One of my unique ideas would be to label all products with the amount of carbon dioxide that was emitted to ship a product to a vendor. Perhaps this would influence people to buy more locally made products, helping ones home economy and also reducing the amount of GHGs emitted (and other associated air pollution - NOx, SOx, CO, and organic particulate matter).
This idea occurred to me when I was shopping at Whole Foods a few months back. I noticed that Whole Foods sold a wide selection of imported wines. And I thought to myself, "Would these typically eco-minded people that shop at Whole Foods buy that wine that was imported from halfway around the world if they knew the amount of GHGs that were emitted to get that wine here for their consumption?" And then I wondered that about all products, all of those products made in China as well as other places abroad. Would the American consumer care? Maybe so. Maybe it would bring that idea to the forefront of their minds, if they saw a sticker on that cashmere sweater they were about to buy that showed X amount of pounds of carbon dioxide was emitted into the atmosphere to make this product available to you. Maybe they would be less likely to support that product.
Then I got to thinking, "How could this be done?"
Well...products being shipped must come with some sort of paper work. This would just make the paperwork... a little bit more. Perhaps a Chain of Custody form would need to follow all products (I'm sure something of this type already exists) which would contain a few extra lines asking for the mode of transit and a starting location and ending location and the unit weight of the product. Then with the aid of a few simple equations, the vendor (or somebody or some computer), could then calculate the amount of CO2 that was emitted for that product, and then stick the appropriate label on it. Of course those equations would need to be based upon a few good assumptions, but the values calculated would be in the right ball park. And perhaps the exporting companies could even buy green house gas credits to offset that CO2 sticker and have that be reflected on their products somewhere. The CO2 credit market is growing and those creditors can now be ISO certified so that it actually means something now.
Then I got to thinking, "What would be the ramifications of this policy, if indeed it did influence consumers?"
Well, I'm no economist so I cannot be certain, but I'll bet that imports would slow down. And perhaps many people would lose their jobs within the shipping industry as well as the workers within the exporting countries. However, more jobs would be created within the new bureaucracy that would track the CO2 emitted from product shipping, as well as within the new, larger local companies that would then be selling more products because they emit less carbon into the atmosphere. Perhaps those foreign companies that would want to export their goods to a country that has enacted a product GHG emission labeling policy would pay money to CO2 credit companies to offset their shipping emissions and/or possibly innovate to find more energy efficient ways to ship their products (package them in the destination country, use lighter packaging, use trains, use more efficient cargo ships, use renewable fuels...the list is as endless as one's innovativeness).
Perhaps this policy could even be used to track the amount to CO2 emitted during the manufacturing of products (and not just CO2 but other GHGs and then quantify them using CO2 equivalents) and perhaps it could even be used to eventually enact some sort of carbon tax. A carbon tax where the sales tax of a product would be dependent upon the amount indicated on the product's CO2 sticker.
So, what do you think?!?! Craziness or Plausible? What are your own ideas?