A personal carbon footprint measures the greenhouse gases which are emitted as a result of the activities of an individual. Typically it’s measured in kilograms or tonnes of carbon dioxide ‘equivalents’. This is because whilst carbon dioxide is the main greenhouses gas it also needs to include other gases such as methane and nitrous oxide which have much greater global warming potential. The activities that a carbon footprint covers are broad, because so many of our day to day activities lead to greenhouse gas emissions.
They can be split out into 5 main areas
- Running a home which includes heating, electricity and waste.
- Transport because when we drive, fly or use other transport fossil fuels are often burnt.
- What we eat, drink and any food we waste.
- What we buy from clothes to electrical items to personal care.
- The services we use which includes how we invest, where we stay on holiday and our mobile and internet
Adding these all up the average global carbon footprint for an individual is around 5 tonnes but it’s 9 tonnes in the UK, over 15 tonnes in the United States and under 2 tonnes in India. Whilst the majority of a carbon footprint is carbon dioxide the food we eat often adds methane (from livestock) and nitrous oxide (from fertilizer) to the total.
What’s my carbon footprint?
Everyone’s carbon footprint is different. Sometimes a little bit but often a lot with the richest 10% having an average carbon footprint over 20 tonnes whilst the poorest 50% are under 1 tonne. The one thing we do know is that people with higher footprints needs to dramatically cut them over the next 10 years with an aim to hit 2.5 tonnes, or less, by 2030. Ideally people would reach Net Zero (where any emissions we do create are balanced by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) at the same time or as soon as possible after that.
The carbon footprint for an average UK person is shown in the chart. Normally our homes, what we eat and how we get around are the largest contributors making up roughly a quarter each. However, before decide how to reduce our carbon footprints it’s important to get a more personalised estimate to make sure we’re looking in the right places for the big cuts. This is where personal carbon footprint calculators come in.
Eco Communities has joined Giki and we have an account for residents in Cheshire to work out their carbon footprint.
Eco Communities can help you understand, track and reduce your carbon footprint. You can also view how much as a community we have been able to reduce our impact on the planet collectively!
Make a Carbon Footprint Friends Pledge
If you are not joined up on Giki as yet, what can I do? Join us, calculate your Carbon Footprint and then choose 5 challenges to get you started.