For individuals, carbon calculators simplify compiling an inventory. Typically you will need to know your electricity consumption in kWh, how much and what kind of fuel you use to heat your water and warm the
house, and how many kilometres you drive, fl y and ride in different vehicles. You also need to decide the limits of the system you are concerned with, whether it is you as individuals, your household, or the company you work for.
And that still leaves unsettled the range of the emissions you are prepared to acknowledge. It may be simply those for which you are directly responsible – the fumes that come out of your car’s exhaust and the emissions from your central heating. But you may decide to set your bounds much wider and incorporate at least some of the gases “embedded” in every-
Carbon and climate labels might in future help to identify indirect emissions. Given the complicated life cycle of products, however, one may imagine how diffi cult it is to create an accurate label at product level, let alone compare different products with each other. A carbon label, which shows the carbon footprint inherent in putting a product on the shelf, was introduced in the UK in March 2007 by the Carbon Trust. Examples of products featuring their carbon footprint are Walkers Crisps, Innocent Drinks, and Boots shampoos.
thing you use or buy. But the more you include the more complex your task to measure the emissions will become. While you might lose in accuracy, you are more certain not to ignore a big chunk of your emissions. Probably the simplest rule is to include those emissions you control and those resulting from the products and services you pay for. It will not give you a perfect answer or even a complete one, but it will let you make a start, from which you can hope to improve your performance later. Just under half the emissions for which those individuals in developed countries are responsible come from things over which we have some control, for example how much we drive and fl y and how we heat and power our homes. The rest arises indirectly from powering the places where we work, from maintaining public infrastructure and government, and during the production of the things we buy, including food. These are some of the factors that anyone will want to think about as they decide how to
start their climate diet.
THE CYCLE – COUNT AND ANALYSE KICK THE HABIT 59