The carbon footprint represents the total amount of carbon emitted by an individual, thus measuring its impact on the environment and climate.
Things to keep in mind of the carbon footprint
- One can measure the carbon footprint of a wide range of actors, such as countries, companies, organisations and individuals. These actors have very different footprints as well as different capacities to reduce their impact;
- The carbon footprint does not only include CO2 emissions. In fact, it is measured in terms of CO2 equivalent. Quantities of other gases such as methane are converted into the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the potential to warm the atmosphere;
- Calculating your carbon footprint allows you to concretely visualise your impact and then embark on decarbonisation and offsetting paths to reduce it as much as possible.
The concept of a carbon footprint is quite easy to visualise. Just think of when a cat ventures onto a concrete pour that is not yet completely dry, leaving its paw prints. Undeniable evidence of its passage.
There is a fundamental difference, however, between a careless feline and the carbon footprint that human production and consumption activities leave on the planet. The latter is not immediately and directly visible (at least not to the naked eye!). The impacts of carbon emissions in the atmosphere are complex and manifest themselves with a time lag of a few decades due to what is called the climate inertia, i.e. a delayed response of the climate to emissions. Moreover, they do not allow one to unequivocally trace who left that footprint. In this context, it is crucial to calculate the carbon footprint of a certain activity transparently and accurately. Only in this way can reduction and offsetting strategies be drawn up to achieve the goal of zero net emissions and meet non-financial reporting obligations. Calculating one’s carbon footprint allows a company to embark on pathways to reduce its negative impact on the environment while increasing its competitiveness and credibility.
The notion of carbon footprint was made popular by an advertising agency working for a great oil company in the early 1980s. The carbon footprint focused attention on the impact of individual consumers, prompting them to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. While it is important for individuals to be aware of the impact of their daily choices, this awareness alone is not enough to counter the climate crisis. There is a need for a true, systemic and ambitious transition that transcends – albeit involving – the individual.
zeroCO2 and the carbon footprint
zeroCO2 offers a carbon footprint calculation service using the LCA methodology. By measuring the climate-changing potential of its activities, a company can take the right actions to reduce its impact on the environment.