I added up my own carbon footprint – this is what I found

My life in carbon

So I decided to calculate my carbon footprint*. My life looks pretty low carbon as I don’t own a car, don’t eat meat, and my home energy supply is zero carbon. But I do have a habit of travelling all over the country to visit family and friends –  I clock up around 3000 carbon-powered miles a year just on trips. I also eat a lot of food – an extremely dirty form of fuel, as food production involves high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

So I put all my data into a spreadsheet, and geeked out with this super-handy government greenhouse gas emissions database  –  a resource so comprehensive it even includes the co2 emissions from journeys on the London Underground.

It turns out that my personal footprint comes to 2.46 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. This isn’t too bad. The UK average is around 13. Prince Charles’ is 1,173.  Mine would have been 4, but I saved around 1.7 tonnes with the cycling, vegetarianism, and clean energy supplier.

How my footprint breaks down:

Food: 86%

Travel round the UK by train/coach: 7%

Use of public services: 4%

Water use: 2%

Travel on London Underground: 1%

The high carbon footprint of food I kind of expected. The impact of all my travelling turns out to be quite small. I decided to include the carbon footprint of water use because it takes a lot of energy to pump the stuff to the house and then treat it again afterwards, but it hasn’t turned out to be massive.

I love trains

What I didn’t include

There was several things I missed out because they were just too hassly to work out, such as the impact of recycling, or the emissions from my fridge.  I also didn’t include emissions from landfill, since I don’t throw much away, or the carbon footprint of buying stuff, since I hardly ever buy anything new, and calculating the carbon emissions from charity shops and things was too much of a bore.

The future

To keep global warming under 2 degrees, everyone on the planet needs to get their carbon footprint down to 2 tonnes per year by 2050 (has anyone told Prince Charles?). That gives me 32 years to reduce mine by 0.46. Assuming that the UK public transport system is fossil-free by then (which I believe is the plan), I think I’ll do it.

*More precisely, I calculated all greeenhouse gas emssions, not just carbon dioxide. So it’s really more like a greenhouse gas footprint.

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