The scheme is to be trialled by Walkers, Boots, and drinks company Innocent and has secured support from a raft of major retailers including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, the Co-operative Group and the British Retail Consortium.
Under the pilot scheme producers will apply the Carbon Trust's experimental methodology for measuring embodied carbon to their products and commit to reducing the figure over the next two years. Those that fail to cut emission levels could lose the right to use the label.
"Everything we do or buy has a carbon impact and it is clear that consumers and business want to take action to help tackle climate change," said Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust. "We believe this label, with its built-in commitment to reduce the product's carbon footprint, will act as a powerful bridge connecting carbon-conscious companies and their customers."
The first product to apply the new standards will be Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps - the company's best selling flavour – which will now have a new label informing customers that each pack resulted in 75 grams of carbon being emitted. Labels will also be added to Boots Organics shampoo and Innocent smoothies with the Carbon Trust hopeful more producers will soon sign up to the scheme.
The concept of embodied carbon has long-been controversial due to the huge complexity of measuring the carbon emissions associated with every stage of a product's lifecycle through development, manufacture, transport, sale and disposal.
As a result the Carbon Trust has attempted to head off criticism of its methodology by setting up a Technical Advisory Group including experts from government, business and science that will thoroughly review its methodology and engage with stakeholders on the effectiveness of the scheme.
The long term goal of the new scheme is to establish the methodology and labels as a national standard. "Establishing one standard, credible way of measuring a product's carbon content will empower consumers to make informed decisions as well as driving businesses to invest in lowering the carbon content of their products," said Delay.
UK insurers will be called upon next month by the Prudential Market Authority to stress test their business against a range of climate and transition risks
As ClientEarth warns too many councils have missed deadlines to submit air quality plans, government confirms fresh support from its Clean Bus Technology Fund
Environment Agency chair Emma Howard Boyd's speech at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - in full
Britain has its first new deep coal mine in decades - a result of pretending climate change isn't political
Rebecca Willis argues the controversial decision to approve a new coal mine in the UK is symptomatic of a wider political failure