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Online tool helps wine industry track carbon footprint

A carbon calculator has been developed for the wine industry to help producers assess the environmental impact of their activities.

The project was developed and jointly funded by the Wine Institute of California, New Zealand Winegrowers, the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and Integrated Production of Wine South Africa. Amy Russell, who is director of natural resources at the WFA and sustainability spokesperson of FIVS, the international trade federation, explained to ThirtyFifty that it came about as a result of impending regulations in some wine-producing countries, retailer intentions to introduce carbon labels and increased activity among individual wine companies to quantify their carbon footprints. She added, ‘I would be remiss not to mention the pressure from UK retailers in driving producers to quantify their carbon footprint.’

Along with the calculator, which is an online tool, a Protocol was designed, which attempts to establish consistency for making carbon-footprint assessments because, as Amy explained, ‘The methodologies that wine producers currently use to estimate their carbon footprints vary.’

This Protocol covers the whole life cycle of the wine, from growing the grapes up to delivery of the wine to the export market. However, Amy admitted that they need some lead time to acquire accurate data rather than rely on generic figures and broad assumptions. She said, ‘The current Protocol and calculator is not the finished product,’ and that it is expected that ‘future iterations will be progressively more accurate’.

She added, ‘We acknowledge that ongoing development is needed to ensure the Protocol and calculator address emerging international standards for carbon accounting.’ That said, at the Wine and Spirit Trade Association in the UK, public affairs manager Kate Coleman sees the introduction of the calculator as ‘really positive’. She told ThirtyFifty, ‘It should become the standard for the whole wine industry.’