A research group headed by Andrew Skelton and Sören Lindner at Cambridge University’s Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research is “developing environmentally extended input-output models to assess greenhouse gas reduction across production layers and supply chains of the global economy.”

The figures on their webpage describing the group’s activities include this Sankey-style mapping of “flows of embodied emissions through the global economy [that] … help to visualise and explain … differences between production-based and consumption-based accounts of emissions”.

Unfortunately no high-res image is available. However, one can find the producing sectors on the left side (each of which identifiable by its own color) and their responsibility for a share of the 22.76 Gt direct CO2 emissions. On the right side one can see the consuming sectors and their use of input that has embodied emissions from the supply chain (two intermediate transformation steps in the centre).

Additionally one can find these two diagrams for embodied emissions from supply chains. The left one is for all major non-EU sources, the right one a breakdown for products and intermediates sourced from China.

Data is based on input-output (IO) statistics and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). An interesting topic and a good use of Sankey diagrams IMHO. Read more on the research web page that also has links to the scientific publication made by the group.

I recently discovered Jason Pearsons fantastic visualizations at his TRUTHstudio website. TRUTHstudio is a consultancy that provides research, analysis, strategy, visualization, and communication support. In the projects presented, Jason focuses primarily on direct and indirect environmental impacts along industrial supply chains. In the below example he features a segment of the food supply chain with the sectors “feed grain”, “meat animals”, “meat packing” and “eating places”.

The above supply chain is displayed with its land use change impact (such as transformation of forest to pasture). The unit is million square metres per year. The scale is shown on the left and the nodes are stacked on the bottom zero line. Hence the height of the node indicates the magnitude of land use change (in Mio m²) caused by this particular segment’s activities. Additionally the nodes have a flat side on the right, for the percentage of their activities that are directly delivered to consumers or government, and an arrow shaped exit when the services are delivered to another sector of the economy.
On the left edge the flat bottom segment indicates the environmental impact caused directly by the activities of this segment, while the connected arrow represents the environmental impacts caused by this segments activities in other sectors across the economy. The grey bands at the top and at the bottom represent all other sectors of the U.S. economy.

So we have three persepctives with in one Sankey diagram: direct sector impacts, indirect (or intermediate) impacts, and final consumption impacts.

This is a fascinating concept, which is used by Pearson to create an overall map of the U.S. economy, or, to be more precise, maps of environmental impacts caused directly or indirectly across the nation by industrial activities. These so-called “Economy Maps” are featured in my next blog post.

In the meantime, please watch Jason’s explanation on the ‘Three Perspectives of the Economy Map’: