Cutting down your personal carbon footprint and the number of greenhouse gases that are produced as a result of your actions can go a long way in achieving the UK Government proposed target of net-zero by 2050. According to nature.org, the average person has a carbon footprint of 4 tons, which would have to be reduced to under two tons if there is any hope in achieving net-zero by 2050 and to avoid a 2℃ rise in global temperatures. This stat emphasises the importance of calculating the cost of carbon emissions to help reach key targets.
However, changing your carbon footprint doesn’t happen overnight, with small actions and things that we take for guaranteed needing to be moderately replaced or changed altogether. From taking fewer flights to eating less meat, there is a wide range of small individual actions that we can take in our daily activities to help reduce our carbon dioxide emissions.
What are the main causes of carbon emissions?
According to data from the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions, human activities are the main global source of carbon emissions. Your carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide you contribute to the atmosphere through your personal lifestyle every day.
We produce greenhouse gases in lots of different ways:
Electricity and heat
When fossil fuels are burnt carbon dioxide is immediately released into the air. Fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal make up 31% of all global carbon emissions.
Rearing livestock and planting crops can release greenhouse gases into the air and makeup 11% of all global carbon emissions.
The deforestation of green spaces makes up 6% of all global carbon emissions. Trees remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Once cut down and burnt, that stored carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.
The deforestation of green spaces has also had an impact on wildlife, with mammals, fish, birds and reptiles’ populations declining by 60 per cent according to a report by the Zoological Society of London and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Many of the daily activities that we often do without even thinking about – such as using electricity, driving a car, or disposing of waste can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. According to data from the UK Met Office, there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there ever has been during the past two million years, with a 40% increase of carbon dioxide released into the air during the 20th and 21st centuries.
While natural climate cycles can change the temperature of Earth such as volcanic eruptions and changing energy from the sun, the human effect of climate change has had more of an impact on a larger scale, with the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirming that human activity is unequivocally the cause of global warming.
How to calculate your carbon footprint
Many online carbon emission calculators can determine the number of carbon emissions that you produce and offer ways in which you can lower your carbon footprint. Not only that but if you are a small or medium-sized business owner, carbon emission calculators can even help you calculate your businesses carbon footprint and ways in which you can turn your business green.
Some of our favourite carbon emission calculators are:
Carbon Footprint – https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
Zero Carbon Business – https://zerocarbonbusiness.uk/calculate-the-cost-of-your-carbon-emissions/
Climate Care – https://www.climatecare.org/calculator/
Conservation – https://www.conservation.org/carbon-footprint-calculator#/
United Nations – https://lifestylecalculator.doconomy.com/unfccc/
These online carbon emission calculators are free to use and can deliver your total estimated personal carbon emissions and business carbon footprint results instantly.
How do carbon emission calculators work?
Everyone’s carbon footprint is different based on location, personal choices and habits so the information provided by the individual when using a carbon emission calculator is vital in producing a rough estimate of your carbon footprint.
Carbon footprint calculations are typically based on annual emissions from the previous 12 months and are divided into separate categories ranging from house energy usage, flight usage, vehicle usage, bus and rail usage and secondary categories such as food consumption and your overall spend on daily products and groceries.
For example, the emission calculator may ask you about your travel usage and present to you a few options on how you travel to and from work, home etc regularly. For instance, do you walk or ride a bicycle, or do you use public transport occasionally? Based on what is accurate to you and your current lifestyle, you will select the option and proceed with the next question until all questions are completed and an overall estimate of your carbon emission footprint can be calculated.
Once this information has been entered, the carbon emission calculator employs the best available data and findings from independent researchers and provides a range of informed assumptions to form the basis of its calculations.