Vulnerability of exporting nations to the development of a carbon label in the United Kingdom

G. Edwards-Jones, K. Plassmann, E.H. York, B. Hounsome, D.L. Jones, L. Milà i Canals

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Carbon labels inform consumers about the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) released during the production and consumption of goods, including food. In the future consumer and legislative responses to carbon labels may favour goods with lower emissions, and thereby change established supply chains. This may have unintended consequences.
We present the carbon footprint of three horticultural goods of different origins supplied to the United Kingdom market: lettuce, broccoli and green beans. Analysis of these footprints enables the characterisation of three different classes of vulnerability which are related to: transport, national economy and supply chain specifics.
There is no simple relationship between the characteristics of an exporting country and its vulnerability to the introduction of a carbon label. Geographically distant developing countries with a high level of substitutable exports to the UK are most vulnerable. However, many developing countries have low vulnerability as their main exports are tropical crops which would be hard to substitute with local produce.
In the short term it is unlikely that consumers will respond to carbon labels in such a way that will have major impacts in the horticultural sector. Labels which require contractual reductions in GHG emissions may have greater impacts in the short term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-490
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Issue number4
Early online date6 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • carbon footprint
  • life cycle assessment
  • salads
  • vegetables
  • Africa


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