Personal Carbon Footprint
HOW TO REDUCE OUR PERSONAL CARBON FOOTPRINT
Our website section Family and Individual Action describes many actions we can undertake as households and individuals to reduce our carbon footprint with links to sources which provide broad brush estimates of savings you can make in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) in kilograms per year. The Internet also provides several excellent Carbon Footprint calculators which you can use to estimate your potential savings in CO2e emissions. The Berkeley University CoolClimate Network Calculator is a good example of a comprehensive calculator applicable for those in the United States. The calculator make use of average energy intensities per US dollar for estimating the carbon footprint of different goods and services. These values vary from country to country. The Carbon Footprint Calculator also uses energy intensities per dollar for different categories of goods and services based on the currency of a wide range of countries, including that of New Zealand.
Calculations of the average carbon footprint per capita for each country is relatively straightforward to estimate. However, to estimate your personal carbon footprint with any practical level of precision can be tedious and is unnecessary. According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of changes can be achieved by 20% of effort. Identification and implementation of potential savings in CO2e emissions that you can make in order of priority is a sufficient first step.
Reductions in CO2e emissions requires reductions in consumption. This results in a corresponding greater surplus of income for those on high incomes. A reliance on carbon footprint calculators alone will not realise the full potential of carbon footprint reductions especially for those on high incomes. The full potential to reduce CO2e emissions is lost if those on high incomes spend their greater surplus income on additional goods and services. This known as the Rebound Effect.
SCAN provides a Budget Calculator which identifies how much surplus you have left over after you have taken steps to reduce your CO2e emissions. The Budget Calculator is spreadsheet based and, like all spreadsheets, it enables quick views of what-ifs. The bottom line is the surplus-deficit estimate at the bottom of the calculator.