Using LCAs for Carbon Footprints

A carbon footprint is the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an industrial system.

The footprint considers all six of the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases:  Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

A carbon footprint is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).  The carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) allows the different greenhouse gases to be compared on a like-for-like basis relative to one unit of CO2.  CO2e is calculated by multiplying the emissions of each of the six greenhouse gases by its 100 year global warming potential (GWP).

The carbon footprint is a subset of the ecological footprint and of the more comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).