Carbon Footprint refers to the GHG emission by an entity, event, product or person. It is expressed terms of the amount of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent of other GHGs, emitted. Most common used unit is CO2 equivalent. The carbon footprint seen as a subset of the ecological footprint.
- When we compare various forms of energy generation: Nuclear, Hydro, Coal, Gas, Solar Cell, Peat and Wind generation technology, we find that Coal has the largest Carbon footprint among others. Coal is followed by Oil, Natural Gas and Geothermal Energy. The hydroelectric, wind, and nuclear power always produce the least CO2 per kilowatt-hour of any other electricity sources. That too in construction only and not in operation.
The Kyoto Protocol recognizes 6 GHGs and Carbon footprint considers all six of the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases viz. Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
Measurement of Carbon Foot Print
A carbon footprint is measured in tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). The carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) allows the different greenhouse gases to be compared on a like-for-like basis relative to one unit of CO2. CO2e is calculated by multiplying the emissions of each of the six greenhouse gases by its 100 year global warming potential (GWP).
Types of Carbon foot Print
Two types of carbon foot printing. The main types of carbon footprint are:
Emissions from all the activities across the organisation, including buildings’ energy use, industrial processes and company vehicles.
Emissions over the whole life of a product or service, from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing right through to its use and final reuse, recycling or disposal.
What are the activities that can help our Carbon footprint?
Examples of the activities that reduce our carbon footprint are as follows:
- Replacing a regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL)
- Walk instead of using bikes, Use Bicycles, carpool, or mass transit
- Use of recycled products
- Using properly inflated tyres (for better mileage)
- Using cold water instead of hotwater (save energy bills)
- Avoiding the products with lots of packaging
- Planting trees
Mitigation of carbon footprints through the development of alternative projects is known as Carbon offsetting. The alternative projects may be the solar, wind, Tidal energy or reforestation.