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What is Carbon Footprint

What is Carbon Footprint (s)

A carbon footprint, as is clear from the name itself, is like the measure or outline of the feet that might have something to do with carbon. In technical terms and in view of global warming, a carbon footprint is the measure of the quantity of greenhouse gases in units of carbon dioxide, which are produced by human activities. The knowledge of carbon footprint is a very good one for individuals and organizations to conceptualize their own areas where they can work upon and reduce their impact on global warming and climate change. Carbon footprints can be reduced either by carbon reduction or carbon offsetting, which are like conceptual tools for the term of carbon footprints. Carbon reduction includes cutting the consumption of energy, electricity, gasoline, while carbon offsetting may include usage of alternative sources of energy, planting trees, etc.

Technical definition of a Carbon Footprint(s)

When we want to know carbon footprints of a particular product or service, it can be defined as the total carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full life cycle of that product or service. For conventional methods, a carbon footprint is expressed as a CO2 equivalent of different greenhouse gases, which will have same impact on global warming.

Kyoto Protocol, carbon offsetting, and certificates

The Kyoto Protocol is like a limiting document that defines legally binding targets and timetables for cutting the greenhouse-gas emissions. This limitation is for industrialized countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol—there are two type of markets for this protocol, which are named as mandatory market and a voluntary market.

The mandatory market

This is the first type of market for the countries that have ratified Kyoto Protocol. The market demands ways to reach the goals defined in the Kyoto Protocol with least economical costs, and the market defined these flexible mechanisms to achieve these targets and goal:

  • Emissions trading
  • Clean Development (CDM)
  • Joint Implementation (JI)

The voluntary market

As clear from the name itself, the rules in the voluntary market are not as strict as they are in the mandatory market. The voluntary market provides companies with different options to acquire emissions reductions. It is noticeable here that forest projects are sometimes excluded in the mandatory emission reduction schemes; however, these sorts of projects are very good in the voluntary markets.

Reducing the carbon footprints through carbon reduction

Earlier, we have talked about the two ways through which individuals and organizations can reduce their carbon footprints. The first one among them is the reduction of carbon emissions, which can be realized through, but not limited to, methods:

  1. Reducing electricity consumption
  2. Reducing gasoline consumption
  3. Switching to more economical means of living
  4. Reducing private travel and switching to public transport means
  5. Adopting green measures in life and also buying products that are locally manufactured.

Reducing the carbon footprints through carbon offsetting

The second option for reducing the carbon footprints for individuals and organizations is carbon offsetting. Though there is great debate over the effectiveness of carbon offsetting; however, it does have its benefits insofar as there are some areas where you can’t cut the carbon emissions but can offset them. Some methods for carbon offsetting, but not limited to, may include:

  1. Using solar, wind, and water energy
  2. Planting trees
  3. Reducing wastage of paper and recycling the paper
  4. Recycling products that you otherwise think are waste
  5. Educating others about the threat of global warming and climate change
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