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Author's profile photo Bernd Freibott

The Carbon Story: A Tale of two Footprints


The inclined reader may excuse my somewhat clumsy allusion to Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of two Cities’; and be assured that none of the protagonists will in the end find himself in on the steps up to the guillotine. But somewhat the threat of massive climate change and potential catastrophic consequences justifies this theft from a notably dramatic masterpiece of literature. Why tale of two footprints and this blog? In the general heat of discussions around climate change, greenhouse gas, carbon emissions, footprint reduction etc. there is very often certain confusion and two aspects of consideration are mixed up in both ways, one for the other.

When talking about carbon footprint, there has to be clearly distinguished between Corporate Carbon Footprint and Product Carbon Footprint. The first is the impact of company / corporation with respect to carbon emissions on the nature, the second is the product related footprint, i.e. the carbon emissions accumulated and broken down on a particular product.

And both are not two independent footprints. On one side, there is the carbon emission that can be directly allocated to the specific product, for which footprint data comes from purchasing (inbound purchased material footprint including transportation) and from production. For this purpose, SAP has been developing the SAP Product Footprint Management solution. On the other side, there is the overall carbon emission of the company / corporation, for which the SAP EHS Environment Management solution provides a central tool for all emissions related data aggregation and reporting. A certain part of that corporate carbon emission cannot be directly allocated to a product, i.e. has to be attributed to products similar to overhead cost in controlling.

One might describe it in an imaginary way as two different perspectives of the same entity: Carbon footprint, product and company related.

For a better understanding of these two perspectives and to get some insight into the SAP solutions for carbon footprint data aggregation and calculations, see below two brief product videos on SAP Product Footprint Management and SAP EHS Environment Management.





Customer Story: How RHI Magnesita manages emissions and energy in sustainable production

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      Author's profile photo Danie Smit
      Danie Smit

      Great article clearly explaining corporate vs product carbon footprint.  Thanks Bernd!

      Author's profile photo Bernd Freibott
      Bernd Freibott
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Danie! Thanks for the feedback. I felt during some discussions that a clarification is needed, and the two videos are underlining the story. Glad to know, if it is helpful!