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Are emissions from cow farts the farmer’s fault?

957402_cows.jpgHere’s a bit of research about the break-down of carbon footprints per employee.

A report from BASE suggests that the greenhouse-gas footprint of the ’employee’ is way higher than that of the ‘individual’ – basically because the way you do the sums is different.

Base used all official statistics to measure this, it should be said, and didn’t do any of the measuring itself. And you can always make statistics say what you need them to.

But it’s still interesting nevertheless.

Base argues that while the UK Government reckons each person is responsible for around 4.5 tonnes of CO2 annually, this fails to account for everything a person ‘does’.

“Clearly, this does not tell the whole story about the real level of emissions attributable to individuals,” they say.

Well that in itself is a massive assumption. Who is responsible for emissions of a business? Can you say it’s the employee?

It’s certainly no bad thing to alert employees to the impact of the industry they belong to. But to say they are responsible is a step too far in our boat.

But it’s a great debate and here’s what they say:

“[T]he largest employee greenhouse gas footprints lie, by somedistance, in the energy sector (1127.04 tonnes). This is followed by agriculture, where – as in the case of construction, somewhat counter-intuitively – over 200 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to each employee annually (217.38 tonnes). This is a worse performance than both the transport and manufacturing sectors, where each employee represents 67 tonnes (67.01) and 41 tonnes (41.15) of greenhouse gas emissions respectively.”

But Greenbang has a big problem with this – the methodology.

Can you really argue that employees are responsible for this much CO2? Surely it’s the people driving the business. Where do you draw the line with the argument? Do employees of farming businesses then take reponsibility for all the methane cows fart out?

Maybe, just maybe, one day they will.


  • Liz
    Posted April 3, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    We are all responsible as consumers for what industry makes and which we then buy. If we didn’t buy, they wouldn’t make. As employees we are responsible for leaving lights and computers on, expecting to work in shirt-sleeves all winter, to be cool in summer – to the point where we have to wear jumpers to keep warm. So we can argue responsibility. On the other hand, we could translate this as us having power – the power to argue for change from within as well.

  • Ed
    Posted April 3, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    The responsibility for the emmissions should not fall upon the employees but upon the consumers who demand the products and the company Directors who chose what method they should fulfil that demand.

    As we are all consumers, we are all responsible, especially for things like cows farting (except vegetarians, and they fart more themselves anyway so it probably balances out).


Comments are closed.

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