The (carbon) footprints of criminals (new study)

A news release from the University of Surrey, UK, draws attention to the first study to have systematically assessed the carbon footprint of UK crimes. The research team found that :-

“[…] crime committed in 2011 in England and Wales gave rise to over 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. Burglary resulted in the largest proportion of the total footprint (30%), because of the carbon associated with replacing stolen/damaged goods. Emissions arising from criminal justice system services also accounted for a large proportion (21% of all offenses; 49% of police recorded offenses).”


However, the urgent requirement to mitigate the UK’s carbon footprint – simply by reducing crime levels – is not necessarily a straightforward option :

“As an example, we consider the impact of reducing domestic burglary by 5%. Calculating this is inherently uncertain given that it depends on assumptions concerning how money would be spent in the absence of crime. We find the most likely rebound effect (our medium estimate) is an increase in emissions of 2%.[our emphasis].

See: ‘Addressing the Carbon-Crime Blind Spot: A Carbon Footprint Approach’ in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, early view, June 2016.