Student Choice Presentation - Coclear CDP Data Visualization

Coclear CDP Data Visualization

Link to visualization :
Coclear CDP(Carbon Disclosure Project) Data Visualization aims at analysing the carbon footprints/emissions of products from different companies across different sectors side by side. It is the world's first data visualization of product carbon footprints throughout its life cycle and was developed to enhance awareness of carbon sources and finding sustainable ways to reduce them. For now, the data is drawn from 145 companies in 28 countries with a total of 866 products. This tool can help the viewers gain a deeper understanding of products(carbon-emission levels) at all stages in their supply chain by breaking down its carbon emits during the raw material (Upstream), manufacturing and later downstream phases which denotes the consumer use of the product. By generating carbon intensity data for each product - through measuring the rate of carbon emissions per kilogram of product, CoClear was able to identify industry trends, as well as track product performance improvements along value chains.

Features of the Visualization

This interactive visualization looks like a wheel(circular approach) with multi colored spokes or segments, each representing a consumer product like cell phone, automobile, computer, TV etc. The Wheel contains concentric circles and each of the circle inside the wheel has a carbon intensity value that is scaled according the emission values. When a user hovers over a spoke/segment in the wheel, a popup box appears with a summary of a product's life cycle data which also includes the improvements companies made to reduce its carbon emissions. The visualization itself can be categorized into various divisions.

Spokes/Segements: The length of each spoke depends on the carbon intensity value of the product. Each spoke is multi colored - orange for emissions during Upstream, blue for emissions during downstream, grey for emissions during manufacturing and dark grey if the data is not reported - and the length of each color is based on the percentage of emissions during each life cycle stage. There is a reported change at the end of each spoke which is denoted by green and red dots. Green dot represents decrease in product emissions compared to previous data and Red dot represents increase in the product emissions.
Popup Box: The popup has two rows where the first row contains the company details, product name and description. The second row consists of three columns where the first column has information about the product data(product weight, CO2 emission per kg of product, Carbon intensity value), the second column contains the overall life cycle emission percentages(Upstream, Manufacturing and Downstream percentages) and finally the third column contains information about the change in the Carbon Footprint for the product over the years i.e whether there is a increase or decrease in the emissions and the reasons for the increase/decrease in the product emission values along with the percentage of increase/decrease.
Filters: Apart from the popup, there are four filters that can be applied to narrow down the results.
View All Sectors - Option to choose all sectors(applied by default) or select sectors of our choice like Automobile, Food and Beverage etc. to see how each sector contributes to the carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
View All Companies - Option to choose from a list of recorded 145 companies to see the carbon emissions of the products manufactured by a specific company or all companies.
Year - Option to choose different years from 2013 - 2017 to see how the emission values of the products has changed compared to the other years.
Order By - Option to order by Carbon Intensity, company name, sector to see which sector,company or product has contributed the maximum/minimum value towards the emissions.

Data and its collection

The data for this visualisation is submitted by the companies for public disclosure based on their product life cycle assessment as a part of CDP’s supply chain climate change information request. Conducting a life cycle analysis of a product’s carbon footprint is labor intensive and the data that companies submitted to Coclear CDP needed a lot of pre processing as each company had their own formats. Companies submitted their product emission data in myriad formats with varying levels of detail, and the devlopers had to process the reams of data. For instance, to evaluate a simple consumer product such as a soda can, companies had to collect data on the masses of three packaging materials and five ingredients, transportation distances of all materials sent to the plant, total amounts for four types of energy as well as transportation distances to stores and refrigeration times in stores and at home, after which all materials and activities have to be paired with respective carbon emission factors, bringing the count of data inputs to about 100 for a single product. Different products had different substituents of Carbon and for each product, based on the substituent, the emission value had to be calculated per Kg of the product and finally the Carbon Intensity value. After the pre processing of data, conversion every product’s footprints into a universal set of metrics was required for uniform comparisons across different companies and sectors. With these metrics in hand, CoClear worked closely with the Data Science Institute to refine the visualization tool. During a Sustainability Hackathon hosted by DSI, data science students developed code and created visualizations that CoClear later used for the final design. Spry Group, a New York based web development agency also helped them design Carbon Catalogue. The number of companies releasing their product emission data has increased from 2013 and lots of companies from various sectors are expected to submit their data to gain insights about their product emissions.


1) Companies can use the tool to track the performance of their products based on the emission values over the years. They can use the ideas from other companies for more sustainable solutions if there is a positive change in the carbon footprint of a similar product. Companies can also find efficient ways in the manufacturing of the product.
2) Consumers/General public can use the tool too see how the usage of the products contribute to the carbon emission and consumers are the major contributors in some of the sectors. This can help them to significantly reduce the usage or shift to other eco friendly substitutes if available.
3) Government Sectors can use the application to see how the products in each sector directly contribute to global warming by the release Carbon dioxide or its equivalents into the atmosphere. Policy makers can investigate supply chains and unlock opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.
4) Reasearchers can use the tool to find better eco friendly equivalents(can be used in the manufacturing) for products with higher carbon/carbon equivalent emission values.

Pros of the Visualization

1) The colors used in the application are color blind friendly and is applicable to all users.
2) The application uses circular approach to visualize the data and show the composition, which are difficult to visually organize when the underlying layout is linear. The circular form encourages eye movement to proceed along curved lines, rather than in a zig-zag fasion in a square or rectangular figure.
3) Even if the data increases in the future, the circular layout can support a large volume of data. More data can be shown within a given space on a page or within narrow field of vision.
4) The popup box on hover is highly informational. The distribution of life cycle emissions (Upstream, Manufacturing, Downstream) in percentages is clear and useful in knowing which phase contributes more towards the emission. The explanation in the Carbon Footprint change can be used by other companies for product related decisions.
5) The data is complex and communicating complex information invovles more advanced visualisation with corresponding depths. Every detail of the data is visualized clearly using a simple circular approach and a popup box.

Cons of the Visualization

1) The number of countries,sectors,companies and limited at the moment. CoClear CDP is currently working on getting the data and other companies are also keen in submitting the data to know about their products carbon emissions.
2) The visualization is difficult to interpret if all the sectors,companies are selected across all the years. In that case it becomes quite difficult to hover over a single product.
3) It is difficult for the viewers to analyze and assimilate information quickly.
4) There is no option to compare the Carbon Intensity of two products at the same time.


Below are the important observations derived using the tool.
The data shows that several companies have made vast improvements in reducing their product emissions across the years. Some have instituted sustainable practices such as reducing packaging for food and beverage products, while others replaced fossil fuel with bio energy or lowered the energy consumption of computers.

1) Between 2013-2017, there was a general increase in the number of companies reporting product carbon emissions to CDP.
2) 75+% of product carbon emissions arise outside the company's direct operations i.e upstream or downstream in the product’s value chain.
3) On average, participating companies with granular life cycle data reduced their products’ carbon footprints at double the rate of companies with only total product emissions. This indicates that granular life cycle analysis may play a crucial role in enabling companies to successfully pursue science based targets through product redesign.
4) 20% of companies that pursued product carbon reduction initiatives in 2016-2017 did so after receiving data requests from their supply chain partners who were already reporting to CDP.
5) 58% of companies that reported product carbon emissions in 2016-2017 did not supply a breakdown of life cycle stage emissions along the value chain.
6) When it comes to Autombile, Computer, It and Telecom, Consumers are the major contributors as they contribute to more than 75% of the emissions.
7) Sectors with low average carbon intensity (CI) typically have most of their product value chain emissions upstream whereas larger CIs are driven by downstream emissions.
8) Product improvements led to an average annual intensity reduction of 7%, thus ensuring absolute reduction is possible despite growth.
9) On average, companies with life cycle breakdowns of their products achieved about twice the product efficiency improvements as those with only product level footprints (~9% v ~4%).