With carbon emissions at an all-time high, our carbon footprint has been somewhat of a hot topic recently. After much debate, the UN has warned that “The chances of keeping the global temperature increase below 2°C will “swiftly diminish” unless the world takes immediate action to escalate cuts in carbon emissions”. While the pressure is certainly on national governments to implement policies that will help cut down harmful emissions, we each have a responsibility to be aware of how we are contributing to this harmful cycle and what we can do to help.
Although the term ‘carbon footprint’ is widely used, it’s not always understood. Essentially, our carbon footprint is how much carbon emission can be traced back to you as an individual. While this sounds fairly straightforward, there are a myriad of things to consider, such as your use of transport, how you consume food, buy clothes and technology, dispose of your waste and heat your home. All of these things add up to a score that is either above or below the target amount set by the UN to aspire to by 2020. Basically, the higher the number, the more you are contributing to global carbon emissions and all the associated consequences.
So, what can be done? Well, as with most things, the first step is to understand your current situation to see where you’re jumping off from. The WWF (world wildlife fund) has developed an easy-to-use carbon footprint calculator to assess where you stand versus the current UN markers, providing an excellent starting point. Once you have figured out how much your footprint is, putting these figures into context is a logical next step. The gravity of our situation as a society can be a little overwhelming, so breaking these numbers down into digestible chunks is the best way to see how little changes can have big impacts. Tourism, for example, currently