Members of the village Environment Working Party have been measuring their carbon footprints on the World Wildlife Fund website and comparing notes. Our average total emissions come out at 10.0 Tonnes of carbon dioxide in each of our households, with proportions of 36% ‘home’, 26% ‘stuff’, 18% ‘travel’ and 20% ‘food’ (we think ‘stuff’ probably means anything that you buy apart from food). This is a very broad brush approach and no doubt if we looked at other websites, and there are lots of them, we could find a more refined analysis. Nevertheless, we still found some interesting lessons emerging from these statistics.

The 10.0 Tonnes is apparently 96% of the UK average, so we’ve all patted ourselves on the back that we’re just a little bit greener than most. But not much greener and we all have a long way to go. It’s a sobering thought that everyone in this country produces such a huge amount of CO2. We desperately need to get this down if we are to hit zero carbon by 2050, and the Government is now telling us to reduce emissions by two-thirds in the next decade. Many experts, including our own Met Office in Exeter, have said that this is far too late to limit global warming to 2 degrees over pre-industrial levels; Teignbridge Council is aiming for a much earlier date.

The 36% for ‘home’ reflects the fact that houses are generally the largest source of emissions for most of us, coming from our consumption of gas and electricity. We all need to be thinking about how to lower that by better insulation, turning down the thermostat and so on. Of course, there are high tech ways of helping, such as using PV panels on our roofs, storage batteries, ground or air source heat pumps, but these are all very expensive. In the long run, the Government may even decide to change natural gas for hydrogen, so that can continue to use our boilers in the same way. But for now the easiest way to reduce emissions is to swap our fuel suppliers to 100% renewable ones. It’s so easy to do this online and doesn’t need to cost us any more.

The 18% for ‘transport’ is lower than we expected, as emissions from fossil-fuelled vehicles are also one of the largest sources of CO2 and amount to nearly half of all emissions in the Teignbridge Council area. We were staggered to find that when one of our number had taken a long-haul flight earlier in the year, their footprint had risen by two-thirds, an extra 7 Tonnes. How many of us are guilty of this as well?

Please have a look at the WWF website and work out your own footprint. Just click on the link https://footprint.wwf.org.uk and scroll down to “How big is your environmental footprint?”. Over the next few months, we’ll be exploring ways in which we can try to reduce our emissions and help to save the planet.

Here’s the Carbon Footprint Data from members of the Environment Working Party.