Aberdeen develops online carbon footprint calculator

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have developed an online tool that allows farmers to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and understand mitigation options for agricultural production.

The tool, originally developed by Dr Jon Hillier and colleagues at the University’s Environmental Modelling Group, in partnership with Unilever and the Sustainable Food Lab, is now owned by the not-for-profit organisation Cool Farm Alliance.

The Cool Farm Tool enables the agricultural sector to model and quantify the production of greenhouse gases in many aspects of the supply chain including crops, livestock and overall management practices. Biodiversity and water levels in soil are also tested, allowing different companies to understand key drivers of emissions in their supply chain, design mitigation strategies and then track and monitor their progress.

Agriculture contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions and often the largest release of emissions is not in a factory, on the roads, or from packaging, but from farms where the raw agricultural ingredients are produced.

Following an initial pilot by a dozen founding partners in the Cool Farm Alliance, the tool is now in use by around 50 members including major food retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, non-government organisations.

As a partner and user of the Cool Farm Tool, Unilever has reported a 25% reduction in the emissions of processed tomato farmers over a three-year period. The tool has been translated into 13 languages with approximately 12,500 registered users and more than 47,000 assessments have been performed across the world to date. As of 2020, the Cool Farm tool has expanded into 118 countries as a global online carbon footprint calculator.