What is carbon footprint and how to calculate it?
In simple terms, Carbon Footprint can be defined as the total amount of greenhouse gas emission - mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) – released into the environment either by an individual or by some specific activity, organization, or industry. Carbon footprint is usually measured in equivalent tons of CO2, during the period of a year.
Why is important to calculate your Carbon Footprint?
The average carbon footprint for a person in the US is one of the highest in the world, equaling 16 tons of CO2 per person per year. The EU's total carbon footprint was equal to 7 tons of CO2 per person in 2018. Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons. To help to avoid a 2℃ rise in global temperature, the average global carbon footprint per year shall drop below 2 tons per person per year by 2050.
How to calculate it?
To lower our carbon footprint we shall first understand what’s our personal contribution to the global greenhouse gas emission. To do that you need to know some information about your activities that can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The factors that must be taken into account include fuel and electricity usage, consumption habits, travel information, eating, and cooking habits.
Some interesting online carbon footprint calculators have made this task easier. We have tried this one and we can suggest it to you (there are various similar websites and we just decided to select one that is easy to use) to calculate your carbon footprint by yourself.
So, how can we reduce our carbon footprint?
Lowering individual carbon footprints to 2 tons doesn’t happen overnight! By starting with small changes, we can make a big difference over time.
As an individual, the best way to play your role to help lessen the severity of climate change is by reducing your carbon footprint as much as possible.
Some examples of quick-win actions? See the list below:
- Using public commute;
- Recycling as much as possible;
- Turning down the heating by 1⁰C;
- Spending less time in the shower;
- Eating more plant-based food;
- Lowering down your power usage;
- Reducing the number of flights you take;
- Hanging out the washing instead of tumble drying.
Individuals and organizations can also offset their carbon footprint. To do this, you can find a Carbon Offset Scheme (search for it online), use the tools to calculate your emissions, and then pay to offset them – e.g. offset your flight emissions by paying to plant trees.
Whatever you chose to do, it is better to start it right now, before it is too late. The governments should start to move towards a more renewable energy-based economy, but as you could see, we also can do our part with little changes in our lifestyle.