Carbon Footprint

Professor Kevin Haines
February 2022

We have all heard about our carbon footprint, how damaging it is to the planet and of the importance of reducing it. Just what, however, is a carbon footprint? 

Carbon is used as shorthand for all greenhouse gasses (and there are a lot) because it is the most common of emissions that cause global warming – and all the negative environmental, social and economic consequences that follow. Hence the emphasis on reducing carbon emissions. A carbon footprint measures the total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly and indirectly by a person, organisation, event or product.

The Carbon Trust has produced a guide to Carbon Footprints:

A free carbon footprint calculator is available here:

Calculating your organisational carbon footprint is the first step towards reducing it. Measurement of your organisation’s carbon footprint should embrace all three stages.

Companies report their carbon footprints to meet the mandatory reporting requirements of climate change legislation such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) or EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

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Carbon emissions/greenhouse gasses don’t just affect the environment. The environmental impacts of global warming have extremely significant consequences for humankind and for economic prosperity (survival for many people around the world). This is probably why the E in ESG has received the most attention. Big industries (coal, agriculture etc) are responsible on a global level for the biggest greenhouse gas contribution, but, big industries are made up of many (sometimes thousands) of small companies. For this reason, it is important for us all to be ‘carbon aware’ and to reduce our globally warming carbon emissions. 

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