Carbon footprint

Higher and foundation tier

The carbon footprint

carbon footprintThe carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced as a result of a particular organisation or individual carrying out a task or making an item or providing a service. For example taking the bus to school results in the bus burning a fossil fuel, diesel, which releases CO2. The school will also have its own carbon footprint, it will use electricity or gas which both ultimately release CO2. Most of the teachers in the school will have driven a car to school, which will burn petrol or diesel which releases CO2.

Calculating the amount of carbon emitted by something is not always as easy as you might imagine. Consider your journey to school. Let's assume you get a lift in a car. You might assume then that the only carbon you release is from the carbon dioxide produced by burning the fuel in the car. However think about all the activities that have to be gone through in order to get the petrol/diesel for the car into the local fuel station. The image below gives some detail of the carbon footprint for a car journey to school.

carbon footprint

And of course not forgetting all the carbon dioxide produced in actually manufacturing the car and all its components and transporting all these to the factory where the car is assembled and then disposing of it when the car reaches the end of its life. So perhaps it is easy to see that the carbon footprint is probably much larger than most people imagine.

Now consider all the items and activities that you do in say one week and think about all the pollution and carbon dioxide that has been added to the atmosphere to enable you have these things and do all those activities. Although it may prove difficult to calculate the your total carbon footprint but there are a number of things that as individuals we can do to reduce our carbon footprint e.g.

There are also many things that can be done by organisations and governments to reduce the carbon foot print of the U.K. These include:

Limited action

people arguingDespite the climate emergency which many scientists believe we are experiencing now, action to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and methane are not always very successful with many governments failing to meet their targets for reductions. The reason for this are varied and many, but include: