We hope that you found the Carbon Calculator exercise to be informative to understand which aspects of your lifestyle are most carbon intensive and how your footprint compares with others in the UK and elsewhere. Carbon Cap are planning to provide an innovative way of allowing both
individuals and companies to offset their carbon emissions. There are many existing “carbon offset” schemes, although these schemes take various forms and in many cases it is difficult to confirm the actual quantity of emission reductions that they give rise to.
Carbon Cap offsets will be different and will be designed to provide certainty of reductions. Please sign up to our newsletter if you wish to be kept updated with our product plans in this area. In the meantime,here are some ways in which everyone can start to reduce their own emissions.
1 Air travel is usually the largest part of the carbon footprint of frequent flyers. A single return flight from London to New York – including the
compounded impact of emissions in the high atmosphere – contributes to almost a quarter of the average person’s annual footprint. The easiest way to make a big difference is to go by train or not take as many flights. If you need to travel by air note that business class is responsible for almost three times the emissions as economy!
2 The second most important lifestyle change is to eat less meat, with particular emphasis on meals containing beef and lamb. Cows and sheep emit large quantities of methane, a powerful global warming gas. Try to eat locally produced, seasonal products and more vegetables, grains and fruit.
3 Home heating is next. Poorly insulated housing requires more energy to heat. If you have properly insulated the loft and filled the cavity wall, the most important action you can take is to draught-proof the house, something you can do yourself. You can of course also don an extra layer in the winter and turn the central heating down a degree or two.
4 Reducing the mileage of an average new car from 15,000 to 10,000 miles a year will save more than a tonne of CO2, about 15% of the average person’s footprint. Try switching to cycling or walking for shorter journeys and consider car-pooling or public transport for longer journeys.
5 LED light-bulbs (light-emitting diodes) have become cheap and effective. If you have any energy-guzzling halogen lights in your house – many people have them in kitchens and bathrooms – it makes good financial and carbon sense to replace as many as possible with their LED equivalents. Switch off lights in unoccupied rooms and power-down computers and other devices when you are not using them.
6 Simply buying less stuff is a good route to lower emissions. The CO2 impact of goods and services is often very different from what you’d expect. A suit made of wool may have a carbon impact equivalent to your home’s electricity use for a month. Try to minimise purchases of resource intensive, imported, and short-life goods. Why not buy, borrow or rent second-hand electronics, clothing, cars or other products where possible. Mike Berners-Lee’s book “How Bad Are Bananas?” takes an entertaining and well-informed look at what really matters.
7 Buy from companies that support the switch to a low-carbon future. An increasing number of businesses are committed to 100% renewable energy. In particular buy gas and electricity from suppliers who sell renewable power. Renewable natural gas is just coming on to the market in reasonable quantities in many countries and fossil-free electricity is widely available. Think about switching to a supplier that is working to provide 100% clean energy.
8 Invest in your own sources of renewable energy. Putting solar panels on the roof still usually makes financial sense, even after most countries have ceased to subsidise installation. Or buy shares in new cooperatively owned wind, solar or hydroelectric projects that are looking for finance.
9 Politicians tend to do what their electorates want. The last major UK government survey showed that 82% of people supported the use of solar power, with only 4% opposed. We can support politicians, councillors and their parties based on their commitments to environmentally friendly policies both at a national and at a local level.