How Climatiq handles currencies

Climatiq has a variety of emission factors that use the amount of money spent on a given product or service to approximate how much GHG emissions are generated.

A table at the bottom of this page shows what currencies are supported by Climatiq.

There are a few extra things you need to be aware of to get the most accurate emissions out of money-based emission factors, often called spend-based emission factors. Let's dive in to some of them.

Climatiq's emission factors are generally calculated based on one currency - let's call that the source currency. This could be kg of CO2e emitted based on every US dollar spent, or kg of CO2e emitted based on every euro spent. Here, the source currency is USD or EUR respectively.

If we look at an emission factor in the search endpoint, we might get something like the following back. Notice in particular the unit and year.

"id": "accommodation_type_hotels_campgrounds",
"name": "Hotels and campgrounds",
// Notice the year here
"year": "2020",
"region": "US",
"region_name": "United States",
"description": "Emission intensity of supply chain (with margins i.e. cradle to shelf) in US dollars spend on: hotels and campgrounds. This factor is representative of the described commodity (equivalent to a goods or services category) and was calculated from 2016 data applying IPCC 4th Assessment Report conversion factors.",
"unit_type": [
// Notice here that the unit is kg/USD
"unit": "kg/USD",
"lca_activity": "cradle_to_shelf"
//... More emision factor data.s

This means that this emission factor considers what emissions are generated by one dollar of money spent in 2020.

If you use this with another currency, such as euro, Climatiq will automatically use the applicable exchange rate from 2020 between EUR and USD, to determine what the correct USD amount is.

Climatiq only contains exchange rates between the currencies it supports and the US Dollar. That means that if neither the source currency nor the currency you send to the Climatiq API is USD, the exchange rates between the two currencies are calculated via the US Dollar exchange rates. The US dollar acts as what you would call a vehicle currency.

Spending a US dollar on something in 2016 isn't the same as spending it in 2022 - as inflation means you can purchase less per dollar.

Climatiq does not take inflation into account when dealing with money, as there are numerous problems with applying an economy-wide inflation rate, as both rates of inflation and changes in emission factors vary greatly across different sectors.

To limit the inaccuracy caused by inflation you should try to use sources that are as close to the time when you spent the money as possible, or manually adjust for inflation yourself.

This table list all currencies that the Climatiq API supports. Pass in the iso_currency_code into the API to use a specific currency.

Still got questions? Are there features related to currency that you wish Climatiq supported?

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