CSDi Training for Individuals, Communities & Nonprofits
Your Carbon Footprint:
How to Cut It by 50%
Step 1. Run a Carbon Footprint
Estimate on Your Household.
Step One: How to Perform a Personal Carbon Footprint Estimate
The average US citizen generates 16.4 tons of CO2 emissions per year. By 2050 we need to reduce that to zero. Here are practical, achievable ideas on how you can get started doing just that: NOW!
Performing a personal carbon footprint calculation is Step One of 8 Steps to Cut Your Carbon Footprint 50%. See what the other 7 steps are!
What is the problem?
Although I work with community members developing Climate Action Plans for their community as a whole, individuals approach me and say with a sense of powerlessness “but what can I do as a single individual to combat climate change?” These human beings are feeling that as just one individual out of 8 billion on the planet, how much impact can they really have?
Background: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has declared that we need to be at net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to keep global warming below 1.5°C. Emissions are measured in tons of CO2. The average US citizen generates 16.4 tons of CO2 emissions per year. Therefore, over the next 28 years we each need to reduce that to zero.
How do we solve it?
Well here are 15 positive climate change action ideas that have a real impact on moving to zero and that you can do now. Without doing anything too drastic, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 50% taking these 15 steps.
Write a Climate Action Plan to reduce your carbon footprint by 50%. This is very important to do if you want success.
The first thing to do in developing your Climate Action Plan is to perform a carbon footprint estimate on your household. I used this great Quick Carbon Footprint Calculator 1.
In 15 minutes you can complete the Carbon Footprint Calculator with information that you probably have at your fingertips. This calculator prepares a report for you that explains a lot in an easy-to-understand manner. It allows you to see where you are contributing to CO2 emissions and what practical steps you can take to reduce them.
To give you a working climate action plan template, I will use a real example—our own household's Climate Action Plan for you to use as a springboard:
We found really good information in the footprint calculator. First, our four biggest contributors to emissions are ground transportation, household electricity, food choices, and air travel.
We learned that our two-person household generates 24 tons of CO2 emissions per year, or 12 tons each.
The report gave us a list of actions that we could take to reduce our current footprint. A second great resource for fine tuning which actions to choose is Mike Berners-Lee's book: The Carbon Footprint of Everything 2.
From these two resources we selected 15 actions that will let us reduce our household's 24 tons per year by 12 tons (or by 50%). So this became our Climate Action Plan's goal.
13 of these are low-cost/no-cost actions that will reduce our carbon footprint by 9.7 tons a year. That is 81% of our 12 ton goal.
Two others will require some planning and financial investment. We chose to install photovoltaic panels on our roof and trading in our current car for an electric car for a 4.9 ton reduction. This could be an additional 41% of our 12 ton goal. Cumulatively, these 15 combined actions exceed our 12 ton goal, so we have some flexibility.
I highly recommend the Carbon Footprint Estimate Calculator. I learned where we are generating carbon, what inexpensive actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint now, and what more expensive actions could be phased in. In one or two years we can indeed reduce our carbon footprint by 50%.
Move onto Step Two in your Climate Action Plan.
1. The CoolClimate Network Quick Carbon Footprint Calculator from the University of California, Berkeley.
2. The Carbon Footprint of Everything, by Mike Berners-Lee.
Copyright © Tim Magee
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