Report says internet shopping, working from home could increase carbon emissions

September 17, 2010
Report says internet shopping, working from home could increase carbon emissions

Shopping on the internet or working from home could be increasing carbon emissions rather than helping to reduce them, a new report claims today.

The research reveals that people who shop online must order more than 25 items otherwise the impact on the environment is likely to be worse than traditional shopping.

It also highlights that working from home can increase home by as much as 30 per cent, and can lead to people moving further from the workplace, stretching urban sprawl and increasing pollution.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) report looks at the ‘rebound’ effects of activities that are commonly thought to be green. Rebound effects are the unintended consequences of policies that are designed to reduce emissions, but on closer analysis can move the emission’s production elsewhere or lessen the positive impact.

Professor Phil Blythe, Chair of the IET Transport Policy Panel and Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at Newcastle University, which produced the report, said: “We hear a lot about the environmental benefits achieved as a result of working from home.  However, on closer inspection it does appear that any environmental benefits are marginal.”

The report highlights that buying goods online can provide carbon savings, but only if the conditions are right. The study found that environmental savings can be achieved if online shopping replaces 3.5 traditional shopping trips, or if 25 orders are delivered at the same time, or, if the distance travelled to where the purchase is made is more than 50km.

Shopping online does not offer net environmental benefits unless these criteria are met.The report also highlights that the top 20 per cent of British households spend almost nine times as much on transport costs (such as air travel) as the bottom 20 per cent.

Professor Phil Blythe says: “Our report highlights two important messages for policy makers. Firstly, is a real threat to our planet, so we must not get overwhelmed by the task and use rebound effects as an excuse not to act.

“Secondly, policy makers must do their homework to ensure that rebound effects do not negate the positive benefits of their policy initiatives and simply move carbon emissions from one sector to another.”

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2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 17, 2010
Good G-d, why don't we all just commit collective suicide and save the planet already?

Never in history have so much effort and treasure been squandered over nothing. Climate change and carbon footprints... one is a natural consequence of living on a planet, and the other has relevance to literally nobody but politicians, the sycophants who enable them, and the taxpayers they enslave.

If ever we needed an argument for the eradication of political funding for science, this obsequious piece of "research" ought to do the trick.
not rated yet Sep 17, 2010
Although it may seem so clean cut to you, instead of spewing out your ideas and interpretations, you would be doing a greater good to lead people to the research and knowledge you base them on. Through this, people who will think critically will draw their own conclusions and accept them. As far as the article goes, I indeed believe a healthy criticism regarding who stands to gain or lose money from findings should be observed and any ties to the research.
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 18, 2010
Nice try, Bill... but I'm not the one making extraordinary claims.

The Academy has whored herself out to the political class, and the venerated faculty lounge has devolved into a blue movie set. This kind of tripe steals attention and resources from useful and profitable research, and deserves precisely the contempt I offer it.
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2010
John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, says that the term "global warming" is "a dangerous misnomer” that should be replaced with “global climate disruption."
1 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2010
Yes, but then John Holdren is a sycophantic establishment tool who cares far less about science than my eight-year-old son does. The only global disruption Holdren ought to be concerned with is the one that will happen to his career right around January 20, 2013.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2010
An independent investigation, however, revealed that 70% of this study has been performed from the comfort of Phil Blythe's home office. "It is just silly noisy at my work, so I can't concentrate" -- admitted the author in private. "Carbon footprint, my ass" -- concluded the investigating reporter.

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