What is a carbon footprint?

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by human activities. It is a way for us to measure the impact of our actions on climate change. The higher your carbon footprint, the more you are contributing to global warming and causing climate change. That is why we have created a helpful guide to understanding your carbon footprint and how you can reduce it.

Calculating your carbon footprint.

Carbon footprints come in all shapes and sizes – they can be used to measure the emissions of specific activities, a person, entire households, businesses, and even whole countries. Various online tools, like the World Wildlife Fund Footprint Calculator, let you measure your personal carbon footprint in a matter of minutes. The lifestyle areas that are measured are your:

  • Home energy

  • Travel

  • Shopping habits

  • Food choices

These are the biggest contributors to the average personal carbon footprint. By finding out your carbon footprint breakdown, you can focus on making the lifestyle changes that will have the biggest positive impact.

Why is it called a carbon footprint if it measures greenhouse gases?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the most common and recognised greenhouse gases – but it isn’t the only one. Each greenhouse gas produces a different level of warming effect on the atmosphere. To be able to measure their total impact, we compare their effect to the effect CO2 has on global warming. This is called their carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). CO2e is the amount of CO2 that would result in the same level of global warming as the total greenhouse gas emissions being measured. Therefore, it is called a carbon footprint because it is measured in carbon, even though it accounts for all greenhouse gas emissions. The world is working to reduce global warming. In 2015, world leaders pledged in Paris to aim to keep global warming to below 2oC, and aim to limit the increase to 1.5oC (compared to pre-industrial levels). This is now called the Paris Agreement. This pledge was renewed again at the 2022 COP27 conference in Sharm El-Sheikh. The UK is playing its part, having committed to bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. With the interim goal of reducing emissions by 68% by 2030. Find out more about how we are working towards net zero.

It starts at home.

The good news is that as individuals there’s lots we can do to lower our carbon footprints and have a meaningful impact in reducing global warming. Don’t believe us? During the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns global emissions were reduced by a sizable 17%*. Just under half of that reduction was from changes to our transport habits alone. All our little changes really do add up to something big. At E.ON Next we already provide all our customers with 100% renewable electricity**. Plus, we’ve now fitted around four million smart meters to help our customers understand and reduce their energy use. But there’s still plenty more that can be done. Taking steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency is good for the environment and your wallet. Enhance your home by:

Are you going places?

As we saw from the impact of Covid lockdowns, transport plays a huge part in reducing our personal carbon footprint. The number one improvement you can make for more sustainable travel is to walk, cycle, or use public transport whenever it is safe and possible to do so. Driving an electric vehicle (EV) is also becoming an increasingly popular way to cut carbon emissions, as well as reducing noise pollution. Learn more about the benefits of electric vehicles. If you’re not ready to go electric you can help the environment by driving petrol or diesel vehicles smarter. Simple things like keeping your tyres inflated to the appropriate level, removing excess weight, and driving efficiently can all help to lower exhaust emissions. And if you are lucky enough to be jetting off on holiday, try to fly economy – no private jets please.

Buy what you need.

A pretty sensible principle to apply to everyday life is to only buy what you actually need. I’m sure most of us are guilty of having an unloved jumper at the bottom of our wardrobe or a ‘trendy’ gadget gathering dust. It happens to the best of us. But every item we buy causes greenhouse gas emissions throughout manufacturing and transportation before it makes it into our shopping bag. Cutting down on unnecessary purchases not only saves money, but it also cuts down our carbon footprint. So next time your wardrobe could use updating or there’s a new thingamabob you simply must have, try buying second hand or renting. And always check what can be repairedreused, or recycled.

The healthy planet diet.

Everything we eat is transported to our shops for us to buy, with many food products coming from abroad. These ‘food miles’ all create carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Food production and packaging also create greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacturing process. Plus, whilst crops can help absorb greenhouse gases, foods such as meat and dairy produce emissions during farming. So, even raw foods can have a carbon footprint. To reduce your personal carbon footprint you should try to buy locally sourced food when possible. Buying produce when it’s in season means it doesn’t need to be imported from abroad. Plus, try reducing your dairy and meat consumption. You don’t need to give up cheese for good to do some good for the planet. Reducing our carbon footprints is an important step on the journey to a net zero UK. No change is too small. Together we can make a difference and help build a healthier planet. Find more energy saving tips to continue your journey to cutting carbon emissions.

Rising bills help.

We want to reassure you that we are dedicated to helping you where we can. We have put together some helpful resources where you can access support from us, charities and the government.

Feel the Community power.

The E.ON Next Community is a space for customers just like you, sharing their experiences to offer a helping hand. Find support or suggest your own unique topics, plus get involved in discussions of all the latest news. Join the conversation now.

Published 01/08/2023

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