UNA Coventry has been doing some research on how a household can measure and offset its carbon footprint. Offsetting is action that individuals and organizations can take to compensate for the emissions they cannot avoid, by supporting worthy projects that reduce emissions somewhere else.
Numerous websites are available, each adopting a different approach and so each giving a different result. So far we have not found any that can give a completely accurate picture.
Those we have tried so far are as follows. Some of them just allow you to calculate your footprint, others let you also offset your emissions.
Note the price of offsetting is very low – around £1 per tonne per year. Since average households have emissions of less than £20 this is not a huge expenditure but it can make you carbon neutral.
- WWF – This has generic questions and seems fairly superficial
- CarbonFootprint.com – The “secondary” analysis seems poor
- MyClimate.org – questions seem superficial
- Resurgence – Asks many detailed questions and explains the methodology.
- US Environmental Protection Agency – a pathetic attempt at calculating carbon footprint.
- Climateneutralnow.org – allows you to calculate your carbon footprint and then buy the offset. In our experiment this cost $7.20 to offset for a year. This is the United Nations Carbon offset platform. We recommend this one. This platform features UNFCCC certified projects that reduce, avoid or remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.
The projects are implemented in developing countries and are rewarded with Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), a type of carbon offset measured in tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The CERs are available for everyone to purchase to offset emissions or in support of the projects. The full contributions go directly to the projects.
They also reward you with a Voluntary Cancellation Certificate like the one shown here.
We will return to this important topic again in the months to come, but our current idea is to call upon the United Nations, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), universities and experts to work to build a standard and accurate way to assess household carbon footprint so that people can make informed decisions about the most effective way of reducing their footprint and taking steps to offset their effects.
At an an open debate of the UN Security Council in January to discuss the impact of climate change on peace and security, Professor Pavel Kabat, Chief Scientist at the WMO said that that WMO stands ready to support the UN and Member States with “cutting-edge science” and “expert information” so informed decisions can be made.
We will no doubt be contacting him about this.