A new way to track your carbon footprint
We’ve teamed up with the Carbon Trust to create the Carbon Tracker. It’s bad news for carbon, great for the planet.
Carbon is a major concern. We’re releasing more of the stuff than ever and speeding up global warming. But like the age old saying ‘knowledge is power’. We can’t address our impact until we can understand it – and that’s where tools like our Carbon Tracker come in.
First up, what do we mean by ‘carbon’?
Good question! Carbon is short for ‘carbon dioxide’ but it’s become a bit of a catch-all word that means ‘greenhouse gases’. These include water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone.
It’s the carbon in our atmosphere that traps heat from the sun, and makes Earth warm enough to live on – so it’s not all bad. It’s just that right now, we’re all emitting too much and that’s causing global warming.
Every year, the UK population releases nearly 157 million tonnes of carbon due to home energy use and waste, which is 2.36 tonnes per person.1
This is enough to melt over 470km2 of Arctic sea ice cover2 and the more carbon we’re responsible for individually, the bigger our collective carbon footprint.
Not sure what a carbon footprint is? You’re not alone.
Our recent research found that most people have some knowledge of the term carbon footprint, but only 21% totally understand what it is.
Put simply, your carbon footprint is a way of measuring your impact on global warming, based on the total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) released into the atmosphere as a result of the way we live our daily lives.
It encompasses everything. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, the holidays we take and hotels we stay in...
Take driving a car as an example. We all know it’s bad because of the emissions it releases (unless you’re an early adopter rocking out in your electric vehicle, in which case, nice work). But we often forget about the emissions created in the manufacturing process of that car, or production of its fuel. These all contribute to your carbon footprint.
The good news is that there’s still time to turn things around. For us, our kids, and grandkids.
We know that the science and willpower exists to halt the climate crisis, but the real key to making it happen is bigger than big business, individual countries, and even world leaders. It’s about human collaboration on a mass scale with everyone, from every corner of the globe, coming together to reduce their impact.
Want to kickstart your journey to zero carbon? Try the Carbon Tracker!
It’s been designed to help everyone learn more about their carbon footprint and discover new ways to lighten it, so it’s a great first step on your journey to zero carbon.
We’ve made it really easy to use – and it’s free for all OVO members, new and existing. All you need to do is answer a few simple questions to see your carbon impact and get a personal carbon target.
By helping you track (and understand) the emissions connected to your home energy, waste, and transport we hope it’ll give you the tools you need to start reducing them – and all without making major sacrifices to the life you love.
Ready to get involved?
1 The Carbon Trust helped us to calculate the emissions associated with a kWh of gas and electricity use based on the UK average fuel mix.This was then applied to average gas and electricity consumption figures from Government sources to calculate emissions from home energy use. The Carbon Trust helped us to calculate the emissions associated with various household waste sources including Food, Paper, Tin cans, Plastic, Glass and Non-recyclable waste. This was then applied to average household waste figures from Government sources to calculate emissions from waste. Emissions were calculated according to the GHG Protocol, the international standard for carbon footprinting. The scope of the carbon footprint covers the lifecycle carbon emissions involved in the production and consumption of electricity and gas and waste (i.e. Scopes 1, 2 and 3 according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol). The average individual carbon footprint for home energy and waste (2.36 tonnes per person) was multiplied by the total number of people living in the UK to provide carbon emissions for the total UK population.
2 Annual UK average emissions from home energy use and waste for the whole UK population were multiplied by 3 square meters (i.e. the amount of sea ice that disappears per tonne of carbon dioxide). How do we know that? In 2016, two climatologists published a paper in the prestigious journal Science showing a direct relationship between carbon emissions and the melting of Arctic sea ice. Every metric tonne of carbon dioxide or its equivalent shrinks the ice cover by 3 square meters. You can read the study here.