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Carbon Footprints – Uh?

August 24, 2009

With all of the Global warming, Climate Change and Carbon footprint, CO2 emissions and a whole load of other stuff flying around, it can get very confusing. In this post I will attempt to tackle just one of these subjects: The Carbon Footprint.
carbon footprintSimply put, this is the thing that helps you help the problem. If you understand Carbon footprints, well you don’t need to understand all the science and facts, all you have to do is your bit to help.
A carbon footprint is the measure of CO2 that something puts into the atmosphere in a set amount of time. That something can be a country, company, building, individual, product, event or just about any entity which is quantifiable. Now the time factor is important to because without it, well, everyone and everything’s carbon footprint is endless, like time. When we look at an individuals Carbon Footprint it is usually looked at in CO2 emissions per year.
The idea is, if you know your carbon footprint you can look at how to reduce it. Of course you can reduce it without knowing it just by doing more eco friendly things. We should all be doing this anyway, but understanding you Carbon Footprint just makes it easier.
Now one way is to look at the average Carbon Footprint for the county you live in.

• UK 9.66 tonnes
• USA 19.7 tonnes
• Mexico 4.5 tonnes
• China 4.57 tonnes
But hey who wants be average?

To work out your carbon footprint you have to look at everything in your life and work out how much CO2 that emits. So that includes transport, heating, holidays, food, water, electricity and a whole wealth of other things. Now to try and figure all that out! You probably just said to yourself something like, no way, or you must be out of your mind. It’s pretty much impossible and anyway and we all have far better things to be doing with our lives.

CO2 per capita by country

This is when we turn to Carbon Calculators. Yes you guessed it, a calculator that works out your carbon footprint. Brilliant. There goes all the work. Well, not exactly, you still have to fill in some information. There are loads of them online, just type in Carbon Calculator into Google.
Simply fill in the information and it will work out your carbon footprint. Now you can see you Carbon Footprint. I used the calculatore at and my Carbon Footprint is,
4.04 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Why not find your carbon footprint and post it as a comment at the end of this post. (and lets be honest about this) Remember you get the results instantly, which actually makes it kind of fun.
Great! So I now have a number, but what do I do with it. Now I try to reduce that number. I do things like turn the lights and appliances off, change my electricity to an Eco tariff, recycle more, use less, drive less, and walk more. Then I go back in 6 months or a year and see if my footprint has reduced. I have been doing this for a while now and have been reducing it every time. CARBON CALCULATORBut it can be hard to find a place to start reducing your footprint. This is where a good carbon calculator helps. In your results you will get a breakdown of where you CO2 emissions are coming from. You just find the area in your life that has the greatest amount of emissions and work out how to reduce it. So if its your car then try car pooling (sharing lifts to work etc) or biking to the shops, or even take PUBLIC TRANSPORT. Scary I know, but it really isn’t that bad once or twice a week!

We all need to have a target, right. For an example UK the government has set a target get personal Carbon Footprints to 8.5 by 2015. That’s 75% of the current average. Which is less than a 4% reduction each year.

But in reality this is nowhere near enough. For everyone on the planet to be living sustainable it is thought that our carbon footprints need to be less than 2 tonnes of CO2 per person. Now that’s less than 20% of the UK average today and less than 10% of the USA average. The ideal Carbon footprint is a subject of great debate and the is not one single number that has been agreed on. The IPCC of the USA has a target of 80% reductions on 1990 figures by 2050. New zealand has a ’20 by 2020′ idea. This means to reduce carbon footprints by 20% by 2020. Although this doesn’t come close to the 2 tonne footprint, it is a goal. I however believe it should be 40% by 2020 for every nation. This is a target that we should all adopt. Of course for those of us with already low carbon footprints this is going to be a whole lot harder, but possible none the less.
This really shows how screwed we are at the moment. We need to do more than just change the light-bulbs to CFL’s.We really do need to make a bigger effort to change, fundamental change. We need to support the new technologies in transport, electricity and buildings. Once we have mastered the small efforts we must not stop there but continue tackling this huge issue.  I will write a blog about the 2 tonne idea soon.
So that’s the basics of Carbon Foot printing. Why not go and find out your carbon footprint now then post your results at the end of this blog. Post your country and your personal Carbon footprint.
I hope this helped.
Thanks for reading.


Ps. if you have questions then please post them in the comments and I will respond.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2009 3:22 pm

    Yikes! 35 tonnes! Time to make some changes in my lifestyle!

    I am looking forward to seeing future blog entries here, I am impressed with the ones I have read so far and it is encouraging to see something out there that is basic enough for everyone to understand without glossing over the urgency of the matter.

    • August 25, 2009 5:10 pm

      wow that really is impressive. I would love to see a breakdown of your footprint.

      Do you know what you are going to do to reduce your Carbon footprint. I am sure there are so many other people out there with a similar lifestyle. Just to let you know, it is very easy to reduce your carbon footprint and keep your contemporary lifestyle.

      I work all the time on my computer, watch documentaries on my flat-screen TV, go to the cinema, use electrical appliances. I just do it all with thought. I always turn the lights off, use energy saving light-bulbs, walk wherever possible, or use public transport. My TV is set to energy saving mode (i looks exactly the same). I unplug everything before bed which has many advantages. Firstly it stops all my electrical things from sucking energy over night, but it also means I only plug in the things I use. eg. I don’t charge my phone everyday, or always use the coffee machine, or juicer. I dont always watch TV and if I do its not always the dvd player. You get the gist.

      I would love to hear you plan of action.

      Good luck with you efforts and please come back to post your results.


  2. Fitz permalink
    August 25, 2009 10:01 am

    I worked out that the carbon footprint for my team at work is also 4.04. Though this is for 10 people, and purely for commuting.

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