Know your specific carbon footprint so you can set your own goals
You must be wondering why we chose this first move. Well, it’s simple…what you can’t measure, you can’t improve upon!
The best way to measure your environmental footprint is through your carbon emissions. The amount of electricity that you consume, the amount of meat that you eat, the goods you buy, the kilometers you travel…all of those things can be translated into tons of carbon emissions. What we are trying to measure is actually the amount of “tons of CO2 equivalent” that you emit every year. Why equivalent ? Because we take into account all greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, nitrous oxyde, etc.) and convert them into a common measuring unit. In this case CO2eq. Think of it as converting distances like “inches” and “feet” into “meters”.
But, why are greenhouse gases such a big deal and why should I even bother measuring them?
Well, first of all, greenhouse gases are not as bad as they seem. Without any greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, the earth’s average temperature would be -18°C (0°F) ! Fortunately, the earth has a blanket made up of greenhouse gases that traps the heat that enters the atmosphere inside, keeping us all nice and warm (with average temperatures of 15°C or 59°F). The problem is: human activity is increasing the concentration of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Every year, humans are responsible for emitting 50Gt of greenhouse gases and only a very small part (around 15%) gets absorbed by natural carbon sinks such as trees, land and the ocean. The rest of it just accumulates in the atmosphere. In other words, our blanket is getting thicker and thicker!
So, how many tons of CO2eq do you think you emit per year? 1, 5, 50, 500…? There are many simplified tools to calculate your yearly carbon footprint. Below is a list of the ones we recommend. It will take around 10 minutes to answer the questions in the CO2 calculator and get a picture of your footprint. There are even some new applications (like Greenly in France) that help you calculate your carbon footprint with no effort at all and all you need to do is link the app to your bank account and the tool does the rest.
But, before you start crunching numbers, let me help you get an order of magnitude :
My last carbon footprint, before the COVID-19 pandemic, was 7.8tCO2eq/year. It doesn’t seem like much at first sight, right? Actually, if the 7 billion people living on earth would have the same footprint as me, we would be emitting 5Gt more greenhouse gas emissions per year!
But what is the objective we should be targeting? Well, according to the projections based on population growth and the climate models of the IPCC, the amount of CO2eq emitted per person needs to be limited to 2 tons by 2050 (and 5 tons by 2030). This means my carbon footprint needs to be 4 times smaller before I retire… Yaiks!
Seems almost impossible? But just remember, it’s all about supply and demand. The more people change their habits, the more companies and governments will (need to) adapt to the new trend and take the necessary measures to reduce CO2. Eventually, those “external” moves will help to reduce your own carbon footprint (your electricity will be less carbon intensive, your products will be less emitting, etc.)
It’s all connected…we are all connected.That’s the beauty of it! That’s how a butterfly can influence a tornado 😉
Carbon calculators for the US :
Carbon calculator for France: http://avenirclimatique.org/micmac/simulationCarbone.php