Researchers at the Basque Institute For Agricultural Research and Development (Neiker-Tecnalia) are to develop a computer tool - already tried out in other sectors applied to the requisites of the wine and grape-growing industry (including legal and market conditions, ecolabelling, Carbon Footprint, etc). The software, amongst other functions, will manage the main environmental impact of and will incorporate the Best Available Techniques for grape-growing and wine production. The computer tool will contribute to improving the competitiveness of viticulture companies and will favour sustainable development in its economic, social and environmental aspects.
Climate change has a highly important influence on viticulture, affected by climate variations and global temperature rise. The agricultural sector overall is also a causal factor in global warming of the planet, given greenhouse gas effect emissions to the atmosphere. This is why the European Union is making great efforts to evaluate the emissions that the various agricultural sectors produce, in order to set out techniques of mitigation. One way of calculating these gas emissions is the Carbon Footprint, which measures the totality of the greenhouse gas effect emitted, directly or indirectly, due to a specific activity.
The goal of these techniques at Neiker-Tecnalia is to develop software adapted to the specific needs of the viticulture sector, in such a way that the companies in this sector can undertake a Life Cycle Analysis of these products. In this manner, producers will have important support in complying with environmental exigencies and, moreover, will enhance their image for consumers, demonstrating their interest in producing wine in a manner that is environmentally respectful and responsible.
There are many initiatives, public and private, for establishing protocols for measuring the greenhouse gas effect, expressed as Carbon Footprint, but there are few common and specific criteria for the wine-making sector. Thus, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine has drawn up a protocol for calculating the emissions of these gases in the sector. This protocol is structured in two parts: Company Protocol and Product Protocol. The first provides a work tool for companies in order to analyse their production system and to attempt to limit their emissions. The second enables the creation of a system for calculating the Carbon Footprint of the product.
In the case of Spain, the Spanish Wine Federation (Federación Española del Vino), in collaboration with the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, as well as with companies and universities, is drawing up a methodology based on three components: the evaluation of the greenhouse effect gas emissions, the validation of the results with the participation of interest groups, and the dissemination and use of these results. The Federation proposes a Product Protocol based on Life Cycle Analysis; i.e. the study of the environmental burden associated with a product throughout its entire life cycle. This, in effect, involves being able to determine with greater precision any possible emission of greenhouse effect gases produced by a bottle of wine when it is in the hands of the consumer.
Explore further: Education is key to climate adaptation