In order to plan any journey, we need to know our starting point as well as our destination. So our first step should be to measure our environmental footprint at the beginning of our net zero journey. But this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Everybody has a different carbon footprint, which can be measured in different ways. So which actions do we as individuals or families pick in order to make a difference?
For example, over the past 20 years the UK’s manufacturing sector has shrunk by over 50%. DEFRA’s Carbon Footprint analysis shows that nearly half of the UK’s CO2 footprint is taken up by CO2 embedded in imported goods and services, with another third coming from things produced in the UK. The remaining 15-20% come directly from household consumption of heat and power. This means that we should include in our footprint the carbon used for the overseas manufacture of our imported goods, as well as emissions resulting from stuff produced and consumed here in the UK. Otherwise, we are just ‘offshoring’ our emissions to other countries.
The chart below shows the average person’s CO2 emissions broken down by sector. This is taken from an article by Mike Berners-Lee (the UK’s leading environmental footprint expert) where he describes 9 key steps to reducing our carbon footprint.