WHAT IS CARBON FOOTPRINT ?
Carbon Footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (expressed in equivalent metric tons of Carbon Dioxide i.e. tCO2eq) which are emitted directly or indirectly as a result of human activities by individuals, organizations or regions. Every single event or product has its own Carbon Footprint due to several human activities associated with it.
Human activities that are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions are energy use, transport, industry, agriculture and waste generation. Today, all of these heavily rely on fossil fuels which are the root cause of emissions.
It is important to understand that any or all human activities will be responsible for some amount of GHG emissions. However, some amount of emissions can be offset by enhancing the ‘Carbon Sink’ capabilities and also using technologies for Carbon Capture and Storage. While some of these technology options are yet to mature, we need to work to reduce the GHG emissions to the minimum for a less stressful life and a more sustainable future.
The Individual Carbon Footprint (CFP) varies largely based on many factors like lifestyle, habits and location. We contribute to greenhouse gas emissions through every choice we make –whether we travel or don’t travel, what food we buy and how we use it or don’t use it, what sort of electronic devices we own and with what frequency we use them...so on and so forth.
Hence, every choice matters and every choice counts when trying to reduce Carbon Footprint!
This Video by ‘simpleshow’ offers an easy and precise explanation about Carbon Footprint.
Carbon Footprint can be calculated for an individual, an organization or for a specific region by accounting for the carbon emissions related to the respective human activities involved.
Individual Carbon Footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide i.e. tCO2eq) which are emitted directly or indirectly as a result of individual activities.
As fossil fuels are mainly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, Carbon Footprint is calculated by estimating the overall energy use by the individual during various activities. These include direct emissions from use of fossil fuels in electricity (as coal is used for electricity generation), cooking energy (as they include petroleum gas and natural gas) and transport (as all modes of transport utilize some or the other fossil fuel).
Besides this, there are few indirect emissions like the processing and distribution of fossil fuels (which is directly proportional to direct emissions), use of RCC in construction, furniture in the house and processing of organic waste.
To calculate the Carbon Footprint; all the above factors have standardized conversion factors quantified per unit per year for specific regions. They have been determined through research and authenticated by international organizations.
Individual Carbon Footprint is addition of direct and indirect emissions. The Carbon Footprint Calculator designed by Samuchit Enviro Tech uses conversion factors applicable to energy usage in India and specifically to Pune.
Calculate your family/household footprint to understand emissions associated with your lifestyle as the first step towards meaningful Climate Action.
As Bruce Wielicki quotes in his interesting TED Talk on climate change says – ‘Man masters nature not by force but by understanding, and democracies are wonderful but they only work when most of the people in them understand what needs to be done.’
Thus, we all need to become part of that broader understanding. We can start small but make smart choices! And try to reduce our personal carbon footprint for a better quality of life, in the long run.
Here are some tips for a good start -
- Be aware and updated about Climate Change programmes and participate proactively in them
- Maximize use of clean energy resources
- Follow quality and durability model associated with buying less often but buying quality to reduce consumerism
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refuse are important approaches for better Waste Management
- Conserve forests, wetlands grasslands or any such natural habitats and increase greenery within the city
- Use water and electricity optimally and always opt for energy-efficient gadgets
- Try to produce more food locally and consume more local food
- Optimize travelling routes, use public transport and use walking, cycling and carpooling wherever possible.
Last but not the least; understand that lowering carbon footprint does not imply lowering quality of life. After all, Climate Action begins at Home!
A carbon sink is anything that acts as a reservoir for accumulating and storing carbon in the form of some chemical compound for a certain period. This is achieved by carbon sequestration, a process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere and stored for a long time in some form.
One of the most effective processes for sequestration is photosynthesis. The three main natural carbon sinks plants, oceans and soil play a huge role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, protection and conservation of the natural environment is a very important factor contributing to Offsetting of carbon emissions.
Inversely, destruction of these carbon sinks, by releasing large amounts of the trapped carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, causes further Global Warming.
There is also a need for citizens and planners to create and maintain urban wilderness areas to enhance biodiversity within the city. And conserve ecosystems like hills, rivers, lakes, streams, canals, gardens, open areas, grasslands and other such areas; within the city as well as nearby the city.
Follow this link for more information on urban wilderness – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_wilderness
Technology & Innovation
The process of capturing free carbon from atmosphere and oceans and storing it long-term is called ‘Carbon Sequestration’. A few physical and chemical processes have been identified and tested, which can help to sequester carbon using technology.
The options include burial of biomass after processing it into some stable carbon compound like Biochar, Storing atmospheric or oceanic carbon dioxide in underground reservoirs like vacated oil wells and ocean floor or involving chemical processes to react with atmospheric carbon dioxide to form stable carbonate compounds.
Although the investment in artificial carbon sequestration projects is currently very high, the cost of not taking Climate Action is far higher than costs involved in natural and artificial carbon sequestration.
What is Pune's Carbon Footprint Right Now?
The latest environmental status report released by PMC reveals that the carbon emissions increased from 1.42 tonnes per person in 2012 and 1.64 tonnes CO2e per person in 2017, in just 5 years! Updated on 24th September 2018