Carbon Footprint 101

The first step in lowering your carbon footprint is knowing what it is.

Carbon footprint is a useful measure of impact towards climate change—and it isn’t exclusive to big corporations. We, too, commit and consume towards a smaller, but nonetheless, significant footprint. So how do we lower ours? The first step is by demystifying it.  
Here’s a starter on the concept of carbon footprint: 

1. Carbon Footprint

Measured in tons, it’s the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other carbon compounds produced by our actions, which often require fossil fuels. 

2. What are these ACTIONS?

On an individual scale, these include: food we consume, distances and means of travel, and our chosen sources of energy —in short, every single action that produces carbon emissions. Precisely calculating one’s footprint can be tricky, but the point of considering one’s footprint is not to reach a number: it’s to look for ways to lessen the carbon emissions we create. 

3. How do we reduce it?

We can start with food by consuming local produce and decreasing consumption of cattle and cattle-related products, which requires large-scale feeds production and emits greenhouse gases. Switch to low-energy appliances such as LED lights and inverter-type air-conditioners, or try to produce our own renewable energy by installing solar panels on our roofs. We can also lessen travel and opt for environmental-friendly means of transportation, such as walking and biking, to reduce our fuel consumption, reduce our carbon emissions, and even improve our health. And of course, ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’!

4. By the numbers

As of October 2022, global average temperature has reached 1.37°C above the pre-industrial baseline (average temperature between 1850 to 1900). This leaves a very narrow margin compared to the global target of no more than 1.5°C. Beyond 1.5°C, the effects of climate change will reach extreme levels (think melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and submerging islands), transforming our planet, affecting the way we live, and threatening our survival.

5. What is the goal?

The Paris Agreement, a legally-binding international treaty on climate change, outlines that to keep the global average temperature within the 1.5°C threshold, total emissions need to be decreased by 45% by 2030 and be net-zero by 2050.

6. Net-Zero

This is a scenario wherein greenhouse gas emissions are minimized, with any remaining emissions reabsorbed from the atmosphere by nature or through human intervention.

Much remains to be learned about sustainability measures. Managing our carbon footprint is just one concept, but it should be enough to push individuals together towards collective and more determined climate action. 

Remember, there is no Planet B. We must make our only planet healthy and productive for future generations.

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