20세기에 들어서 온실가스의 증가로 인한 온실효과로 지구온난화가 급속히 이루어지고 있으며 그로 인한 심각한 기후변화가 초래되고 있다. 지구온난화와 기후변화는 국제적 문제로 대두되고 있으며, 해결책으로 기후변화협약을 채택하고 그 실천방안으로 온실가스 저감 노력을 각국에 촉구하고 있다. 이에 우리나라도 2020년까지 배출전망치(BAU) 대비 30%의 저감목표를 설정하였으며, 이러한 온실가스 저감노력은 모든 기업들이 실천해야하는 목표가 되었다. 온실가스 저감노력은 장기적으로는 기업이미지를 제고하고, 나아가 환경을 개선한다는 점에서 기업들이 반드시 해야 할 책임이지만, 이를 수행하기 위해서는 많은 비용이 수반되는 것도 사실이다. 특히 중소기업은 적은 인력과 자원으로 당면한 사회적 책임을 이행하기 위해서는 부담해야 할 비용이 상대적으로 높다. 따라서 온실가스 저감에 대비하여 중소기업에 적합한 준비를 해야 할 필요성이 대두되었다. 본 연구는 우리나라의 기후변화와 온실가스 배출현황에 대하여 살펴보고, 이에 대한 대응전략으로 탄소 발자국 제도(Carbon footprint system)를 검토하고자 한다. 먼저 주요국에서 도입한 탄자 발자국제도에 대한 현황을 파악하고, 이를 바탕으로 중소기업이 기후변화에 대한 대응전략으로 탄자 발자국 제도의 도입을 고찰하였다. 탄소 발자국이란 제품의 생산 및 사람의 일상생활 등 인위적인 일련의 과정에서 발생되는 온실가스의 발생정도를 수치로 계량화하여 제품에 라벨로 부착하거나 표기하는 제도이다. 이는 제품을 구입하는 소비자에게 온실가스로 인한 기후변화의 심각성에 대한 사회적인 인식을 확산시키고, 온실가스 배출량이 적은 제품의 소비를 유도하여 시장 주도적으로 산업계의 온실가스 저감활동을 활성화하는데 그 목적을 두고 있다. 이미 우리나라에서도 중소기업의 탄소성적표지 인증에 대한 다양한 지원정책을 제시하고 있으며, 중소기업이 환경문제에 대하여 적극적으로 참여하는 것에 대한 인센티브를 제공하고 있다. 이러한 논의를 통하여 본 연구는 탄소 발자국 제도에 대한 이해를 높이고, 나아가 중소기업이 온실가스 감축에 동참할 수 있는 방안으로 탄소 발자국 제도가 활용되기를 기대해 본다. 더불어 탄소 발자국의 활용은 제품이나 서비스의 구입 시 소비자에게 환경 친화적인 제품의 선택권을 부여하는 제도이므로, 중소기업의 탄소 발자국 활용이 저탄소 소비문화에 기여하고, 이를 토대로 저탄소제품의 시장경쟁력을 확보함으로써, 온실가스 저감을 통한 지구환경개선에 이바지할 수 있을 것으로 기대된다.
In the 20th century, global warming from increased greenhouse gases has resulted in serious climate change. Issues related to global warming and climate change have arisen as international issues and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) has been adopted as one of the solutions for a practical plan. To cope with the global issues, a reduction of greenhouse gases to mitigate global warming is required by all countries and Korea also set a target to reduce greenhouse gases by 30% by 2020. In addition, Korea is a member of the OECD and ranks as the 10th country in the emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore, a more active participation to reduce greenhouse gases is required in Korea. It is sure that activities for the reduction of greenhouse gases may improve a company`s image in the long term and furthermore, reform the environmental problems. However, it is also sure that these activities will incure a lot of costs. Specifically, small-sized companies which have few human and material resources may bear a lot of expenses. Accordingly, appropriate strategies for small-sized companies to reduce greenhouse gases should be prepared. In this paper, we review the Kyoto Protocol and the history of the reduction of greenhouse gases. To do this, we examine descriptive statistics of greenhouse gases emissions and climate change in Korea, and investigate a carbon footprint system as an appropriate strategy for small-sized companies. First, we identify a carbon footprint system that has been implemented in other countries. Specifically, we document the history and characteristics of carbon footprint system in United Kingdom, United States, Sweden, and Canada. For example, the United Kingdom started a carbon footprint system by Carbon Trust in 2001. According to the survey implemented by the Consumer Association in 2011, 70% of respondents agree about a required carbon label for every item. In addition, they have intention to buy products with a carbon label even though they have to pay more for it. Second, based on the evidence from other countries, we suggest a carbon footprint system as an appropriate strategy for small-sized companies in terms of costs and benefits. Climate change is one of the most serious environmental issues today, and one of the main sources of climate change is carbon dioxide. When it comes to the emission of carbon dioxide, the proportion of carbon dioxide of greenhouse gases was 84.4% in 1990 and 89.5% in 2007, respectively. The more serious problem is that the emission of carbon dioxide has increased over time. Therefore, reducing carbon dioxide is an important issue now. A carbon footprint system is the process in which the carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions are targeted with an equivalent amount to be removed. The purpose of the carbon footprint system is to promote a consumer-led purchasing pattern of low carbon goods and to encourage enterprises to develop technologies towards low-carbon goods, thus ultimately contributing to the international efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. The carbon footprint system is not a mandatory certification system, but is a system that companies may participate in on a voluntary basis. The carbon footprint system is becoming prevalent worldwide, especially after the British Carbon Trust Fund launched its experimental scheme in December 2006. Japan also began developing its own carbon footprint system in June 2008. In Korea, the Ministry of Environment, leading retailers such as Shinsegae, E-mart, and Samsung Home Plus made an operating agreement concerning carbon in 2009. In 2011, 434 products in Korea have received a carbon label and more than 500 products are expected to get a carbon label by the end of this year. Moreover, Korea also is recognized as a leading country for carbon labeling in electronic products. There are many advantages when a company adopts a carbon footprint system. If a company is designing and delivering low carbon goods or services, they can improve a company`s image. In addition, by providing quantitative information to consumers with regards to carbon emissions, a company can increase consumer preferences towards less carbon greenhouse emissions along with enhancing the competitiveness of the company. Moreover, the environmental information disclosed regarding the active carbon footprint labeling will help not only customers choosing a more environmentally friendly manufacturer, but also enhance the competitiveness of companies. Therefore, adopting a carbon footprint system in small-sized companies is one of the best strategies to participate in environmental campaigns and to enhance a company`s image. Despite these advantages, participation in the carbon footprint system is relatively low because of high costs and low incentives. According to a report from the Korea Small Business Institute in 2010, understanding about the reduction of greenhouse gases is very low and there is little information about the regulation of greenhouse gases. The report states that small-sized companies said that the best strategy as a response for regulation on the emission of greenhouse gases is to reduce the usage of electric equipment. This implies that most small-sized companies do not have any strategies to implement a plan to reduce greenhouse gasses. So, to deal effectively and efficiently this issue, proper programs for small-sized companies are suggested. Although the Korean government provides many channels and support programs for small-sized companies, more practical incentives like financial aid, tax benefits, or education programs should be provided concurrently. The companies also should put more effort into their business activities. They have to care about effective usage of energy and a reduction of greenhouse gases. In a more aggressive way, they can promote new types of energy such as green sources and photovoltaic power generation to decrease the usage of fossil fuel. To meet the demand of the times, the government introduced a challenging program like a partnership between large and small-sized companies. The program is considered a useful method in terms of offering sophisticated information and technical skill from large companies. Based on the success of this program, the government is expected to adopt the program in new areas and recommend small-sized companies use it. In summary, this study contributes to the related literature in several ways. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from carbon footprint labeling contributes to the effort of reduction as a whole, and climate change mitigation. Therefore, the suggestions of this study will be useful for developing mitigation strategies related to climate change. Second, the discussion of environmental issues has progressed for mostly large companies. However, considering the condition of small-sized companies in terms of limited resources, more concerns and efforts should be focused on small-sized companies. The findings of this study show that the carbon footprint system may be an effective strategy that can provide a lot of important implications to regulators and investors. Academics can also apply the discussion in this paper for related research. Also further research on the facts of emissions of diverse fuel types would help create better methods for successfully dealing with the challenges posed by climate change.