Carbon footprint: how does it work?

The battle to keep the environment has brought multiple words that most people hear during the news, read in newspapers, see on Instagram, but the reality is, they do not know the real or more profound meaning. One good example is the “Carbon Footprint”. One of Sustonable goals is to spread environmental education and make people more aware of it, so, along with this article, we explain what Carbon Footprint is, how it is measured, and what to do to improve our footprint individually.

What is the Carbon Footprint?

The Carbon Footprint is an environmental indicator that intends to reflect the totality of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by a direct or indirect effect of an individual, organisation, event, or product.

Such environmental impact is measured by carrying out a GHG emissions inventory or a life cycle analysis (a tool that investigates and evaluates the environmental impacts of a product or service during all stages of its existence: extraction, production, distribution, use, and end of life) according to the type of footprint, following recognised international regulations, such as ISO 14064, ISO 14069, ISO 14067, PAS 2050 or GHG Protocol among others.

The carbon footprint is measured in CO₂ equivalent mass. Once the size and footprint are known, it is possible to implement an emissions reduction or compensation strategy.

The five sectors that emit the most CO₂ and, therefore, are the most polluting are energy production, the oil industry, transport, the fashion sector, and the food sector. However, several organisations have stood up to this situation and are changing their production to improve the planet.

The improvements come from promoting renewable energies by governments, sustainable clothing campaigns, vegan and competitive food, recycled materials to create new products, electric cars…

For instance, the most famous brand of electric cars, Tesla, is a particular case. Tycoon Elon Musk sells a positive carbon footprint to his competitors, and how come he does that? It turns out that 11 US states require automakers to meet strict emissions targets designed to encourage automakers to sell more zero-emission vehicles. If they can’t, they must buy regulatory credits from another automaker.

It is clear that eliminating CO2 emissions is almost impossible, but it can be reduced. Industries must truly commit to the planet and work to reduce their emissions. From a more individual perspective, as citizens of this world, we can reduce our Carbon Footprint by using public transport or riding or bicycle to work (instead of taking the car); buying food in bulk and not packed, therefore avoiding unnecessary plastic; eating less meat,  or going vegan… These are just some examples of how to reduce our Carbon Footprint.

We all must commit to decreasing CO2 emissions; otherwise, there won’t be a place where the next generations could leave their print.