Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shipping emisssions recalculated

The UK Guardian ran a story last week entitled "True scale of CO2 emissions from shipping revealed: Leaked UN report says pollution three times higher than previously thought". The story is based on a report leaked from the UN to the Guardian that "calculates that annual emissions from the world's merchant fleet have already reached 1.12bn tonnes of CO, or nearly 4.5% of all global emissions of the main greenhouse gas." This number, 1.12 bn tons, is almost three times higher than previous estimates of a maximum 400 tons.

The report also mentions these points:
  • " CO₂emissions are set to rise by a further 30% by 2020."
  • " Other pollutants from shipping are rising even faster than CO₂emissions. Sulphur and soot emissions, which give rise to lung cancers, acid rain and respiratory problems are expected to rise more than 30% over the next 12 years."
  • " A recent peer-reviewed study of shipping emissions found world shipping led directly to 60,000 deaths a year."
Does this mean that ocean transport is not the preferred shipping method with regards to carbon footprint? Doubtful, but it may take some pressure off of the concerns around air shipments which the reports.

The best metric is still around volume or weight measurement. How much cargo is shipped that generates 1.12 billion tons of carbon for ships? How much cargo is shipped that generates the 325 million tons of airborn-shipping carbon?

Source: John Vidal, "True scale of CO2 emissions from shipping revealed, The Guardian, Wednesday February 13 2008, viewed online Feb. 20, 2008,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Economics of Buying Local, Part 1

Buying local has caught on around the country. Good for people, good for communities, good for health, good for farmers, good for ag land preservation, good for air, land, water, climate .... The beat goes on.

But is it good for the economy?

Separating out the economic return of growing local food for local consumption is gaining momentum as more governments and communities measure the economic return of going local.

New Jersey is one state that has measured such efforts. The state supports a Jersey Fresh program with an annual expenditure from state funds. From the 2004 NJ Agriculture Annual Report comes this fact:

Jersey Fresh Economic Impact – Using federal funds, a study was conducted to determine the economic impact of the Jersey Fresh Promotional Program. The study showed that each dollar spent on the Jersey Fresh program increased farm revenues by $31.54. That increase boosted farm-related businesses by an additional $22.95 of sales in agricultural support industries. In total, each dollar spent on Jersey Fresh promotion resulted in $54.49 of increased economic output in the State.

With a current budget for Jersey Fresh being about $800,000, this means an increase in farm revenues of $25.2 million, and a total increase in economic output for the state of $43.6 million.

Pretty good return.

Source: New Jersey Agriculture 2004 Annual Report, Agricultural Statistics, New Jersey Department of Agriculture / National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA,