Carbon footprint - what really counts?

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Peter Tallberg - xtv807 - University of Copenhagen

Wordcount: 980

Carbon footprint: what counts. This essay follows a red thread of developing multifunctional landscapes, and empowering local communities as a method of increasing anthropogenic resilience. The carbon footprint is a measure of the environmental impact in terms of carbon emissions by an individual or other entity (module 1.2). Many parameters are counted, both negative and positive, and those with a most promising positive impact seem to be; the place, the beings, and happenings, when focused on adapting to an environment of uncertainty and actions of mitigation, played out on the level of the landscape (Minang et al., 2015). The estimated increase of resource scarcity in coming decades (Rüttinger et al., 2015) requires developing resource abundance extensively, in parallel with ecosystem restoration, local community investments, and projects in sustainable development. Currently urban development is increasingly pushing cities beyond their environmental carrying capacity, increasing their vulnerability to conflict and collapse. Certain trends of transition have proven more resilient (Holmgren, 2012), and pursuing the development of regenerative communities promises a wide range of potential, among them world peace (Rüttinger et al., 2015). Currently there is a lack of resources, especially financial and political, hindering innovation and development, and the most fragile of us are set to experience the worst of it (Rüttinger et al., 2015). But by searching for leverage points (Minang et al., 2015), development of a whole systems design​1​ provides different ways to optimize actions through different strategies in pursuit of targets. Climate-smart landscape have been uplifted as a design for creating self-sufficient local communities, which promises an efficient way for humanity to meet the uncertain future, as seen in Figure 3.

Calculating the carbon footprint The entire planetary livelihood is at stake, given the amount of GHG emissions already released (RĂźttinger et al., 2015), and the changing climate is already affecting us all. By understanding the impact of our individual and corporate actions (Module 4), we can increase our awareness, and promote beneficial choices considering our environment and culture (Weidema et al., 2008). If we accept a framework of creating sustainable landscapes, actions can be taken efficiently as seen in Figure 1 (Minang et al., 2015). Figure 1: Different entry points for project development. Source: Minang et al. (2015).

Considering the ‘wickedness’ (reference) of the challenge, the solutions need to be processed on a fundamental level (Minang et al., 2015). Ecosystem-based adaptation is a strategy with a high potential of extensive regenerative impact (Keenan et al., 2015). Climate Smart Terrains (CST) is a design able to handle the transdisciplinarity needed in order to achieve a regenerative status. The scale of operations is essential, when pursuing regenerative action. The landscape scale provides a great framework for finding multiple dimensions that cooperate, and leverage points for positive development (Minang et al., 2015).

Whole Systems Design Cultivating resilience has been identified as having a high level of benefits for any entity (Davoudi et al., 2012). There is a need to apply the concept of resilience in planning, especially within urban environments as they are becoming ever more fragmented and fragile (Prasad et al., 2009). Urban environments can utilize the landscape approach, as they are formed by the interactions between people, land, institutions, values and place-based systems (Minang et al., 2015). Key processes in achieving a successful landscape approach is creating win-win situations for multiple stakeholders, with cycles of reforming (Minang et al., 2015). Identifying root causes and high leverage points in feedback loops provide great opportunities to resolve problems. A landscape is understood through multiple dimensions and processes, such as spatial planning exemplified in Figure 2, ecological biodiversity and indegineous knowledge (Keenan et al., 2015).

Figure 2: The different elements of the spatial

Figure 3: The interactions between social and

structure of a landscape​.

agricultural systems from a case study.

Source: Fischesser & Dupuis-Tate, (1996)

Source: Haidar et al. (2012)

Benefits and limitations When research-policy-practice partnerships recognize local management needs and indeginous knowledge, and combine these with climate and ecosystem science, shared understandings of future challenges can be achieved through a variety of entry points, shown in Figure 4 (Keenan et al., 2015).

Figure 4: A blueprint for good governance. Source: Minang et al., (2015)

The co-management dimension is highlighted for sharing rights and responsibilities among all stakeholders of a place. Long term sustainability needs to be capable of learning, improving, handling conflicts, agreeing on values, and taking action (Minang et al., 2015). When many voices are involved in the management of a place, the differences in interests may create challenges in decision-making and communication. Negotiation is an important tool for establishing shared values, agreements, and vision. The communication and decision-making needs to be transparent and fair, in order to grow trust among all participants (Minang et al., 2015).

The participatory process has been deemed vital (appendix 1) for the transdisciplinarity (Angelstam et al., 2013) of stakeholders, policies and activities invested in a landscape approaches (Minang et al., 2015), revealing a complex system with multiple interactions. Due to its dynamic nature landscape solutions can begin adapting to an even more unpredictable future, with understanding of its ToP and ToC (Figure 5). Therefore developing measures which embrace uncertainty is essential for communities or other local initiatives. And the time to act is now, as if one waits, the price will be higher as shown in Figure 6. Figure 5: Theory of place and change paints a good picture of possibilities on the level of landscape Source: van Noordwijk et al., (2015) Figure 6: The moment to act is now, as in a degrading environment the investment needed to achieve a nominal target increases by every moment that passes by Duguma et al. (2015).

CONCLUSION Transitioning to a local framework of equitable and effective natural resource management, is an approach to connect with one’s impact on the environment in a beneficial way, which reduces climate-fragility risks (Rßttinger et al., 2015), like GHG emissions. Resilience thinking is promoted for opening up planning to more dynamic formats (Davoudi et al., 2012). Given that developing countries and urban environments are most fragile due to imbalances in carrying capacity, and that both share patterns of fragmentation, they are in dire need of developing functional infrastructure, for ecosystem-, wildlife- and human wellbeing (Angelstam et al., 2013). The landscape provides possibilities of multifunctionality and allows for defining shared visions (appendix 1), however it takes a great investment to understand the complexities and weave possibilities together in a nominal fashion. There is currently a growing market for business within the landscape approach (van Noordwijk et al., 2015), but it requires collaborating with a wicked and unpredictable nature.

shared visions (appendix 1), however it takes a great investment to understand the complexities and weave possibilities together in a nominal fashion. There is currently a growing market for business within the landscape approach (van Noordwijk et al., 2015), but it requires collaborating with a wicked and unpredictable nature.

Sources: Course material: Module 1.2 - Calculating the Carbon footprint Module 4 - Carbon accounting Peer reviewed literature: Angelstam P, Andersson K, Annerstedt M, Axelsson R, Elbakidze M, Garrido P, Grahn P, Jönsson IK, Pedersen S, Schlyter P, Skärbäck E, Smith M, Stjernquist I (2013) Solving Problems in Social–Ecological Systems: Definition, Practice and Barriers of Transdisciplinary Research, Ambio Volume 42, ​Issue 2​, pp 254–265.

Davoudi (2012) Duguma, L.A., Minang, P.A., Mpanda, M., Kimaro, A., Alemagi, D. (2015) Landscape restoration from a social-ecological system perspective? In Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice. Pp. 63-73. Haider L.J., Quinlan, A.E., Peterson, G.D. (2012) Interacting Traps: Resilience Assessment of a Pasture Management System in Northern Afghanistan. In Davoudi, S., Shaw, K., Haider, L. J., Quinlan, A. E., Peterson, G. D., Wilkinson, C., Porter, L. (2012). Resilience: A bridging concept or a dead end? “reframing” resilience. Pp. 312-319. Keenan, R., 2015. Climate change impacts and adaptation in forest management: a review. Annals of Forest Science, Volume 72, pp. 145-167. Minang, P. A., van Noordwijk, M., Freeman, O. E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J., & Catacutan, D. (2015). Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). World Agroforestry Centre.

van Noordwijk, M., Minang, P.A., Freeman, O.E., Mbow, C., de Leeuw, J. (2015) The future of landscape approaches: interacting theories of place and change. In Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice. Pp. 375-386. Prasad, N., Ranghieri, F., Shah, F., Trohanis, Z., Kessler, E. & Sinha, R. (2009) Climate Resilient Cities: A Primer on Reducing Vulnerabilities to Disasters (Washington, DC, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/World Bank). Rüttinger, L., Smith, D., Stang, G., Tänzler, D., Vivekananda, J. 2015 (2015) A New Climate for Peace. Taking Action in Climate and Fragility Risks​. Suyanto, S., Ekadinata, A., Mulia, R., Joana, F., Widayati, A., (2015) The opportunity costs of emission reduction: a methodology and application to support land use planning for low emission development. In Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality In Practice. Pp. 227-240.

Weidema, B.P., Thrane, M., Christense, P., Schmidt, J., L​økke, S., (2008) carbon Footprint. A Catalyst for Life Cycle Assessment? Journal of Industrial Ecology, vol 12, iss 1.

Web based sources: 1.


Appendix 1. Schematic on landscape dynamics (Suyanto, 2015), and a newly proposed commitment for resilience (Rüttinger et al., 2015).


commitment for resilience (RĂźttinger et al., 2015).

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