Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements


Information session on product carbon footprint and labelling schemes

17 February 2010
Centre William Rappard, Geneva

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An Information Session on Product Carbon Footprint and Labelling Schemes was held at the WTO. Over the last years, there has been a growing interest among various stakeholders to assess the carbon footprint of products. Various carbon footprint standards and labelling schemes have been developed.

The introductory presentation by the OECD provided an overview of the recent OECD studies on Product Carbon Footprint and Labelling Schemes. It identified the numerous difficulties and challenges involved in the implementation of such schemes, including a weak quality of documentation, the lack of a clear or general methodology, a lack of conformity assessment for most schemes, and uncertainties on how to treat the loss of soil carbon in agricultural practices. The presentation by the United Kingdom shared with the Committee its national experience in the development of a Publicly Available Specification (PAS 2050) to measure embodied GHG emissions from goods and services. PAS 2050 has been adopted by a number of leading retailers and with lessons learned from user trials a reviewed standard will be released by late 2010.

The last two presentations updated the Committee on current efforts at the international level to harmonize carbon footprint standards. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development briefed the Committee on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative which brought together the private sector, governments and NGOs, and on two new standards that were currently being developed: (i) the Scope 3 Accounting and Reporting Standard to quantify, manage and report GHG emissions in the corporate value chain; and (ii) the Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard to quantify, manage and report GHG emissions of individual products. ISO updated Members on its work on the development of a standard on the carbon footprint of products, namely ISO 14067. This standard, planned to be finalized by October 2011, provides guidance on requirements and procedures for communication of carbon footprint. ISO pointed out that some challenges remained in this development process, such as achieving the right balance between practically and environmental integrity/credibility.



This session provided an overview of the subject, addressing, inter alia, what is product carbon footprint?; the rationale and use of carbon footprint; as well as examples of various product carbon footprint labelling schemes, their key design features, effectiveness and potential impacts on international trade.

Recent Studies in the OECD

  • Dale Andrew, Head, Trade Policy Linkages and Services Division, OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate



This session provided information on the development of a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) in the United Kingdom for a method to measure the embodied greenhouse gas emissions from goods and services - PAS 2050.

PAS 2050 ľ Lessons Learned

  • Maureen Nowak, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, United Kingdom


This session addressed current work at the international level aimed at harmonization of carbon footprint related standards.

WRI-WBCSD Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard

  • Andrea Brown-Smatlan, Energy and Climate Focus Area, WBCSD


ISO 14067 Carbon Footprint of Products - Part 1: Quantification and Part 2: Communication

  • Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General

  • Klaus Radunsky, ISO Working Group Convener for ISO 14067


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