The carbon footprint represents the total volume of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) produced by the various economic as well as daily activities of human beings. Carbon footprint is usually expressed in tons of CO2 emitted. It is extremely important to take measures and implement the necessary initiatives to reduce it as much as possible. Remember that each one of us can help to reduce it!
All the daily activities of human beings, such as traveling by car, charging cell phones or running dishwashers, lead to leaving gasses that accumulate in the atmosphere which leads to overheating the planet. These emissions are known as climate change, as the Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) has warned us in its Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS), and if we do not neutralize them in time, even more inhospitable future awaits us.
That is why, in today’s article, we want to tell you all about the carbon footprint and how to help to reduce it, with a few simple tricks in your everyday life.
What is the carbon footprint?
It is defined as the trail of greenhouse gasses (GHG) left behind by human activities. This environmental indicator measures both direct and indirect emissions of compounds such as methane (CH4), nitrogen oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and, above all, the most abundant and most damaging to our environment since the 1990s: carbon dioxide (CO2).
In this direction, the World Meteorological Organization (Organización Meteorológica Mundial – OMM) points out that the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere reached a new record in 2019. Also, the aforementioned organization highlights that current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are comparable to those of more than three million years ago, when the Earth’s thermometer indicated about 3ºC more and the sea level measured between 10 and 20 meters more than it does today. The carbon footprint has continued to grow, increasing 11-fold since 1961, and now accounts for 60% of the total impact on the environment, according to the Global Footprint Network’s estimations.
Therefore, we can distinguish 3 types of carbon footprint: personal, corporate and the one of a specific product.
Personal carbon footprint
It is the footprint of a single individual in his/her everyday life as he/she moves around, consumes, eats and uses resources such as energy. The Nature Conservancy estimates that each inhabitant of our planet generates an average of almost four tons of CO2 per year, and in some countries, such as the United States, this figure quadruples per person per year.
The mentioned organization says that the personal carbon footprint should be reduced to less than two tons per year by 2050. Experts claim that this would be the best way to prevent the constant rise of environmental temperature. Reaching the worrying threshold of 2ºC would aggravate climate change and make it an irreversible problem.
Corporate carbon footprint
Not only individuals generate the polluting emissions. Companies also carry out activities that generate greenhouse gasses, such as transport or energy consumption. Thus, the corporate carbon footprint measures all GHG emissions of companies and their scope, whether they are direct and can be controlled or not.
Companies can choose to reduce their carbon footprint by improving their energy efficiency, consuming 100% renewable energy, carrying out awareness campaigns, investing in environmental projects, paying green taxes or buying tons of CO2 on the international emissions market. There is a wide range of measures to take.
Carbon footprint of a product
Consumer goods and services also emit greenhouse gasses before, during and after their useful life. Pollution is generated from raw material procurement, processing, production and distribution to the use phase and transformation into waste. Meanwhile, the carbon footprint of events is also remarkable, due to elements such as transport, energy consumption or generating waste, as well as many others.
Why is it so important to reduce the carbon footprint?
The billions of people on our planet are responsible for depleting the resources we have, and according to United Nations forecasts, the world’s population could reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, and more than 11 billion by 2100. Due to this increase in population, emissions continue to rise and the Earth’s resources are being depleted more rapidly.
This increase in greenhouse gas emissions has a direct impact on global warming, accelerating climate change with disastrous effects on our planet. We can all contribute to the fight against global warming by making environmentally friendly choices in our daily lives.
How can we reduce our carbon footprint?
The coming years will be decisive in the fight against climate change, so here are some tips to reduce emissions.
- Opt for responsible consumption, based on local products and produced in a sustainable way, or you can also create your own urban garden!
- Move more sustainably, whether by public transport, bicycle or on foot, and opt for more environmentally friendly vehicles.
- Purchase energy-efficient appliances and regulate your heating and air conditioning to save energy.
- Make yourself and others aware of the importance of reducing your carbon footprint.
- Reduce the amount of waste: reuse your packaging, recycle it – if not possible, dispose of it in its corresponding container.
- And choose 100% renewable energy consumption!
CALCULATE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
There are numerous free and very simple tools to estimate your personal carbon footprint in just a few minutes available on the Internet. Try one!