Understanding climate change is complex and there is a lot of, often confusing, information available. This government guide sets out to explain climate change, the evidence and impacts as well as some of the international and national strategies in place to address the issue.
Understanding your carbon footprint
We all have a ‘carbon footprint’ - a carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, service, place or product, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2e) or just carbon.
In simple terms: if you drive a car, the engine burns fuel which produces carbon dioxide, depending on its fuel consumption and the driving distance. When you heat your house with oil, gas or coal, then you also generate carbon dioxide. When you buy food and goods, the production of the food and goods will emit some carbon dioxide.
Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of carbon, which were caused (directly or indirectly) by your activities in a given time frame. Usually a carbon footprint is calculated for the time period of a year.
There are many tools available to calculate your carbon footprint.
Calculating your carbon footprint helps us all to understand the impact of personal behaviour on climate change.
Small changes – big differences!
There are some simple things we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint – often these small changes save money too!
Travel and transport
- Reduce vehicle use – walk or cycle where possible
- Car share or combine journeys
- Shop locally where options exist
- Improve fuel efficiency by maintaining your vehicle and keeping tyres inflated
- Minimise flying
- Consider replacing your vehicle with a hybrid or electric equivalent
- Use public transport
- Consider energy efficiency home improvements such as insulation, double glazing and LED lights
- Reduce the indoor temperature, make use of your thermostat if you have one to ensure you aren’t heating an empty home
- Compare providers of gas and electricity and consider changing to one that supports renewable energy generation - some are greener than others and some are less green than they appear!
- Buy appliances with high energy ratings
- Consider installation of low carbon heating if your gas or oil fired system is coming to the end of its natural life
Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Reduce the ‘things’ that you buy - can you borrow, repair or make do?
- Reduce water use by swapping baths for showers and using ‘grey’ water to wash the car and water the garden
- Reuse what you can
- Recycle – either at home or via other means using landfill as a last resort
- Reduce food waste