase is tied directly to the burning of fossil fuels. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels remained below 300 ppm. Today, the effects of anthropogenic climate change threaten both natural systems and those of humankind, as the two groups are intertwined. Specifically, climate change could lead to significant impacts on resource availability, economic activity, and human wellbeing.
As stated in the introduction of ISO 14067:2018, “There is a need for an effective and progressive response to the urgent threat of climate change on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge.”
There are many ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions. From the perspective of the public, one can drive less, eat less meat, and generally waste less in his or her day-to-day life, and, while this type of behavior is positive thinking, it is important to remember that much of the greenhouse gas emissions throughout the past century came not from the collective actions of individual people, but companies. Therefore, managing carbon footprint throughout the lifecycle of a product is crucial.
GHGs can be emitted and removed throughout the life cycle of a product. This includes the acquisition of raw material, design, production, transportation/delivery, use, and the end-of-life treatment of goods and services. ISO 14067:2018 specifies principles and guidelines for the quantification and reporting of the carbon footprint of a product (CFP). It also specifies similar information for the quantification of a partial CFP. The guidelines found in ISO 14067:2018 are presented in a manner consistent with international standards on life cycle assessment, such as ISO 14040:2006 and ISO 14044:2006.
Speaking of other international standards, ISO 14067:2018, which revises and replaces ISO/TS 14067:2013, was changed with a substantial reduction in scope, as many of its previous guidelines are now part of other international standard documents. Some notable changes to ISO 14067:2018 include:
- Principles and guidance on communication of the CFP and the partial CFP are now covered in ISO 14026:2017 – Environmental Labels And Declarations – Principles, Requirements And Guidelines For Communication Of Footprint Information.
- Principles and guidance on verification are now covered in ISO 14064-3:2006 – Greenhouse Gases – Part 3: Specification With Guidance For The Validation And Verification Of Greenhouse Gas Assertions.
- Principles and guidance on product category rules (PCR) are now covered in ISO/TS 14027:2017 – Environmental Labels And Declarations – Development Of Product Category Rules.
- Information for the treatment of biogenic carbon and electricity has been revised and clarified.
- Definitions have been aligned within the ISO 14064 series for ease of interpretation.
Please note that ISO 14067:2018 addresses only the impact category of climate change. Carbon offsetting goes beyond the scope of this document.
Comprehending and quantifying the carbon footprint of a product is crucial to better managing greenhouse gas emissions and assuring clean air for future generations.
ISO 14067:2018 – Greenhouse Gases – Carbon Footprint Of Products – Requirements And Guidelines For Quantification is available on the ANSI Webstore.