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Special Issue "Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Kuishuang Feng

Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable consumption and production; consumption-based environmental accounting; supply chain analysis
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Bin Chen

State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 86-10-5880-7368
Interests: urban carbon metabolism; ecological modeling; environmental science
Guest Editor
Dr. Shaojian Wang

Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Urbanization and Geo-simulation, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, 510275, China
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable development; exergy efficiency; carbon emission accounting; environmental impact; urban planning; spatial analysis and statistics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Carbon emissions from anthropogenic activities and their impact on climate change are one of the main challenges for achieving environmental sustainability. Carbon footprint, as an environmental sustainability indicator, has been frequently studied to quantify the environmental performance of a product, individual, company, city, or country, using environmental life-cycle assessment (LCA). Different LCA approaches have been developed to assess the environmental impacts of goods and services throughout their whole life cycle—that is from resource extraction, production, use and disposal—or cradle to grave. These approaches include the bottom-up process-based LCA approach and the top-down input–output-based LCA approach and both have advantages and disadvantages, in terms of system boundaries and detail of production processes. However, we need both approaches to be able to investigate the carbon implications of human activities at different scales, e.g., individual consumption, company operation, regional development. In addition, a win-win or trade-offs analysis between carbon footprint and other environmental indicators (e.g., water footprint, land footprint) may provide important information to decision makers for achieving overall environmental sustainability.

We invite researchers to contribute original research as well as review articles that address the topics of carbon footprint, including carbon accounting, win-win or trade-offs with other environmental issues, and carbon mitigation.

Prof. Kuishuang Feng
Prof. Dr. Bin Chen
Dr. Shaojian Wang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • Environmental input–output analysis
  • Sustainable supply chain management
  • Low carbon policies
  • Carbon inequality
  • Sustainable consumption and production

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Mindfulness and Climate Change Action: A Feasibility Study
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1508; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051508
Received: 30 March 2018 / Revised: 29 April 2018 / Accepted: 7 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
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Abstract
Pro-environmental behaviors and the cultural shifts that can accompany these may offer solutions to the consequences of a changing climate. Mindfulness has been proposed as a strategy to initiate these types of behaviors. In 2017, we pilot-tested Mindful Climate Action (MCA), an eight-week
[...] Read more.
Pro-environmental behaviors and the cultural shifts that can accompany these may offer solutions to the consequences of a changing climate. Mindfulness has been proposed as a strategy to initiate these types of behaviors. In 2017, we pilot-tested Mindful Climate Action (MCA), an eight-week adult education program that delivers energy use, climate change, and sustainability content in combination with training in mindfulness meditation, among 16 individuals living in Madison, WI. We collected participant data at baseline and at different times across the study period regarding household energy use, transportation, diet, and health and happiness. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of the various MCA study practices including measurement tools, outcome assessment, curriculum and related educational materials, and especially the mindfulness-based climate action trainings. MCA was well-received by participants as evidenced by high adherence rate, high measures of participant satisfaction, and high participant response rate for surveys. In addition, we successfully demonstrated feasibility of the MCA program, and have estimated participant’s individual carbon footprints related to diet, transportation, and household energy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Re-Examining Embodied SO2 and CO2 Emissions in China
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1505; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051505
Received: 15 March 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 5 May 2018 / Published: 10 May 2018
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Abstract
CO2 and SO2, while having different environmental impacts, are both linked to the burning of fossil fuels. Research on joint patterns of CO2 emissions and SO2 emissions may provide useful information for decision-makers to reduce these emissions effectively. This
[...] Read more.
CO2 and SO2, while having different environmental impacts, are both linked to the burning of fossil fuels. Research on joint patterns of CO2 emissions and SO2 emissions may provide useful information for decision-makers to reduce these emissions effectively. This study analyzes both CO2 emissions and SO2 emissions embodied in interprovincial trade in 2007 and 2010 using multi-regional input–output analysis. Backward and forward linkage analysis shows that Production and Supply of Electric Power and Steam, Non-metal Mineral Products, and Metal Smelting and Pressing are key sectors for mitigating SO2 and CO2 emissions along the national supply chain. The total SO2 emissions and CO2 emissions of these sectors accounted for 81% and 76% of the total national SO2 emissions and CO2 emissions, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Open AccessArticle Measuring the Direct and Indirect Effects of Neighborhood-Built Environments on Travel-related CO2 Emissions: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1372; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051372
Received: 17 February 2018 / Revised: 23 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 28 April 2018
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Abstract
Intervening in the built environment is a key way for land-use and transport planning and related policies to promote low-carbon development and low-carbon travel. It is of significance to explore and recognize the actual impact of the neighborhood built environment on travel-related CO
[...] Read more.
Intervening in the built environment is a key way for land-use and transport planning and related policies to promote low-carbon development and low-carbon travel. It is of significance to explore and recognize the actual impact of the neighborhood built environment on travel-related CO2 emissions. This study calculated the CO2 emissions from four purposes of trips, which were within the urban region, using Travel O-D Point Intelligent Query System (TIQS) and 1239 residents’ travel survey questionnaires from 15 neighborhoods in Guangzhou. It measured the direct and indirect effects of built environments on CO2 emissions from different purposes of trips by developing structural equation models (SEMs). The results showed that for different purposes of trips, the effects of the neighborhood built environments on CO2 emissions were inconsistent. Almost all built environment elements had significant total effects on CO2 emissions, which were mainly indirect effects through mediators such as car ownership and trip distance, then affecting CO2 emissions indirectly. Most of the direct effects of neighborhood built environments on CO2 emissions were not significant, especially those from non-commuting trips. These findings suggest that in the process of formulating low-carbon oriented land-use and transport planning and policies, the indirect effects of the built environments should not be ignored, and the differences of the effects of the neighborhood built environments among different purposes of the trip should be fully considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Open AccessArticle Carbon Footprint Estimation Tool for Residential Buildings for Non-Specialized Users: OERCO2 Project
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1359; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051359
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 18 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 27 April 2018
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Abstract
Existing tools for environmental certification of buildings are failing in their ability to reach the general public and to create social awareness, since they require not only specialized knowledge regarding construction and energy sources, but also environmental knowledge. In this paper, an open-source
[...] Read more.
Existing tools for environmental certification of buildings are failing in their ability to reach the general public and to create social awareness, since they require not only specialized knowledge regarding construction and energy sources, but also environmental knowledge. In this paper, an open-source online tool for the estimation of the carbon footprint of residential buildings by non-specialized users is presented as a product from the OERCO2 Erasmus + project. The internal calculations, data management and operation of this tool are extensively explained. The ten most common building typologies built in the last decade in Spain are analysed by using the OERCO2 tool, and the order of magnitude of the results is analysed by comparing them to the ranges determined by other authors. The OERCO2 tool proves itself to be reliable, with its results falling within the defined logical value ranges. Moreover, the major simplification of the interface allows non-specialized users to evaluate the sustainability of buildings. Further research is oriented towards its inclusion in other environmental certification tools and in Building Information Modeling (BIM) environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Open AccessArticle Simulating the Impact of Carbon Taxes on Greenhouse Gas Emission and Nutrition in the UK
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010134
Received: 27 October 2017 / Revised: 30 December 2017 / Accepted: 30 December 2017 / Published: 8 January 2018
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Abstract
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with food consumption have become particularly pertinent issues given recent warnings that the planet recently has experienced its hottest year. One way proposed to reduce those emissions is through a carbon consumption taxes. This study uses consumption, nutrient
[...] Read more.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with food consumption have become particularly pertinent issues given recent warnings that the planet recently has experienced its hottest year. One way proposed to reduce those emissions is through a carbon consumption taxes. This study uses consumption, nutrient and GHG emission data to estimate the impact of two ad-valorem taxes: one applied by food category and another by the carbon emission of the products. The results suggest that the carbon consumption tax scenarios would reduce GHG emissions by a greater quantity relative to the ad-valorem tax scenario; however, the intake of important nutrients will also decrease in these scenarios. Therefore, creating an environmentally sustainable and nutritious diet through taxation is challenging and requires compromise between the nutrition and environmental sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Open AccessArticle Value-Added-Based Accounting of CO2 Emissions: A Multi-Regional Input-Output Approach
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2220; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122220
Received: 21 September 2017 / Revised: 29 November 2017 / Accepted: 29 November 2017 / Published: 1 December 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2862 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the era of globalization and international trade, the production-based CO2 emissions accounting system, proposed by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, can easily lead to a “carbon leakage” issue. Thus, the accounting of consumption-based carbon emissions and carbon emissions embodied
[...] Read more.
In the era of globalization and international trade, the production-based CO2 emissions accounting system, proposed by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, can easily lead to a “carbon leakage” issue. Thus, the accounting of consumption-based carbon emissions and carbon emissions embodied in international trade has received considerable research attention. Nevertheless, researchers also indicated that the consumption-based principle has some weaknesses, for example, it leads the producers inert on reducing carbon emissions while gaining economic benefits. To share carbon emissions responsibilities between producers and consumers is widely recognized. So, setting an income-based emissions accounting method as to producer is a necessary complement for accounting national carbon emissions. This study promoted a model, called the value-added-based accounting of CO2 emissions method, to account for anthropogenic CO2 emissions within the context of the economic benefit principle. Based on the global multi-regional input-output table and national carbon emissions database, we calculated the national/regional carbon emissions based on the value-added accounting approach as well as the amount of global carbon emissions embodied in value-added chains. If the results are served as a supplement for calculating the amount of CO2 emissions reduction that a country is responsible for, problems such as carbon leakage and resistance to improving the energy efficiency of exporting sector may be solved, because all the supply chains emissions associated with the economic growth of a country would be considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Open AccessArticle Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Analysis of Multiple Vehicle Fuel Pathways in China
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2183; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122183
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 23 November 2017 / Accepted: 24 November 2017 / Published: 26 November 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2266 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Tsinghua University Life Cycle Analysis Model (TLCAM) is applied to calculate the life cycle fossil energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for more than 20 vehicle fuel pathways in China. In addition to conventional gasoline and diesel, these include coal- and
[...] Read more.
The Tsinghua University Life Cycle Analysis Model (TLCAM) is applied to calculate the life cycle fossil energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for more than 20 vehicle fuel pathways in China. In addition to conventional gasoline and diesel, these include coal- and gas-based vehicle fuels, and electric vehicle (EV) pathways. The results indicate the following. (1) China’s current dependence on coal and relative low-efficiency processes limits the potential for most alternative fuel pathways to decrease energy consumption and emissions; (2) Future low-carbon electricity pathways offer more obvious advantages, with coal-based pathways needing to adopt carbon dioxide capture and storage technology to compete; (3) A well-to-wheels analysis of the fossil energy consumption of vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) showed that they are comparable to conventional gasoline vehicles. However, importing rather than domestically producing LNG for vehicle use can decrease domestic GHG emissions by 35% and 31% compared with those of conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles, respectively; (4) The manufacturing and recovery of battery and vehicle in the EV analysis has significant impact on the overall ability of EVs to decrease fossil energy consumption and GHG emissions from ICEVs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Open AccessArticle Carbon Reduction Strategies Based on an NW Small-World Network with a Progressive Carbon Tax
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1747; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101747
Received: 14 August 2017 / Revised: 22 September 2017 / Accepted: 26 September 2017 / Published: 28 September 2017
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Abstract
There is an increasingly urgent need to reduce carbon emissions. Devising effective carbon tax policies has become an important research topic. It is necessary to explore carbon reduction strategies based on the design of carbon tax elements. In this study, we explore the
[...] Read more.
There is an increasingly urgent need to reduce carbon emissions. Devising effective carbon tax policies has become an important research topic. It is necessary to explore carbon reduction strategies based on the design of carbon tax elements. In this study, we explore the effect of a progressive carbon tax policy on carbon emission reductions using the logical deduction method. We apply experience-weighted attraction learning theory to construct an evolutionary game model for enterprises with different levels of energy consumption in an NW small-world network, and study their strategy choices when faced with a progressive carbon tax policy. The findings suggest that enterprises that adopt other energy consumption strategies gradually transform to a low energy consumption strategy, and that this trend eventually spreads to the entire system. With other conditions unchanged, the rate at which enterprises change to a low energy consumption strategy becomes faster as the discount coefficient, the network externality, and the expected adjustment factor increase. Conversely, the rate of change slows as the cost of converting to a low energy consumption strategy increases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Open AccessArticle Assessing the Effect of Eco-City Practices on Urban Sustainability Using an Extended Ecological Footprint Model: A Case Study in Xi’an, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1591; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9091591
Received: 20 June 2017 / Revised: 2 September 2017 / Accepted: 4 September 2017 / Published: 14 September 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (479 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Planning and construction are well-known practical topics; however, eco-city developments and their sustainable effects on the city are less known. Xi’an is a typical city that has a target to become an eco-city. This city is selected in this case study with the
[...] Read more.
Planning and construction are well-known practical topics; however, eco-city developments and their sustainable effects on the city are less known. Xi’an is a typical city that has a target to become an eco-city. This city is selected in this case study with the aims of (1) framing eco-practices to enhance the understanding of an eco-city development and (2) evaluating the effect of eco-practices to reveal whether they truly enhance urban sustainability. For the first objective, the framework was constructed in accordance with ecological footprint (EF) theory. For the second objective, environmental pollution was added to an extended EF model. The EF of Xi’an from 1999 to 2014 was calculated and analyzed. The results are as follows: (1) Water pollution control and water area development are core issues in the Xi’an eco-city development. Air pollution control and forest land development also play important roles in the eco-city development; (2) Eco-city practices contribute to the decreases of per capita EF and per capita ecological deficit because of the reduction in the EFs of water area, forest land, and arable land, thereby enhancing urban sustainability; (3) The effect of eco-city practices on the improvement of per capita ecological capacity (EC), the ECs of arable land, water area, pasture land, and forest land are not significant. Based on these results, this study provides practical implications for the promotion of urban sustainability through eco-city development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Progress and Prospects for Tourism Footprint Research
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1847; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101847
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 11 October 2017 / Accepted: 12 October 2017 / Published: 15 October 2017
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Abstract
The tourism footprint family comprises the tourism ecological footprint (TEF), the tourism carbon footprint (TCF) and the tourism water footprint (TWF). The tourism footprint represents an important tool for quantitatively assessing the impact of tourism activities on the ecosystem of a tourist destination.
[...] Read more.
The tourism footprint family comprises the tourism ecological footprint (TEF), the tourism carbon footprint (TCF) and the tourism water footprint (TWF). The tourism footprint represents an important tool for quantitatively assessing the impact of tourism activities on the ecosystem of a tourist destination. This paper systematically reviews the relevant literature on TEF, TCF and TWF, analyses and summarizes the main progress and failures in the analytical frameworks, research methods, measurement results, environmental impacts and reductions in the tourism footprint. This paper also proposes areas for further developing the tourism footprint research, including unifying the analytical frameworks and boundaries of the tourism footprint, distinguishing the geographical scope of the tourism footprint effectively, improving the process of analyzing the environmental impact of the tourism footprint, measuring the tourism footprint scientifically and roundly, performing space-time calculations of the tourism footprint, and expanding the tourism footprint family by introducing new members. Accordingly, this paper is devoted to the continued study of the tourism footprint. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Footprint: As an Environmental Sustainability Indicator)
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