else in an industrialized country. One notable exception is on the Carbon Footprint site. It allows you to work out the emissions from your house, flights, car, motorbike, bus and rail travel, and an intriguing category called Secondary. This covers other possible sources of emissions, including food preferences (vegetarian, organic and so on), fashion, packaging, furniture and electrical appliances, recycling, recreation and use of fi nancial services. And it works not only in the US and Germany but also in such low polluters as Burkina Faso and Tajikistan.
If by now you are becoming totally confused about which calculator (if any) will tell you what you want to know, do not despair. The Earth Charter Initiative provides a guide to carbon calculators, a list of countries where they are based, and sites where you may fi nd the one that best suits you. Another
site which compares and rates a number of widely-used calculators is the UK-based Climate Outreach and Information Network,
The European Commission’s My Carbon Footprint, starts with a challenge:
“To fi nd out how much carbon you can save, just mark the changes you would be willing to make in each of our four categories. Our calculator will then work out how many kilos of CO2 you can save each year and give you the chance to make a public pledge to reduce your personal carbon foot-print.” The four categories are turning down household appliances, switching them off, recycling, and travel. You do not actually measure your current emissions, but rather estimate the potential savings you would make by applying the measures proposed. The Commission’s site comes in all official EU languages and provides links to national carbon calculators in a range of European countries. National calculators are often geared to the specific energy situation of that country and are consequently more accurate than general-purpose calculators that do not ask you to specify your location. Broadly speaking, a GHG calculator is always a trade-off between accuracy and easy applicability for the users: for an accurate calculation you will have to provide a lot of data, while simpler versions apply pre-defi ned standards to types of house for example or the number of members of a household.
Offset providers and calculators
By the nature of their business, offset providers offer calculators on their websites that determine the climate footprint of your activities and how
THE CYCLE – COUNT AND ANALYSE KICK THE HABIT 61