Greenhouse gases, mainly in the form of carbon dioxide but also methane, nitrogen oxides and CFCs, are the main causes of manmade global warming with the threat of potentially serious climate change. These gases are generated by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, mainly from transport and space heating of homes and businesses as well as electricity generation used across nearly all sectors of the economy. Farming is also responsible for some of these emissions, partly from the manufacture of, for example, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, so the food we eat is part of the equation as well. We must also take into account the emissions due to the products we import from the rest of the World.

The output of these gases is aggregated to give a carbon dioxide equivalent known as the carbon footprint. Taking all these sources together, the lifestyle of the average person in the United Kingdom has a carbon footprint of around 15 tons compared to the world average of 5 tons. Just as a point of interest, China may now be the World's top emitter, around 24% of the total, but it has a population of more than 1 billion, one-sixth of the World's total. It is a major exporter of the goods the rest of the World wants and buys, and the carbon footprint averages across that country's population is around 5 tons, one-third of ours, and a quarter of that of the average US citizen. You can't really put all the blame for global warming on the Chinese!

But what about YOUR carbon footprint. The link below is for a handy carbon footprint calculator based on your lifestyle choices. You will need to know your annual gas and electricity consumption which you can extract from your utility bills, and your annual mileage by car, bus and train. If you travel by plane, be prepared for a bit of a shock! Be as honest as you can with your answers.

Once you know what your carbon footprint is, you can start to try to reduce it.

Carbon Independent